What would you do if you were super-intelligent but others twisted your ideas to do things you didn’t want to do – like hurt people? For Think Tank’s David Loren, he turns his formidable intellect on those that perverted his inventions but finds he must fight against his own creations to win out in the end.Launched earlier this year, Think Tank is created by long-time Top Cow veteran Matt Hawkins (Cyber Force, Lady Pendragon) and rising star artist Rahsan Ekedal. Together, they have crafted a story that is akin to Matthew Broderick’s titular role in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off with the tech-geek savvy of War Games, but with 21st century technology. And with the finale of the inaugural arc coming out on November 7 with Think Tank #4, we caught up with Hawkins to get caught up to speed on Loren’s fight against his government handlers.
Newsarama: We’re three issues into Think Tank with the story-arc finale coming up in next month’s fourth issue. The final shot of issue #3 is the lead in this, Dr. David Loren, in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle. For those that haven’t read the series (yet!), how did he get in this position?Matt Hawkins: David is a weapons designer for DARPA and works directly under the military's guidance. He was recruited at age 14 and they gave him a full scholarship to Cal Tech, trained him and brought him into their lab at NSA Headquarters at a very young age. He's 28 now and has decided this was not what he wanted to do with his life. The problem is that with his level of security clearance and the work he's done and the knowledge he has the government can't just let him go. So he's stuck there, can't quit and frustrated. That built up over years until he finally decided he was going to leave anyway. That's where we're at with the crosshairs on him.
Nrama: The prefix “Dr.” might make him seem studious and uptight to some, Think Tank’s Dr. David Loren is shown to be anything but – he’s like Ferris Bueller in a lab coat. How’d you go about developing this character and getting the right measure of cool and confidence without making him seem too comedic?Hawkins: I like conflicted, sarcastic characters and I'm kind of that way myself so it was pretty easy for me actually. I don't have his IQ, but I've infused a lot of my own character flaws into this poor guy. I've tried to inject some comedy in this, but it's mainly dark and more sarcastic than slapstick. David has evolved into a slacker out of frustration with his situation. He wasn't that way when he was younger. He was always a bit of a "trickster" for lack of a better way to phrase that but he has become lazy on purpose as he no longer wants to do what he's doing.
Nrama: Another big part of this is the science. From the miniaturized drones to the suggestion gas and Loren’s handy palm device. How’d you go about getting the science right without being limited by what’s out there today?Hawkins: See that's the great thing about this book, what's out there today most people have zero clue about and it is more awesome than anything you can find in most lame sci-fi tales. The tech in Think Tank is all real world stuff. Some of it I've tweaked a bit, but it's all 100% possible. This is actually the hardest part of this and it takes a lot of time to research stuff. I have a few scientific "advisors" that I hit up with specific questions from time to time but for the most part it's just research online.
Nrama: After working for the government since the age of 14, Loren finally breaks away after meeting Mirra Sway. Can you tell us what having Mirra Sway does for David?
Hawkins: He's had sex with women but never had a real relationship. I think his meeting her and their discussion makes him want what he does not have. And of course that will blow up in his face.
Nrama: Although not Top Cow’s first, Think Tank is a standout amongst other Top Cow books for it being in black & white. Now that you’ve done it for several issues and have heard back from fans, how has it been producing the series in black & white versus doing it in full color? A good trade-off?
Hawkins: Initially, to be blunt, the black and white was a cost consideration. Color is more expensive and we had no idea if this book would work. It's really different from other stuff out there so there was a concern internally that it might not sell. When that's a concern you try to mitigate your costs, etc. Now that we're almost 4 issues in of the now continuing series I've grown to dig the black and white. It gives it a weird unreal feel for a realistic book.
Nrama: The 4th issue hits in November, with the trade edition in December. Do you have plans to continue Think Tank either with more issues or a new miniseries down the road?
Hawkins: Yeah, same team and 5th issue is December I believe there will be a month between 4-5 but should be monthly after that. We're committed to doing a minimum of 12 now and if people are still reading we'd love to do more!