The first group head photo of Hawkworld / Art by Joe Prado
Five years ago, on January 15, 2016, I started the Hawkworld group on Facebook and the Hawkworld account on Twitter. It was just on a whim, to be honest. I had been bouncing around between groups and sites, looking for Hawkman, and it suddenly dawned on me to just start my own group. I had a bunch of ideas and things I wanted to do, and I didn't want to invade someone else's group, so I started Hawkman Winged Warrior. When I started, my goal was 500 members. I knew that Hawkman is not a top-tier character, and he didn't have his own comic at that time, so I wasn't expecting much of a response. I figured I could reach 500 members eventually but probably no more than that. At that time, you could add people to your group, but I decided to always send an invitation and ask before adding anyone. So I sent out invitations every day for the next two years or so. And boy did they respond!
For content, I decided to do three things every day to add to the group or account when possible; news, art, and comic book covers with details about the comic. I figured if new stuff is added every day, people will visit, join, and keep coming back. It's been 1827 days and it's still going. I've tried to mix it up a bit from time to time. For example, I currently post a comic from the 2010s on Sunday, 2000s on Monday, 1990s on Tuesday, and so on.
|A meme I made in May 2016|
But something very surprising happened. People started joining and following like crazy. At first, I would ask someone to join Hawkman, and if they said yes, I was like, "Really? Cool! Thanks!" I was surprised people wanted to join. The surprise may have ebbed a bit since then, but seeing people join Hawkworld has never ceased to be a highlight of my day.
After the first six months, we had 3000 members and it continued to grow. I was gobsmacked. I still can't believe how big it has grown. As of January 15, Facebook has over 5300 members, Twitter has over 7000 followers, and Instagram has over 1800 followers.
|The first Hawkworld group photo|
During the first few months, I changed the name of the group twice (I think). I wanted to include Hawkgirl in the title of the group, so I changed the title to Hawkman and Hawkgirl after a couple of months. And then after about six months, I changed it to Hawkworld. I did this for two reasons. One was that I wanted to include everything about Hawkman in the group; the villains, history, creators, fans, you name it. The other was when someone joined the group, we would say "Welcome to the Hawkman and Hawkgirl group!" Which was okay, but I thought "Welcome to Hawkworld!" sounded so much cooler. So I sent Tim Truman, the writer of the Hawkworld series a message asking for permission. I guessed that DC owned the rights but they would never respond to a nobody like me so I tried Tim Truman. He had graciously joined the group so I thought I should ask him. He had no objections so I changed all the sites' names to Hawkworld.
|Books by Doug Zawisza and Jennifer DeRoss|
Another thing I did was give away some Hawkman stuff as a way to say thank you to everyone who thought enough of Hawkworld to join. I'm not rich by any means, but I don't smoke, don't drink, don't fool around, and Hawkworld has become my only hobby so every penny (yen) I save I have thrown into this. I sometimes have gotten carried away but it's been a blast doing the giveaway contests. During the first five years, I've given away a few copies of Hawkman Companion by Doug Zawisza, a few copies of Forgotten All-Star: A Biography of Gardner Fox by Jennifer DeRoss, a few figures of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, a few trades, and over 60 copies of the recent series by Robert Venditti. I've never really tried to add up how much that all amounts to, but if I did, I'd probably freak out so I won't.
One important thing I decided to do on Hawkworld was to keep it civil. One of my main goals for the group is for everyone to enjoy the content, feel good when they leave, and want to come back again. I've tried to keep it swear-free, soft porn-free, and insult-free. I haven't always been successful here but we keep trying.
A few weeks after I started, I quickly realized that I needed help. Since almost the beginning, five people have graciously given me their time to help me keep the group going; Mychael Garcia (Philippines), Heidi Curtis Smith (Tennessee), Nelson Fox (California), and Tania Corella (Texas). Their advice has helped me to make decisions about the group and I can't thank them enough. Awesome Hawkfans!
Here are some of my own highlights over the past five years:
Rubbing elbows with Hawkworld Royalty
There are currently over 150 writers and artists of Hawkman who are members of Hawkworld Facebook and followers of Hawkworld Twitter and Instagram. This has blown my mind and is the ultimate compliment. To be followed by the creators must mean I'm doing something right. At least I like to think so. Creators like Alex Saviuk, Jerry Ordway, Tony Isabella, Richard Howell, Tim Truman, Graham Nolan, Jan Duursema, Steve Leiber, Stephen Sadowski, Rags Morales, Alex Ross, Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Bennett, Philip Tan, Joe Prado, Robert Venditti, and Bryan Hitch are just some of the amazing writers and artists who have graciously joined or followed Hawkworld. Even writers like Peter Tomasi, Jeff Lemire, and Tom King, or artists like Liam Sharp and Bill Sienkiewicz have followed Hawkworld. Just, WOW. I never, ever expected anything like this when I started. Many of them have shared their stories and art about doing Hawkman with our group or on Twitter. You can find the list of creators here, but this still blows me away and it is the ultimate compliment.
