Cynicism Toward Hero Worship: Discussing `Monomyth’ With Writer David Hazan
by Tom Smithyman
In the upcoming comic book Monomyth, writer David Hazan explores magic and the dark side of the stories we hear about every day. In an exclusive interview with Comicon, Hazan discusses why we’re so into magic, the dangers of hero worship and the thematic overlaps of his stories.
Tom Smithyman: In Monomyth, you explore the dark side of stories and storytelling. As a storyteller yourself, you understand these downsides better than most. How do stories use us and twist us – and why is it important that we understand that?
David Hazan: It’s hugely important that we understand how narratives can affect our perceptions of, and reactions to, the real world. We’re being bombarded with more and more stories every second of the day through mass media. Even things you might assume aren’t stories, in fact, especially those things, are the most dangerous kind – from advertising to politicking. Stories are woven into the fabric of every interaction we have with each other – and when you believe in a story, even for the tiniest moment, it isn’t fiction anymore. It’s real.
Smithyman: In the first issue, we discover that even though it is dying, magic is real. Why do you think so many of us are fascinated by magic?
Hazan: Magic is, at its core, wish fulfilment and escapism in a neat little package. It’s what’s so captivating about this idea that somewhere out there is an invitation with your name on it to some school in a far-off land where you learn to do the impossible with a wave of a piece of wood. Magic isn’t going to solve your problems, though…it’s just going to make them more…magical. To the end that the undeserving should get this wish-fulfilment power, the idea should terrify you! While magic is, in principle, a mesmerizing and fantastical concept, if its limit is the human mind, it’s bound to go to some very dark places.
Smithyman: A wizard summons some magic users from modern times into the past. Why did you choose to use contemporary magicians instead of those from the period in which the story is set?
Hazan: Ooh, interesting that you got that from the pages because that wasn’t my intent…but as you go through the story, you’ll see that there’s a dual narrative being told. As for our contemporary heroes, I chose them because I wanted to make it clear that themes are really applicable to the here and now, and that the stories we consume throughout our lives can and will continue to impact our present.
Smithyman: You have a lot of experience in telling stories set in the ancient past thanks to Nottingham. Is there any synergy between the tales, or does the comparison end there?
Hazan: I think there is some thematic overlap between the propaganda war that’s happening in Nottingham and the nature of magic and stories in Monomyth. My cynicism toward hero worship is definitely shining through in this one as well.
Smithyman: Monomyth features a school for wizards. This one is past its prime though. Were you at all inspired by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?
Hazan: I think you can’t really do what we’re trying to do without acknowledging the elephant in the room…that said, this tale draws from other places too. Camelot, Middle Earth, Narnia, Fantasia…all of it coalesces in Monomyth. What I will say is Monomyth was born in no small part by my reaction to she-who-must-not-be-named’s betrayal of an entire generation or two of fans.
Smithyman: Artist Cecilia Lo Valvo and colorist Marissa Louise bring a distinct look and feel to the series. Do you find yourself adapting your script after seeing what they’ve come up with?
Hazan: Cecilia and Marissa both do an incredible job, as does superstar letterer Lucas Gattoni (whom I knew I needed on the book, and you’ll see more and more of why as the story progresses). I had a fairly solid idea of what Cecilia’s art was going to bring when I started, and so I’ve really tried to hit harder on the big iconic moments as well as the weird magicky bits. Marissa, we just let do her thing and she comes back with something gorgeous every single time. It’s been a real joy to have her unleashed on this book.
Smithyman: Since Monomyth is all about magic and stories, do you have a favorite magic trick?
Hazan: The greatest trick of them all, making words and static images on the page come to life in your mind!
Smithyman: Good answer! And best of luck on the new series!