An Interview with Jordan Clark Part 2: Hive Mind

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Posted October 21, 2014 by Josh McCullough in Comic Books

Welcome back to part 2 of our interview with writer Jordan Clark. In this section we discuss his upcoming book Hive Mind as well as Jordan’s personal comics tastes.

We The Nerdy: So can you tell us anything about the premise of Hive Mind?

Jordan Clark: Sure. Hive Mind is a horror comic which is about a dying scientist who creates an intelligent virus in an attempt to save his life. The virus fails to cure his disease, but it does re-animate him as a zombie like creature. He then goes on to infect others and soon there’s an outbreak. The catch is, the more the zombies eat, the smarter they get. They begin to form a sort of collective consciousness like ants or the Borg from Star Trek. Soon things start to come to a head as the zombies begin to challenge humanity as the dominant species on the planet.

WTN: How does Hive Mind compare to some other zombie properties, what are you doing in order to stand out from the crowd?

JC: As a writer, one of the things I enjoy is starting out a story in a familiar way, and then turning the whole thing upside down. For instance, zombies are often just treated as cannon fodder or a plot device to create a sense of danger or an action sequence, but I wanted to find a way to make them into actual characters, which really changes things. Now they have backgrounds, they have connections to each other in ways we can empathize and relate to. So instead of the reader being shocked or sad when one of the human characters die, they might feel the same way when one of the zombies die.

There’s also the intelligence factor. The zombie collective works together, in a way I haven’t seen in any other story. They hunt, they set traps, they develop their own language and use tools and weapons. Not to spoil anything but just as an example, typically you see the zombies moving in large, mindless herds, but in Hive Mind, the streets are completely empty, because all the zombies are hiding and waiting for the people to come to them.

Lastly, because they are intelligent like us, it creates a whole new set of questions. Is it right to kill them, just because we’re their food source? Is that genocide? If they wipe us out, wouldn’t that just be survival of the fittest? Would it be justified for a country like China to bomb us and kill everyone, if it meant saving the rest of the human race? Things start to get really interesting near the end as humans are faced with some tough questions.

page 15 HIVE MIND INK (1)

WTN: Hive Mind seems to have some clear twists on typical tropes, is this done from a cynical perspective or do you love the traditional types of stories?

JC: I love tropes! Nothing these days is going to be 100% original, we’ve been telling stories so long we’re bound to repeat ourselves. Tropes act as a sort of shorthand so we can get into the story quicker. The problem comes when the tropes become the story, instead of serving it. If your story is boy meets girl, they fall in love, break up, realize they were meant to be together, and run back to each other, that’s a bad story because we’ve seen it 100 times. But if boy meets girl, they fall in love, boy realizes he’s gay, and has to find a way to end the relationship, or girl finds out boy is actually an alien fugitive, or maybe they face a conflict outside of their relationship like their countries are at war, that’s different.

I love doing inversions, because I feel like there’s still so much potential in these tropes, all you have to do is crack them open and scramble things up a bit.

WTN: Horror seems to be very popular with mainstream audiences right now, Zombie stories in particular. Did you enjoy horror growing up?

JC: You know what’s funny, I’m super squeamish. Like, to the point where I one time walked out of one of the Saw movies, while I was on a date, and didn’t go back in for like, 20 minutes. But at the same time I love The Walking Dead, both the show and the comic, Hannibal is fantastic, I don’t know. I think it really depends on the story behind the gore. I actually couldn’t watch horror movies for a long time because, long story short, when I was about 4 or 5, I couldn’t sleep and went to go watch TV, and turned it on in the middle of Childs Play 2 when Chuckie popped out of the toilet holding this kids head and laughing. I had nightmares until 9th grade. But still something about horror drew me in. I love The Shinning, as well as a lot of the Hitchcock thrillers. Psychological horror I think is more my thing. So zombies intrigue me, but maybe less the eating of flesh, and more the loss of identity and humanity.

WTN: What sort of things influenced you when writing the book?

JC: I’m fascinated with how people and society works. We live in this very thin bubble that is always on the verge of popping, it’s crazy when you stop and look at it. With Hive Mind, it was thinking about what it would be like to not be on top of the food chain anymore? How would we deal with that? We’re literally the only animal on the planet that doesn’t wake up and doesn’t have to worry about someone eating us. Can you imagine? On top of being late to work, forgetting to get your wife an anniversary present, and your car breaking down, you have to try and not get eaten! Our world would fall apart.

WTN: Are there any comics you particularly loved that got you hooked on the medium? What sort of books are you enjoying now?

JC: I didn’t actually grow up with comics. I lived in the suburbs as a kid, and the closest comic shop to me was maybe 5 miles away, and by the time I was old enough to go places by myself, it was closed. I mostly grew up on the cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, and X-Men. I had this tape of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends where they meet the X-Men and I watched it until it broke. My only experience with actual comics where the two X-men Classic books my parents got me, and any single issues I could find at antique malls or garage sales, and I would mostly go by the cover because the issue number meant nothing to me. Hulk #245? What’s he doing, fighting a huge monster and destroying a town? Sounds good to me!

It wasn’t until I was about 19 and got Watchmen for Christmas that I really got into comics. I got that and then I went out and bought The Long Halloween in anticipation of The Dark Knight coming out (fun fact, I skipped school to see that movie). Both of those blew my mind because I still thought comics where just kind of goofy or melodramatic stories where stuff blew up and people fought each other, and then the good guys won. I had never experienced comics that had tight and really nuanced stories, with complex characters that really made you think, I was hooked! From there it was Y: The Last Man, Preacher, Sandman, and my all-time favourite comic, Day Tripper.  No shame in saying that I cry every time I read that book.

As for right now, there’s so much good stuff it’s hard to list it all. Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Elektra from Marvel, Batman, Swamp Thing, Detective Comics from DC, American Vampire, FPB from Vertigo, Sex Criminals, Deadly Class, East of West, Saga, Alex +Ada from Image. I also just got hooked on Ex-Machina and Gotham Central, and I’m still making my way through the Hellblazer trades. Did I mention I love comics?

WTN: Any final remarks?

JC: I guess what I want to leave everyone with is to read comics! Whether they happen to be mine (which I’d really appreciate, I mean they aren’t half bad, I promise) or the latest event comic. I truly believe there’s a comic out there for everyone, and nothing makes comics better than bonding over them with likeminded people. We have a great community going here in comics, and I feel honoured to be a part of it! If you made it this far thanks for reading, and check out my projects if you get some time. Thanks!

Jordan Clark’s Hive Mind has been successfully funded and will be available this Halloween. You can check learn more about the book on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr remember you can check out all of Jordan’s projects on Kickstarter

 


About the Author

Josh McCullough

A writer at WTN Josh is a huge comic fan whose tastes edge towards the strange and surreal. If there's one thing he loves more than comics then it's Doctor who. Never try and argue with him that there's a better doctor than Sylvester McCoy. Any fedoras that would make good press hats should be sent to his PO Box.