Join us as Melissa chats with H.S. Tak all about his new comic book, Redshift, Issue 1 from Scout Comics. They also talk about space travel, life on Mars, and space western worldbuilding.
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HS Tak – Interview
[00:00:00] Melissa: This is where their country and I’m Melissa surgeo today on the show. I’m thrilled. I get to chat with comic book writer at scout comics. Him Cartek welcome to the show.
H.S. Tak: Thank you so much. I appreciate you guys having me on.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. We are excited to get you on and thank you for sending us a preview of the, of the comic as well, so we could get a little sneak peek at it.
So, you know, for those listening, you wrote a fantastic comic called redshifts. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what it’s
H.S. Tak: about. You want the short pitch or the long pitch? It’s I’ve
Melissa: see you. I’d love to see
H.S. Tak: it. I’ll just start with the, just the brief, like the elevator pitch as I call it.
I’d say Redshift is sort of like, interstellar meets hunger games. Nice. You know, out on Mars humanity is going to be pretty much locked down and everything. Everything you do is going to have to have a purpose. Whether it’s your jobs or, you know, [00:01:00] what your what your role is out there.
So basically it’s just about humanity. Who’s, you know, forced to work together to make, to meet the needs of all of society. They build a ship that can transport its pilots, deep into outer space to other star systems where certain astronauts who are chosen can hunt for Earth-like planets.
Melissa: wow. That sounds really cool.
H.S. Tak: Yeah. What’s that?
Melissa: Yeah. No, that sounds amazing.
H.S. Tak: Yeah. So specifically it’s, it’s about this kid who gets chosen for this journey and he really doesn’t believe he’s the right choice. Actually he, he knows he’s the wrong choice because he’s suffering from PTSD, from a training mission.
He did. So he, he realizes like this. This trauma that he he faced during training could come back and resurface at any moment and it could threaten the mission. Yeah. So the problem is [00:02:00] he’s, you know, he’s like the best astronaut they have. And so they, they want to, you know, send them out there and have them work through it.
And hopefully, you know, he’s just hoping it doesn’t undermine his confidence.
Melissa: Yeah, that’s an interesting character choice. I mean, it, it definitely creates more conflict in a world like that to have someone with PTSD. Was that something that you chose for that reason? Or do you have personal experience with PTSD or what was the decision behind that narrative?
H.S. Tak: No, I mean, I don’t have personal experience as in, as it, like I suffered PTSD, but I did I made a film a few years ago called medicine man. And it was about it was about my experiences working at Walter Reed hospital where I would work with soldiers who, who would come back and had PTSD.
So, just drawing on those experiences, it’s pretty devastating, kind of, Underrated, I would say disease that people have not disease disorder that people [00:03:00] have. And just imagine being out in space, you know, like every decision you make basically either will extend or shorten your life. So having something like this, you know, surface out there it’s, it would be a huge challenge and obstacle.
Melissa: Yeah, definitely. Well, you know, that’s also good to, you know, bring more awareness to it. Cause like you said, there is, it’s definitely sort of an, an unspoken thing that P you know, it doesn’t get a lot of attention. I don’t think. Yeah, no,
H.S. Tak: it does that it doesn’t, and you can get it. I mean, PTSD can happen and almost, you know, it doesn’t have to be, you go to war, you know, you get in a car accident or you got.
You, you get in some trouble, you get mugged on the street as a lot of different ways. You can get it.
Melissa: Now, as far as the bigger picture of the story and the plot, what inspired you to write that specific story and want to tell this story?
H.S. Tak: You know, I just, [00:04:00] you know, growing up when you were like lying out in the field, you look up in the stars and you had that, that wonder of this world is so small, you know, like we’re all so tiny and the universe is out there.
I just kinda wanted to try and capture that wonder of what’s out there. Yeah. What if you were going to rock it hurdling through space, going to some other unknown solar system.
Melissa: Yeah. There’s yeah, that’s a good, it’s a fun time ponder that, you know, and I still do that actually, you know, I look up at the stars and go, wow.
