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Alyssa Milano, Hacktivist writers: ‘You are often, whether or not you know it, writing the future’

Last year, Mistresses and Charmed actress Alyssa Milano flexed her creative talents with the debut of Hacktivist, a graphic novel that focused on the growing issues of social media and social commentary. Along with writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, as well as artist Marcus To and colorist Ian Herring, Hacktivist explored the story of Nate Graft and Ed Hiccox, two Internet savvy friends running a social media company similar to Twitter called YourLife…and who also happen to be hackers for a group called “.sve_urs3lf.” Four installments were released starting in January 2014 from Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios.

The first issue of the second volume of Hacktivist, a six issue miniseries which was released by Archaia this past Wednesday, follows the graphic novel’s acclaimed run. In the wake of new alliances and new complications that stem from the faked death of his friend Ed, Hacktivist takes on new stories and even bigger threats.

EW spoke with Milano, Lanzing and Kelly about taking Hacktivist to the next level, as well as the reflections they had on writing a series that aligned pretty closely with recent real-life events. Fans can also see an exclusive preview of pages below.

EW: This issue is a follow-up to the one you released last year. For all of you, what have been some of the best things that you’ve seen in terms of reception and feedback from the first issue? What surprised you about its debut?
ALYSSA MILANO: I was incredibly nervous before the original release. Comic book fans are smart, loyal and die-hard, so I knew developing a comic might be met with some criticism. Just the fact that the book was so warmly received and critically acclaimed made me happy and was somewhat of a surprise. The other thing that kind of blew me away was how much feedback and support I got from real hacktivists.

JACKSON LANZING: That’s actually my favorite bit of reception, too — the response that came from within the hacker community, from those that reached out after they trolled us mercilessly. They could have easily ignored us, but instead there were many in the wider community who came forward with constructive input for the next volume. Add to that the occasional tweet from someone in Tunisia, thrilled to see their country and story represented in ours, and the reaction has been better than I could have ever expected.

COLLIN KELLY: One thing that delighted me was the number of converts we made. The first volume wasn’t your standard super-hero fare by any stretch, but it also isn’t an indie title. With no natural fan base, we had to carve out a niche, and that meant finding people willing to take a chance on something a little different. Having those same people come back after issue four — not only excited but hungry for this issue — that’s an incredible feeling.

Alyssa, this idea initially came out of your passionate response to how the media controls us. Did you have these bigger ideas you wanted to follow up on in this volume, or did you always know exactly what storytelling path you wanted to take?
MILANO: My passion really stems from how technology and specifically social media has become such a powerful tool for democracy. It gives people with no voice a voice. A moment can create a movement. A movement used to need a leader to stand up and organize and now a movement can be created and led by many people rising up. I think that’s pretty amazing. As far as this issue is concerned, once I decided to do another volume, I knew the exact story I wanted to tell. But it was really important to me when creating the first volume that it could stand on its own.

God of Comics – Hacktivist
Actress, Entrepreneur, Humanitarian, Game Changer.