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Andy Hartnell Brings Some “Rokkin” Roll To Wildstorm

by  in Comic News Comment
Andy Hartnell Brings Some “Rokkin” Roll To Wildstorm

It seems that fantasy is all the rage these days. From “Lord Of The Rings” to “Harry Potter,” it seems that tales of swords, sorcery, and escapism rule the pop culture landscape. Many have been surprised by the lack of fantasy themed comic books, and while there have been some forays into the genre, writer Andy Hartnell will be bringing fans one of the most high-profile fantasy comic books in recent memory. “Rokkin,” shipping this July 12th, is the newest fantasy series from DC/Wildstrom and chronicles the fight against oppression in a mythical world where one man is given the power to change the world, but must decide how he wants to change it. With the release of the series fast approaching, CBR News spoke to Hartnell, who’s pretty excited to be bringing this series to life.

“I was always into the sort of Ray Harryhausen swords and monsters kind of movies as a kid. Clash of the Titans, the Sinbad movies, and all that good stuff,” Hartnell told CBR News. “I hadn’t seen anything like that in a while, especially not in comics, so I wrote a short story in that realm just for fun. I liked how it turned out and showed it to Scott Dunbier and Jim Lee at Wildstorm. They were into it, and then I talked to Nick Bradshaw about drawing it. I knew he was into all the crazy, giant monster kind of stuff too, so we kind of hit it off right away with the direction the book should go. That’s how it all got started

“The main character is a guy by the name of Arness. He’s a just a normal, average guy who’s happy living in his normal, average world. All of this changes shortly after he marries his sweetheart. She’s taken away, along with his average, normal world, and Arness sets off on a quest to bring it all back.”

From the initial description of the series, specifically the idea of a higher power bestowing powers upon a scion of the light, some immediately compared “Rokkin” to “He-Man.” When CBR News mentioned the comparison, Hartnell replied, “Well, I guess they share one thing in common – they both have a kick-ass sword and turn themselves into superhuman wrecking machines, but all He-Man did was chop boulders in half and stuff like that, right? And he wore a fuzzy pink top when not He-Man, didn’t he? Arness, who turns into the legendary warrior Rokkin likes to drink beer by the gallon and use his swords to slice-and-dice his enemies into a bloody, gooey mess. Then maybe hit them with a hammer and light their still-twitching remains on fire.”

Besides the comparison to He-Man, the idea of the “one” with ultimate power is a topic dealt with heavily in movies and comics over recent years. Hartnell is cognizant of this fact and explained that he’s put a unique spin on the well-worn theme. “One of the cool twists in ‘Rokkin’ is that the Gods may have chosen the wrong one. Arness gets pretty fed up with all the trials he’s put through. He’s been chosen to save the world, but all he really wants is revenge on those who changed his world. I don’t think the Gods are expecting the body count to get at high as it will.”

Despite the cartoony style of the art in “Rokkin,” don’t expect this book to appeal to all-ages. “‘Rokkin’ has more than its share of violence and gore,” explained Hartnell. “It’s kind of cartoonish, but it’s there, in living, crimson color, on nearly every page. It’s not for the squeamish. Or for the kiddies. I hope non-fantasy fans can get into it. My favorite part of the book is the humor. The tone of ‘Rokkin’ reminds me of ‘Big Trouble in Little China,’ ‘Evil Dead,’ those sort of violent and wacky things. With a hero who’s not really the one you’d chose to trust your life with.”

Speaking of art, penciller Nick Bradshaw is no stranger to Hartnell and the duo found “Rokkin” to be the perfect reason to reunite. “I’d worked with Nick on ‘Army of Darkness’ and also ‘Danger Girl: Back in Black,'” said Hartnell. “When Rokkin came about, I sent him the script and he got the whole idea right away. He knew just how to make it scary but fun, how to keep the action moving quickly page-after-page. He’s such a talented guy. Whether it’s drawing the hottest babe or the ugliest creature, Nick has got it all just popping right off the page.”

If you haven’t pre-ordered “Rokkin,” or you’re afraid you won’t remember to pick it up on July 12th, Hartnell hopes you take his advice. “Honestly, I think this book will really take off with the second issue. The first issue is mostly set-up – who Arness was and how he lost it all – but the second issue is when things really come together. When he really starts off on his journey. The second issue is where everything really clicked and we knew what this book was all about. I hope anyone looking for a fun action series will give ‘Rokkin’ a try, because the book is just going to get bigger and better with every issue!”

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