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Post-SDCC Exclusive: Top Cow top dog Matt Hawkins talks of new mini-series, Control the Clock

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One of the chief announcements made at last week’s SDCC was by Top Cow President Matt Hawkins, who told fans of a new mini-series he will be writing called Control.

To find out about the coming comic, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively emailed some queries to the Top Cow top dog. We later received these replies, post-SDCC.

Cosmic Book News: Matt, tell us how the idea for the Control mini-series came about.

Matt Hawkins: We’re actually calling this one Control the Clock now.  I wanted to call it The Clock but apparently Warren Ellis was doing a book called that.  Changing it to Control temporarily, David Crispino chimed in about his book so I changed it to Control the Clock! This book is about a geneticist working out of Georgetown who is the foremost authority on cancer research.  It’s a eugenics conspiracy story about trying to cut overpopulation via some insidious means involving genetic warfare.  I love science and the science in this story is accurate as well.  I don’t want to give too much away this early but it’s kind of Think Tank meets the X-Files without the aliens.

CBN: How does the president of Top Cow find time to write so many ongoings and minis?

Matt Hawkins: All time management. (laughs) I work out my days now so that I can write during the mornings and do business in the afternoons and I try to get to email when I can, heh.  For me it’s simply prioritizing what needs to get done.  I’m a quick writer and believe in rewriting so that helps me get some of this stuff done.  I’m responding to this email after Comic-Con in the airport while waiting for my flight so you find the time.

CBN: Tell us about the basic story of Control the Clock.

Matt Hawkins: The story of a family in crisis amidst a morality play of the cataclysmic problems of overpopulation versus the evils of eugenics told from the POV of a man investigating the “murder” of his wife. 

CBN: What challenges does your protagonist face along the way in such an unusual adventure?

Matt Hawkins: He discovers that he’s part of the conspiracy and that he’s unwittingly caused a lot of damage.  That’s a tough one to swallow. 

CBN: Can you tell us about the big bad in this limited series?

Matt Hawkins: The bad guy is a Senator who is the leader of an international cabal that is trying to protect the world by killing a lot of people.  It’s twisted but believable.

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CBN: Matt, might there be a chance for such an intriguing series to become an ongoing?

Matt Hawkins: Never say never, but with Aphrodite, Tales of Honor and Think Tank I can’t see me doing any more ongoing series unless one of those falls off.

CBN: What does artist Colleen Doran bring to the table here? Are you a fan?

Matt Hawkins: I am a huge fan Colleen and I’ve been friends for a very long time.  I’ve always wanted to work with her and this is the opportunity!

CBN: At mini-series’ end, what do you hope readers will take away from Control the Clock?

Matt Hawkins: Fear of the reality of our situation on this planet.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Matt Hawkins for answering our questions following a very busy San Diego Comic Con.

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Exclusive: Before SDCC, Top Cow President Matt Hawkins discusses the future of Think Tank

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Think Tank has been a fan and critical success for Top Cow Productions and the company recently announced the comic book will continue as an ongoing.

To celebrate the news and learn what is in store for Dr. David Lauren, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer buttonholed Top Cow president and Think Tank writer Matt Hawkins exclusively before the SDCC for this interview.

Cosmic Book News: Matt, congratulations on Think Tank continuing past its proposed 12th issue. Will this be under the Top Cow label now or Minotaur Press, and is there a planned end point for the book?

Matt Hawkins: It’s under the Minotaur Press label and there is no current planned end point for the book.

CBN: I have asked you before, as I am sure have others, but where does the Top Cow president and COO get time to write any book, much less such a complex one?

Matt Hawkins: Lots and lots of caffeine! (laughs) Seriously, when it’s something you love you find the time. Writing Think Tank and working with guys like Rahsan Ekedal and Stjepan Sejic makes it easy for me.

CBN: For the uninitiated, tell us about Dr. David Loren and his past world.

Matt Hawkins: Dr. David Loren is a genius level weapons designer for a DARPA military lab. He was recruited at a young age and was excited at first about all the technology and access to the brightest minds. Flash forward 10 years and the reality of what he’s doing has sunk in. He’s killing people, both directly and indirectly and he can’t figure out if all of them are bad or not. The first trade paperback is about this realization and how he’s faking his research so he doesn’t get anything done and how the military and he react to that. He’s a man-child but insanely smart and his social interactions are somewhat off and on occasion humorous.

CBN: Directly or indirectly, Dr. Loren has probably been responsible for hundreds of deaths. But recently he experienced death up close and personal. How has this changed the character?

Matt Hawkins: There’s always that argument that you were just a part of something that put something together and that other people use it to kill … but when the blood splashes on your face it’s a whole different experience. He was already having a moral crisis but add a death right in front of him that he feels he caused (he didn’t pull the trigger) and it’s a whole different thing. I want to take David on a gamut of emotions and show how someone in his position would deal with these things.

CBN: What is it about this character you like? What makes you as a writer come to him time and again, getting new ideas, fresh ideas?

