Writer, inker and filmmaker Howard W. Shum is about to take readers on a trip to the far reaches of the universe. The man who combined 1930s pulp adventure, Hong Kong action and outright madness in Gun Fu is back with Hyperkinetic, a new SF/comedy miniseries from Image about four ass-kicking girls with lasers blowing things up in deep space. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, here’s Shum himself with the lowdown on the book.
Newsarama: Howard, give our readers the hard sell on Hyperkinetic.
Howard W. Shum: Hyperkinetic is a science-fiction action-comedy. It’s about four female intergalactic bounty hunters and their robot. They’re after an elusive alien prey they need to capture – otherwise, their spaceship is going to get repossessed. They end up crash landing on a strange alien planet where they now have bigger concerns…such as killer robots and weird aliens.
NRAMA: Who are the individual members of this fearless crew?
HS: Alicia - she is the unofficial leader of Hyperkinetic. She is sarcastic. She has this weapon that is like a yo-yo except the circle is made of laser (like a light saber) and the diameter of the circle can expand to the size of a head.
Shirley - she is Chinese (born in Scotland). She is quick to anger and likes to act tough.
Milla - she is a fun bubbly girl. She seems more into fashion than bounty hunting.
Katiya - she is Brazilian-Russian. She is shy and an introvert. She is actually the best marksmen of all of them, but lacks the initiative to prove it.
Tejigi 2057 - He’s the girls’ robot. They don’t seem to like him as much as he thinks they do.
Hyperkinetic- This is their spaceship.
NRAMA: And why did you decide to name the ship Hyperkinetic?
HS: I wanted a cool descriptive name that would fit both the ship and comic
NRAMA: Fair enough. What can readers expect from this story?
HS: Readers will get super intense action, unpredictable stuff happening, high suspense, and hopefully humor.
NRAMA: Do you have plans for more stories set in this universe?
HS: I would like Hyperkinetic to be a series of miniseries like Hellboy.
NRAMA: Do you have an over-arching story for the book planned out, and if so, about how many miniseries would it take to tell that story?
HS: I always write out a story from beginning to end before I start a comic. We have three issues of Hyperkinetic completely done (story and art) and the fourth is almost completed. The story is finished with the fourth. The girls have other adventures which would take place in other miniseries.
NRAMA: What were some of the influences on Hyperkinetic? It has kind of a Hitchiker’s Guide/Firefly vibe…
HS: I’ve only seen bits of Hitchhikers Guide, so I can’t say that’s an influence. I read a lot of Terry Pratchett books, so I’m sure his work has bound to have influenced me somehow. I also watch a lot of British TV shows and movies, so I think there’s a bit of British sense of humor in here. Maybe that’s where you get the Hitchhiker’s Guide vibe.
As in most of my works, Hong Kong action movies are very influential, and I always do my best to steal dialogue from Star Wars movies. Lewis Carroll and South Park are also Hyperkineticinfluences.
NRAMA: How did you hook up with Matteo Scalera for this project, and what does he bring to the book?
HS: A friend of mine (Manu Tenderini) recommended Matteo to me when I told him I was looking for an artist for the book. I was amazed when I saw Matteo’s work. His art and action actually is hyperkinetic, which I thought was important seeing as how that is the title of the book. His women are strong and beautiful. He clicks with my storytelling sense.
A lot of guys drawing comics can’t draw emotions and expressions, but as you can see, Matteo is phenomenal with that. This is important in the way I like telling stories, because if you can’t tell how a character feels from looking at the art, I’m not going to throw in dialogue like “Why are you frightened?” or a caption to explain stuff. It won’t be long when Matteo will be considered one of the top comic artists working today.
Newsarama Note: You can read another collaboration between Shum and Scalera, Alpha Monkey, at http://zudacomics.com/alpha_monkey
NRAMA: Now, I noticed there was an alternate cover by Mike Wieringo for the first issue. I've heard from a lot of people about how Mike loved to do covers for the first issues of new books. What was your relationship with Mike like, and do you have any memories of him that you'd like to share?
HS: Mike is a friend of mine. I met him early in my career. I inked him a bit on Tellos and other stuff. There are a bunch of screenplays that I have written over the years and I think only he and Mike Baron have read most, if not all, of them. One thing people don’t seem to know about Mike was that he had a crazy sense of humor. I miss calling him up and us making fun of people and stuff.
NRAMA: What are some of your upcoming comic projects?
HS: I have another science-fiction story all written that I’m waiting for an artist to finish his current commitment so that he can start on my book.
Hyperkinetic blasts into stores this July.