With Further Ado #023: Winged Passion – Tim Board’s Hawkworld

There are a few select long-lived comic characters who always seem to bring out the very best in creators. Marvel’s Daredevil comes to mind. One can easily list a “Who’s who” of top comic creators and realize they all brought their A-game their time on the series.  Just off the top of my head, I think of talented folks like Wood, Colan, Miller, Nord, Bendis, Waid, Isabella, Rivera, Samnee and Soule and wistfully remember each of their stints on the title.

Hawkman is another character with that same pedigree.  Originally created during the 40s, during the Silver Age when two legendary artists, Joe Kubert and Murphy Anderson each left an indelible stamp of creative excellence during their runs on the series.  Top creators followed in their impressive footsteps, providing memorable work – each arguably at the top of their game – Truman, Gold, Ostrander, Nolan, Morales, Sook, Palmiotti, Isabella (there he is again!), Grey, Chaykin, Simonson…. the list goes on and on.

So, it’s not surprising that Hawkman has inspired great passion among comic fans. It’s always amazing how certain fans carry the torch and pass along their personal passion to other fans.  Sometimes they almost act as an official marketing department.  That’s why I wanted to catch up with one Hawkman fan named Tim Board, who rules the roost of…

…Hawkworld

Ed Catto: Why is Hawkman so important to you?

Tim Board: Hawkman flew into my consciousness back in 1977, when I was 13 years old. Until then, I had never really paid much attention to comics or superheroes. That changed one day when I came across the 1976 DC Calendar. On the back cover, there was a picture of the DC heroes flying or running, and Hawkman caught my eye. The wings, the harness, the bare chest, and the winged helmet just made him stand out from all the other heroes. I immediately took a liking to this character, so I started scouring the spin racks at all the local convenience stores. I quickly realized that he was not a major character in the DC scheme of things, as he didn’t have his own comic, and he wasn’t a regular on the Super Friends TV show. But that didn’t matter to me. Hawkman had sunk his talons deep in my consciousness and I wanted more. He was a member of the Justice League of America, so I bought that comic every month.

The more I read, the more I liked Hawkman. He was from Thanagar, which was the coolest sounding planet ever. He used his mace and all other kinds of weapons. And there was Hawkgirl. At the time, there were some other DC superhero couples, but while they were all arguing and breaking up with each other, Hawkman and Hawkgirl were a real partnership. They were completely in love with each other, relied on each other, and their concern for each other during their adventures really appealed to me. Hawkgirl was no sidekick. She had her own abilities and in some ways was more capable than Hawkman. That made the couple really cool and interesting to me. 

Over the years, Hawkman has meant many things to me; flight, freedom, exploration, discovery and order. What would it feel like to be Hawkman? What would it be like to have the freedom of flight, to fight alongside Superman and Green Lantern, to swing a mace, or have the beautiful Hawkgirl by your side? When I read a Hawkman comic, it’s not as an observer, but I become Hawkman himself. I’ve fallen in and out from comics over the years for school or work, but every time I come back, Hawkman is the hero I look for.

EC: What is your Hawkworld Facebook page all about?

TM: Back in 2015, I had started getting back into comics and noticed that a lot of the heroes had their own Facebook pages. I thought it would be fun to be able to talk about Hawkman and Hawkgirl and meet some fellow Hawkfans. I looked around and found some Hawkman groups. I joined some of the groups, but I started getting ideas for things I wanted to do, so I decided to start my own Hawkman group. This was in January 2016. About that time, a new TV show was going to have Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the cast, so I thought that would be a good angle to invite everyone. I named it Hawkman Winged Warrior and started it up. I remember my initial goal was to get 500 people who liked Hawkman and Hawkgirl to join the group, but boy was my estimate off. Within six months the group membership was at 3000. I couldn’t believe the response. I did make it a rule to never add anyone without asking them first and just sent invites out to everyone on my friends list. People graciously accepted the invite and the group continued to grow. I remember about that time, Facebook suspended the group, and everything was just gone. I have no idea why. I never did get a response from Facebook but I sent in requests several times a day. That was a stressful week! I was a bit distraught because I had worked really hard on it, but there was nothing I could. And then suddenly, about a week later, the group was back. I can’t describe the relief when I got the group back. Now the group is currently at about 4750 members.