Matt Hawkins: Well, the human emotional element is easy; just write a character as if he’s a real person. I dream about David sometimes, it’s kind of weird. A lot of the ideas I get from writing the book and thinking about what could be done. The tech and science I get by reading journals and staying current with what’s going on in the world.

CBN: Did we hear the good doctor will be moving into the field, so to speak?

Matt Hawkins: Yes, in the third arc he is out in the field for the first time. The third arc takes place in Taiwan and China.

CBN: You obviously enjoy working real world science or science theory into this book. Anything exciting we can look forward to?

Matt Hawkins: After issue #12, I’m going to jump back into more of the unique science stuff.  I love cybrids, chimeras and all of the crazy genetic secrets unlocked by the Genome Project. We’re at the beginning of a bold new era in genetics research that is going to change everything.

CBN: Dr. Loren has faced a time of betrayals of differing scales. How does this, if at all, affect David and Mirra?

Matt Hawkins: Ultimately he loves her and that love will break through all of their problems and differences.  

CBN: Why is Rahsan Ekedal right for Think Tank? What does his art bring to the table?

Matt Hawkins: Rahsan is a master storyteller and I could not see doing this book with any other artist. His facial expressions and the way he draws David’s even … bad posture … I think is pretty amazing.

CBN: So what is next for writer Matt Hawkins?

Matt Hawkins: Stay tuned for [the San Diego] Comic-Con announcements! 

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Matt Hawkins for taking the time from his very busy schedule before SDCC to answer our nosy M.E.

“Think Tank” #8 is on sale now!

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Exclusive: Top Cow president Matt Hawkins discusses the new life and times of Aphrodite IX

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Aphrodite IX returned to the world of comic books on Free Comic Book Day and now is ready for another run courtesy of writer Matt Hawkins, artist Stjepan Sejic and Top Cow.

To find the meat of this series, getting ready to release issue #3 in July, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up exclusively with Hawkins and logged one humdinger of an interview about the femme fatale.

Cosmic Book News: Matt, what was the catalyst for this current iteration of Aphrodite IX?

Matt Hawkins: We relaunched Cyber Force and I was initially co-writing that with [Marc] Silvestri before he took it over completely. He’s using Aphrodite V in that series and we talked a lot about what that character does and how she fits into that world. I had a lot of ideas and went back and reread the old book that [Dave] Finch and [David] Wohl did. At the same time, Stjepan Sejic told me he wanted to do a fantasy/sci-fi book where he could make up awesome stuff and not bother with reference like he had been doing on Artifacts. We started talking about that and decided this would be fun to do together.

CBN: For a book that started as filler in Wizard, Aphrodite has had quite the life — as a character and a property. Tell us about the world that this android inhabits as first seen in the FCBD issue.

Matt Hawkins: Well, first off, she’s not an android. If you read the FCBD issue, she’s a human girl named April that was both technologically and genetically enhanced as part of the Aphrodite Protocol. This initiative was to create beings that would survive an extinction level event and repopulate the Earth after humanity was wiped out. This Aphrodite IX “April” has been frozen in status for hundreds of years and is discovered by accident in the aftermath of a battle. She wakes up to a world at war between two disparate groups in a “tribal” war, for lack of a better word for it. She’s the perfect point of view character because she has no idea what is going on.

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CBN: Was it fan enthusiasm for the book/character in May that led to this month’s issue #2? And is this an ongoing at this point or a limited series?

Matt Hawkins: The plan is for an ongoing series and that was always the plan. We always intended that the FCBD #1 was the first issue of a continuing series. As with all these things, its longevity will depend on sales. Stjepan Sejic is very fast and I’m the cheapest writer I have in our stable (FREE) so assuming we find an audience we could keep the title going for years.

CBN: Will Aphrodite IX suffer from her predecessors’ memory problems? And if do, how does this figure into the plot?

Matt Hawkins: Yes, she has no memory of events prior to her rebirth in this new environment and when she is “slaved” by her handler Burch who was also woken out of hibernation she is used like a puppet for 20 minutes and kills whoever they target. Once the 20 minutes has expired, she wakes up with no memory of the intervening time period. This was by design so that the “assassin” would be somewhat disposable and unable to recount motive or who her handlers were.

CBN: Will this assassin’s “missions” tie together at some point?

Matt Hawkins: Yes.

CBN: Matt, do you have any favorite stories from Aphrodite IX comics past?

Matt Hawkins: I enjoyed the original graphic novel that Wohl/Finch did quite a bit but my favorite Aphrodite story is when IV was in the Witchblade arc that Ron Marz wrote a few years ago. That one was a lot of fun.

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CBN: Why is artist Stjepan Sejic right for this book? Are you a fan?

Matt Hawkins: His realistic painting portrayals are great for sci-fi and fantasy! I am indeed a huge fan of his and wouldn’t be doing this book without him.

CBN: As Top Cow president, how do you manage time to also write. And what else might we expect down the line from scribe Hawkins?

Matt Hawkins: It’s all about time management and not ultimately getting everything done. I have to-do lists on a daily/weekly basis and certain things just never seem to get done, but I prioritize and reprioritize. It seems to work, heh. I’m working on a project with Colleen Doran that we’ll be announcing at ComiCon and another project that is an adaptation of a series of novels that we’ll also be announcing at ComiCon. Lots of good stuff coming up!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Matt Hawkins for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions.

