Matt Hawkins has been writing and creating comics for over two decades. As the Chief Operating Officer of Top Cow Productions, which partners with Image Comics, Hawkins has overseen and personally crafted countless titles over the years, including the recent Think Tank and Tales of Honor series. His most recent series, Postal, arrived this month to widespread critical acclaim.
Ahead of next month’s new issue of Postal, Hawkins agreed to talk with Capeless Crusader’s Josh Epstein about the characters and direction in Postal, as well as what comes next for him.
Josh Epstein: Postal’s protagonist, Mark, is something you don’t see often in comics. Obviously you want your lead character to be something special but what made you decide to go with Aspergers in creating Mark, and what challenges does writing a character with the syndrome present in the process?
Matt Hawkins: Well trying to write it authentically without anyone getting offended is the trickiest part. I’ve known a couple people with Aspergers and they never saw it as a bad thing. It was how they were, not a weakness or a mental handicap. How people react to them is the problem. We wanted a unique hero and I think Mark’s very unique.
When you were developing the script, did you rely primarily on that personal experience or were there certain resources you availed yourself of in writing Mark?
Bryan Hill (my co-writer) did some very specific research on aspergers and opened a dialogue with some people in that community.
The town of Eden, Wyoming is nearly as interesting as any of the characters in the first issue. How much do you intend to explore the history of the town and how it got to the state in which it exists when the story begins?
We’re going to give glimpses of it to keep the reader curious, but we won’t fully explain it’s history until the second arc (issues five through eight).
The after-matter in the first issue contains profiles of most of the characters we meet, and seems to suggest that someone or something has designs on Eden. Can you tell us anything about the larger picture behind whatever this presence is?
Well, those are FBI dossiers intended as case files for the FBI who’s investigating the town. They’ve been investigating it for decades without much luck. It’s a closed system and difficult to get anyone inside to turn state’s evidence.
People who follow you on social media know that you’re pretty outspoken in your criticism of organized religion so that fact that Eden’s church and its pastor play a pretty significant part part in the first issue really intrigued me. What made you decide to use the church as a focus in this story?
The church was just a set piece to show what the town is really all about. I’m critical of organized religion and the hypocrisies I see, but I respect people’s faiths as long as they aren’t killing anyone else for them.
On the subject of of those hypocrisies, your new series The Tithe is due out in April, and what we’ve seen suggests that you’re going after the big bucks behind it all this time or, as you put it, “the morality of all involved [will be] put to the test.” After two decades in the industry, what’s made you decide to tell this sort of story now?
I’m a fan of heist stories and always wanted to do one. I didn’t want to do another bank or art museum robbery so thought about where there would be large sums of cash and mega churches bring in a lot.
This is Isaac Goodhart’s second stint with Top Cow after his Talent Hunt work. Having played a pretty significant part in bringing him into the industry, do you feel a certain responsibility to shepherd him through these early days of his career?
Responsibility, no. He’s a talented guy and I want to work with him. It makes me happy to know I played a part in bringing so many people into the industry professionally, but all of these people have talent. Isaac has got a great future ahead of him.
Speaking of the future, can you give us a hint of what’s ahead of us in Postal?
The first four-issue arc is the origin of all the key characters (including the town) and issues five through eight will be a series of one-off stories with an overarching mythology. Third arc we have some ideas but its too soon to say.
The second issue of Postal is scheduled to hit comic shops on March 11th, 2015.