“I love that every time you turn the page on an iOS device what’s coming next is a surprise” Kinski creator Gabriel Hardman discusses the best of digital comics and how to name a pet

Kinski_01_coverFrom pulp superheroes and gangsters to psychic estate agents and pigeons, MonkeyBrain Comic‘s roster is nothing if not eclectic. The latest title to join this family of misfits is Kinski from Star Wars Legacy artist Gabriel Hardman. This brilliant lo-fi story of a man and a missing dog is in the same subtle real-world veign as the brilliant The Stars Below and Thoughts From A Winter Morning, and will be available exclusively via ComiXology this Wednesday. To find out more about this monochrome mutt we got in touch with writer/artist Gabriel Hardman to find out more about the secret to writing a great canine adventure and the best way to name a pet.

Kinski_01_coverWhere did the inspiration for Kinski come from? Which came first, the plight of the dog or the owner?!

GH: The initial spark was a trip to the Sundance Film Festival with a couple friends. One morning I found a dog running around the parking lot of our hotel. Animal control picked him up and the dog was returned to his family but the situation got me thinking about a story. What if I had decided that it was my job to rescue that dog no matter what the cost? Like a lot of stories, the idea came from pushing reality in extreme directions.

I love the low-fi fanzine look of the book, what made you choose that style and format?

GH: Unlike most of my other comics like Star Wars: Legacy, Planet of the Apes or Hulk, Kinski doesn’t have any fantasy or sci-fi elements so I wanted to approach it in the most stripped down way possible. I limited my layout options to a six panel grid and adopted a simple, direct drawing style that fit the material. But every time you approach a new story, it demands a certain kind of style. Kinski doesn’t want to be a slick Marvel style comic, it’s begging to be low-fi.

Kinski_01-3It’s got a really grounded real-world feel to it, how would you describe the book in terms of genre or category?

GH: It’s a fairly quirky indie book. The Coen brothers are a good touchstone for the feel I’m going for. But you’re right that it’s definitely a grounded story with real world limitations for the characters.

MonkeyBrain have done these kind of lo-fi stories before with The Stars Below and Thoughts From A Winter Morning. Did that help you feel reassured as part of the MonkeyBrain family? And how did you get involved with MonkeyBrain?

GH: I had known Chris and Allison from comic conventions and I really admired what they were doing with MonkeyBrain. These are transitional times in the comic industry and I appreciate people who make bold moves. Both The Stars Below by Zack Smith and Rich Ellis as well as Winter Morning by Kurt Busiek and Steve Lieber are great books but I think the overall diversity of the MonkeyBrain line was what appealed to me.

Kinski_01-7Are you yourself a fan of digital comics on the iPad and what pros and cons do you see with digital comics? 

GH: Absolutely. I’ve really embraced the experience of reading comics on an iPad. Honestly, I’ve never been a huge collector. I love stories and I love the form of comics. I don’t buy them to put in a bag, I buy them to read. That said, I love a beautifully collected print collection as much as the next guy and I don’t see why digital and print can’t coexist.

If I had to pick a single thing I like the most about the digital reading experience, it’s the page turn. I love it that every time you turn the page on an iOS device what’s coming next is a surprise as opposed to every other page in print comics. It sounds like a small thing but its the kind of storytelling element that can reshape an entire story.

How many issues will Kinski run for and what will you be working on after this?

GH: Kinski is a six issue miniseries.

I’m working on a lot of different comics projects currently. I co-write (with Corinna Bechko) and draw Star Wars: Legacy for Dark Horse. I co-write Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm for Boom!. I have a creator owned one shot called Station to Station that’s coming out from Dark Horse in June. I have a couple other creator owned projects that Corinna and I are working on but aren’t announced yet but I’d love to do another digital first series along the lines of Kinski. The speed and freedom of digital is very appealing.

Kinski_01-14Has Kinski existed in other formats before this and if so where? And where else could we have seen your work?

GH: I started Kinski in a slightly different form as a web comic a few years ago but I wasn’t able to keep on schedule due to my freelance film and comics work. I decided it would work better structured in issues that could later be collected so that’s what I’m doing.

Along with the books I’ve already mentioned, I’ve drawn Hulk, Secret Avengers and Agents of Atlas for Marvel. I recently drew a story called “Gotham Spirit” for DC‘s Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight digital series written by Jeff Parker. It was a lot of fun and worth seeking out.

Finally, why the name Kinski? And what do you think the secret is to a good pets’ name?!

GH: Kinski is Kinski! It couldn’t have been anything else.

As far as pet names go, I’m a believer in respectful names that any person would be happy to have. No “Mittens” or “Cupcake”. We recently adopted a bunny and named him Clyff after abstract expressionist painter Clyfford Still. I also firmly believe you should name your pets after 1950’s American painters. Just ask our cat Franz (Kline).

Kinski is available exclusively from MonkeyBrain Comic via ComiXology this Wednesday for £0.69/£0.99. For more info on Gabriel Hardman and Kinski you can follow him on Twitter here