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AICN COMICS Q&@: Russ Sheath talks with Top Cow's Matt Hawkins who is plundering the military's darkest techno secrets in THINK TANK!!!

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Q’s by Russ Sheath!

@’s by THINK TANK Writer Matt Hawkins!!!

Russ Sheath here. This week see's the launch of THINK TANK written by Top Cow's Matt Hawkins with art by Rahsan Ekedal via companies Minotaur Press imprint. The story of David Loren, a disaffected genius who works for one of the military research and development laboratories or Think Tank's, the book is the story of what happens when the military's brightest scientist develops a conscience about what his creations are 'really' used for. Matt took time to speak to Russ Sheath about THINK TANK, the story’s origins, and his own techno-fascination.

RUSS SHEATH (RS): Matt, tell us about THINK TANK, its story and its origins.

MATT HAWKINS (MH): THINK TANK is my commentary about American so called exceptionalism and the military industrial complex that fuels the USA. It's about a 28 year old research scientist who was seduced by DARPA at age 14 for a full ride to Cal Tech and a guaranteed slot at one of the prestigious Think Tanks where he would have access to the brightest minds and the best equipment. David is easily bored and got a reputation as a slacker because he fucked around and still got the best grades and came up with the best stuff. The idea for the book came to me when I was reading a manual for a weapon system called Metalstorm. It's a weapon that shoots 30,000 bullets a second. Basically a wall of bullets whose purpose is to be mounted on the front of Naval vessels and other areas to destroy incoming ordinance (missiles, whatever). In this manual as a footnote it also says that this weapon is "good for crowd control." This dual purpose use was the catalyst for the store. I love complex, conflicted characters so I gave the character a conscience and he decides in the midst of all this that he doesn't want to do it anymore...but this really isn't a job you can retire or quit from.

My father was an Air Force officer and I grew up on military bases moving all over the place. My college degree was Physics and I had intended to go into research but 1991 was a bad time to try and get a job in Southern Cal in the science field.

RS: In issue #1, we see David at odd's not only with his conscience at creating technology for the military but also with his military pay masters. Can you give us some idea of how the story develops for David?

MH: The whole crux of the story is that David was seduced and recruited into this way of life at the tender age of 14 and he's now 28 and starting to have moral issues with what he's doing. He is starting to see the people that get killed on the other end of these things. He starts questioning who he is and why he is doing these things. There's an epiphany moment where he decides he doesn't want to do it anymore, but the problem with that is these high end research military scientists can't really quit. They're considered national assets and in the civilian populace there's a fear that they would be either subverted or kidnapped and used by an adversary. So unable to quit he has to pull a Houdini and escape the most secure facility ever built which is housed inside one of the most heavily fortified military bases in the world Fort George Meade.

RS: Tell us about the research you did for the book?

MH: I spent about 4 months going to various Think Tanks and talking with a lot of the scientists I know. A few hundred hours watching DARPA videos and everything I could get my hands on. There is so much information available now that is not classified that I sometimes lose entire weekends just pouring through the materials I get forwarded.

RS: Who were your biggest influences in creating the book?

MH: Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I've read everything they've ever written and I love how real there stuff seems, even when it's based on junk science. The stuff that is real cutting edge science is far more interesting to me than most of what I see in sci-fi stuff.

RS: Is there a little Matt Hawkins in David Loren?

MH: Yeah quite a bit. I'm an emotional child and very conflicted by a lot of things just like he is. My degrees are all in science so a lot of what I've done here is based on real science. I have a couple friends that work in Think Tanks and visiting those is pretty god damn cool.

I love science and am endlessly fascinated by what makes things work. I read a lot of science journals from various institutions and absorb what I can. A lot of what I learned in the late 80's, early 90's is not even valid anymore. That's pretty amazing. I have two sons and they tell me how boring they think science is. I wrote this book for them. I want people to think that science can be cool and worth going into. Our country educates the best and brightest scientists all over the world, and so few of them stay here. We need to make a big change as a nation and soon or we can kiss goodbye the technological superiority that has been the hallmark of our power over the last few decades.

RS: Its widely suggested that a lot of modern day to day technology has its origins in military applications. As a student of technology, what is on the horizon that will change our lives? What should we keep an eye out for?

MH: Nanotechnology and biomimetics will change the world as we know it and in the next 25 years. There are so many things on the brink of discovery that I am beyond excited about the next couple decades of our technological development.

RS: Rahsan Ekedal is your artist on this project. Being that you created and wrote the title what were you looking for in an artist on THINK TANK and how does Rahsan meet those demands?

MH: Rahsan is just awesome. Great page design and expressive faces. He makes the quiet moments interesting which is hard to do. Anyone can make a gun fight look interesting, it takes chops to make a guy talking to a girl at a bar a fun thing to look at.

RS: How long is the series and does it have a pre-determined ending or is it a story that could become an ongoing series?

MH: The first arc is 4 issues and the second arc I have planned is 5 issues. I want to make it an ongoing but that of course depends on sales and reader interest. So if you like it, please tell someone!

RS: Tell us about the Minotaur Press imprint at Top Cow?

MH: Minotaur is our story driven imprint. Top Cow will always be thought of as an art first company and that's fine, but not entirely true anymore. Regardless, the Minotaur books are our "indie" line.

RS: If not in publishing, is the world of science and technology a world you would have gone into? What would the alternative universe 'Science' Matt Hawkins be doing right now?

MH: I think I'd be the government's bitch at some THINK TANK. =)

RS: THINK TANK from Top Cow is out this week.

You can follow Russ Sheath's blog Russwords here and on Twitter here.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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