You know, when you start thinking about the actual reality, you know, we think of ourselves, you know, on the ground. Right. But we’re actually floating in space, just like all the things. You know, the things we’re looking at and it’s kind of interesting when you start really, really thinking about it. And yeah, I can imagine you’d have lots of creative ideas [00:05:00] and different things you could do with a story like that.
H.S. Tak: Yeah. It’s just yeah. And then like, you know, it’s also a lot of it is what, you’re, what you’re taking in when you decide to create something like what, what you’re watching, what you’re reading. So a lot of that has to do, you know, I love space. I’ve always loved it. Space opera is and saga is out, you know?
Melissa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now how, when you were doing the world building, how much of that was accurate scientific, you know, knowledge or how much was like made up that you created yourself?
H.S. Tak: So, you know, I feel like the inside now there’s like this shift to words. Doing more realistic science, you know? So I sort of, I delved into that more.
I contacted an astrophysicist at NASA JPL. Who’s the he’s the head of their exoplanet exploration division. So I worked with him [00:06:00] on the story and about what would life really like, be like on Mars. And it’s, it was just super interesting to, to find like what NASA is working on, like they, and what was more interesting is that, that wonder that we always had kids.
They still have that. Like, these guys are still, they believe that you can travel. Yeah. Interdimensionally there are actually like there, people are doing studies there about. You know, so it’s really interesting. They really have, like, they have a belief that, you know, spaces out there and nothing like anything is achievable, you know, even including spikes time travel and, you know, traveling through wormholes to get to a different, you know, area in the universe.
Wow. And there’s people actually doing studies on it. So it’s really cool that that was Something, I found interesting there, and I just tried to ground my [00:07:00] science and Redshift. So basically if you were living on Mars, it would be a certain way, like you would have to manufacture your oxygen. Right.
And you’d have to find a way to have to get water. The other interesting thing is Mars at the time all the research that has been happening with the voyages out there really changed and informed the story as like, in real time, basically. So as they’d make discoveries that there is water on Mars, like the first draft of this, there was no water and there were importing it, but then We came to learn that there actually is water on the North and South polar caps it’s ice, right.
So there’s a way to, to get that ice and make it you know, make it so we can use it if we’re up there. So, you know, so it just sort of evolved with the research, but it was it was. It was cool to have it grounded.
Melissa: Yeah. Now, do you have like an open door kind of thing with them where you can contact them [00:08:00] again, if you need them to, for future information,
H.S. Tak: the, the, the the guy was working with Dr.
Wesley trial. I can call it. I mean, I can reach out to him anytime. So we we’ve been describing and showed him actually I’m waiting to send him a copy of the book and he’s going to be really shocked because I probably haven’t spoken to him in. Eight to 12 months since the beginning of, of this lockdown.
So I’m excited to sort of, you know, Hey, this is what, what came about our discussions.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s really cool that you got to actually. You know, talk to people that are doing that for a living and, and finding out all that, that, that they’re actually still really not jaded by it. You know? Cause when you get into something, it becomes a job, but you know, that’s really cool.
They have passion.
H.S. Tak: They’re the opposite of Jadah. They believe stuff that if you would talk to like the average person, they’d be like, there’s no, there’s no way that that’s possible. But they actually liked a lot of scientists there believe that, [00:09:00] you know, deep space travel is achievable.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, I mean, even if you have you go back and read, you know, stuff by Albert Einstein, you know, he had all those theories of time travel as well in parallel universes.
And, and that was, you know, in a time period when, you know, before all the tabloids and all the, you know, people were actually chattering about it. So it’s really interesting, you know, when you really go back and think about these scientists who we. You know, tend to think don’t believe in stuff like that.
But I think they probably believe in it, like you were saying more than we do.
H.S. Tak: Yeah.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s that’s awesome. And so you did that research with them and then did you see, so as you were saying, there’s like this pull to have more realistic science fiction. So did you just kind of stick with that or did you do anything world-building wise or create any of your own, you know, weapons or You know, food items or anything like that when you were, when you were writing?
Yeah. I mean,
H.S. Tak: so we talked because, you know, we went over a lot of stuff. Like how [00:10:00] would we eat there? How, how you drink water there, how do you make air there? How do you make that, you know, breathable atmosphere? And so the world building was connected a lot to that. And then obviously like, you know, there’s times where you just have to figure out ways, you know, what works best for the story.
