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MATT HAWKINS TALES OF HONOR INTERVIEW!
Top Cow recently began adapting David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels into comic book form with writer Matt Hawkins at the helm.
The novels of two decades-plus vintage obviously have an established fan base, but would that translate into comic book sales? For this question and more, Dynamic Forces talked with Hawkins about the project.
Dynamic Forces: Matt, tell us how the SF novel series Honor Harrington has become a Top Cow comic book.
Matt Hawkins: My friend Rich Leibowitz who works primarily in video games introduced me to Richard Brown at Evergreen Studios. They were looking for someone to do a comic book based on the Honor Harrington novels and part of a massive effort to set up this universe as a series of films and really get it out there in all media. I don’t do work-for-hire type work normally, so I took the meeting mostly as a courtesy and figured I could direct them to people who do this type of work. Meeting with Richard, we talked about it and I told him this most likely wasn’t for me. He gave me the first novel, On Basilisk Station, and asked me to read it. I agreed and went home and read the book over the weekend …and I LOVED IT! So I called him Monday and told him I was in and we put the deal together.
DF: How different is the HH novel universe from what we can find in Tales of Honor?
Matt Hawkins: The overarching plot, the world should feel very familiar to readers of the novels. The characters for the most part are the same, although we have merged a few characters in the longer storyline together. There are a lot of characters. The first arc, Tales of Honor: On Basilisk Station, follows the book fairly closely. Going forward, we veer more strongly from the book storylines, but the vibe of it is all in the world. One huge plus is that David Weber is involved and reads all of what I’m doing and offers comments and suggestions. They’re all very helpful! The biggest hurdle was visualizing all these characters and the settings. It’s a rich sci-fi world and so we’re looking at the comic art and the designs as a work-in-progress until we nail the right look for everything. There’s been some scuttlebutt about how Nimitz looked and we added fur, etc.
DF: Are these original tales for the comic based on David Weber, or adaptations of the novel series?
Matt Hawkins: Both. This first arc is for the most part an adaptation. The second arc will also follow the overall plot of Honor of the Queen.
DF: Tell us about spaceship Captain Honor Harrington and her world.
Matt Hawkins: There is so much! There’s a great resource online that has detailed character descriptions of all the characters:
For me, the more interesting component is that she’s a self-made woman for the most part. In this world, Naval officer promotion is very political and a lot of people are descendants of money and/or aristocracy but she is not and has forged ahead based on her abilities alone. She’s smart, savvy, a martial arts master and aware of who and what she is in the scheme of things … something a lot of fictional and real people seem to lack. The world I find very interesting and is similar to what we’re looking at today but set in a far flung future. The way Weber sets this up is pretty ingenious. Essentially, some years from now we all spread out to the stars and people of like minds tend to self-segregate across the universe. So there is a period of semi-peace as everyone who hates each other are no longer in proximity. Over time as these star kingdoms expand and their populations grow the known universe becomes smaller and their borders start to bump up against each other. So we have a corollary of modern problems again set in this rich, fantastic sci-fi setting. I also LOVE the way Weber has established the space combat between all of the ships. He uses inertia, vectors and has real physics involved in all this ... which hits my sweet spot. One thing I’ve always hated about sci-fi is that the spaceships always seem to be able to stop and turn on a dime. That would be very difficult to do if you were flying through space that fast. Everything is relative too and no one seems to take that into account in these fictional worlds.
DF: The second issue hit stores in April and it seems the new commander is being hit from all sides: a doubtful crew, a predecessor determined to sabotage her, and understaffing (sounds familiar). Does this ground the character for readers?
Matt Hawkins: Yeah, I think it does ground her. We’re all reflections of our struggles, trials and the people we surround ourselves with. She is confronted with impossible situations and figures out a way to overcome, which is a universal human theme so people respond to that.
DF: Are there any looming big-bads out there in the cosmos for Harrington? Can you give us some hints without spoilers?
Matt Hawkins: Honor is a captain in the Royal Manticoran Navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore and their chief rival is the nearby People’s Republic of Haven (or Haven). It’s less that they’re big-bads and more that there are economic forces and political reasons that lead to these differing nations to war with each other. There are bad people on all sides. It’s one of the reasons I like Weber’s world here, it’s very plausible in this fantastic setting … and all very human.
DF: Why is this the type of character you seem to enjoy writing?
Matt Hawkins: I know a lot about the military having grown up a military brat on bases all over the world, so it’s something I’ve been surrounded with my whole life. I like characters with flaws who make stupid decisions and then live with the consequences. I also like characters who have realistic but awesome abilities. I don’t know really, I just enjoy this type.
DF: I have spoken with Gail Simone and other writers of strong women characters and how there are more of them in comics these days. Is Harrington reflective of this trend, and how do you view it as a scribe?
Matt Hawkins: I don’t think it’s a trend, it’s just getting more attention than it used to. There have been strong female characters for two decades plus so no, I don’t think of it as a recent thing. Witchblade came out in 1995 and was a strong female lead. Ultimately, I don’t care about a character’s gender. I just want to write and tell cool stories. When I write women, though, I always ask my editor and my fiancé to please edit me to make sure I’m writing credible character types and not just stereotypes or archetypes.
DF: Are you at all involved in the proposed feature film and can you tell us anything about it?
Matt Hawkins: I am not, but it will be awesome. I’ve got a lot of faith in the Evergreen Studios people. They know what they’re doing and shoot for quality.
DF: After the initial intro arc, what is next for those on Basilisk Station?
Matt Hawkins: The first arc wraps up with issue #5 and then we’re off to arc 2, Tales of Honor: Honor of the Queen, that I will be doing with Linda Sejic, my artist for my other new book, Wildfire, coming out in June.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Matt Hawkins for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions. Tales of Honor #3 hits stores June 4th!
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