"What is our place in the universe?" "Golgotha," a new Kickstarter project from Top Cow Productions and scribes Matt Hawkins and Bryan Hill, and artists Yuki Saeki and Bryan Valenza, poses that very question. Set to serve up a hard sci-fi extravaganza for fans of adventure and the work of literary giants like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, "Golgotha" offers a human tale set in the cosmos -- packed with moral complexity and intrigue.
CBR had the exclusive opportunity to speak with Hawkins and Hill about their new series in a conversation that spanned the origins of the title, its various hard sci-fi influences, the details of the book's Kickstarter campaign, lessons learned from past crowdfunded projects, and much more.
Take a look at some preview pages dispersed in the interview below. You can donate to "Golgotha's" Kickstarter here.
CBR: How did "Golgotha" come about?
Matt Hawkins: The initial idea came about when I was researching quantum entanglement and was studying possible transit times to other worlds. We’re estimating it could take potentially hundreds of years to get to other planets. So either we cryofreeze ourselves (which is theoretical at best) or it would require multiple generations to arrive. Assuming cryosleep is possible and the transit time is that long, I thought it’d suck if people left under that condition only for scientists to figure out how to travel faster right after they left. That idea bounced around in my head for a while and I wrote the outline for Golgotha and then asked Bryan Hill to write it with me.
What drew you to the project, Bryan?
Bryan Hill: Because the bulk of my work is grounded, "Postal," "Romulus," etc., people don't know that I'm a tremendous fan of science-fiction. When Matt shared his concept with me, I immediately saw something that felt like the original "Alien," science-fiction grounded in real emotions. Also, it's rare you get to do the whole book all at once. That format makes it a little easier to foreshadow and tell a story like a novel, without splitting up the experience into single issues. I think fans of "Alien," "Mass Effect" and character driven science-fiction will find something really exiting with "Golgotha." The book asks the key question: What is our place in the universe? It's not often you get to do that.
What does the story entail?
Hawkins: The story centers on Michael Lawton, a soldier who no longer has a place on earth and decides to start anew with the Golgotha mission to colonize a new world. He leaves with a crew and when they arrive they find a colony already there and having been there for quite some time. His grandson who looks like his grandfather, relative times and all, runs the place. He’s a man now out of time with no real purpose and has to deal with this new reality. The colony is not quite as perfect as it seems on first blush and we see quickly that there’s some strange stuff going on. There’s a mystery that Michael starts looking into. His grandson’s first wife disappeared a decade ago after discovering some alien technology and now a decade later has returned and is threatening the stability of the colony.
The book seems to be "Armageddon"-influenced, with a touch of "Avatar" with its themes of resource-mining and colonialism. What other projects influenced "Golgotha"?
Less "Armageddon" and more "Apocalypse Now," really. The "Avatar" comparison works for the resource mining of it all, but we don’t actually have any aliens in this story. Just some ruins of alien technology that plays some havoc on the human minds that encounter it.
Why are Yuki Saeki and Bryan Valenza the right art team for this project?
Hawkins: This book needed some atmosphere to pull it off and she really did an amazing job. Her storytelling is top notch and her characters are very expressive and interesting visually…that’s always important to me. Bryan was Yuki’s first choice for coloring her work so when he accepted we were all very pleased. The book has a cell-shaded kind of look, a blending of western and eastern styles and I’m very happy with how it came out.
Why did you decide to launch "Golgotha" through a Kickstarter campaign?
Hawkins: Doing an original graphic novel is very difficult through the regular direct market so we thought we’d try Kickstarter to get it out there. We’ve done two campaigns previously and saw the success Jimmy Palmiotti and Bryan Pulido were having with these types of OGN launches so we thought we’d try it.
What’s the goal and what are the various incentives?
Hawkins: It’s a modest goal, only $15,000 and the incentives are primarily the book itself. There are some 25th anniversary Top Cow celebratory items including buttons and stickers of "Witchblade," "Darkness," "Aphrodite IX" and "Magdalena." There’s also a tier for aspiring writers and artists who’d like to see an entire process form inception to completion, including the email correspondence of the team, the various drafts of outlines, scripts, etc. It’ll be a very cool behind-the-scenes look at how to make a book.
What have you learned from previous Kickstarter initiatives from Top Cow?
Hawkins: That it’s better to have the books done in advance. We’re 90% done with the 128-page book and will be done by the time the campaign ends so there won’t be significant delays for people to receive the rewards. We’ve also kept this one fairly simple with fewer tiers and mainly the tiers are either digital or print versions of the trade itself.
What kind of reader would be interested in donating to something like Golgotha?
Hawkins: Fans of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and science fiction in general will dig this. Any fan of Bryan or my work on "Postal," "Aphrodite IX," "Dante," "Cyber-Force," "Think Tank," "Symmetry" or anything else we’ve worked on will like it too! We’ve put a lot into making sure this is a special book and I think people will enjoy it.
How does the creative process differ working on a Kickstarter project, as opposed to one primarily funded by a publisher?
Hawkins: It’s the same really and "Golgotha" was funded by us, we’ve paid for the entire thing in advance. We like to try different things and original graphic novels are a tough sell in the direct market so we thought we’d give this a try! Thanks to anyone who pledges, we appreciate your support.
Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill, Yuki Saeki and Bryan Valenza's "Golgotha" is currently live on Kickstarter -- you can donate to the project here.