Over the past couple of months you've been reading a lot about Speakeasy Comics, the upstart publishing company headed by Adam Fortier located in Toronto, Canada. They launch their first title this month with "Atomika," with a number of other titles to come. There's another side to Speakeasy that hasn't been discussed much yet - Hawke Studios.
Hawke is essentially the in house production side of Speakeasy Comics, managing the creator owned projects like "Beowulf" as well as licensed offerings like Yoshitaka Amano's "Hero." Adam Fortier spoke to CBR News about Hawke Studios, giving some incite as to what the company does.
"Hawke Studios is a company where I am able to work on projects that interest me, independent of Speakeasy Comics," Fortier told CBR News. "When I started Speakeasy, it was important that I be able to keep my publishing company and my comic book company separate."
Hawke Studios is headed by Fortier who's joined by Chris Stone, their artistic director. That takes care of the business side and Fortier laid out the creative side.
"For creative, we've set up a partnership with Grafiksismik, an art studio based in Quebec City. I'd been talking with them for a number of years and was always incredibly impressed with their work ethic and artistic quality (it's often difficult to find both in the same people). We're not a CrossGen looking to have people move to Toronto, Canada so we can keep an eye on them. We're more than happy to work with artists that aren't local provided they keep the quality up and produce timely work."
The goal of Hawke Studios is a simple one - to produce the best quality books they can make. "There's no mission statement printed and stapled to the wall, just a driving need to get our ideas on paper and out to the consumer," said Fortier. "All books made by Hawke Studios will have an involvement from myself, so we're not here to make other peoples books, nor are we here to create books for Speakeasy.
"Hawke Studios actually came before Speakeasy. It was my consulting company, and since Dreamwave I had had the idea of making my own books. The time was never right, so I just bided my time until the Speakeasy opportunity came along. At that point in time, it just made sense to create comic books to publish through my publishing company."
Hawke Studios is producing three creator-owned books for Speakeasy -- "Beowulf," "Spell Game" and "The Grimoire." What hasn't been mentioned really is that each of these three books are, in fact, connected in one manner or another. Fortier explained. "They take place in the same world, but aren't dependant upon each other. I always loved the early Marvel comic books where characters appeared in each other's books, but had no lasting effect. When Thor showed up it wasn't to promote a long standing crossover where you had to buy twelve different titles in order to get the story, it was just to enhance the story in the Hulk (or whatever). What I want out of each of these comics are good, simple stories that can appeal to a wide audience. I also want to make sure that these characters don't get overexposed, overused, etc.
"Instead of dictating specific projects to my writers and artists, I gave them a framework to work in, and then worked with them to realize projects that they would be excited by. Whether it be Sebastien Caisse's "The Grimoire," Brian Augustyn's "Beowulf" or Dan Mishkin's "Spellgame," each of these projects came from a passion that we all shared to tell truly different stories. There are even more projects coming down the pipeline, so keep your eyes out. We're working with an eclectic bunch of people, some old time writers, some up and comers, and even some bloggers."
This isn't Fortier's first time working in a studio environment, having previously worked with Dreamwave and Devil's Due. He's learned a lot from those previous experiences and applying those lessons to how he runs Hawke Studios, notably to keep the business and artistic groups separate.
"With many small companies people feel the need to be everything all at once, and that dilutes what you try to accomplish," admitted Fortier. "I run the business end of things and leave the art to people that I trust. That way I don't stray from what it is that I need to do (promote, manage, etc.) and it leaves the artists to create their projects to the best of their abilities on a timely basis.
"The other thing was to pick very carefully the people that you work with. It's nearly impossible to succeed on your own (maybe for a bit, but you're always going to get caught in the end), so if you work with people that you can trust and that can support you, you're golden!"
You might wonder why Speakeasy and Hawke are separate entities, but Fortier says that's been done on purpose for very specific reasons.
"Speakeasy is a publishing company, and it publishes other peoples projects as well as my own. I need to focus on Speakeasy and ensure that each of the projects that we publish gets the best chance of success. If Speakeasy was the company creating these projects, it would be far too easy to promote our books ahead of any of the other books that we publish."