Review Fix chats with legendary artist Michael Hague about the inspiration and creative process behind his new Dark Horse Comics series, “Eye of Newt.” A fantasy tale with an intriguing new character, fans of his work on “The Hobbit” will quickly see Hague’s versatility in a new medium.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this series?
Michael Hague: Leo Durocher once said, “Nice guys finish last.” I wanted to write a story where the nice guy finishes first. Newt is young and inexperienced and is thrust into a trial that he is seemingly unprepared for. He would prefer to daydream and make friends with the creatures in his world than fulfill the demands of his quest as explained by his dark wizard teacher and mentor. He has to learn how to muster the courage to face the challenges while being true to his nature.
Review Fix: What inspires you as a writer?
Hague: The story of Newt began to develop in my head as I was illustrating and writing other stories. I can’t identify what sparked the initial idea but as I embraced the character, Newt, the story seemed to take on a life of its own. The story developed into a 134-page outline and I imagined it as an illustrated novel.
But, Dark Horse Comics, was really interested in it and asked if I would be able to condense it into eighty-eight pages for four comics, which will be then combined into one volume in a later publication. I had to edit and combine key characters and events which was a challenge. I am grateful to Mike Richardson and David Scroogy as well as Daniel Chabon, for their help and encouragement.
Review Fix: As an artist?
Hague: Inspiration is elusive. I cannot tell you what inspires me since it never is clear where an idea comes from. Being an artist is just what I am and that said, I guess it and the resulting art and stories sprout from my soul.
Review Fix: What is your creative process like?
Hague: My creative process is the same whether I am illustrating a children’s book or comics. I imagine the whole story as a movie and then start making small thumbnail sketches of the scenes. These evolve into larger sketches and then larger and more detailed drawings until the whole thing emerges as a book. I don’t know how this compares to the process used by other artists but this is how it has developed for me all those years ago.
Review Fix: How do you think illustrating “The Hobbit” helped the visual look of this series?
Hague: To be honest, I never once thought about The Hobbit while working on Eye of Newt. If it had an influence, it would have to have been in my sub conscience like anything you read or see that remains deep in your mind.
Review Fix: Away from the fantasy genre, what are some other things you enjoy drawing and writing about?
Hague: I don’t draw or write anything that doesn’t have a strong element of fantasy. Even while in school I couldn’t resist putting some fantastic quality in my drawings. Art Center College of Design was not big on fantasy in the late 1960s. Never-the-less, nudes always seemed to sprout wings in life drawing classes.
Review Fix: Are there any Dark Horse characters you have a fondness for? Ones that you’d like to write about or draw one day?
Hague: In the Dark Horse world there are many amazing characters. I don’t know that I would have the chance to illustrate them since the creators have already presented their interpretations.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy this series the most?
Hague: I am hoping that fans of traditional comics will enjoy the books as well as those readers looking for something different.
Review Fix: What are your hopes for the book?
Hague: My hope is that the series is well received and opens the door for me to continue to create more comics.