Monday, August 28, 2017

A Flight of Heroes HAWKWORLD Interview and a new TPB

HAWKWORLD was a vibrant reboot of the character of Hawkman, with a new take on an old character, to make his present story more powerful and relevant to the audience of the 1980s.  It was similar in aim to Man of Steel by John Byrne, Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, George Perez's Wonder Woman, Mike Grell's Green Arrow Long Bow Hunters, here was a new and yet familiar character to meet, again.  Timothy Truman's 3 issue series was every bit as good as the others mentioned above, and it was followed by an ongoing monthly series written by John Ostrander, art by Graham Nolan, and watched over with an cowriter/editorial view, by Timothy Truman.

This is an interview with Truman and Nolan, and by the end of the piece there is a notice about a hopefully upcoming TPB in 2018.

ME: I loved Hawkworld. Did you have the project in mind and pitched it, or did DC say, hey, umm, we really like your stuff, would you consider doing...?

Timothy Truman: Thanks, Alex. I'm really proud of the work that (inker) Quique Alcatena and I did on the miniseries.

Mike Gold,  the editor, contacted me, as I recall. I can't remember whether or not it was to work on a Hawkman reboot, specifically, or if he just asked me whether or not I'd consider doing a Prestige series for DC.  I had been doing creator owned projects at the time, working exclusively with the independent publishers-- First, Eclipse, Pacific, a few things for Dark Horse. I was a bit of a snob in that regard. I wanted to support the indies and all the advances they'd made in regards to creator's rights. I also liked the artistic freedom that working with the independents allowed me. So I was originally reluctant to accept the offer.

The things that finally swung me were the facts that, to keep in pace wit the things that the indie publishers were offering artists and writers, mainstream publishers like DC and Marvel had adopted more creator-friendly publishing policies. Also, in the mid-1980's, I'd befriended classic Hawkman writer Gardner F. Fox. Before Gar died, we'd actually talked about pitching DC a new Hawkman series. Gar wanted to do a very Edgar Rice Burroughs/John Carter of Mars take on the character-- something very fantasy or space opera oriented. Unfortunately, I'd been too busy at the time to pursue such a project. When I finally found time to consider the project, Gar passed away. (In fact, he died the very night that I was composing a letter to him, asking him if he'd still be interested in doing something together.)

So when Mike approached me, Gar's original proposal to me once again popped into my mind.  He hadn't given me any details about plot specifics or anything but it seemed like a cool way to pay tribute to him. So I told Mike that I'd be willing to give it a try. I worked up a pitch and he he and the folks at DC really liked it. I must say that getting the European Haxtur Award for "Best Miniseries" the year it appeared was one of the proudest moments of my life.

ME: I have heard criticisms of the piece that making Hawkman thereafter a crusader for the poor seemed like a cliché.  Is that a point you worried about afterward?

TT: Ha! No, not in the least. Actually, I hadn't heard that one.  I don't really keep up with fan chatter like that. Seems rather strange, though. I thought that's one of the things that superheroes were supposed to do. Part of their original mission statement, you know? Go figure.

ME: To me, having someone overcome addiction and rise above a world view that was toxic meant the person was himself morally poor but chose to evolve and change that.

TT: Thanks. Those are pretty much the key components of the story for the Prestige miniseries -- to create this personal arc for Katar. He begins as an idealist-- a historian who worships the old legends of the ancient Thanagarian hero, Kalmoran.  He becomes a cop to do good, but starts seeing the ugly truth about the society that he's protecting. He learns that things like the Kalmoran stories are just handy myths used to justify those ugly truths. Gets depressed, takes drugs to cope, goes through a downfall that takes him straight to the bottom of life. How he climbs back up through that is how he becomes a hero. It's part of his journey, his personal evolution. At the time, I had pretty much given up reading fiction and had dived face-first into hard core studies of early American history. I was into the deep stuff-- rare first-hand accounts & primary source material that were really shattering a lot of the things that I'd been told since I was a kid. So Hawkworld drew on a lot of that. Of course a few years later I got to put these investigations to use in a more direct manner with my graphic novel Wilderness: the True Story of Simon Girty.

ME: Your work Hawkworld both redefined and refined the character from the Silver age.  It was adopted and the series Hawkworld, (crazy coincidence?) came out. As a result of the monthly series, some people became confused about the timeline and worried over continuity. When you were creating the 3-issue Prestige series, did that come up from DC, or were you just doing your creative thang and all of the editorial machinations happened afterward?

TT: Originally, I was only concerned with the 3-issue series. That was my only concern. I wanted to to stand alone, like a single SF novel or something. A good, solid space opera adventure story , but with some meat on its bones. That's how I worked, even on things like my Scout series-- to take the approach that each project was actually a single novel with pictures.

However, the miniseries was extremely successful. So as you might imagine, DC wanted to take advantage of that and launch it as a regular series. They wanted me to write and draw it, but I had my sights on other projects. I'd done what I wanted to do with the character via the miniseries and I wanted to move on to other things that I was eager to get into-- mainly Wilderness.  However, they wanted me to be involved in some way.  So I suggested they get John Ostrander to do the monthly and put in the recommendation that they look into Graham Nolan as the artist, as I'd worked with him on the Prowler backup stories at Eclipse. I told them that I'd help John co-plot the series, but I actually served as more of a consultant.

