Kyle Higgins Chats About Hadrian’s Wall @ SDCCJuly 21, 2016
Kyle Higgins is an established comic book writer whose creator owned work has garnered significant critical acclaim. He’s probably best known as the author of C.O.W.L., a comic about a union that protects 1960’s Chicago from villains and the mob, but eventually loses its way.
Higgins is currently working on a new series for Image Comics called Hadrian’s Wall, and while he feels the pressure of matching the critical acclaim of his previous work, he isn’t letting that pressure affect the product. “Obviously I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t be disappointed if we didn’t match the success of C.O.W.L., but you can’t worry about that. If you worry about that too much, it paralyzes you.”
You can understand why. Hadrian’s Wall is an ambitious project: it’s a murder mystery, set in deep space, under the curtain of a galactic cold war. It’s more film noir, than science fiction; a gritty detective story in an uncommon setting. “It started as a love letter to our favourite 70’s and 80’s films,” he said. “But it morphed into something much more.”
Here’s the official synopsis of Hadrian’s Wall:
When an astronaut on HADRIAN’S WALL is murdered, pill-popping detective Simon Moore is dispatched to investigate the ship’s crew… including his own ex-wife. But if Simon’s not careful, what he finds could make the interstellar Cold War go red hot. From the creative team behind the critically-acclaimed series C.O.W.L. comes a gripping, locked room murder mystery where the secrets of everyone involved are as dark as the space that surrounds them.
A fan of cold war history, and a self-confessed lover of combining genres, Higgins wanted to bring the tension of the cold war to his story, letting it unfold beneath a spectre of unease.
Layered with symbolism, even the name Hadrian’s Wall, (both for the ship and the name of the book), was not chosen at random. Both are named after the defensive structure that was built by Rome, in Britain, that represented the furthest border of the Empire.
“I wanted to evoke a feeling of isolation. A posting to the north of Britain for a Roman soldier must have been an incredibly lonely and frightening experience; it was as far away from Rome as a Roman could be, and on the other side of the wall, there was nothing but darkness.”
Isolation is a feeling most writers know well, as writing is not usually a team sport.
“For the most part, writers work in a bubble. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other writers and have crises where you feel like you’re not bringing anything new to the table. All I know is when I think about that too much, I try to step back and focus on my work.”
It’s a fascinating allegory: the isolated creator writing about the feeling of being alone.
It’s heady stuff, but if anyone can pull it off, Higgins can. He showed in C.O.W.L. that he can make non-traditional comic stories fly, if you’ll excuse the pun.
If you love stories with twists and unexpected turns, Hadrian’s Wall is a comic book to be excited about.
Hadrian’s Wall is published by Image Comics and the first issue is on sale September 16th.
The story is by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel, with cover and art by Rod Reis.
Thanks to Image Comics and to Kyle Higgins for chatting with us about his new book at San Diego Comic Con