This first shoutout for Hawkworld came from Lewis Perry of the Angrygeeks Show. I had just started and no one knew anything about me, but he graciously gave our group a shoutout, including one of the highlights of my life (keep reading). I can't thank him enough.
I've also received many shoutouts on Facebook and Twitter from the creators of Hawkman over the years. Every single one is a thrill I wish I could share with all fellow Hawkfans. Here are a few examples:
Roy Thomas? THE Roy Thomas?!
Back in 2017, Lewis Perry of TheAngrygeeks Show was doing an interview with the one and only Roy Thomas. At the 5:50 mark of the video, he asks Roy to give me a shoutout. Head-exploding moment. Definitely one of the highlights of my entire time with Hawkworld.
Venditti is THE MAN
I first "met" Robert Venditti on a podcast by The Comic Source. This was a couple of months before Venditti's Hawkman series hit the stands and it was actually my first ever podcast. I'll have to be honest and say that I was pretty nervous. I think Jace Milam asked me something about Hawkworld and I went off on something about Hawkwoman. But it was great to hear Rob's vision for Hawkman and I got really excited about the series. Since then, I had the honor to be on another podcast with Rob for Hawkman Day, and then in November 2020, I had the honor of being on a Zoom panel with The Comics Lair's Nancy Northcott and Ron after the series ended.
Rob was right there on Twitter and Instagram all through the series' run and it was great to read his thoughts and see his enthusiasm for my favorite character. But what he did last year absolutely blew my mind. In December, I received an unexpected box in the mail from Rob. In the box were all 29 issues of Hawkman, signed by Rob. Talk about being floored.
Podcasts, YouTube Channels, and Websites. Oh my!
Many sites such as Comic Book University, DarkKnightNation, The Comic Source, The Kilted Lantern, 13th Dimension, Comics Nexus, Geek Genie, Bleeding Cool, Comic Man Jake, Pop Culture Squad, DC World, and Thinking Critical has invited me on for interviews or to write articles about Hawkman for their sites. I love, love, love talking about Hawkworld (can't you tell?) so it's always a huge honor and a complete blast whenever I get an invitation. Many, many thanks to all the sites that helped me spread Hawkworld over the years.
Birthday gift from Tony Isabella!
Tony Isabella is the author of one of the greatest Hawkman series ever; The Shadow War of Hawkman (1985) and the first ten issues of Hawkman Vol. 2 (1986-87). It completely blew me away when he joined our group a few years ago. He has come on the group and shared with the members about his original plans that he had for Hawkman. But this year he did something I'll never forget.
In his Hawkman series, he made Thanagarian names with anagrams of his friends. On my birthday in April, Tony sent me a Thanagarian name for a birthday present! It was an anagram made from Tim Board. Definitely one of the shining moments of Hawkworld for me.
Turn to Page 204
In 2019, Jennifer DeRoss published a biography of Gardner Fox. It was the first-ever biography of Gardner Fox, the creator of Hawkman, the Flash, the Justice Society, and many, many other characters. Before the book came out, Jennifer gave me a heads up that she mentioned me in the book. I had no idea what or how I would be mentioned and then the book came out.
To be mentioned in a biography about the great Gardner Fox is an honor I don't deserve. There are some things that a person sometimes has trouble registering the reality of what happened. This is definitely one of those times. If you haven't read the book yet, order a copy! Jennifer does an outstanding job of taking us through the life of Gardner Fox and the history of comics.
The Fellowship of the Hawkamaniacs
There have been many highlights over the last five years, but the best thing hands down has been meeting my fellow Hawkfans. Many of them have even sent me some Hawkman comics and items, all the way to Japan! Their love of comics and favorite characters exceeds my own and their enthusiasm shows through the art and posts that they share. I may never meet them face to face, but my enjoyment of Hawkman and Hawkwoman has been amplified ten-fold because of them. Hawkworld wouldn't exist without my fellow Hawkfans. We all come from so many places, stages of life, and situations. Some of us are really struggling financially, have health problems, and fighting through all kinds of challenges that life throws at us. But if Hawkworld has been a small sanctuary for us to step away for a few minutes and enjoy something that we love, then it will have been worth it. So I want to say thank you to all you crazy Hawkamaniacs and comic book lovers out there, and I hope we can keep going a little while longer.
|Hawkworld Gallery by Tim Board|