Right. So, yeah. You know, I had a, so there’s, so you can Terraform the land there to grow crops, but it’s still, I’m not sure at this, at this point, if that would work there. So I go into, you know, genetically modified seeds. Right. So you can actually grow crops out there in the pun, the arid soil. Okay.
You know, I don’t think, I don’t know if it’s a possibility right now, you know?
Melissa: Yeah, I don’t think I keep hearing little things, you know, that come out every, every couple of months, the here’s something new and Mars is like back in the news. Again, [00:11:00] I feel like there’s just so much closer to, to where they were, you know, years ago, as far as just discovering what’s really on there.
And if it’s even livable,
H.S. Tak: Yeah. I mean, it’s not, it’s not going to be, it’s not going to be easy to live up there. We wouldn’t even go talk about politics. Like how, you know, if we were to go to Mars, it would not be a democracy. I’ll tell you that right now. Yeah, because you can’t, you know, you just can’t have, you can’t have group.
Think and groups making a decision, you have to, it has to be purely based on science. So it would, it would really be like the political atmosphere would really be a, a combination of like, an autocratic ruler who would hopefully be based on science. Right? Like, So almost like a combination of Kim John on and Fowchee.
[00:12:00] Melissa: Wow. Wow. Yeah, because I guess if you’re living in those kinds of conditions where your survival is literally dependent on following directions and so many people. When it comes to science, try to say, Oh, you know, like wearing masks, you know, just nowadays they think it violates their civil liberties.
Because they don’t understand the science right on
H.S. Tak: Mars. You’re not going to have a whole lot of civil liberties. I mean, hopefully you got it. You got to work together and it’s gotta be science-based otherwise it’s, you know, humanity won’t last.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s interesting. That probably wouldn’t work out.
Then I think
H.S. Tak: friendship touches on all that, you know, cause it gets into the politics. It gets into cause you know, Mars is going to be th the resources are very limited and look how we fight on earth for limited resource for actually not even the resources aren’t as limited, you know, and still we are constantly, I don’t think there’s ever been a time when there’s just been peace.
[00:13:00] Right. There’s always a war somewhere. Someone’s fighting somebody for something. Yeah.
Melissa: Yeah. Even on a micro level.
H.S. Tak: Yeah. It’s just, it’s never, it’s never, there’s never been like a time of peace here. So Mars, it’s very, it’s going to be very important that, you know, people are people comply.
Melissa: Yeah. Wow. That must be really interesting to explore when you’re writing.
You know, because that is, you have free reign, you know, to do kind of which go in whatever direction you want and explore all those possible outcomes. Yeah.
H.S. Tak: So those themes themes are definitely touched on, you know, as, as the, the Voyagers get deeper into their mission. We. We inter splice it with what’s happening on Mars.
It’s a story is basically between Alan and his brother, Sebastian who’s who’s left at home. And as Sebastian grows up, he gets into the politics of Mars and, you know, he’s fighting to keep Mars together long enough. To hopefully [00:14:00] have his, his older brother who’s out there looking for the next, you know, new earth, I guess you could call it to come back.
So it does touch on, you know, what, it’s just the politics and the way the way we’ll have to live up there. Yeah.
Melissa: Well, and how many issues do you have plans so far?
H.S. Tak: It’s going to be six issues for this arc. Okay. Yeah. And then then I, I left a little, you know, that they’ll cliffhanger,
Melissa: so you’ll have like a spinoff off of that or a company, I think.
H.S. Tak: I think so it’s a cool world and yeah, I think, I think there’s enough, you know, What happens if you find the next planet and what if it’s already has people there? Yeah. No.
Melissa: Yeah. It’s interesting. Do you ever watch it’s not as serious. It’s a little bit more fluff, but it’s a decent show, but it’s called the 100.
No, I haven’t watched that. Yeah. It’s kind of, you know, it’s a CW show, [00:15:00] which, you know, nothing wrong with that. It’s pure entertainment, but it is, you know, it’s kind of interesting because they kind of explore a lot of that, you know, they, these kids grew up in a spaceship essentially because earth.
