Richard: Can you tell us something about your family? How important are they in your life?
David Hopkins: I grew up in a fairly well-adjusted middle class suburban family. No divorce. No drama. Although, from my parents, I inherited an obsessive compulsive disorder mingled with being a wee bit scattered brained, which is a scary combination when you think of it.
My family has an interesting history. My grandfather was one of thirteen kids. Eight of them served in World War II. Every one came back alive. (And yes, that will be the basis for an upcoming comic book I'm working on.) For this and other reasons, I found my personal story within the larger story of this amazing family. I think that's why all my stories, regardless of genre, deal with family dynamics. Endless fascinating. And now that I'm a father, I'm also seeing a new perspective on it.
Richard: What is the storyline of "Emily Edison"?
David: Emily's parents divorced when she was young. Her dad is a super genius. Her mom is nobility from another dimension. The father gained custody, and now Emily's grandfather, Vigo, has decided to destroy the earth in order to force Emily to live with mom's side of the family. Each chapter of Emily Edison is a little different, but she always ends up in some huge fight to save the day with her special dimensional powers. There's a lot, and I mean a lot, of action in this graphic novel. We were greatly influenced by FLCL and Genndy Tartakovsky.
Richard: How did you and Brock Rizy come up with the idea for this comic?
David: Brock and I were friends before we ever thought about working together. He did his comics. I did mine. One day, I showed him a list of ideas I had. And one of them, oddly enough, looked exactly like this character he'd drawn recently. (http://emilyedison.com/images/eepowergirl.jpg) It was our opportunity to do the kind of all-ages super hero comic we'd always wanted to see. In the process, the graphic novel became something uniquely our own. We made it crazy, a real wild adventure with all sorts of odd bits thrown in.
Richard: What is Emily's personality like?
David: Emily is a goofy teenage girl. She doesn't fall into one of those typical Breakfast Club archetypes. She sleeps in class. She acts like a spaz around boys. She gets embarrassed by her dad. She shops at Delia's. In many regards, her friend Molly is kind of character who would usually get the lead role in these comics-- popular, pretty, smartest kid in school. Emily would be the supporting character. She's the Jimmy Olsen. But that's not how this comic goes, Molly, the Alpha-Girl in their friendship, has no powers. Emily is the one who can fly and knock down buildings. I wanted Emily to be the kind of normal girl and normal teenager that other girls could identify with. Many female characters in mainstream comics are twisted fantasy girls written by horny men. I don't want to date Emily. I feel like her dad.
Richard: What is a badbot?
David: A robot, but evil. Badbot. They are our highly expendable villains. Robots are fun, because you can rip their heads off without any ethical issues. Vigo created the badbots and sent them to take over earth. Visually, I think it's one of Brock's best designs, which is good because he had to draw a hundred of them for the first chapter.
Richard: Will there be more of "Emily Edison", more issues?
David: I hope so. Brock is busy working on an independent film called ĦBike_Gang! (www.beeow.com/bikegang/). It's a mash-up of live action and animation. Once he's done with that, we'll probably start work on the second graphic novel. We've talked a little about what should be next, and it's going to be good. We have a fight scene planned that will get completely out-of-hand, sixty pages or more? Oh yes.
Richard: What was the first comic book you wrote?
David: Some Other Day. It's a 24 page mini-comic I self-published, now available on my website. A satire about small town life illustrated by Brian Kelly. I actually scripted five issues of a series called The Insight and wrote the first draft of Astronaut Dad before that, but The Insight was all about me getting comfortable with the writing process. It was never intended to be published. And Astronaut Dad took a few more drafts to get where it is today.
Richard: Will we see another series of "Karma Incorporated"?
David: Yes. The first series will be collected into a trade paperback and available this Fall. We're releasing the second series a few months later, directly to trade paperback format. It's called "Karma Incorporated: Vice & Virtue". We had a sneak peak of it in Viper Comics Presents for Free Comic Book Day. In Vice & Virtue, Karma Incorporated is forced into an assignment against a high profile target: the mayor during her re-election campaign. Also, the team is forced into hiding as a sibling hit-squad hunts them down. I'm essentially balancing two storylines in this one.
Richard: Did you really wrestle with a mountain lion?
