Exclusive: Writer/artist Gabriel Hardman talks about his digital-first story of dog and man, Kinski



It’s the story of a man and his dog, and so much more.

In May, readers of digital comics got to meet the canine Kinski and Joe, the man who finds him. What unfolds from there in this six-issue mini-series by writer/artist Gabriel Hardman from MonkeyBrain Comics by way of ComiXology is both a statement to Hardman’s deep love for and involvement with films and the art of controlled writing in a form other than mainstream superhero comics.

As the third issue gets ready to hit soon, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively caught up with a busy Hardman and filed this interview.

Cosmic Book News: First, I was a great fan of your work on BOOM‘s Planet of the Apes series. How was that experience, especially since it seemed everything was kept so close to the film franchise “feel”?

Gabriel Hardman: Working on those books was a great experience. Collaborating with artists Marc Laming and Damian Couceiro was fantastic as well as working with everyone from BOOM! like our editor Dafna Pleban. I’m very grateful to Matt Gagnon for giving us the chance to contribute to the POTA mythos. Corinna Bechko (my co-writer) and I just finished up issue 12 of Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm which is our last POTA book. I’m very satisfied with the 20 issues worth of POTA material we put out in the last couple years (including the minis Betrayal and Exile). I’m going to miss the characters we created like Prisca, Aleron and Timon.

CBN: Simply, and for the uninformed, what is Kinski?

Gabriel Hardman: Kinski is a creator-owned, digital-first black and white indie mini-series about a guy who steals a dog. It’s dramatic, full of twists and turns but with a quirky sensibility. At the moment it’s available only from MonkeyBrain Comics through ComiXology


CBN: Gabriel, as a fan of your work, I know this six-issue mini is very much a departure for you.

Gabriel Hardman: Kinski is an opportunity for me to express my sensibilities in a very pure way. I’m responsible for everything in it, writing, art, lettering. It’s all me. Which is not to say this is the only kind of story I like to tell. I’m dying to do more sci-fi along with crime and historical books. It’s no secret that comics have tons of potential beyond the superhero genre. 

CBN: Any influences from other media here? For some reason, as a movie fan as well, the Coen Brothers come to mind when reviewing Kinski #1. Truth, homage?

Gabriel Hardman: The Coens are a good reference point. My biggest specific influences are Martin Scorsese’s After Hours and the Terrance Malick written Pocket Money starring Paul Newman and Lee Marvin. It may not be totally apparent but Patricia Highsmith’s novels are an influence too. In comics, I’d point to David Lapham’s Stray Bullets. But all of these are very vague tonal influences. I want Kinski to be its own thing. 

CBN: For those who do not know its glories, explain the black and white storytelling.

Gabriel Hardman: I chose black and white for Kinski because it felt right. I don’t have any deeper analytical answer. I had tried to color a few pages and something about the feel was lost. I have some pretty rigid ideas about visual storytelling but it’s also important to go with your gut. 

Obviously, I’m a big fan of black and white comic art in general. It imposes even bigger limitations on me as an artist but limitations are good. If you can’t track a character by the color of their hair, you have to distinguish them in other ways. But I think you can get a simplicity and atmosphere out of black and white that’s unique and different from color. I’m glad that The Walking Dead has opened doors for more monochrome acceptance among readers. 


CBN: Is it just me, or does Joe seem to have more … er uh … traits that might relate to a dog more than the titular canine does? (That make sense? laughs)

Gabriel Hardman: I think that’s a great interpretation.

CBN: Gabriel, how many have gotten the Klaus Kinski ref? Many film buffs among the readership?

Gabriel Hardman: A good number of readers have gotten the reference. But knowing who Klaus Kinski was isn’t critical to the story, it just adds a layer of texture if you do know.

CBN: What lies ahead for your protagonist?

Gabriel Hardman: A road paved with bad decisions.

CBN: When talking with a writer, I usually reserve this question to promote the art. So … what does Gabriel Hardman’s art bring to the table? Why is it right for Kinski? (laughs)

Gabriel Hardman: I think writer Gabriel Hardman really pushed artist Gabriel Hardman to bring something different to this project. It’s a raw, stripped-down cartooning style, something akin to run and gun guerrilla filmmaking. He’s done a decent job of it so far. 


CBN: Any projects current or future you would like to discuss?

Gabriel Hardman: I (along with co-writer Corinna Bechko) have a one-shot called Station to Station from Dark Horse that ships in August. It’s a modern day sci-fi story set in San Francisco with mind control, dinosaurs and a giant inter-dimensional creature. We hope to follow up the one shot with a Station to Station mini next year. Corinna and I also have an OGN called The Crooked Man, a revenge thriller set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake coming out next year from Image/Shadowline. And our first arc of Star Wars: Legacy is currently wrapping up. It’s set in the future of the Star Wars universe starring Ania Solo, a descendant of Han and Leia. We’ve written the second arc which is being drawn by Brian Thies then I’m back drawing the third arc. That sounds like a lot of stuff when I write it all down!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Gabriel Hardman for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our rather nosy M.E.

“Kinski” #3, set to hit soon, is digital-first from MonkeyBrain Comics on ComiXology.