This past week HAWKEN: GENESIS was released in hardcover from Archaia Entertainment. Previously, the chapters were released digitally, but with the full collection we were able to give you one concise review. After that I had a chance to talk to the writer of the book Jeremy Barlow, so let's get it going.
Dustin) With HAWKEN: GENESIS, the story is broken down into different chapters. For me, each chapter had a distinct feel and even a different genre feel to it at times. Was this intentional and if so which genres did you tap into.
Jeremy) Thanks, Dustin. Even though the script was written in sections, the overall story was predetermined. We tried for a consistent tone throughout the main Lazlo/Hawken tale, leaning on a darker, corporate espionage style.
We played a little fast and loose with the tangential standalone chapters—getting a bit more playful with the tone and the characters, which helped balance against the heavier themes in the main story.
Each artist brought something unique and amazing to the table, too, which probably accounts for the distinctness you felt.
Dustin) The story also has a ton of social commentary about business, war and the environment. Was there an overall message that you were trying to relay through the story or just several subjects that you were drawing attention to?
Jeremy) The major story beats were pretty well mapped when I came aboard, with the graphic novel being a major piece to the larger HAWKEN puzzle that’ll be revealed in the coming months. Clearly the foundation to everything is the idea of how human need is often at odds with human desire—how harsh realities can undermine even the best of intentions.
I found Lazlo’s arc really compelling—here’s an ambitious guy whose drive and skill takes him to the top, but getting there causes him to compromise his own integrity and sacrifice his closest relationships, and after he gets everything he wants, he’s not sure if it was worth it. His aspirations raise him up while bringing down everything around him, including the entire planet. It’s a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions.
Dustin) Being that the relationship between Lazlo and Hawken is a primary focus of the story, what was your process for their journey together? Starting off as friends and then becoming bitter and jaded towards each other.
Jeremy) Again, most of that was pre-loaded prior to my involvement and is part of the bigger HAWKEN picture. I wish I could take credit for it. That relationship strikes such a chord, though, because it’s universal—our lives are all a long string of small decisions that require sacrifice and compromise, and even the smallest choices affect those around us. The true test is how you navigate those options while minimizing the damage and staying true to yourself. The higher the stakes, the greater the potential for a fall, which is what Lazlo learns the hard way.
Dustin) There are several artists that worked on the book, what was it like having so many people working together or at the very least what was it like to see your writing brought to life in so many different styles?
Jeremy) That’s the best thing about writing comics. You think you’ve hit on something cool or special, and then you see an artist’s interpretation of the idea and they’ve brought it an even higher level. Archaia deserves huge credit for assembling such an outstanding and diverse group of talent.
Dustin) The completed series just arrived in print, but the different chapters have been releasing digitally for a few months now. Did that get a good response and how was that from a creative standpoint since it flips the tradition process of print to digital?
Jeremy) I wasn’t involved with those decisions, other than knowing that it was going to happen. Those standalone chapters were written first. As a reader, I was delighted to see those digital chapters lead the book, and the response I saw was overwhelmingly positive. Giving people a free taste of what’s to come—and making it a complete experience on its own—seems like the smart way to play it.
Personally, I wasn’t sold on digital comics until I bought an iPad. Reading and scrolling on a desktop screen is tedious, at least for me it is, but sitting back on the couch with the tablet feels as natural as flipping paper. I love it, and I look forward to seeing where we as an industry take it.
Dustin) How much HAWKEN have you played?
Jeremy) That’s my dark secret! I’m a console gamer and a Mac user, so I haven’t been able get my hands on the game yet. I’ve watched plenty of live demos and was given access to as much concept material as I needed, though. The rest was pure slight of hand!
A big thank you to Jeremy and Archaia for talking to us about the book. It's available now in print or you can grab it digitally if you prefer. Be sure to stop by Hawken's website in order to play the game for free!