Solar Flare by James Haick & Branko Jovanovic
We live in the age of ever-changing technology. From cars that park themselves to droids who give us directions home or play our favorite songs on command, the world we now know is familiar is a far cry from the reality of yesteryear. Electricity is the pulse that keeps the world alive, and the heart at the very center of that is the power-grid system. With the reliance on technological advances the sudden loss of power would be cataclysmic to say the least. That’s why, in recent years, space-weather events, such as solar flares, that can threaten that pulse have become a hot topic of conversation. Creator James Haick has tackled this prospect and made it the reality for his characters in the comic SOLAR FLARE by Scout Comics. Want to know more? We certainly did, so we spoke to Haick about the whole thing …
First off, what made you decide to start writing comics?
I’ve been a comic book fan since I was eight years old, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I even thought of entering the field. I didn’t think I would be able to since I can’t draw—at all—so the possibility came as kind of an epiphany. I thought, hey, I can write a comic. I didn’t know what I was going to write. I never had aspirations of writing any super-hero books, so when one night I was watching the Discovery Chanel while I was up in North Carolina and they played a segment about solar flares it really made me stop and think. It really just evolved from there.
How did you get into comics?
What got me hooked on comics originally was the first Marvel Universe Card set. On the back of each card it would show each Hero and Villains wins and loses. They even had rookie cards. Deathlok and Foolkiller were my favorites “rookies” back then. After seeing these, I had to find out more about some of these awesome characters.
Haha, any secret origin involving Deathlok and Foolkiller is a good one in my book! What have been / are some of your favorites?
Some of my favorite comic runs of all time where Comics like Planetary, Milk and Cheese, Transmetropolitan, Scud the disposable Assassin and original Wolverine ongoing series. My favorite books that I'm reading now are Saga, Unfollow (Vertigo), Walking Dead, Old Man Logan, Southern Bastards, Public Relations (Devils Due), and Indy books like Stabbity Bunny (Richard Rivera) and Shiver Bureau (Walter Ostlie).
Let’s talk a bit about Solar Flare. After a very successful Kickstarter self-publishing run with issues #1-6 already out there, what made you want to bring this title to Scout Comics?
My goal has been to get mass distribution so that we could get Solar Flare into comic book shops around the world. I did a lot of negotiating with many different publishers, and Scout was definitely the best option because they are a very strong up-and-coming publishing house that has a lot of credibility in the industry, and they are putting out quality books that match my own title.
How is Solar Flare relevant to today’s society?
Solar Flare takes place in the present day in a world very similar to our own, and it centers around what would happen if that kind of disaster were to actually strike. Since this disaster is very feasible, I’ve done a lot of research on the topic in an effort to make it as true to fact as possible. In the past couple years, we have narrowly avoided solar flare events, so I think it is very relevant to today’s society. It’s been so cool to write a story that could also teach people real scientific facts and inform them on a topic that they should know about but are probably unaware of.
How do you relate to the character is the story, specifically the main character, Jake Clifford.
A lot of what Jake goes through is based on my own life. For example, I have a daughter who I would do anything for, and Jake’s desire to get to her after the solar flare is really where the whole story started and where I think the real heart of the series lies.
In an event that a solar flare does occur, you are selling survival kits to go along with the series. Can you tell us a little bit about those?
We came up with it for the convention circuit. Basically, it’s a bug-out bag, which is very popular with EMP preppers, so we just elaborated on that concept. The kit comes with a backpack with the Solar Flare logo on it, and inside the pack is a set of the comics and some other Solar Flare swag, such as a first-aid kit, a sports bottle, a multi-tool and a can coozie, because who could survive the apocalypse without a coozie keeping their drink cold. Everything has the Solar Flare branding on it.
Other than attending a convention, how can readers get the Solar Flare original print run and merchandise?
You can buy everything on our website, www.solarflarecomic.com/store. We are doing many conventions this year, so we would love to have people purchase them there as well so we can thank fans personally for their support.
Since your creative team is comprised of people from all over the world, how were you able to get everyone together on this project?
Once I had about three scripts completed, I joined Deviant Art forums and said I was looking for someone to collaborate with. After being overwhelmed with submissions, I ended up hiring two artists. One of them is my inker and penciler – Branko Jovanovic, who lives in Serbia – and the other is my former colorist – Song Ye, who lives in China. Michael Lagacé was our original letterer and editor, and he lives in Vancouver. Our current editor and my co-writer for The Mall, Courtney Whittamore, is from Fort Myers, which is where I live. That makes the writing process go a lot faster. Our current letterer is D.J. Bennet from New York, and our new colorist is J.M. who is based in London. Our team is a huge melting pot of very talented individuals who have made this book successful.
What are you and Scout’s plans for Solar Flare?
We plan for the series to be ongoing separated in story arcs. The first issue of every arc will take place the day before the solar flare, and it provides insight into one the main characters’ prior life. The rest of the arc will take place in their current city, moving up along the east coast from Fort Myers, Fla. to Tennessee. Our first story arc is titled Fort Myers, and the next one is called Port Charlotte. In some cases, there may be a time jump from one location to the next just to keep everyone on their toes.
Aside from Solar Flare, is there anything else that you’re working on?
Yeah, actually, I do have a couple more books that are in the development phase. One of them is called Long Live Pro Wrestling, which I am currently working on with Branko Jovanovic, the artist for Solar Flare. It opens up a window into the backstage politics of the wrestling world. I have another concept called The Mall, which I’m co-writing with Courtney Whittamore, who is the editor for Solar Flare. The idea is essentially about three cousins who inherit a criminal organization, which is run out of the local indoor mall in the 1980s.
There you have it, folks. Solar Flare #1 is in the FEB17 catalogue, so you still have time to pre-order it. You can even take a look at a preview here!!! We will also be running a contest next week, so if you want to score some hard to find Solar Flare comics, keep an eye on the site!!!