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DF Interview: Gabriel Hardman reveals his Invisible Republic
By Byron Brewer
Gabriel Hardman’s (Hulk, Planet of the Apes) previously digital-only series collection Kinski, both written and drawn by Hardman, will be coming to print from Image Comics this November.
As fans await that quirky dog-and-man series, Hardman has also announced a second project, to be executed with frequent collaborator Corinna Bechko (Savage Hulk, Star Wars: Legacy): a gritty sci-fi series, Invisible Republic.
Dynamic Forces caught up with Hardman and an unnamed four-legged canine companion at a fog-enshrouded dog park. This is what he told us.
Dynamic Forces: Gabriel, one of your new projects for Image Comics is called Invisible Republic, which you describe as, “first and foremost, a sci-fi action-adventure story.” Tell us about the concept of this ongoing, which launches in 2015.
Gabriel Hardman: It’s really about the rise to power of Arthur McBride, a charismatic and ultimately dangerous leader of a remote system in the days before faster than light travel. It’s told through the point of view of his female cousin Maia. She knew too much, so her role in things has been expunged from history. It’s more grounded than the space fantasy of Star Wars but it’s not tech-focused sci-fi. It’s a story about people caught up in changing times. There’s a definite thread of politics that runs through but no dearth of pulpy action, violence and drama.
DF: How did Invisible Republic make its way to Image Comics?
Gabriel Hardman: Image was interested in publishing a collection of my digital-first comic, Kinski, and Corinna and I were also looking to focus on creator-owned work after a couple of freelance series. We really enjoyed working on Planet of the Apes and Star Wars: Legacy but creator-owned comics were what we had always meant to do. We pitched Invisible Republic as the Kinski deal was coming together, Eric and Ron dug it, and we were on our way to the Image Expo at SDCC. Well, it didn’t really happen that fast but it seemed like it. It’s kind of a dream project -- a book we’ve been wanting to do for years -- but the right moment didn’t arise until now and Image seems like a perfect fit.
DF: Tell us about reporter Croger Babb and what he uncovers during a humanitarian crisis. Is Croger Republic’s POV character?
Gabriel Hardman: We’re telling parallel stories here. The rise of Arthur from Maia’s point of view, and Croger’s investigation. In this world, the rise and fall of Arthur McBride is something everybody thinks they know but, as it often happens, the truth is more complicated. Croger is a has-been novelist who took a job covering the aftermath of the fall of Arthur’s empire. He has a huge ego but recent career failures have made him more a figure of fun. He’s looked down on and ridiculed by fellow reporters but he’s the one who finds the real story in the crisis.
DF: Arthur, Arthur! Who exactly is Arthur McBride and what ominous secret does he have? Any hints at all? (laughs)
Gabriel Hardman: Arthur is the somewhat unknowable, illusive figure that sets the story in motion. A little like CFK in Citizen Kane, or Bob Dylan, he’s both well known and a total mystery at the same time.
DF: Gabriel, with Hulk and Planet of the Apes under the proverbial belt, sci-fi is no stranger to you. What new challenges has Invisible Republic presented that those properties did not?
Gabriel Hardman: Those are properties -- somebody else’s properties. This is our story. There are no limitations on who has to live and who can die. And it’s all canon. It’s an entire new world to explore. We always approached the freelance books as if they were our stories and put everything into them, but this is our property.
DF: And your frequent collaborator, Corinna Bechko, will be working on Republic as well?
Gabriel Hardman: Yes, we co-write the book just like we did on Apes and Legacy. The first book I drew when getting back into comics in 2008 was Heathentown from Image/Shadowline, which Corinna wrote. It’s been our intention all along to do more creator-owned work and we’re so happy to finally be getting back to it. I’m drawing Invisible Republic as well, and colors are by our frequent collaborator Jordan Boyd who we worked with on Legacy and Savage Hulk. We’re very lucky to get him on board.
DF: What would you like the reader to take away from this book?
Gabriel Hardman: I want them to read it and draw their own conclusions. The last thing I want is to tell people what to think. My hope is that they’ll be as invested in these characters as we are and excited to see where the story takes them.
DF: Tell me if I am wrong, but Kinski is your previously digital-only series, written and drawn by you, now collected and coming from Image in November, right?
Gabriel Hardman: Yes, it was previously only available digitally through Monkeybrian and comiXology. This trade will collect the entire story in one volume. When I set out to do Kinski, my hope was that it would work in multiple formats, that’s part of why I used a stripped down six panel grid. Now in print the whole story will be together so you can read it like a novel.
DF: Tell us a little about this man-and-dog crime saga.
Gabriel Hardman: Kinski is a suspense-filled, quirky crime story about Joe, a salesman who steals a dog because he feels it’s the right thing to do and all the terrible things that befall him as a result. It’s a totally grounded black and white book in a much more indie vein than the other work I’ve done. But it’s fast paced and entertaining, goofy and dark. All the things I enjoy.
DF: Is it just me, or does Joe seem to have more ... er uh ... traits that might relate to a dog more than the titular canine does? (That make sense? laughs)
Gabriel Hardman: Joe is looking for something to be passionate about and he’s potentially misguided but then again, maybe he isn’t. I set out not to judge the characters. The reader is free to meet me half way and interpret Joe’s actions as they will. It’s good that you’re seeing another level there. I think it’s important to be entertaining in comics but I also think we need to be challenging readers along the way. We need storytelling, not explaining!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Gabriel Hardman for taking time from his busy schedule to answer our questions. Kinski is coming to Image Comics this November while Invisible Republic will launch in 2015!
You can get more books by Gabrial Hardman here!
NEW! 1. 01/23/2020 - HEATHER ANTOS
2. 01/20/2020 - ROB GUILLORY
3. 01/17/2020 - DANIEL H. WILSON
4. 01/14/2020 - JON TSUEI
5. 01/09/2020 - BENJAMIN PERCY