4LN – For our readers who aren’t familiar, can you give us little background on Top Cow and how you got to where you are in comic publishing?
Matt Hawkins – Top Cow is a 23 year old company that was created by Marc Silvestri as part of the original Image Comics launch. I started in 1993 working at Extreme Studios which was part of Image back then. In 1998 I self-published my Lady Pendragon title through Image as well and have been at Top Cow since 1999.
4LN – Having been in the comic book industry for over 2 decades now, what major differences do you see between the way things function now and they way they did when you first got in?
MH – Things are very much writer-driven now. When I started everything was about the artist…so that’s a pretty massive shift. I go back and look at some of those early books and there isn’t much story to them, but it had lots of explosions and cool shots. Kind of the Michael Bay approach. That doesn’t work in comics anymore…at all. People follow creators and they follow characters. Art is still seismically important, but everyone talks about writers.
4LN – I’d like to talk a little bit about the new series you write and created, The Tithe. Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
MH – I’ve always wanted to do a heist story, but didn’t want to do yet another bank, armored car or museum/art one. I started thinking of where there were large sums of cash and I stumbled across megachurches. I started working on that and came up with the Robin Hood angle. I also wanted to NOT come across as anti-religion so set the character dynamic up that way.
4LN – It feels like a bold statement to write a down-to-earth, Robin Hood-esque, heist story about corrupt megachurches during a time when the market is dominated by fantasy series’. Was there ever any hesitation on your part about putting this out, or did you just jump in head first?
MH – Doing what everyone else is doing is a sure-fire way to get ignored or sidelined. Top Cow has always tried to counter-program. I have no interest in super-heroes and have the luxury of being able to tell the stories I want to.
4LN – The fantastic artwork for the series is done by Rahsan Ekedal, who you also worked with on Think Tank. Was he always your first choice as artist for The Tithe?
MH – Yes. His command of character expressions and good storytelling is essential to a story like this. We knew we wanted to start working on Think Tank in color so we chose to do this first arc of The Tithe in color to test that process, refine it before we jumped back into Think Tank.
4LN – You also recently put out a book called ADR1FT. What can you tell us about that project?
Adr1ft was a one shot book that was done as a promotional comic for the video game of the same name. We printed up 15,000 copies and gave them away at ComiCon and other conventions following. It’s a terrific game and Adam Orth (creator) wanted to flesh out the characters in the game and a comic is a nice way to do that.
4LN – Lastly, You guys at Top Cow have recently launched your annual Talent Hunt. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
MH – It’s an annual event where we’re looking for some unpublished writers and artists to get a shot at publishing in the comic industry. There’s not a lot of ways for a comic writer to break in, so we thought we’d help out and make a start available for some people that deserve a voice. All the details, the documents and the rules are here: TOP COW TALENT HUNT
4LN – This next set of questions is our Lightening Round. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. What non-comic book should everyone read?
MH – Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
4LN – Favorite beer…
MH – Newcastle
4LN – Are you more of Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, or a Black Sabbath kind of guy?
MH – Rush would be my preference, but of those three I’ll take Zeppelin.
4LN – Best movie you’ve seen in the last 5 years…
MH – Predestination, loved it.
4LN – Finally, what is your favorite thing from the new lines of Star Wars merch that just released?
MH – I saw a Millennium Falcon drone, that looked cool.
Issue #6 of The Tithe just hit comic shops this past Wednesday so make sure to pick up the volume 1 collection along with issues 5 and 6 today!