Behind the Scenes
Below you will find personal documentation of the evolution of GATES throughout the years by and inspiration behind it–by artist, creator and visionary, Hal Hefner.
THE EVOLUTION OF GATES THE COMIC:::
Gates is an idea that I came up with many years ago living in Rochester, NY. Influenced by the gray, often rainy skies and the negative Utopian feel of R.I.T, the college I attended. The idea was clumsy but interesting and was to originally be published as a role playing game called the Conquest of Europa– by a local company called Fractal Dimensions.
After a few months, that deal never panned out. With my life just beginning, I left New York in search of new inspirations and I would up in beautiful southern California. Los Angeles to be exact. I was evolving as an artist, an intellectual and a human being at this time. I hired a writer to help me evolve my idea into a screenplay. We called it Ascension.
After a few years, still in search of the right formula, I began my journey solo again. At this time, an opportunity with a major comic book publisher located in Southern California arose fast and furiously. At first I was very excited and I believed I had finally found a home. But something back in the depths of my soul just didn’t feel right. I just didn’t trust the guy who was interested in the project. There was something wrong with the situation but I couldn’t put my finger on it at first–but when I received a contract the day of our kickoff meeting I then everything was revealed. It was the most ridiculous heavy handed thing I had ever seen and I followed my gut and walked away.
Undeterred by recent events, I hunkered down and focused all of my energy on the project. I evolved the story tenfold by absorbing everything around me. History and current events guided me artistically. I saw a world filled with the shortcomings of law, the deceit of our world leaders, terrorism, warring religious/government factions, scientific discoveries, natural disasters, food/water crisis, conspiracy theories and the rise of technological marvels that are clearly changing the sociological landscape of our planet. What you see today is a story called Gates and within it is a cautionary, yet optimistic tale of “what could be”.
INFLUENCES FOR GATES THE COMIC :::
Gates has been influenced by many things from books, movies and artists to mythology, history and music. I really wanted to make a comic book that combined three of my favorite genres, (Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy). For me these go hand in hand because with science comes horror and without fantasy there is no one to conceive science. Heavy Metal Magazine seemed to be the perfect fit for this story and I always envisioned it there, as a comic and animated movie.
As a child I loved Rod Serling and his Twilight Zone and the way each episode was a tale to mankind warning them about the perils of current paths they were taking. I loved this and couldn’t get enough. Authors like Harlan Ellison, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Phillip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut and Aldous Huxley I found to be similarly exciting because of their futuristic predictions of mankind’s troubled road ahead. I was obsessed with the question of why I existed and what humanity was to become, and these influences quenched that thirst–yet made me crave more simultaneously. Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm were essential in influencing my creativity but also my growth intellectually. In Orwell I found a writer who saw the human existence in a very similar way.
Epic science fiction stories, toys and franchises such as Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Star Trek, Dune, Lord of the Rings, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Transformers, G.I. Joe and more were equally important in the growth of my artistic talent and the evolution of Gates as a comic franchise.
I have always loved animation and the Heavy Metal movie was always one of my favorites. It was so inspiring because it was raw, unabashed and didn’t apologize for being real. A french animator by the name of Rene Laloux created two major animated films that are amazingly important to me. Fantastic Planet is a bizarre movie about humanity being ruled by 38 feet tall robots with blue skin and one of my favorite animated films of all time. The other is called Light Years in the U.S. and Gandahar in Europe that is just as good. Ralph Bakshi is also another animator whose movies Wizards, Coonskin, Fire and Ice and Lord of the Rings were influential to me. Miyazaki and even the animation of recent years from Bruce Timm and Warners, have been some of my favorites.
Movies have always excited me from the moment I could talk and I credit them with so, so much. Planet of the Apes, the Empire Strikes Back, Bladerunner, A Clockwork Orange, Conan the Barbarian, Star Trek the Wrath of Kahn, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Demon Seed, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Dune, Nausicaa, Dark City, The Howling, All the goofy Island of Doctor Moreau movies, Apocalypse Now, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, THX-1138, 1984, 12 Monkeys, Children of Men, Logan’s run, The Dark Crystal, Clash of the Titans and so many more it’s hard to name.
But my love for storytelling and art comes from comic books. I love comics and always will. From John Byrne’s X-Men, to Batman, to Justice League, and Spawn, G.I.Joe, Spider Man in his black costume and anything by Moebius–comics are the end all be all. I loved Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing as a child as well and another great series such as Watchman, V for Vendatta and the story of the Killing Joke for the Batman series–all by writer Allan Moore, were awesome. To me they were like Heavy Metal the movie. They were raw, unabashed and didn’t apologize for being real–which had become the fiber of my being, my art and my storytelling.
Music such as Pink Floyd, TOOL, A Perfect Circle, Pete Namlook, Tangerine Dream, Portishead, David Bowie, Bauhaus, The Cure, Black Sabbath, Dio, Iron Maiden, Devo, Alice Cooper, Alien Sex Fiend, The Doors, Aphex Twin, The Black Angels, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Oyster Cult, CAN, Clan of Xymox, Danzig, The Misfits, GWAR, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Echo & the Bunnymen, Eurythmics, Fad Gadget, Faith No More, Frank Zappa, The Flaming Lips, The Human League, Iggy Pop, Kraftwerk, Led Zeppelin, The Legendary Pink Dots, Ministry, Neil Young, New Order, Nitzer Ebb, The Orb, Pere Ubu, Godspeed You Black Emperor, The Pixies, The Police, Propoganda, Radiohead, The Rapture, Skinny Puppy, Slayer, Soft Cell, Sublime, Styx, The Tear Garden, Tears for Fears, Megadeath, Motorhead, Gary Numan, Iron Butterfly, Zaeger and Evans, Bad Religion, Lydia Lunch, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Golden Earring, Cheap Trick, Love, King Crimson, Peter Gabiel, K.M.F.DM, Leonard Cohen, Leadbelly, ELO, Queen, the Cars, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sweet, Goblin, Led Zeppelin, Dokken, Tesla, The White Stripes, Quiet Riot, Van Halen (ONLY with David Lee Roth), KISS, the Ramones and Vangelis have all been my vessels.
MY FAMILY– they influenced me still do to this day–with some very important things–Love. Compassion. Strength. Joy. Appreciation. Gratitude. Hope.
My dad who passed away in 1998 will always be an inspiration.
My grandfather who always brought me to buy comic books and toys when nobody else would.
My many aunts, uncles and cousins who always supported me even when they thought I was insane.
My aunt, mother and grandmother who always bought me art supplies, books and life essentials.
And last but not least, my beautiful wife and my two amazing daughters.This is for you.
Written by Hal Hefner, Illustrated by Hal Hefner (C) Copyright 2012
Based on a story and characters by Hal Hefner and David Hirsch
All other images copyright their respective owners