Some of the best science fiction tales are stories that are rooted in reality but, for some reason, the right combination of events hasn’t yet come together to make them a reality. This is what caught my eye about the Solar Flare comic at MegaCon 2016.
As I was making my way through the crowded aisles of artists on the show floor at MegaCon, the title of a comic grabbed my attention. Solar Flare. So I stopped and talked with the writer and creator behind the comic, James Haick. James isn’t your typical comic book creator in that he isn’t currently writing for several other major comic book projects. No, this was James Haik’s first comic book. As it turns out James has a day job that has nothing to do with the comic book industry. Instead, he runs a financial services company in Bonita Springs, Florida. This made me even more curious, so we got to chatting about how he got into the business and how he found the rest of his creative team behind the project. So I bought the first six editions of Solar Flare, had James sign each one and promised to follow-up with him after MegaCon. I gotta say, the cover art for volumes 1-6 are pretty amazing!
The premise behind Solar Flare is that an incredibly powerful x-class solar flare hits the Earth, knocking out virtually every piece of electronic equipment on the planet. With the integration of electronics into almost every part of our daily lives you can imagine how this might throw the planet into chaos. If you think this situation is too extreme to be something that could actually happen, you would be wrong…
In 1859, Earth was hit by an x-class flare. This event was named the Carrington Event, named after the astronomer Richard Carrington who discovered it. The Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) caused by the storm left a green aurora in the sky for over 200 days! Luckily, the only notable electronic device at the time was the telegraph, so day to day life wasn’t effected as much as it would be today.
– An excerpt from the Solar Flare Preparation Guide (also created by James Haick and his team)
After recovering from MegaCon, I very quickly read all six volumes of Solar Flare. The story’s main protagonist is Jake Clifford and we meet Jake just before the big storm reaches Earth. After it hits, Jake’s primary driving force is to get to his daughter who lives in another state. Jake also has a friend, Dr. Jerry Wilman, who is a scientist that understand the physics behind the storm and, as you can imagine, comes in very useful given their current situation. The story and the characters are very engaging, and just as with The Walking Dead series, the world shattering event is simply the backdrop for the true horror…the ugly side of humanity that can come out during a crisis.
After MegaCon, where I didn’t have to battle the throngs of Kylo-Rens and Deadpools to have a conversation with James Haick, I sent him an email with a few questions and he was kind enough to respond…
GD: Where did you get the idea to create a comic about a massive solar flare hitting the Earth?
James Haick: I got the idea from a Discovery Channel special that I watched about 6 years ago while I was vacationing in NC. When the special was over, the first thing that popped in my head was what would I do if a solar flare hit right now? How would I get home back to FL? I then started to jot down all the ideas I had.
GD: How much research did you do on the science of solar flares before writing the story?
JH: I did a ton of research online and studied for about a year before I started writing. If you go to my website, www.solarflarecomic.com/about, I posted the links of some my favorite websites I used.
GD: This is your first comic book to be published. What made you decide to get into writing comic books? How different is this compared to your day job and would you recommend it to anyone else who is tempted to get into the comic book industry?
JH: I’ve been a comic fan since I was 8 years old. Unfortunately, I have no artistic talent when it comes to drawing. I can’t even draw a circle correctly (they always turn out to look more like ovals). I’ve also had a wild imagination and one day the thought came across my mind that I should give comics writing a try. I took a few writing courses and read a few books (Story by Robert McKee, Intro to Comic Writing by Mark Kneece) to help me along the way. Writing comics is completely different from what my main profession is. I’ve been a financial advisor for the past 15 years helping people with their investment and insurance needs. Owning my own practice allows me the time and resources to follow my dream to be a comic writer.
GD: When we talked for a bit in person at MegaCon you mentioned that the rest of your team behind Solar Flare are spread out all over the world. How did you find the rest of your team? How did you manage working on such a creative project remotely? Any special tools or methods to make the communication and collaboration work?
JH: I found my team through the website Deviant Art. I posted an ad in the forums and narrowed it down to Song, Branko, Michael and Deron respectively. We corresponded through email and Dropbox and it has been very easy despite being in different time zones.
GD: Do you have plans to write any other comic book series?
JH: I do, but my main focus right now is Solar Flare. I have additional comics in development. The first one is called Long Live Pro Wrestling, which is all about the backstage politics of professional wrestling. The other series is called The Mall and is about three female cousins who inherit an organized crime network that is run out of an indoor shopping mall in late 80’s.
One of the great things about attending an event like MegaCon is running into all the really interesting up and coming talent and getting to meet and talk with James Haick was no exception. Had the Solar Flare art work not caught my eye as a I was walking up and down the aisles of artist alley I may never have discovered Solar Flare. Now I’m hooked and am anxiously awaiting the release of Solar Flare #7!