I detected a problem right off the bat with the continuity, though. The story I'd told in the original 3-issue series was intended to have taken place years and years before the  then-current DC continuity. The prestige stories was an expansion and elaboration on the old original, initial Gar Fox and Joe Kubert Silver Age stories that had been set on Thanagar. I had that notion form the start. If it had been played that way, I believe things would have been fine. But it was the age of the "Year One" DC series, you know? DC wanted the new monthly series to take up where the Prestige had left off and have Katar and Shayera come to earth during the then-current continuity. I have a notoriously short attention span, so, like I say, I was eager to move on with my own projects. So I was like, "Sure, it's your property, do what you want. Have a blast." As a result (though through no fault of John Ostrander), things got  bit muddled, continuity-wise. That's what DC wanted, though. And John and his wife Kim Yale certainly did some great stories.

ME: When you were aboard the series Hawkworld as a Editorial/Guiding hand, how much actual input did you offer?

TT: Less than I should have, and certainly less than was fair to John. He'd send me the plot for each issue, we'd have ten minute conversations on the phone each month and that was about it. I was really bad about things like that in the old days. When I was done with something, I didn't like to think about it again. My ADHD had me totally, hyper-focusing on the next project, 1000%. That's the only way I things done.

ME: Would you do a Hawkworld series using the same format if offered?

TT: I'd have to think really hard about it. It might be fun, sure, and I've learned to never count anything out. However, I'm 61 now, so I'm trying to get back to the original motivations that got me into the comics industry in the first place-- mainly getting back to doing my own stuff, via projects like Scout: Marauder, which Ben and I hope to launch soon via Kickstarter and a companion "behind the scenes" page at Thanks, Timothy Truman.

For updates about Timothy's work, check out his website, or visit his Facebook page.

GRAHAM NOLAN was the artist for the regular series of Hawkworld, and it was a wonderful run of work he did.  I asked him a number of questions to give an idea of the time he was on the book.

ME: I've really been a fan of your art work.  How did you enter the

GN: I had two class assignments at the Kubert School published in DC Comics: New Talent Showcase. It so happens the editor, Sal Amendola was my instructor at the school.

What was your first work?

GN: New Talent Showcase

ME: I know you did some Airboy, some Power of the Atom, and even my beloved Doom Patrol before doing a run on Hawkworld.  Was it the first book you really got to show your stuff?

GN: No, I think The Prowler for Eclipse comics was where I got to “show my stuff”. As with Hawkworld I did full art on that series. But Hawkworld was the biggest profile book I had worked on up till then.

ME: There were complaints about Hawkworld, perhaps not loud ones, that making a hero of Katar Hol who overcame drug addiction and a toxic attitude of entitlement to now fight for the poor and unloved, that he was being an example of the White man's burden, or Noblese Oblige. Did you think anything about his motives or how it was playing to readers, or was it just work?

GN: It was a job. I didn’t have any story input.

ME: Some people became confused about the timeline of Hawkworld, as in, was this in the present, hey we thought the prestige format series it was his origin, why start over from here?   Did any of this change or affect any of your work?  If so how so?

We didn’t start over. The monthly was a continuation of the Prestige Series and it was set in the then current continuity.

ME: I didn't mean or even say that I thought it, but I absolutely heard other people say it, just sayin'...

Did your work on the series require added research, were you trying to not deviate from Tim's template?  Did you enjoy drawing these characters?

I usually do a lot of research for every project I take on. Tim had really set the groundwork in his series so what I tried to do was capture the “feel” of the prestige series without aping it. I wanted to add my natural sense for a more dynamic style of visual storytelling.

ME: How was working with John Ostrander and Tim?  Were there ever stories that weren't a meeting of the minds?

Tim and John are great and talented guys. John’s stories leaned heavily to the political left while my leanings are to the right so there were many stories that I didn’t agree with. But I wasn’t getting paid for my story input so I did my best to make John’s stories as exciting as possible regardless of what I thought of the subject matter.

Would you return to a Hawkworld series if offered?  And please give the readers here an update of your work...

DC has returned Katar Hol to his traditional Hawkman role so I don’t see that happening.

I’m currently working on BANE: CONQUEST for DC Comics with my pal, Chuck Dixon. I also have a humor strip called SUNSHINE STATE ( that updates every Monday so subscribe to it…it’s FREE!


DC Comics originally announced that in 2018 a tpb of the first 8 issues of the Hawkworld ongoing series will be released.   I've noticed some changes on the AMAZON listing, so it is perhaps going through a reschedule or a quirk in the system.  (How the hell do I know?)

Here is the publisher description...

Hawkworld Book One: The Byth Saga

A new edition of the classic title that reinvented Hawkman for the 1990s.

In this classic comics series from the 1990s, writer/artist Timothy Truman reinvented Hawkman as a brutal member of a distant planet's police force.

HAWKWORLD follows wealthy Katar Hol as he questions his role in Thanagarian society, joins the police force, is betrayed and disgraced, and then finally finds his purpose as Hawkman.


The AMAZON pre order link now says release date 2035, for when it will come out, I sure hope that isn't a really deep pre order schedule.  But again, there has been some change in the info, so, when exactly it happens, I don't know, I do know, I'll be happy to see it happen.

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