AMA anything about Powers Squared, a new comic book with college-aged identical twins as the heroes.

Powers Squared Comic Book
Jul 6, 2018

Powers Squared was created by Paul and Trevor Hankins, identical twins, and their father David.  The stories weave science, technology, and Japanese folklore into a fast-paced story about family, friends and growing up. We created the comic book and have so far published 5 issues on comiXology. The last three debuting last week.

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Would you say the Hankins were nurtured into writing or it was inborn talent?
Jul 13, 3:51PM EDT0

It was probably a natural talent that was given nurturing to grow.

Jul 13, 4:25PM EDT0
Do you think adults would be less up tight if they read comic books instead of the Financial Times?
Jul 13, 11:13AM EDT0

Yes. Especially now with the craziness going on in Washington.

Jul 13, 4:24PM EDT0
Why did you choose to write a comic book? Would you like to write other genres?
Jul 12, 8:09AM EDT0

The comic book grew out of a desire to do something that would get us on a panel at Comic-Con (mission still not accomplished) and to do something creative as a family. All three of the Hankins also write reviews for Paul’s blog, Trophy Unlocked. In addition, David has been working on a series of thus far unpublished detective mysteries for several years and writes a weekly blog about his writing life, A Week in Writing. Paul is currently working on an Urban Fantasy novel and is attending the UCLA Extension Fiction Writing certificate program.

Jul 12, 11:33AM EDT0
What would it take to have a Patreon or a print run?
Jul 12, 6:58AM EDT0

Rachel brought up the idea of Patreon in one of her answers and that does intrigue us. I would think we would need to have a larger fan base to pull something like that off, as well as figure out if there were other things we need to do if we were to go that route. As far as a print run, we’re going to look into print-on-demand after Comic-Con. At present, doing a print run on our own is a financial bridge too far.

Jul 12, 11:31AM EDT0
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Jul 12, 1:55AM EDT0

We’d like to think we have a good sense of story but are also fun to read.

Jul 12, 11:30AM EDT0
If you were forced to live the rest of your life as one of your characters who would it be?
Jul 12, 1:31AM EDT0

Probably won’t come as a surprise, but Paul would pick Marty and Trevor Eli since these are characters based on themselves.

RW: Hmm, I think Mocha, since being a kitsune would be awesome!

Last edited @ Jul 12, 11:34AM EDT.
Jul 12, 1:45AM EDT0
How much character development should readers expect to see in your comics?
Jul 10, 7:08AM EDT0

Part of the idea behind Powers Squared is to watch Marty and Eli, as well as their friends, become adults out on their own. They’re all going to go through growing pains as they have relationships, go to school, get jobs, etc. We’re also planning on stories that sometimes deal with the side characters, as an example, our next story arc involves their friend Kirby. 

Jul 10, 11:27AM EDT0
Who is your favorite twin of Power Squared and why?
Jul 9, 9:47PM EDT0

The middle one. Asking us to pick a favorite twin from the comic book is really next to impossible.  Marty and Eli are both equally important to the story.

RW: Haha, I’m gonna have to go with Marty, since I like drawing long hair! But as characters, I probably relate more to Eli since he’s the more visually artistic one.

Last edited @ Jul 10, 12:42AM EDT.
Jul 9, 10:21PM EDT0
What is your greatest ambition for your comic?
Jul 9, 8:13PM EDT0

First, we'd like to see it become sustainable. Beyond that, our greatest ambition would be to see it made into a TV Series or a movie or a video game.

RW: For Powers Squared, I mostly just hope we can provide a fun, unique, creator-owned story for a supportive audience! I would love for the comic to someday have a Patreon or even a print run.

Last edited @ Jul 10, 12:42AM EDT.
Jul 9, 10:18PM EDT0

Has anime/manga been a influence in your comic? If so, any title in particular?

Jul 9, 4:44PM EDT0

Anime/manga has certainly had an influence in Powers Squared. One title which had an influence on our work the most is JoJo's Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki, particularly when it comes to the application and limits of some of the powers. We also reference it every so often by including a single Japanese onomatopoeia in an issue. We may include some other anime references in the future, though sparingly.

RW: Absolutely! As we’ve discussed in other answers, anime has had a huge influence on both the story and the visuals. Anime was also instrumental to my artistic growth as I was still finding my voice, especially Lucky Star and Wolf’s Rain (two of my all-time favorites!) – although my usual art is a lot less anime these days, I like to think that early influence is still present at least somewhat.

