We Interviewed Author Ben Kahn About Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix!

We interviewed author Ben Kahn for a chat about all things Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix. From chatting about where the inspiration came from to exploring the juicy character dynamics, we covered it all. So, kick back, relax, and join us as we dive into the world Ben has crafted for us.

Ben Kahn is a critically-acclaimed writer of comic books and novels working in New York City.  Ben has been writing for over a decade, and has worked with a variety of publishers, including Dark Horse Comics, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Tokyopop. 
​Their notable work includes the Ignatz Award nominated series Heavenly Blues (Scout Comics), the GLAAD Award nominated graphic novel, Renegade Rule (Dark Horse), the comic book tie-in to Ubisoft’s Immortals Fenyx Rising, and their prose novel debutElle Campbell Wins Their Weekend (Scholastic). Their next release is Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon REMIX (Tokyopop.)
​Ben divides their time between working on their latest writing projects, co-hosting the horror movie podcast Progressively Horrified, and playing with a kitty.
​They are represented by Moe Ferrara of Book Ends Literary.

1.What inspired you to create this unique manga adaptation of Captain Laserhawk’s story?

Going into this project, the idea was always to explore the relationship between Dolph Laserhawk and Alex Taylor. We wanted to show how their relationship began, and all the ways it was manipulative and toxic from the very start. What I really wanted to explore and connect that to was Dolph leaving Eden. Whether it was the corporation that turned him into a cyborg supersoldier, or the handsome monster that knew all the right things to say, Dolph has spent his whole life being controlled. Seeing him confront and process that became the core of the story.

2.Share a glimpse into the process of creating character dynamics.

I had a lot of fun figuring out these new character dynamics. The most important relationship in this manga is between young Dolph and Alex, meeting and falling in love. I needed to figure out how to make their voices true to the characters, while still showing them in a new context and at a different time in their lives.

In the manga, Dolph is more innocent, though still plenty badass. He’s already traumatized by his time with Eden, but he has a hope for a better tomorrow that will be ripped away by Alex’s betrayal in the show. Alex meanwhile is still controlling and manipulative, but he doesn’t have that all consuming rage yet. One of the goals in this story was to put Alex on a journey, and show what Eden did that turned him into a revolutionary hellbent on revenge. 

3.How did you navigate the balance between sci-fi elements and emotional depth in the story?

I tried my best to make the sci-fi elements work in tandem with the emotion of the story. Adi created such an imaginative world, it gave me so much to work with. Like how the artificial beaches of the city are an embodiment of Eden trapping people inside gilded cages. The sci-fi and emotion especially go hand-in-hand when it comes to Dolph’s cybernetics. They allow for awesome action scenes, are a constant reminder of the trauma Eden put Dolph through, and are a visualization of the mechanical tool Eden and Alex want to manipulate him into becoming. 

4.Any challenges faced while adapting the story into a manga format, and how did you overcome them?

I think whenever you come into a franchise, there’s always the challenge of staying true to the voice of the source material. It’s important to understand the characters, the world, and themes. Getting to tell Dolph’s origin story, it was like trapeze without a net – terrifying and exhilarating. If I was going to tell such an important part of Laserhawk’s life, I wanted to make sure to give it everything I had.

5.Without spoilers, what do you hope readers will take away from Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix Crushing Love?

I really hope readers come away with a deeper understanding of its main character. If people feel they have a more meaningful connection to Dolph and the pain he’s carrying, that would be the biggest win.

6.Were there challenges in depicting romantic elements within a sci-fi action manga?

I wouldn’t say challenges. Love is the most fundamental of human emotions, and sci-fi is all about exploring the human condition. There’s all sorts of fantastic technology and concepts in Laserhawk’s world, but heartbreak feels just as painful no matter the era.

7.How do you balance catering to Boys Love genre expectations while delivering an authentic narrative?

The most important part to delivering an authentic narrative is knowing the core of your story. What’s that emotional heart? Once you have your North Star, you can map out the rest of the book. I tried my best to get into the characters’ heads and really understand them. And from there, I just let their romance play out.

8.Share inspirations or influences that guided you in developing the romantic aspects of the story.

The big inspiration was definitely Mad Love, the Harley Quinn comic. Its exploration of a toxic, controlling relationship served as a model for this manga. And then the device of the present day Dolph and Marcus Holloway interacting with and commenting on the flashbacks in VR was inspired by the flashbacks in Annie Hall and Interview With the Vampire.

9.How did you avoid common tropes and stereotypes while developing the relationship?

A lot of credit for that goes to Adi. He created these characters and provided the foundation to further flesh them out in the manga. I knew I was working with complex, compelling, and damaged individuals, and not just stock character types.

10.Were there specific manga or BL works that inspired your approach to storytelling?

I would say there’s some light inspiration from Banana Fish with it being a trauma-filled queer love story in a criminal underworld. And there were some certain inspirations I took from Berserk, but I think it’d be spoilers for me to say anything else about that.

11.Where can folks support your work?

You can find me at benkahncomics.com where you can find links to Captain Laserhawk, my mailing list and all my other comics and novels. And then find me on twitter at @BenTheKahn! Thank you so much for chatting with me about Captain Laserhawk: Crushing Love


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