With no shortage of aspiring comic creators, the few that stand out are those that find a rare or original idea and work diligently to breathe life into it. Author, CW Cooke is one of those few as he campaigns on crowdfunding website, Kickstarter, to take his unique concept from his mind to our hands.
“Solitary: A Superhero Prison Drama” introduces us to Tim Hill, a wrongly accused man on death row who learns of his power of immortality only after an attempt to execute him fails. Tension is palpable and readers are given a close look at the unknowingly-super Hill as his unfortunate journey in the beginning quickly leads him to the electric chair. A careful artist renders a crystal blue tear to assist in building anticipation to the unraveling of his character’s true identity. After the switch is flipped and he learns of his affliction, he is then faced with something even more terrifying – life in prison.
Something this unique is sure to intrigue and promises a bright future in the comic industry for Cooke. I had the privilege to ask him a few questions to get to know him and the inspiration behind “Solitary”.
CC: When introducing the project on Kickstarter, you mention that you’ve been working on this comic since you were about 8. That’s such a young age for an idea so mature! How did the concept first originate for you?
CWC: Well, the idea wasn’t always so mature! When I was 8 years old, I was making my own comic books, using colored pencils, lined loose leaf paper, and markers. It started from a love of Batman movies and various comic book cartoons, toys, an comics. And from there, I started making my own ideas. One of them was kind of a rip-off of X-men in a way, and that’s where Tim’s character originated. He then followed from that series into his own series idea which was very Superman-esque, and over time and through various changes, rewrites, losing some of the information and starting over, Solitary was born. Mostly because of my love of comics and comic-related projects and also from my love of mashing up conflicting ideas (such as, of course, Superman and the Green Mile).
CC: Not many authors know what it’s actually like inside a prison. What sort of research, if any, did you have to do to make the story more realistic?
CWC: Ha, well, I mean, I’ve never been to prison and I’ve never been behind bars, but I’ve done a lot of research through watching documentaries, reading books, stories, blogs, everything I can get my hands on relating to prisons. One prison in particular has been of particular interest of mine and I hope to get a chance to visit it for the sake of the future of the book. It’s in New York state and it’s pretty much where and when the idea took hold and wouldn’t let go. Plus, I’ve watched a TON of TV shows and movies set in and around prison because there are TONS of them to watch.
CC: Most people find a hero behind a cape, but yours is behind bars. What influenced your decision to have your main character portray a death row inmate?
CWC: Again, mashing up two conflicting ideas and seeing if they’ll work together is one of my favorite things. This came from that. What if Superman was on the Green Mile? That’s the basic idea, and it’s a great elevator pitch that catches your attention immediately. And being that getting attention for a comic book is one of the most important things, that helped a lot. But really, the decision was influenced on the incredible idea I had and just the immense amount of fun I was having exploring what that would do to a person, especially someone of the superhuman world.
CC: Tell me a little more about Tim Hill. Would you classify him as a hero, or more of an antihero?
CWC: When we catch up with him via flashbacks and learn about his character, he is a definite hero. He is a man trying to do the right thing and trying to be a hero with all that entails. Unfortunately, he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time and is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit (as happens in almost all of those movies I mentioned earlier, ha). Does that make him an antihero? In a way, it will. But that’s a big piece of this book. When you’re a superhero and you’re behind bars, what can you do to prove your innocence and what shouldn’t you do? Certain moral questions will come up and will start to make Tim see that the world isn’t as black and white as some others might believe.
CC: Growing up, what role did comics and superheroes play in your life?
CWC: Let’s see, how much time do we have? Haha. I’ve been reading and loving comic books and superheroes and their movies, toys, cartoons, comics and everything in between for at least the last 23 years if not longer. And like so many of my favorite heroes, I was a bit of an outcast as a kid and they were my escape. They were my way out of being stuck in the world I lived in. I could read my comics, play with the toys, create my own worlds, and escape. Comics became a massive part of my life and have been ever since.
CC: What do you hope the future holds for you and your work in comics?
CWC: Well, hopefully first, a fully funded and moreso Kickstarter! After that, I don’t know. I have projects still pending from various companies out in the comics world, I have a number of projects I’m working on getting published and/or pitched now, and past that, I’m hoping more and more things. I love comics. I love making them. I love writing them, talking about them, and being part of the process of creating them. So I hope more and more comic projects come from this. I hope to do Solitary forever and I hope it allows me to work on this and so much more
CC: For fun, if you were to become any fictional character (whether it be in comics, tv, or film), who would you choose to become and why?
CWC: Oh wow. That’s a tough question. Depending on the day, I might be Batman or Wolverine or Spider-man. Those would be my big three. Superman could be fun in the sense of doing just about anything and everything and being stronger and faster and able to fly. Being Wolverine would be cool (if I had the healing factor) because I could do so many things that I can’t do now for fear of dying, haha. Spider-man would be cool to climb walls and swing across cities.
It’d be cool to be Godzilla sometimes, just to punch down giant monsters and breathe atomic fire.
Man this is a tough question. I’d also like to be Ghost Rider, just because riding a motorcycle and dealing out justice with chains on fire and a skull and a penance stare would be cool. It’d be fun to rid the world of evil and ride a sweet motorcycle at the same time.
This might be the toughest question anyone has ever asked me. It’s like, what would your super-power be if you could only choose one or if you were a superhero, who would you be? I honestly don’t think I can answer that without giving at least five different answers. Ha.
CC: Anything else you’d like us to know about you, or about “Solitary”?
CWC: I just hope everyone loves it. I just hope everyone sees the love and effort and care I’ve been putting into this book and I hope everyone loves reading it as much as I love making it. It’s been my baby and I’m giving it to the world, so it’s a little terrifying to do, honestly. But I’m having fun. And Solitary has a little bit for everyone. There’s danger and superheroes. There’s drama and intrigue and a prison background. I’m writing it like I would be creating a big, sweeping series. I have stories to tell that involve law, order, and superheroes. You’re going to love it.
The artwork is phenomenal and perfectly fitting to the story to carry the theme throughout every page. Supporting “Solitary” on Kickstarter can also give you perks ranging from digital copies and prints to even becoming a cameo character in prison with Tim Hill! Having the opportunity to get involved with such a creative team and a one-of-a-kind comic isn’t as common as one would hope.
CLICK HERE to head over to Kickstarter and support “Solitary” by donating or spreading the word!