Last edited @ Jul 10, 12:43AM EDT.
Jul 9, 5:46PM EDT0
How do you divide the workload between you and your brother?
Jul 9, 7:14AM EDT0

PH: We both contribute story ideas and edit the script. However, I'm more directly involved with the process since I also help look through and approve the work of the artist and colorist while Trevor mainly does the lettering.

Jul 9, 3:11PM EDT0
How much of your own personality traits have permeated into your work?
Jul 9, 12:15AM EDT0

PH: I'm not sure how similar I am to Marty. Like me, he's a bit more outgoing than Eli is and he also enjoys video games and playing guitar. Like us, Marty and Eli sometimes argue, but are ultimately there for each other. Unlike me, Marty sometime speaks in outdated colloquialisms.

RW:This is kind of a tough question for me since the Powers Squared style isn’t one I typically work in. I do feel like I’m generally an empathetic and passionate person, thus I put a lot into making the characters I draw very expressive and relatable, which I hope helps this comic really come alive.

Last edited @ Jul 10, 12:44AM EDT.
Jul 9, 9:17AM EDT0
What do you hope your readers will take away from Powers Squared?
Jul 8, 9:41PM EDT0

Well, we hope that they might see something of themselves in the main characters, as everyone wants to find a way to fit in despite all the things that make them different.  And, of course, we hope that readers are intrigued enough to want to see more.

Jul 8, 11:43PM EDT0
How long does it take to produce an issue? How is the process?
Jul 8, 12:10PM EDT0

The amount of time varies. The first two issues took a year for the artist to complete and we had to have them recolored so that took another four months. Issues 3-5 took about a year for the art and coloring.

The process is to start with a script and that can take several weeks to write with several revisions along the way. Some of the scripts for the issues we’re starting to work on now were originally written about three and four years ago. Earlier this year, David and Paul spent several weeks rewriting them into a longer story arc.

Our current artist, Rachel Wells, is much more consistent with pages and does 8 a month for us. Nina Gaillard, our colorist starts about a month behind the artist and also does 8 pages a month. Part of keeping it to 8 pages a month is to keep costs down. At present, everything is out of pocket and 8 pages are about as much as can be afforded.

Rachel, after reading the script, sends us two versions of thumbnails for the next 8 pages. Paul and David review them and pick some panels from each version. She then sends us a layout which Paul and David review and approve. Then she sends us pencils and then inks. The completed inks, along with illustrations of lighting sources (if needed) are then sent via Dropbox to Nina, who adds the completed pages back when she’s done.

Paul and David review and approve everything as it goes through the process, sometimes asking for a tweak here and there, more so in the early parts of the process.

Once the pages are colored, they’re sent via We Transfer to Trevor who then letters them.

RW: We work in batches of 8 pages a month, so I pencil and ink an entire 20-page issue in about 2.5 months. My work process starts by just reading the script and making thumbnails, tiny sketches that help me get my ideas down quickly. For each page, I make 2 different thumbnails to explore the best ways to portray the story. After David and Paul approve the thumbnails I use them to make pencils, which is a whole process in and of itself – I make perspective grids for all the panels (Clip Studio Paint’s perspective ruler is a lifesaver for this part!), then I draw backgrounds, then I draw the characters. After sending a draft to the Hankins I make any necessary changes and eventually I just ink over the pencils in another layer. Overall a single page from start to finish takes around 16-18 hours

Last edited @ Jul 10, 12:46AM EDT.
Jul 8, 1:58PM EDT0
How is it like to work with your brother? How do you make decisions and how do you solve disagreements?
Jul 8, 8:19AM EDT0

PH: That’s an interesting question. There aren’t really any difficulties with working with Trevor, but that’s probably because we work on different parts of the process or we end up independently coming up with story ideas at different times. If there are any disagreements, it’s usually in the lettering when there’s a discrepancy between how much text is in the script and how much will actually fit. I’m sure he can tell you more about that.

TH: In earlier issues I tried working within what is called a “safe zone” so that, for those who don’t know, the lettering doesn’t get cut off should the comic get printed, assuming that ever happens (this also influenced where I placed the title on early issues, making room for cover bugs). The safe zone eventually proved to be a bit restrictive at times, particularly in smaller panels (one reason I stopped using it when the artist changed), not helped when lines in the script would translate to walls of text in Illustrator. Disputes such as these would be resolved by working with the writers to re-write certain dialogue such that it sounded more natural while still conveying the original intent of the script and fit within the given space. Ditching the safe zone freed up more space (and works better for digital), although this issue still comes up on occasion.

