When he's taking a break from his job as Top Cow's President and Chief Operating Officer, Matt Hawkins reads about science and dreams up new comics. The July-shipping four issue miniseries "Think Tank" is a direct result of his extracurricular activities. The Image Comics series, featuring art by Rahsan Ekedal ("Echoes"), is being published under Top Cow's Minotaur Press label and follows the adventures of a super genius named Dr. David Loren who works for the titular think tank. Well, sort of.
The arguably brilliant Dr. Loren helped create a weapon of mass destruction, but now regrets his actions. Because of this revelation, Loren has been dragging his feet with his other work, leaving a number of projects in various stages of incompletion. That is, until Colonel Harrison shows up to metaphorically -- and possibly literally -- kick David in his scientific butt. With not only his future at stake but also that of his collaborator, Dr. David Loren sets his sights on creating his own future.
EXCLUSIVE: Matt Hawkins' "Think Tank" debuts in July from Top Cow's Minotaur Press imprint
CBR News spoke with Hawkins about getting back to his creative roots, the real world scientific genesis of "Think Tank" and the nervous excitement he felt as the series was announced at this year's Image Expo.
"It's been a while since I wrote an original comic 100% on my own," Hawkins told CBR. "[I've] been involved in thousands of them, but creating something ground-up is always a challenge."Â
One of the ways Hawkins dealt with the task he faced in the book's early stages of creation was to dip into his love of science, as well as examine some personal attitudes, to develop the character of Dr. David Loren, who the writer describes as basically himself -- if he was a scientific genius. â€¨"I am a huge science buff and do read a lot of journals," Hawkins said. "I am fascinated with nanotechnology and biomimetics. I think both of those are going through a pretty amazing phase right now. The future of science is pretty awesome -- if these religious wars don't blow kill us all first!"
His scientific curiosity aside, what really helped kick start the book for Hawkins was a YouTube clip titled Metal Storm, featuring a 36 barrel machine gun that shoots 30,000 rounds per minute.
"After I saw this video, talked to a few friends of mine and read one of the sales brochures, the ideas started flowing," Hawkins said. "In the sales brochure for Metal Storm it says its primary function is to destroy incoming ordinance by shredding it with a wall of bullets. It mentions below, in smaller writing, that 'it's also good for crowd control.'Â That made me chuckle in a sad way, as firing a million bullets into a crowd would completely eviscerate everyone there. Nice 'crowd control.'"
Now that he had the inspiration of bullet spewing machines to complement his character of a brilliant slacker scientist, Hawkins went on to define who Dr. David Loren is and what he'll be doing as the story kicks off.
"David is an insanely brilliant guy who is easily bored by everything," Hawkins explained of his story's protagonist. "He is super competitive and driven to create things, but has now witnessed how some of his creations have been used on the battlefield and is having second thoughts about what he does. For the past two years he has intentionally not completed anything and has been coasting. The story starts when the military realizes what he's doing and sends someone in to kick his ass a bit.
"He has to break out with some of his technology that he does not want to get out into the world," Hawkins continued. "He is a compulsive guy, driven to create stuff, but is also plagued by the morality of its creation and use."
Once he had his story and characters firmly in place, Hawkins was presented with a new challenge: how to maintain the balance between giving the reader enough information to follow the storyline and bogging them down with too much science talk.
â€¨"This has been a struggle and is what takes me so long to write these issues," Hawkins said. "In the first issue, I had to rewrite page 16 about five times to make it concise enough with enough explanation as to how it would work."
Helping Hawkins keep things straight and showing how some things work is artist Rahsan Ekedal, who readers will remember from last year's Minotaur hit "Echoes," the critically acclaimed horror story written by Joshua Hale Fialkov. Hawkins joked that Ekedal saying yes to working on the project is what made the artist the proper fit for "Think Tank," but went on to more fully explain.
"I loved the work [Rahnsan] did on 'Echoes.' He does this great expressive thing with his character's faces that is very lacking in a lot of comics" Hawkins said. "I was a big fan, and when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on working with him on this. I try to keep a respectful distance with creators we work with to keep a professional barrier, but that goes out the window once you collaborate and work with someone on a project."
"Think Tank," by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal, hits stores in July.