June 26/07 9:01 am - Symmetrics Comic Book Preview & Interview
Posted by Editor on 06/26/07
S-Team Comic Update: Matt Hansen Interview
Earlier in the Spring, Symmetrics announced that a promotional comic book about the team was being created. Since this (to our knowledge) the first time that a cycling team has had its own comic book, we gave Matt Hansen a call to see how the project was coming along. Matt is a former cyclist and novelist, who now works as Editor in Chief at Marvel Comics DB Pro line, home of Spiderman, X-men, etc. He also helps out Symmetrics with some of their PR work.
Here is a link to a sneak preview of the Cover
Canadian Cyclist: So Matt, we hear the comic is coming out soon?
Matt Hansen: Yup. We just uploaded the finals to the printer and it should be enroute to BC this week. There should be some copies at the Symmetrics tent at Yaletown GP on Canada Day.
CC: Before we get into the specifics of the comic, maybe we should fill the readers in on what you do at Marvel Comics, and how this rather interesting project came about?
MH: Essentially, at DB Pro, we publish comics and graphic novels through Marvel that are adaptations of all the biggest and best-selling novels and films. We take novels that have tremendous followings in the sci-fi/fantasy world - George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Raymond E. Feist, Laurell K. Hamilton, to name a few - and create comic books and graphic novels based on them. They are either direct adaptations - similar to the way a movie is adapted from a novel - or original material by the author. It means readers get the first visual interpretations of their favourite characters if there is not a movie of the book yet. (See: www.dabelbrothers.com or www.marvel.com/comics/Dabel_Brothers)
The S-Team comic came about when I was staying at the (team owner) Cunningham house this spring, and we were planning a press kit for the year for Symmetrics. It was just after Svein had won the US Open and Kevin and I were both pretty excited with what could be next for the team. There was a lot of excitement and energy in the room; we'd just seen the guy win on NBC television!
I had comics lying all over his place as I had just got back from New York. In sort of a Eureka moment, Kevin and I both agreed that a comic book in lieu of a traditional press kit would be a fresh, iconoclastic way to tell people about the team.
CC: So the comic is essentially a press kit?
MH: A press kit and more. It's a story, with a beginning and an end, but it incorporates the team's sponsors, the names of our riders, and a general overview of what we stand for as a team. We talk about the team's values - teamwork, riding clean, being environmentally friendly - and our belief in Canadian cycling in general. But we tell all these things in 16 pages, with a fun to read comic book, instead of a dry press kit with the usual blurbs and headshots. In fact, even the team photo shoot is in there in the centerfold - but all the riders are comic book characters.
CC: And are the riders superheroes? The style looks sort of "realistic", as much as a comic book can.
MH: Well, the idea is an elite athlete is a form of superhero. Take Svein Tuft. He's just some dude in his civvies, just a regular Joe in jeans and a t-shirt if you saw him on the street in Langley, BC. A quick change in a phone booth and he's in his Symmetrics outfit: now he's an extraordinary athlete. In an instant, he's recognizable, he's superpowered, he's a role model. When Kevin and I came up with the idea for the comic, it was an extension of one that I had when I was with The Transformers comics: branding athletes as superheroes. In fact, I had enlisted Curt Harnett to help me do something similar for Canadian Olympians, but it never flew.
CC: So where can people get the comic?
MH: We plan to have the comic available at all of the big races in Canada this year, like the Nationals, BC Superweek, some NRC races. Hopefully wherever you see Symmetrics, there will be comics. We're getting quite a few printed.
It should be a great keepsake for followers of the team, and I hope that fans get the comic signed next to their favourite rider when they see him or her. There will also be copies available in select bike stores across the country (if a store distributes Norco, be sure to ask) and also in Coast Capital branches in BC. It's a free comic - the costs have been subsidized by some of Symmetrics Cycling's major sponsors: FarmPure, Norco, Coast Capital, and Northern Feathers. There are also merchandise plans with the S-Team branding - we hope to keep pushing the fact that professional athletes really are superheroes. Check the site soon for more about that. (www.symmetricscycling.com)
CC: Will there be more S-Team comics?
MH: We hope so. It's been really fun for me to work on this, as it involves a lot of my friends. At my day job, we adapt fictional characters from well-known novels. It's great fun to see the drawings created from the books and movies we adapt, but I've never met the people in them, obviously.
To see guys like Andrew Pinfold or Andrew Randell - my childhood pals - as comic book characters, is really cool. In fact, the artist that pencilled the comic, Eduardo Ferrigato, is from Brazil and a big sports fan. He loved the project so I hope he can do the second issue. He's used to drawing superheroes so to draw guys and girls on bikes was a trip for him.