“Aphrodite IX” #3 hits shelves on July 10th!

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CBN’s Own Ken Porter Wins Top Cow Talent Hunt Contest!

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:6436:]]Cosmic Book News would like to congratulate our very own Ken Porter who has been chosen as a winner of the 2013 Top Cow Talent Hunt contest.

Top Cow’s President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Hawkins and CEO Marc Silvestri sorted through hundreds of submissions picking five winners and announced the news at CBR.

“The Talent Hunt is finding amateur writers and artists who’ve never been published by one of the big publishing houses and giving them a chance to be published and showcase their work to a larger audience,” Hawkins told CBR. “These books will be published in print.”

Ken Porter’s submission was one of the tree chosen amongst 1100 entries.

“We received over 800 writer submissions, some of which submitted more than once for a total of 1100 different synopsis/script submissions,” Hawkins continued. “With the writers, we had a list of several Top Cow Universe characters (Ji Xi, Michael Finnegan, Sabine, Glorianna Silver, Tom Judge) that writers could submit one-off, self-contained stories about. Essentially, they were pitching stories of existing characters as part of the newer Rebirth universe initiative we’ve been doing.

“The writing was infinitely harder [to narrow down] and took me almost three months to read, process and choose the winners,” Hawkins added. “I was looking primarily for interesting character stories.  It took me about 15 minutes a piece to go through all 1100 submissions so if you do that quick math that’s 275 hours — took me a long ass time! I enjoyed it though.”

Below you can read Ken Porter’s pitch to Top Cow which nabbed him a top spot.

You can also currently catch Ken’s comic book work with Ink Ribbon #1, and be sure to follow the writer on twitter @KenBlakePorter!

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Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 14th, 2012

A Reason to Love Science Again

The only technologies that people seem to get a rise out of these days are cell phone related. No one is jumping up and down for announcements at NASA like we used to or excited to find out about suits that can turn you invisible. I can’t say for sure that the invisible suits actually exist, but my pick for the Alternative Comics Beat this week sure makes me hope so. Matt Hawkins wanted to create a comic book series this past year that made people like science. After reading four issues of Think Tank from Top Cow and Image Comics, I’d say he’s done what he set out to do.

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Think Tank – The Premise

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David Loren is one of the top researchers for the government’s weapon defense programs and is possibly the smartest person on the planet. The only problem is that he’s sick of inventing things that kill people and he wants out. With nothing but his superior wits on his side, David must escape his government captors and finally reach freedom.

If he doesn’t escape it could mean imprisonment and torture, and then there’s no way he’s going to get back into his regular habit of playing video games. The story is super science, comedy, and rock star lifestyle all rolled into one heck of an entertaining comic book series.

 

The Creators

The series was created by Matt Hawkins (writer) and Rahsan Ekedal (artist). Hawkins’ writing and dialogue feel genuine for each character and David quickly becomes likable within a few panels. The story is told mostly in captions through David’s thoughts (or possibly a journal) but it never becomes too bogged down with words.

Ekedal’s artwork is very fitting for this title. He has a way of portraying eyes on each character that make you believe that they’re really emoting. It doesn’t feel like a drawing of someone’s response, it feels like an animated photograph. It was also a really bold choice to go with black and white for the book, but it really works and lets you focus on Ekedal’s style.

 

What Makes It Different

I’ve always had a love of characters in fiction that use their brains instead of brawn. Doctor Who, Egon Spengler, and Donatello (TMNT not the artist) are a few fictional characters that I always sympathized with. Hawkins and Ekedal have taken someone who is unique purely for his intellect and love of science and made them the lead in a comic book.

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Sure, Tony Stark might be a genius, but he’s also got a suit of armor. Despite having a giant I.Q., most of his problems are solved with repulsor rays. All David has to go on in Think Tank is his intelligence and his instincts. It’s a type of character in comics that often gets put on a team or is in the background but doesn’t get to play the main role often. He’s the lead because he’s an interesting character, which is what should always be put first when it comes to any kind of storytelling.

 

Why You Should Read It

Audiences have a love of super intelligent and witty guys. If they didn’t, Iron Man wouldn’t be one of the most popular movie and comic book characters out there today. It’s important that we remember how cool science and intelligence can be. I’m no genius, far from it, but reading this book makes me interested in science again. I can’t say that I’ll be developing a mind altering gas or an app that lets me read people’s minds, but the interest is still there.

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Superhero stories do offer us lots of science fiction elements, but rarely do we get a series that’s solely based on realistic backdrops and doesn’t have capes and tights in the narrative. It’s worth checking out if you’re a big fan of Tony Stark’s personality, with or without the armor.

 

Availability

Think Tank Vol. 1 was just released from Top Cow and Image Comics and is sold for $14.99. It’s got the first four issues and is what I’ve pretty much based this entire installment on. Those first four issues really hold together and can turn any naysayer into a fan. If you’re looking for something to add to your stack outside of the norm, Think Tank is a great alternative.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

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