Before its highly anticipated release on Free Comic Book 2019, Villain Media has an exclusive interview with artist K. Lynn Smith, who talks about HOPE #1 (Source Point Press). Find out what happens to the relationships that can be destroyed after becoming a superhero.
Unbeknownst to her husband and daughter, Julie Lavelle secretly moonlights as a beloved costumed Ultra known to the public as Hope. However, when a family outing takes an unexpected turn, she quickly learns how everything can change in an instant.
With the release of the first issue on Free Comic Book Day, K. Lynn Smith discusses her collaboration with writer Dirk Manning, the Kickstarter campaign behind the first volume, and how Julie Lavelle’s costume came about. Check out our review as Smith and I head into the artist’s studio to discuss the craft of illustrations.
Villain Media: Tell me how you became involved with HOPE?
K. Lynn Smith: At one of our shows, Dirk [Manning] approached me about an idea he had been sitting on for a while. He had been hunting for the right person to work with. He pitched the idea to me. When I suggested the final twist in one of the arcs, he got so excited! So we teamed up! Dirk has always been adamant about keeping it [as] a co-created series. Before every issue, we’d hash out story points together. Then he goes off to write, and I go off to draw.
VM: Tell me about Julie Lavelle, who’s both a mother and a superhero.
KLS: Julie is certainly a flawed character. She’s someone who had a minimal perspective on the world before she became an Ultra. She always tries to do what’s right, but when chaos strikes, she’s thrown into the reality of what it means to have powers. She wants what’s best for her family. But at the same time, she’s battling for her own rights. And with superpowers, that makes her dangerous and unpredictable.
VM: Tell me how the look of Julie Lavelle’s costume for Hope came about.
KLS: Hope’s costume went through a couple drafts, mostly on her color scheme. Her chest plate is a play on the sigil for the Egyptian goddess of motherhood. And of course, every superhero needs long hair to blow in the wind!
VM: What I loved about the first issue is that it’s really a family drama underneath a superhero tale. Tell me about juggling both genres within the illustrations.
KLS: I really wanted to convey the desperation [of] the situation. Julie has this incredible power at her fingertips. And yet, she is powerless to help even her family. Like you said, there are two genres at play here. But we really want to push the human story of it all. Julie is in costume for one page out of the entire first issue, because it’s really not about Hope here. It’s about Julie having ‘hope’ stripped away.
VM: What should readers expect from the second issue?
KLS: It gets worse for Julie. Much worse. And new characters are introduced, both friends and foes. Dirk would kill me if I gave any more away!
VM: HOPE Volume 1 succeeded in its Kickstarter campaign. What do you wish for backers to come out of with the first volume?
KLS: The first volume is about what you’d do if you had your back against the wall, and yet, the power to stop it all. Would you punch your way out? Or play by the rules? We really wanted to blur the line between good and evil, and how far someone would go for family; even a superhero.
VM: How did Hope change you as an artist?
KLS: Working with Dirk and our editor Heather Antos has been great. My largest project to date is PLUME, which I wrote and drew on my own, so having a team behind me on HOPE has really pushed my work further than it’s ever been. Heather has been instrumental in this project, in both art and story.
VM: What are you working on now?
KLS: HOPE, of course, and a few projects that I am not allowed to talk about quite yet. But soon!
HOPE #1 arrives in stores on Free Comic Day (May 4th, 2019).
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]