Energy Boost: Hilinski talks "HyperActives"

When CBR News last spoke with artist Clint Hilinski, he was excited about his new collaboration with Darin Wagner, entitled "HyperActives." He hoped for success with his fun look at superhero life…and he got it. Alias Comics' "HyperActives #0" has sold out and with no plans to go back to print at this time, fans are eagerly looking forward to issue #1. Hilinski stopped by to speak to CBR News and re-introduced readers to the basics about the book.

"The HyperActives are a bunch of spoiled teen superheroes who are more interested in the spotlight and being famous than they are in actually saving the day," explains Hilinski. "They're made up of Rush, HoneyChild, Panzer, Surefire, Reactor Girl, WereClaw, Boy Genius, and Scandal, although nobodies quite sure what Scandals powers are."

The sell-out of issue #0 has excited Hilinski, as one might expect, and he's proud to be one of the more prominent Alias success stories. "Well we sold out in just about a week, maybe even a little under that, we've seen retailers and fans asking on messageboards about the book, I've seen it go up on e-bay already for $3 for a 75 cent issue. So I'd say that the demand is definitely there. We did great sales numbers for a new book, surpassing even my expectations. So, I'm definitely stoked. Success-wise I put a lot of effort into getting the book out there on the Internet, trying to get as much press as I could. And art-wise I tried to do some things that would get us attention like the Turner Homage cover and drawing in the style of J. Scott Campbell, I thought people would be more likely to try something new if it seemed familiar to them. So a teen superhero book drawn in a familiar style seemed a good idea. Looks like it worked. Wait until you see the homage cover we've got coming for issue number 2, oh yeah."

Hilinski also laments the success, laughing and saying, "It's really a pain, I was looking forward to struggling more. No, it's great, it really is. I'm not sure I expected it, because I know what the market is like and I know what it's like to try and launch a new book in that market. But I tried to do as much research before hand and tried to give us the best chance of success. And I also have to thank Alias and Mike Miller, I like to give him a hard time online from time to time, but Mike really has bent over backwards to help us and the 'HyperActives' be a success. Mike's taken his fair share of criticism online and with some other studios leaving for various reasons I know there were people wondering about Alias. But I've got to say with the success we've had and how Alias has helped us, I see a bright future for Alias and the 'HyperActives'. Alias has just started to show what it can do and I think with some of the moves they've made and learning from some mistakes from the first year, I really can't wait to see what Alias does in 2006. I think 2006 is going to be a big year for the 'HyperActives,' too. Sleeper hit of 2006!"

The art style employed by Hilinski, as detailed above, helped draw a lot of attention to "HyperActives," but the artist isn't about to rest on his laurels, with plans to change his style yet again. "Oh, I'm definitely all about experimentation. This was fun doing the book in the Campbell style, but I'm not sticking with it forever, I'm pretty flexible style wise and I want to stretch myself and keep improving. We're already talking about a second series and I'll definitely be doing something different there. Jim Lee and Travis Charest are huge influences on me, too. I'm definitely thinking of moving in that direction style wise. Eventually the goal is to create a style that is uniquely my own. I'm just going to have fun getting to that point and draw off of as many influences that I can along the way."

One of those influences for the series, at least in terms of story, is the current media fascination with celebrities and the focus on their downfall. But how much does it influence Hilinski? "Quite a bit I'd say, not necessarily what's happening right now, today, but definitely stuff I've read or stuff on the news from the last few months. Every thing spins ideas. So, if I catch a new show or am talking to somebody and get an idea that type of stuff usually ends up filtering into my work. I'm mean, I watch Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan and start seeing where Scandals career is heading. And, if there was ever a character close to Paris Hilton it's definitely Scandal. I challenge readers to figure out what Scandal's super power is. But like Paris, she does have some extraordinary abilities."

But don't worry about a story arc focused on Scandal's cell phone being misappropriated, as Hilinski laughs and says, "I'd be more worried about the video tapes that might pop up. Unfortunately, Mike Miller's got a pretty firm policy of no nudity in the books. Otherwise who know what might happen."

The strong response from fans, and the sell-out of #0, has brought "HyperActives" closer to another series, which pleases Hilinski., but don't expect an ongoing. "[the chances of another series are] Pretty good right now. Like I said Darin Wagner and I are already discussing a second series and we've got a ton of ideas. The great start and success of this first series pretty much ensures that there'll be more 'HyperActives' to come. I'd like to do an ongoing, but we'll have to see what we think will do best in the current market. A series of miniseries seems to be a safer bet."

While the stories in the series have seemed "smaller" in scope thus far, at least from what readers have seen, Hilinski says that there are plans to tell an "epic" story with "HyperActives." "The first series starts out on the light hearted fun side, but it does have plenty of action. But we wanted to establish the characters and create the setting and world the Hypers are in. Once those things are in place, then I think you can do the more epic and grand tales. The first series will definitely build to an epic climax with issue #4 and I think what we've got planned for the second series will take it up a notch even from there. Issue #4 is definitely going to end the first series with a bang. Things will change and that will transition into the next series. These characters will be affected by the events of the first series and not always in a good way."

As a gift for current fans, Hilinski offers up some teasers, saying, "Well with issue one the biggest change is what starts out the main story line, namely the arrival and joining to the team of the all new Silverwing. Which needless to say is going to ruffle a few feathers on a team of self-involved wannabes. They definitely don't want to share the spotlight with a new member. So, Silverwing doesn't exactly get welcomed with open arms. Directly after that, Silverwing is thrown into the fire, so to speak, as he faces off against the Hypers arch-enemies the Uberforce."

If you're not a current reader, well, Hilinski offers up some encouragement for those who might be interested in "HyperActives." "This is the book fans are talking about. This is the book that's lighting up message boards. Mario Gully [creator of Image Comics' 'Ant'] was nice enough to mention me and the 'HyperActives' on the Image boards. I found the thread when it was already 7 pages long and joined in on the fun. When J. Scott Campbell's fans, admitted diehards, started talking about the 'HyperActives' over on Campbell's own board, the thread was longer than the thread for the newest issue of 'Wildsiderz.' What does that say about the book? Admittedly not everybody had nice things to say, but I didn't exactly show up with my eyes closed. I had a pretty good idea what would happen when I drew the book the way I did. But it definately got us attention, and that was the first hurdle we had to over come. Now that the book's out there and we've gotten attention, we're going to payback the fans with an amazing story, characters your going to get to know and love and hate, and art that's going to keep the fans talking page after page. I think HyperActives will be the most talked about book, not just coming out of Alias, but coming out of anywhere other than DC and Marvel. And who knows, maybe we can try and give them a run for their money. Either way, I don't think people will want to miss what everybody is talking about. So buy the 'HyperActives!'"

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