You know, it’s not inhabitable anymore habitable anymore. And so then they have to go back down and they find that it is, and then it goes off in all these crazy different arcs, you know, throughout their seven or eight seasons. But that kind of reminds me a little bit, cause they do get into the politics as well of having like, sort of like a dictator type of person.
That’s like, you know, if you want to live, you kind of have to do what, what we’re saying, you know?
H.S. Tak: Yeah, yeah, definitely. You know what one show I did watch was which I love and it’s one of my all time favorite shows. Probably a top five shows Battlestar Galactica then the New York.
Melissa: Oh, I haven’t seen that
H.S. Tak: one.
This sort of, yeah, that gets, it gets really dark at times. And, and you know, they’re, they’re, they’re being chased by these machines and if it gets into the politics of how you have to run a ship, you know, if you’re out in space and you [00:16:00] need everyone on board, you know, focused on the same goals.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s interesting. Do you think, would you go to space if you could?
H.S. Tak: Oh yeah. Hell yeah. You know, I was like thinking of I know there’s this Japanese, like billionaire who was recruiting a crew. Of of just civilians to go out into, I think it was probably space X or, or somewhere. So I was thinking of applying, but I would, yeah, I, I tell my daughter, I’m going to go to space with her one day.
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, I think it would be really exciting. Scary, of course, you know? But very exciting. What do you think your, you know, I was trying to think like if it was, you know, an apocalypse there were on a different planet and you know, how everyone has like the role, you know, whether it’s cooking or medic or engineer, like, what do you think your job would be if you were in that kind of world?
H.S. Tak: Oh, man. If I was, I was in, in, in that world, if I was in Redshift, basically. Yeah. You know, I’d [00:17:00] probably be a farmer to be Frank. Yeah. I, you know, interestingly, my the artists for Redshift Brent McKee is he’s a farmer by day on a farm. And, and he does all these, all these like really cool comics at night, but I’ve always wanted to, I’m always just interested in, you know, cultivation and.
Melissa: Food. Yeah. Both sustained. Yeah. No, that’s interesting. Yeah. Speaking of the art, we do have to definitely mention that because Brent McKee is really talented. The art is absolutely gorgeous. How did you meet him? How did that come to be?
H.S. Tak: I met him. How did I meet him? I think I met him. I just emailed him on I saw his art somewhere.
And I, I just, I got his, I fished out as his, his email. So no, you know, another friend of mine who was an artist, doc Howard gave me his email and I reached out to him about this. That was years ago. We’ve been working on this for a few years now. And so I connected with him. He, he had [00:18:00] done some books.
For image and dark horse, but he wasn’t he wasn’t doing anything but covers at the time. So I kind of got lucky with his, you know, with the timing of reaching out to him. I pitched him the idea. He loved it. He hadn’t done a Saifai Spacebook he’s done some westerns and I was like, dude, this is basically, you know, almost like a Western, but we’re out in Mars and he’s like, all right, let’s do it.
Melissa: That’s so cool. Yeah, it does have kind of a Western field actually. I mean, the colors, you know, like the CPI colors are very, could be like interchangeable, like, a space. Yeah.
H.S. Tak: Well, Mars, Mars would be like the West, you know, we’re out. Yeah. It’s a new frontier.
Melissa: Exactly. Yeah. Did you come up with those ideas together or did he just kind of, did you just like say here, this is my story, like, do your best and you know, or did you, were you specific about like, I want it to look like this?
H.S. Tak: I’m, I’m pretty specific. So I, I would, you know, I’d always welcome him to. To take off on [00:19:00] you know, go off on a tangent if you want it to, but he never really did. He would come back sometimes and say, you know, story-wise, this might work better. And usually he’s always right about that. So we would just go with, you know, how he envisioned it, but for the most part, I’m pretty specific and he’s he’s really good at interpreting, interpreting, interpreting what I was, what I’m trying to write on the page.
And you can see, like his expressions are really cool. And they feel Western in themselves. I feel like the way the character’s faces are and how they
Melissa: interact. Yeah, you definitely get that feel. I mean, I didn’t think of it obviously until you said it, but you know, now that I’m looking at it, I’m going, yeah.