I have followed some basic rules for the group. My first goal is for people to come to the group, enjoy visiting and leave with the feeling that they had a good time. I have visited other groups where the hating, arguing, disrespect and conflicts make me never want to visit again. I enjoy a good discussion and different opinions, but there’s no room for personal attacks, confrontation between members and disrespect of others’ opinions. I’ve had to warn a few in the past and usually they either leave or tone it down. I’ve always tried to make Hawkworld a place where Hawkfans want to visit and have fun.

During the first six months, I noticed some members with names I recognized. At first, I thought it was a coincidence, but then I realized the actual writers and artists who had created Hawkman comics in the past were graciously joining the group. I was flabbergasted. Writers and artists like Tony Isabella, Rags Morales, Graham Nolan, Jan Duursema, Timothy Truman, Pat Broderick, Richard Howell, and many others have joined our Facebook group. We have also had Robert Venditti, Bryan Hitch, Peter Tomasi, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jeff Lemire, Alex Ross, Ciara Renee and others follow Hawkworld on Twitter, where we currently have over 5350 followers as well. This has been a much unexpected thrill and honor. Many of the creators have shared their memories and art about the work they did in Hawkman comics.

After about five months of doing the group, I decided I wanted to change the group name to Hawkworld. I wanted my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blog to include everything in the history of Hawkman and Hawkgirl so I thought it would be the perfect name for the groups. I even asked Timothy Truman for his blessing to do it before I made the change. He doesn’t own the rights to the name of course, but he graciously told me to go for it. So, we’ve been Hawkworld ever since.

EC: What do you think about the current series?

TB: We are in a golden age for Hawkman fans. Issue No. 7 was just released last week, but I am ready to say it’s one of the greatest Hawkman series ever. The writing by Robert Venditti has been one surprise after another. He is writing the Hawkman series that I never thought could be possible. At first it seemed just some slight changes, like the light saber mace that comes back, the retracting wings, and the friendship network he has around the world, but he has taken the history of Hawkman, and set it upon a whole new foundation that brings everything together. It’s fun, new, nostalgic, and enlightening all at the same time. I hope we get at least 50 issues from Venditti. If this happens, this is going to change Hawkman and the possibilities for the future. The art by Bryan Hitch has also been phenomenal. The amount of detail he puts into each and every page is mind-boggling. Venditti and Hitch really seem to love the character, and they are also very active in staying in touch with the fans on Twitter. When I started Hawkworld, I had hoped for a time like this to come, but I never imagined it would be this good. We’re also getting Hawkgirl in the Justice League series at the same time. I think it’s a great idea to let the two characters establish themselves once again, and then bring them back together. I’ll forever be thankful to Scott Snyder for bringing back the Hawks in the Metal series and to Venditti and Hitch for bringing us such an amazing book and letting the fans join them in the process of making it.

EC: Aquaman is having his cinematic moment in the sun right now. How do you feel about that?

TB: About the Aquaman movie: I won’t be able to see the movie until February (released in Japan then) but from the reviews and reactions of people who have seen it, it looks like it will be a massive success. I am very happy for Aquaman fans and I hope they can enjoy it and that it will lead to more positive exposure for their favorite hero. I’ll admit I am a bit jealous. One of my wishes is to see Hawkman and Hawkwoman fly across the silver screen at least once in my lifetime, but who knows. From what we have gotten so far, I think that there is maybe a 10% chance that they will do Hawkman right, so I’m not expecting much, even if we do get a movie someday. But they seem to have really done well with the Aquaman movie, so there’s always hope I suppose. If it ever does happen, and it turns out to be awesome, I won’t need any salt for my popcorn. The salt from my tears of geeked-out-joy will be plenty.

EC: Why are Hawkfans different from other fans? Or maybe they are not.

TB: Hawkfans are the best! I’ve met some of the most knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and amazing people on Hawkworld since this all started three years ago. Many of them, too many to mention, have even sent me Hawkman comics and figures (shipping to Japan isn’t cheap!). Though we may never meet in person, I’ve made some great friends through Hawkworld. There are all kinds of fans, but I think comic book fans in general are pretty awesome. Maybe we got into comics when we were young, or maybe it was later in life, but we all have a common point in that we love our favorite characters, we get inspiration from them, and I think comics are our fountain of youth. Hawkfans, or fans of any other character, will always get that rush of youth every time we see our favorite hero. That’s a pretty awesome thing.

EC: Thanks so much, Tim!