Interview: Rahsan Ekedal on THINK TANK

Rahsan Ekedal is a comic book artist based out of LA, CA. His previous work includes ECHOES and THE CRAZIES for us and his new book THINK TANK comes out August 1st. 

Jessi sits down with Rahsan and chats about all things THINK TANK! 

How did you come up with the look of Dr. David Loren?

The design for David came very easily, I'd say. More so than most characters I've designed. He kind of came fully formed right from my early sketches of him. Matt had a pretty clear concept in his scripts and story treatment, and so the aesthetic flowed naturally from his personality. David's basically an overgrown kid who loves videogames and comics and just happens to be a scientific genius on the side. He has no social skills, and no concept of style. Life is all about having fun and cracking jokes for David. So, naturally, he walks around this huge, high tech military facility in sweatpants and a smelly t-shirt. He barely every shaves, he certainly doesn't wash his hair (let alone cut it), and he hardly even bothers to put shoes on. You'll notice he spends most of issue 1 in his socks. Yeah, he manages to put on some jeans and a button up shirt when he goes out to a bar to test out one of his inventions on some unwitting girls, but I can guarantee you his mom bought him both items of clothing.

What was your inspiration while designing the characters?

When I got to designing David's best friend, Manish, I knew Matt had conceived of him as a sort of timid young Indian man, not quite as smart as David but definitely more sensible. So his wardrobe communicates a much more professional and organized type of person, but I felt he'd also show his youth with tousled hair and slim cut, fashionable clothing under his lab coat. Mirra (David's love interest) was inspired partly by Naomie Harris, but took on a life of her own. She's really just about me having fun with fashion and hair. And the military characters are essentially visual foils for David - totally straight, tough, intimidating people, the opposite of Dr. Loren's liberal geek.

Writer Matt Hawkins says the weapons produced in a THINK TANK are  "the best science fiction." How much creative leeway did you get while drawing such things?

There are a few devices and aircraft that appear in the story that are the very specific, like drones and such, but most of the technology is speculative or top secret. So, finding photographs of such things to use as reference is impossible, and Matt gives me freedom to make it up. Mostly I've extrapolated visual ideas from existing technology to come up with a best guess. For instance, there is a small drone aircraft that appears in issue 1. It carries a robotic, remote controlled sniper rifle onboard. I basically combined the designs of current drones and the V-22 Osprey helicopter with a folding, telescoping rifle barrel. Don't look at Think Tank expecting the technology to be 100% accurate - it's all conceptual and fantastic, just grounded in real technology that is in development right now.

What kind of creative atmosphere did you and Matt have while coming up with the initial artistic style of THINK TANK?

Working with Matt is very informal and friendly, definitely a blast! He shoots me notes and ideas and scripted scenes as they come to him, so I feel very close to his creative process, and I think he's very excited to see them come to life. I send him everything as I go, from thumbnails up to the finished pages. It's a fun, creative atmosphere. I think that we've maintained that from the very beginning, and it's interesting to see how Matt adjusts and evolves the story in response to the way I'm drawing the characters. There's a creative feedback loop that's been present all along, absolutely.

Do you listen to music while you create? What does your playlist consist of?

I definitely listen to a lot of music. I generally mix up my days between music and "watching" movies and tv series (this means mostly listening to them as I draw). I constantly have something on, I rarely work in silence. My favorite bands are always changing, but Miike Snow, Crystal Fighters, and Niki & The Dove are up at the top of the list right now. I stream a lot of radio from the UK and France.

What does your creative workspace look like?

My workspace is always a jumble of thumbnails, scripts, and art supplies. The art table has a black glass surface, which I love to work on. Doesn't show the spilled ink as much!