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Chatting with the Top Dog at Top Cow

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Matt Hawkins has been working in the comic book industry for over 20 years, playing an integral role in Image Comics. While being the president of Top Cow, Mr. Hawkins also finds the time to create and write a number of popular titles including the hit series Think Tank. Today, we’re fortunate to steal a bit of his time to chat about his current run on Aphrodite IX.

LAZARUS_004_COV 4All-Comic.com: Aphrodite IX is an absolutely brilliant comic book in every respect, and we all appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions about it!
For those who may not know, Aphrodite IX was originally a mini-series by David Finch and David Wohl. Your take on the book is quite different and it really seems like you’ve made it your own. Did you originally set out to reinvent the title?

Matt Hawkins: Well reinvent is a strong word.  It had been a long time since that original series had come out and we had played with Aphrodite IV in the present day Witchblade and Artifacts storylines.  Ron Marz had written those but we had talked about that character.  I always liked Aphrodite but felt like she never got her due.  We couldn’t figure out if she should really be part of the “Top Cow Universe” or something else.  I had no intention of relaunching Aphrodite until Stjepan Sejic and I started talking about what he could do post Artifacts.  He told me he did NOT want to do anything that required reference whatsoever.  I started thinking about that and some of the ideas I had for Cyber Force that we didn’t use and voila!  Aphrodite IX.

There’s obviously still a lot more to come down the line with this story. How strongly will you draw from the original series in the future, if at all?

Matt Hawkins: The key moment in the original series is when Aphrodite IX kills the Chairwoman.  That is a pivotal moment that affects everything.  We changed that Aph was a pure robot/android because I didn’t want to play with a Pinocchio type character, I wanted to play with a human.

Are there any other books that have influenced the writing of Aphrodite IX?

Matt Hawkins: Pretty much anything Ray Kurzweil or Michio Kaku have written.  Love those dudes.

Stjepan Sejic’s original art style used for the series must take a long time to complete. What was the main reason behind the recent art-style swap?

Matt Hawkins: Stjepan was doing the photo real style he had always done and he started playing around with this other style.  He was going to use it on Darkness Falls and had done some artwork for that.  When that project got pushed back he  told me he was bummed because he thought he could do some great stuff with that other style.  I told him to just do it on the 2nd arc of Aphrodite.  I love it.  Love the expressive character faces.  He’s a god damn genius artist.

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Are there any plans you can mention regarding a tie-in to the wider Top Cow universe?

Matt Hawkins: Yes Cyber Force and Aphrodite are clearly linked but Aphrodite in the 8th issue also shows that she has one of the 13 artifacts so there’s a very clear tie-in.

The current run focuses on the subject of transhumanism quite deeply and your own interest in this topic is quite clear. Transhumanism is obviously a fascinating subject and particularly relevant today. What made you want to translate your own interest into a comic book?

Matt Hawkins: Hah!  I wouldn’t bother writing comic books at all if I couldn’t translate my own interests into it.  I’m obsessed with the idea of cybernetic and genetic enhancements and how this will affect us socially, morally, etc.  Very much looking forward to the scientific discoveries of the next two decades.  I follow the belief that humanity will split into a series of species.  Aphrodite IX sort of follows that as well.

aphrodite-IX-covBDo you consciously set out to inform readers about the potential benefits and drawbacks of increasingly merging our lives with technology or is this a happy coincidence of brilliantly creative writing?

Matt Hawkins: It’s very intentional so no happy coincidence there.  I’ve read up on a lot of this and it pervades my thoughts.

How deeply do you plan to explore Aphrodite’s origins?

Matt Hawkins: Her origins?  Hmmm.  Not a lot for now.  More concerned with the 2700 AD timeline.

There is a lot of deep narration from the title character of the story that always feels sincere. Is there any difficulty involved in “getting inside of Aphrodite’s head”?

Matt Hawkins: I have frequently felt like events in my life have left my control so I very much know how that feels.  Taking that and applying it to the emotional rape of what happened with Aphrodite IX makes me understand her.  She doesn’t want to be controlled.  Who does?  As a writer, I’m the worst at receiving notes from anyone.  Ask anyone who’s ever tried to edit me, heh.  Freedom of thought action and will are of paramount importance and something we take for granted.

Do you have a definite ending in mind for the series?

Matt Hawkins: For this arc of Aphrodite IX absolutely.  It’s all mapped out.  Issue 11 will be an issue with Shakespearian tragic elements.  One of the two groups, the Gen or the Cyborgs will be nearly completely annihilated! bwah ha ha

I want to thank you again for taking the time to speak with us about this amazing book!

Matt Hawkins: Thanks for taking the time!

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Be sure to check out the current run of Aphrodite IX from Top Cow and Image Comics. The artwork by Stjepan Sejic is incredible, and Matt Hawkins’ writing is exciting and engaging to say the least! This series has a unique concept with a wonderfully deep story that tackles a number of issues. Check out Aphrodite IX!

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