This month sees the release of a new crossover comic from Top Cow. But it doesn't feature characters like Witchblade, Aphrodite IX or the Darkness. This crossover pulls together Think Tank, Postal and The Tithe, three comics grounded in a very real feeling universe. Matt Hawkins has been creator / co-creator on all three of the titles and I got a chance to speak with him about bringing these three very unique books together into Eden's Fall.
DAN WICKLINE: One of Top Cow's big upcoming projects is Eden's Fall that brings together three different titles: Think Tank, Postal and The Tithe. When these titles were created, had you already decided they were in a shared universe? Does this tie in at all to the rest of the Top Cow universe?
MATT HAWKINS: It. does not tie into the Top Cow Universe at all. We're calling this the "Eden-verse" so we have that, the Top Cow Universe and what we're calling the Sejic-verse which is Sunstone, Blood Stain and the upcoming Swing title. When I started Think Tank six years ago Postal and The Tithe where not even on the radar so there was never any plan to cross them over. When I did the second arc of The Tithe I put David Loren (from Think Tank) in the book on a skype call consulting with the FBI on a military equipment matter because it made sense. It was the second volume of The Tithe that convinced us to do this. All three of these books take place in the real world, no super-heroes, no supernatural, just people.
DW: Each one of these titles is unique onto itself, so I'd like to get a better feel for each one. Starting with Think Tank. At San Diego you said your research for this series has gotten you investigated by the FBI twice. What were the themes you wanted to tackle with this series and what from this series will carry over into Eden's Fall?
MH: Think Tank has always been about the relationship between scientific research and the military industrial complex and the people that get stuck in the crossfire. It's kind of a drama with a lot of dark humor and sarcasm. The lead, David Loren, is somewhat bulletproof in that they need him, but he's sort of an indentured servant and has no life outside of what he does. The gimmick of the book is that all the science is as accurate as I can make it and the weapons systems all used real. And I source it fairly extensively in an appendix I include in the back of every issue.
DW: Postal was the second series of the three created and I remember reading it and it feeling like something special. It almost felt Hitchcockian in design, the everyman trying to discover the truth in a town full of lies. But it also felt finite to me, like there was a story to tell and then it would end. Did you always see it as an on-going series and what made it the right place for the books to collide?
MH: I don't know why but when we started it I told Bryan Hill and Isaac Goodhart to plan to do 24 issues. There wasn't a real rhyme or reason to that but I wanted us to do a nice long run with the same creative team. There have been 17 issues of Think Tank and only Rahsan and I've ever worked on it. I like that consistency of team.
DW: And then we come to the Tithe. I know what I thought was the themes for this series, but I'm curious to what you felt they were going in to it and what of those themes carry over into Eden's Fall. Does this series work as a sequel to The Tithe or is it something altogether different?
MH: The Tithe is the linchpin that keeps the Eden-verse together. It was the villain in The Tithe that went to Eden. It was the FBI people in Tithe who connected David Loren in. The Tithe was always a heist story that had religious overtones. I'm cynical of the prosperity doctrine, so I wanted to skewer that but at the same time to try and be non-overly-critical of christianity in general.
DW: Let's get into Eden's Fall. What is bringing these characters together and what can we expect from the series?
MH: At the end of the second volume of The Tithe the villain goes to Eden to hideout as the premise of Postal carries through in being sort of witness protection and new identity creation for bad guys. The characters from The Tithe decide to infiltrate Eden to take this guy out and that's essentially the story. The tag line we've been using shows the main characters of each series and says "one dies", "one career ruined" and "one town changed forever". The town is obvious but we will be killing off one of the main characters and another's career is ruined. The thing about Think tank and Postal is we don't have fun ways to bring them back from the dead. I've killed a dozen characters in Think Tank and none of them have returned.
DW: Have you come up with a name for this combined universe? You scoffed a bit when I called it the Hawkinsverse. And when this series is over, will there be more of this universe to look forward to? Any plans to expand it even further?
MH: We're calling it the Eden-verse now. And there is a character in Eden's Fall that we will be spinning off into it's own series. Based on a concept that Marc Silvestri came up with the character is called Clean. All three titles, Tithe, Postal and Think Tank have new arcs in the work.
DW: One of the things folks talk about is more diversity in comic titles and getting away from superhero books. But for years the superhero books are what brought in the money. All of these titles involved here are non-superhero books. Are comic buyers starting to embrace these other genres? How is marketing for these titles different than for the more over-the-top superhero titles?
MH: This is a very diverse, non-superhero cast and the sales are ok. It's more trade oriented, One thing we've decided to do is stop doing variants on the "eden-verse" titles. We'll still do them on the core top Cow universe books but these and the Sejic-verse Sunstone books are reader books and not really suited as well for the collector market. I think the key thing for us on these books is once people try them they like them. Sales are consistent and growing and there are a lot of people that read these book and our Sejic-verse books that aren't really comic readers.
DW: As a writer, you seem to be trying out different genres over the last few years. What genre have you yet to try your hand at but want to? What genre do you want to stay away from?
MH: I need to stay away from comedy. When I try to be funny it comes our really silly and goofy. People laugh at my sarcasm and darker humor but that's all I've got. Swing is kind of a romantic comedy slice of life book but the humor will come from Jenni Cheung and Linda Sejic, my collaborators on that. I would love to write a true horror story. Something really sick and depraved, heh, to exercise some demons. I like horror like Hostel where there's always that fear that it's true and actually talking place some where.
DW: Let's wrap this up by coming back to the new series. In one sentence, what is the #1 reason why readers should pick up Eden's Fall #1?
MH: It's a good read with characters you'll come to love and root for despite their flaws and humanity.
Eden's Fall #1 by Matt Hawkins, Bryan Hill And Atilio Rojo goes on sale August 31st.