Jul 8, 1:59PM EDT0
What inspired you to create and develop Powers Squared? Why did you choose to write comics?
Jul 8, 5:16AM EDT0

I think we’ve already answered why we decided to create Powers Squared, in the question about what got us started. We continue to develop it with the hope that someday soon it will reach an audience. Writing for comics was the only way for us to develop the series. While this is our first endeavor into comic books, we do all write reviews for a blog Paul started several years ago called Trophy Unlocked. Paul is working on an urban fantasy novel while attending the UCLA Extension Fiction Writing certificate program. David writes a thus unpublished detective series of books and also writes a weekly blog about his writing.

Last edited @ Jul 8, 2:01PM EDT.
Jul 8, 1:59PM EDT0
What tools do you rely on in your day-to-day work?
Jul 7, 9:39PM EDT0

On a day-to-day basis, we use Word, Dropbox, WeTransfer, and Outlook. Lettering is done in Adobe Illustrator and we use Photoshop as well.

RW: For penciling/inking I use Clip Studio Paint with a Bamboo Create drawing tablet! Pretty much all of my work is digital.

Last edited @ Jul 10, 1:03AM EDT.
Jul 7, 10:09PM EDT0
What process do you follow to create characters and their personalities?
Jul 7, 3:54PM EDT0

A good question. The creation of a character is a collaborative process. Some of it comes from the writing obviously and some from the artist. A lot the chemistry comes from the dialogue which the artist doesn’t usually have any input on.

Since the two main characters are based on the creators, we wanted them to look like them and have their general interests. Paul and Trevor are close and we wanted Marty and Eli to be close, as well. But even though Marty and Eli are based on real people, neither talks with same colloquialisms that Marty does sometimes. The idea was to make them similar but still different from their real-life models.

Sometimes there is a look we’re going for that has nothing to do with the other characteristics. As an example, for Mocha we were looking for a woman with exotic coloring so we used adult film actress Tera Patrick as the model; she’s a mix of Thai, Dutch, English, and Irish. To make her more exotic we gave her Elizabeth Taylor’s violet colored eyes.

There is a new character, Professor Theorem, we’re developing for the next story arc, who’s look is based on K.Flay, the alt-rock musician, because I’m a big fan of hers and her work. But besides being smart, she has nothing else in common with the character.

There is usually someone we have in mind for the parts, at least visually. Sometimes they’re real and sometimes they’re characters from anime or video games. Case in point, Jennifer’s look is based on Jennifer from Disgaea; Steve is based on Simon Helberg from the Big Bang Theory. Dr. Atlas, our main villain, started out with Doc Brown from Back to the Future as the model.

Uncle Brian is based on two people, Scott Fresina, who teaches Paul and Trevor guitar and art respectively, just as their uncle in the comic book does, with the visual of Bruce Campbell from his Burn Notice days thrown in for good measure.

Jul 7, 5:32PM EDT0
What got you into writing/drawing comic books or graphic novels?
Jul 6, 6:21PM EDT0

San Diego Comic-Con. After attending it for several years, my sons and I were talking about how to get on a panel rather than just attend them. Making a comic book seemed to be the most direct route. Still not on any panels, but we guess its still something to shoot for.

RW: I’ve been drawing cartoons for pretty much my entire life, and I’ve always known that I wanted to be an illustrator of some kind. I kind of slowly got into comics when I started going to SCAD as I fell in love with the opportunities that come with visual storytelling.

Last edited @ Jul 10, 1:00AM EDT.
Jul 6, 7:39PM EDT0
How do you achieve that distinct look? Do you have any unusual tools in your arsenal?
Jul 6, 3:39PM EDT0

Again, a really good question for an artist. We were shooting for a Western/manga mix look and think that with our new artist, Rachel Wells, that we’re much closer to that look.

RW: The style I use for Powers Squared kind of developed naturally from my more “realistic” style, for lack of a better term – it started with me trying to mimic Sika Murti’s style from issues 1-5 while improving on things like anatomy, form, expression, etc., and eventually evolved into this Western/anime hybrid David and Paul were going for. To keep things consistent I like to reference works like The Legend of Korra and Voltron: Legendary Defender that morph anime and Western cartooning in that way.

Last edited @ Jul 10, 1:00AM EDT.
Jul 6, 7:39PM EDT0
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