This March, Top Cow launches a new, ongoing series adapting David Weber's New York Times bestselling sci-fi novels "Honor Harrington" into a comic: "Tales of Honor." Meanwhile, Evergreen Studios has plans to continue building multimedia content complimentary to the core character's world, including digital games, webisodes, TV episodes and a feature film.
Written by Top Cow President Matt Hawkins, the series follows genetically engineered spaceship captain Honor Harrington leading her crew on action-packed adventures. This series is deep military sci-fi; set 2,000 years in the future, where mankind has colonized much of the universe.
Hawkins spoke with CBR News about the exciting new series, discussing his discovery of the original Weber novels, what drew him to Honor Harrington and his and Top Cow's potential involvement in the feature film.
CBR News: How did "Tales of Honor" come to your attention?
Matt Hawkins: Rich Leibowitz, the agent/businessman/friend who helped us put together the "Darkness" video game deal, asked me if I'd be interested in writing a comic based on the Honor Harrington novels. I said no. I don't normally do work-for-hire stuff, and I'd never heard of the books. He asked me if I'd take a meeting with the film company, Evergreen, that was doing a film based on that series of novels and I said sure -- can't hurt right? So I met with Richard Browne of Evergreen Films and he told me what they were doing. Showed me their operation, told me their plans for the film, etc. I was impressed with what they were doing, but still wasn't enticed. Rich asked me to read the first novel before I said no, so I did. The first novel "On Basilisk Station" grabbed me, loved it! Military science-fiction space opera with lots of dramatic page turning stuff, I was in! So I called them back and we got the ball rolling. It was nice to be pursued for work and I really enjoyed the first novel -- and now have read all 18!
What is the scope of the comic? The David Weber books span a wide variety of audiences, including young adult. What tone will the comics have?
The comic is a standalone thing, but it's told from the perspective of Honor Harrington (only) as in from her memories. In the seventh novel, "In Enemy Hands," she is a prisoner and is reflecting on her life and what got her to this current sad state of affairs. The first five issues loosely follow the plot of "On Basilisk Station," but is streamlined as a single perspective. We're looking to make the book appeal to a broad category of readers; it's sort of the tip of the spear for the new branding and franchise campaign that leads up to the movie they're working on.
Since you're writing the comic, what elements of the original source material were most important for you to include? Are you pulling directly from the books, or is it just set in that world?
Both. I'm including stuff from the novels that fans will recognize immediately, but also incorporating some new stuff. Since this is her "memoir," for lack of a better way to say it, it's a perspective piece and wouldn't match the storyline in the novels exactly for that reason alone. There are hardcore fans of this, so changing things unnecessarily would invoke their wrath and I don't want that. I want the long-term fans to read this and think it's cool, but also for people (like myself) who've not heard of it to be able to read it and get into it right away.
With so many sci-fi series currently happening right now, what do you feel will set "Tales of Honor" apart?
It has a broad multi-media strategy, with an app game launching the same week as the first issue of the comic. There's a built in fan base who are active and rabid (there's an Honorcon every year in Virginia). The other thing I think that separates this from other sci-fi stuff is that, like the other books I write, I try to make the science as close to real as possible. In a lot of sci-fi, they just use fake science, inertial dampeners, whatever -- or they don't even bother to try and make it plausible. A lot of current sci-fi that is supposed to be showing the future also tends to show things as future technology that is available now. We're very advanced technologically; you walk into any military think tank in the country and it's like walking into the future. Most of the active technology used today is well over a decade old. With the exponential growth of tech, it makes me laugh sometimes when writers portray future tech when we have it now. I also think this series has a sense of wonder about it. If I had to liken it to any other Sci-Fi I'd say it's more in the vein of the revised "Battlestar Galactica" TV series, where it felt more military in design.
Is this planned to be an ongoing series, or will it be a miniseries?
It will be a series of arcs to tell the stories of the novels in the format we've adopted via her memoirs, etc. It is an ongoing series, but whether it's a series of ongoing miniseries (a la "Hellboy") or a long, arcing book, we haven't 100% determined yet. I think we'll end up using different art teams on the different arcs, so it may make sense to do them separately. It will be somewhat seamless, though. The first one is called "Tales of Honor: On Basilisk Station." The second arc will be "Tales of Honor: Honor of the Queen," and so on.
Tell me about Honor Harrington, the title character.
Harrington is an officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy (RMN), the space navy of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, an interstellar monarchy that counterbalances its relatively small size with superior space combat technology and capability. She has a genius for tactical command, often overcoming significant odds in critical battles and frequently finding herself at the center of significant military actions. Her dedication to duty and uncompromising performance results in receiving numerous awards and promotions, earning the respect of interstellar empires, and accumulating implacable enemies. She is a skilled martial artist and through her association with her treecat companion Nimitz, develops an empathic sense that assists her in understanding the emotions of those around her.
That description is all well and good, but what I like about the character is her drive. She's not "beautiful," in her own words. She has short hair, and in this military, "patronage," or having relatives in positions of power, is usually how promotions are handed down. She fights this and moves up the ranks, regardless. I found this character very easy to root for and wanted to see her succeed. She has flaws, despite her overall bad-assery.
What aspects of this project are you most looking forward to?
I love collaborating with artists. It's so much fun for me, and each one is very different. Working with the Korean studio has been challenging since none of the artists speak English. Little things, like that these ships shoot their weaponry broadside, like 18th century warships, took a while to explain. I finally had to send them footage from the video game showing them how the weaponry worked. There has been so much concept art for this, a lot by amazing guys like Patrick Tatapolous and Matt Codd, that it's a joy to open my email from these guys.
Are you at all involved in the film?
"Tales of Honor" #1 hits shelves March 5.