SDCC: Interview with ‘Hacktivist’ creators
Let’s start with introductions and what you’re doing on Hacktivist…
Ian Herring, I’m the colorist.
Collin Kelly, I’m one of the co-writers.
And I’m Jackson Landzing the other co-writer.
JL - Hacktivist is a story that was inspired and created by Alyssa Milano, then came to us as a creative team to build it up. What we are looking at doing with Hacktivist is to tell a relevant story that isn’t distracted by superpowers or science fiction tropes. Something that feels cyberpunk and heightened, but is ‘right now’ and with characters just like you and me. With Archaia and Alyssa Milano behind it, it can actually get out there for the widest effect.
Did you have to do a lot of research on it?
CK - Yes. First we sat down with Alyssa and she knew the stuff inside and out.
JL - It turns out she is a super-smart genius.
CK - Then, we get home and we all get these leather binders with three hundred pages of hand made notes from Alyssa of stuff she had already put together.
JL - We call each other and ask, did you get this package too? Then it felt like we were back in school, pulling out our highlighters and learning everything we could about hacking, social media, anonymous and more.
CK - We’ve also been in contact with several hackers, Alyssa helped us reaching out to people that way. We want to make this as accurate as possible. The last thing we want is for someone to get into the book and start seeing a bunch of hacker BS.
JL - We’ve considered possibly doing an AMA on reddit or heading to 4chan to see if we can reach out for more advice from people that know this stuff. Hopefully if we go to them, they will be willing to talk to us about it.
What was your approach to the art?
IH - I had worked with Marcus To (artist) before on a couple of other books at DC, but this is a very grounded story. Marcus, even though he had worked in superhero books, he has a real talent for bringing out the character in someone’s face and making even a coffee shop scene look interesting. He tries to push me to do that as well.
The book has a lot of location changes too, switching the color schemes for different locales. Similar to the movie Traffic, playing with the color pallet for different scenes.
JL - You have sections of the book taking place in completely different locations around the world, which took even more research trying to get an authentic feel for the various chapters. Even though Marcus has worked on Superhero books, that’s not what I see him as, even when he’s doing a more animated style, you are still seeing an attention to detail.
Tale of Sand that Ian colored was one of my favorite books and I was flipping out when I heard that Ian was going to be our colorist. We had a 3-4 page sequence where our character was flipping out in the book and we just told Ian it was up to him and he’d have to sell it with his coloring because we knew he could.
How has it been working with Archaia?
JL - I don’t think any other publisher would publish this book. I don’t think that has anything to do with the quality of the work or team, but I genuinely think you wouldn’t see this anywhere else because it’s not a book directed solely at the comic book market. We hope comic fans will love it, and we are fanboys and love superheroes and science fiction as well and hope all that comes through, but this is comics for everybody. It’s that “Warren Ellis, if we don’t do this the industry will stagnate,” we gotta do this stuff. The fact that Archaia is pushing it, that we didn’t have to convince them, they came to us wanting to tell a real world information age story is a great thing.
IH - This is my third time working with them and they are fantastic. They support everything they put out.