Actually, you know, it’s one of those things where you’re like, what does this remind me of? You know, what is this feel? This mood or tone it’s like kind of familiar at the same time as like completely new, if that makes any sense. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Do you have, aside from this project, do you have any other [00:20:00] things like brewing ideas that you are going to be developing soon as well?
H.S. Tak: I do. I have I have a book that that will be out probably next year called crash land with my former boy one artist. I’m on K now pen. So he’s a really good artist. He won the DC town award in 2018. And he’s now doing a bunch of DC books like justice, the dark. He’s done some Batman wonder woman stuff.
Yeah. He’s really, really talented. So luckily, you know, I’d work with him earlier. We already started crash plan. And it’s, it’s almost almost done. And we have a deal in the works. So that’ll be coming out next next year. And I have another book set in 16th century Japan. Okay. It’s kind of like a samurai book.
Nice. And that that’s issue one is almost done. So that’ll be out soon enough probably next year,
Melissa: too. [00:21:00] Okay, very cool. And are, are these all with scout or have you done different companies with them? No, not.
H.S. Tak: So they’re not the semi one. I, I it’s, it’s, it’s going to be a new imprint, which I’m not really at Liberty to discuss because the F the former former president of IDW left, and he’s starting his own imprint at a different, different.
Common shop, basically a different publisher. So that’s exciting. So that’ll be there. And crashed then we’re working on the deal right now. So I can’t really say until I sign, sign it, you know how it
Melissa: is? Oh yeah, definitely. Well, no, that’s. That’s great. That’s stuff. More stuff to look forward to. Yeah, I mean, I love chatting with you.
It’s you’re a very smart guy. Very interesting. Your comic is really cool. Is that the first issue? Is that yeah, now,
H.S. Tak: It will be on May 19th,
Melissa: May 19th. Okay, awesome. And then are they going to be released like monthly or bi-monthly. No.
H.S. Tak: I [00:22:00] think Scott, what Scott does is they release the first issue and then they, in two months they released issue two and then it’s monthly once a month.
So, so Andy, Scout’s awesome. They’ve been really bright. Like they are just I can’t couldn’t have asked for a better
Melissa: yeah. Had you because this is the first time working with them. Right.
H.S. Tak: First time working with them. And I was honestly blown away. Just with just how how organized they are and just they’re just all like down earth dudes that like comics hands.
There’s nothing else about it. They just love to do comics. That’s all they care about. So it’s like a perfect place for, for creator like me.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Have you, how long have you been writing comics?
H.S. Tak: So I had one high boy one and 2016, I think it came out and that was with IDW. And then I was on a hiatus.
I don’t think it did as well as I’d hoped, [00:23:00] you know? So it took me a while to sort of. Get back in the groove. I mean, I was, I was still writing, but, you know, chasing ideas and getting them to a point where they are when they’re like pitchable and then also publishable or different. It took a while, but now I’m pretty excited about Redshift.
I’m excited that it’s at scout. The new books with the new books I have coming out next year will be pretty good too. So. That’ll be interesting. Let’s see.
Melissa: Yeah, I think, well, it’s a good time right now. Comics are, I mean, clunks have always been popular, but there does seem to be a surge of new fans lately.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed that, but
H.S. Tak: I feel like, and like, look at like, if you just, you know, it’s. If you look at like the top 10 grossing movies in Hollywood, they’re all, they’re all based off comic
Melissa: books right
H.S. Tak: now. Yeah. And TV. So I think comics are, you know, they, it went through, they went through their, their downturn, I think, in the nine user at some point.
But now they’ve definitely surged back. I [00:24:00] feel like,
Melissa: yeah. It’s definitely, I think a good time to be in comics for sure. Yeah. Well, thanks again for coming on today. This has been a blast.
H.S. Tak: Oh, no, thank you so much for
Melissa: having me. Absolutely. And for everyone listening, make sure to you know, keep your eyes open for May 19th for ’em to get your copy of Redshift issue one from scout and and that’s under HS tack, right?
Yup. Awesome. Well, thanks again for coming on.
H.S. Tak: Thank you, Melissa. I appreciate it.