David: I sure did. About twenty years ago, my dad and a business partner bought a full grown mountain lion from a dealer. They wanted to use the animal in their ad campaign for new security system. They figured it would be cheaper to own than rent. The business partner built a huge caged habitat for the mountain lion. The guy lived out in the country, and took wonderful care of the animal. Apparently, this mountain lion had been raised in captivity its whole life. De-clawed. Teeth filed down. Rather docile. I went into the cage with my dad to say hello. The mountain lion jumped on me, tackled me to the ground. It took both my dad and his friend to pry the large cat off me. Fun times.
Richard: What future projects do you have planned?
David: The first volume of Astronaut Dad is coming this Fall, and the second volume, next summer. It's illustrated by Brent Schoonover, artist of Horrorwood, and published by Christian Beranek and the new Little Foot imprint. It's a story set in the early '60s about three NASA families who live in the same neighborhood. I've been working on the story for a long time. It's exciting to see the finished pages. I'm almost done with the latest re-write of volume two. Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir have helped me with the edits, which has been such a great learning experience.
I'm also working on that World War II project I mentioned. It's called Bolivar. Diana Nock is the artist, and she's amazing. I can tell you right now -- Diana's going to be a big deal. It's rare to find someone with such a natural sense for storytelling, particularly working from someone else's script. I'm fortunate to partner with her.
Richard: Which artists have you enjoyed having illustrate your writings?
David: In the past five years, I've worked with twelve different artists, and only had a bad experience with one of them. That was a situation neither of us had much control over. He wanted one thing for the story that simply wasn't possible with what I was asked to do. Also, talent-wise, I don't think he was ready to get published. I don't mean to sound rude about it, because that's not my intention. It was a difficult pairing, and that can happen. We did the best we could.
Other than that, every artist has been wonderful. Each for different reasons. Tom Kurzanski. I could happily spend the rest of my career working with him. He's such a professional, and he has a style that fits so well with what I enjoy. It has range. He can take a scene and go over the top with it, or make it subtle. Brock Rizy is a freaking mad scientist.
I love working with him, because he keeps me off guard with his own approach. It's a fire and ice type dynamic. Brent Schoonover is completely committed to his craft and art. He has this wonderful Kirby-esque pulp style that I love. On Astronaut Dad, it's been a wonderful collaboration. He's shown a lot faith in me, which I appreciate. I've already mentioned Diana Nock. But can I just say how awesome it is to be working with a girl? There's so many men in this industry. It's nice to shake up the boy's club a bit. She has such beautiful line work, and her character designs are phenomenal.
We'll have a preview of her work at MoCCA. Paul Milligan and I worked on a Dash Bradley story together, and may be doing this cool magazine project, which I can't announce yet. He's a wonderful artist -- a clean original style. We've just started working together, but I hope we do more together.
Richard: What comics did you read as a child and do you read now?
David: As I kid, I loved Bill Mantlo's Cloak and Dagger. To me, it was the most exciting and dramatic comic book -- and even re-reading it today, it still holds up. If given the chance, I would write a Cloak and Dagger series in a heartbeat. I was a fan of Louise Simonson on New Mutants, Power Pack, and X-Factor. I liked Claremont's run on X-Men all the way until the Siege Perilous storyline, which I enjoyed. But for me, that felt like a fitting end to X-Men. More with a whimper than a bang -- and Wolverine crucified by the Reavers on a giant X in the middle of the Australian Outback. By the time the new X-Men #1 hit, with Jim Lee's art, that yellow team/blue team stuff, and the five variant covers, I had lost interest in comics. It was Usagi Yojimbo that got me back into comics.
Nowadays, I have rather eclectic tastes. I'll read and enjoy almost anything -- Will Eisner, Joann Sfar, Marjane Satrapi, Hope Larson, Becky Cloonan, Craig Thompson, Alan Moore, Charles Burns, Terry Moore, Osamu Tezuka, Paul Chadwick, Warren Ellis, Brian Wood, Jessica Abel, Alison Bechdel, Brian K. Vaughan, Doug TenNapel, Bill Watterson, Jeff Smith, everyone with the Flight anthologies, and anything from Oni Press, AdHouse, or the Graphix imprint.
Richard: How can someone contact you?
David: Contact information is available on my website (http://antiherocomics.com). You can click on the link or visit my forum. I'm fairly obsessive about checking e-mail and comments, so expect a response from me.
Richard: Any last words of advice?
David: Advice about anything in the whole world? Hmmm. A lot of comic book stories are about a person rising to the challenge of defeating another person. I'd like to think my stories are about people, against their own nature, learning how to love others. Human connection. Life is wasted, if it's not invested in caring about other people. That's my advice.