Captain Laserhawk: Crushing Love Writer Ben Kahn Wanted to "Take This Very Gay Franchise, and Make It Even Gayer" (Interview) The Nerdy Basement

Captain Laserhawk: Crushing Love Writer Ben Kahn Wanted to “Take This Very Gay Franchise, and Make It Even Gayer” (Interview)

Captain Laswerhawk has seemingly taken over The Nerdy Basement. Not only have we praised the Netflix anime series on our socials, but we also dubbed the companion BL manga, Captain Laserhawk: Crushing Love, an essential part of Dolph Laswerhawk and Alex Taylor’s complicated relationship. We also had the opportunity to chat with Captain Laserhawk creator Adi Shankar about bringing this project to life and working with the renowned Ben Kahn on expanding Beach World and the Captain Laserhawk lore.

The fun did not stop there! We also got to chat with Captain Laserhawk: Crushing Love writer Ben Kahn. We got to speak with them about the creation of the manga, their background, their start in comic book writing, and how it was working with Adi Shankar. In between, we discuss LGBTQ+ representation and how the industry can take the right steps in getting more marginalized stories told and at the forefront of an ever-expanding industry and how Kahn wanted to take this already gay franchise and make it even gayer.

Continue reading below for our extensive interview with Ben Kahn. Learn more about them, and their previous work and make sure to check out their website and Twitter to get all of the latest updates on their work. You can also check out our review of Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix: Crushing Love here.

TNB: How’s it going Ben, nice to e-meet you! My name is Osvaldo J. Madera or just simply Ozzy; I am the founder and EIC of The Nerdy Basement. It is my pleasure to have you enter the basement to discuss Captain Laswerhawk, your work, and your background.

TNB: For starters and those who are unfamiliar with you and your work or just vaguely familiar, tell us more about yourself, your background, inspirations, and some of the work you have available right now.

Ben Kahn: Hi Osvaldo! Thank you so much for having me here to chat. To tell you a little about myself, I spend my time writing comics and novels. I fell in love with comics in college, and have pursued writing them ever since.

My past work includes the Ignatz Award-nominated comic series Heavenly Blues (Scout Comics), the GLAAD Award-nominated graphic novel Renegade Rule (Dark Horse Comics), the comic book tie-in to the Ubisoft game Immortals Fenyx Rising, and my prose novel debut that came out last year, Elle Campbell Wins Their Weekend (Scholastic).

My inspirations come from my obsessions with books, comics, shows, movies, and games. If it’s got a story, I want to dive into it head first. Genres, tones, settings, characters – they’re all fun sandboxes that I can’t wait to start playing in.

TNB: Was writing comics something you envisioned as your career of choice or something that happened along the way?

Ben Kahn: Writing comics has absolutely been a dream I’ve consciously pursued. In high school I made a webcomic as a hobby, but then once I got to college is when I really discovered the medium. I became completely obsessed. I got a job at the shop near campus, and spent all my time reading. Once the thought of ‘could I be a for-real comic book writer?’ popped into my head, there was no going back. I love writing comics. I want to write comics forever. If I could go back in time and tell younger me that I got to write a manga for Tokyopop, I think their little teenage head would explode.

TNB: Who and what are your biggest influences when it comes to your work?

Ben Kahn: When it comes to comics, my two biggest inspirations are Grant Morrison and Brian K Vaughn. Morrison’s JLA and Batman runs and Vaughn’s Y the Last Man were some of the biggest things that got me reading comics in the first place. I always try to keep in mind Morrison’s boundless imagination and how Vaughn makes his characters feel so real.

I love working in comedy, people like Jon Stewart, George Carlin, and Tina Fey are huge inspirations. I tend to bounce around a lot of different genres so I can draw from different influences, but a lot of my work ends up with an undercurrent of comedy somewhere along the way.

TNB: Switching over to Captain Laserhawk. This story is presented as BL (Boy Love Manga), however, it’s much deeper than that. At its core, it cements a lot of what Adi was presenting in the anime in terms of the overall world this takes place in, but also presents, on a deeper level, the heartbreak and betrayal that is experienced by Laserhawk at the hands of Alex. Tell us more about putting that together and enriching this love story between these two characters.

Ben Kahn: This story was pitched to me as ‘gay, sci-fi 1980s Mad Love’, and I don’t think I’ve ever said ‘yes’ to a project faster. Anytime I work on a story, I try to find the emotional core. And for this, it was all about exploring Laserhawk’s life, and the trauma and hurt that’s come to define him. He has to confront how little control he’s had over his life, and what that means for him going forward.

I wanted to flesh out Laserhawk and Alex’s relationship, and show how the romance Dolph desperately clung to was actually toxic and controlling. The goal was to parallel Alex and Eden, and show how similar their methods of manipulating Laserhawk actually are.

TNB: How was it working with Adi Shankar on this project?

Ben Kahn: Working with Adi was fantastic. I talked about boundless imagination before, and holy hell is that Adi. There is so much to this world that he has thought out, and I was really glad the manga could be an opportunity to add more worldbuilding and concepts that he came up with.

TNB: Adi oversaw the story, which you wrote. How much creative liberty was provided to allow your creative juices to flow and create something that, while expanding on Adi’s story, also felt like your own story?

Ben Kahn: Beyond the concept of exploring Laserhawk and Alex’s relationship, I was given a lot of freedom to develop the plot and figure out the themes. The only real limit was making sure nothing contradicted not-yet-revealed canon. It was thrilling to explore why Laserhawk left Eden, and tie it in to his relationship with Alex. I think readers are going to get a lot out of seeing these parts of Dolph’s history.

Adi and I worked together to develop the manga’s main setting, Beach World. It’s an artificial vacation city for Eden’s upper class that hosts a thriving criminal underworld. I love stories where the location is a character in its own right, and I hope Beach World gives this part of the franchise its own unique flavor while also revealing more about the world of Eden.

TNB: Any there any aspects of your own life story that were implemented in this particular piece of work?

Ben Kahn: One of the most fun parts of working on the Captain Laserhawk manga was getting to actually write characters from some of my favorite games. It was so much fun getting to take these characters I love, and give them the ol’ Blood Dragon Remix. Never in a million years did I think I’d get to write Secundo from Beyond Good and Evil or Lucy Stillman from Assassin’s Creed. Lucy in particular really ended up being one of my most favorite characters I’ve ever written.

TNB: This also isn’t your first foray into the world of video games, especially something based on an existing Ubisoft IP, Immortals Fenyx Rising is the title I’m referring to. What keeps you coming back to the world of video games?

Ben Kahn: They keep inviting me! It’s an honor getting to work on these franchises and expand their stories into the world of comics. Growing up, I would daydream about my favorite games, read fanfic and tie-in novels and all that. Getting to actually tell official stories about these characters now is an amazing and surreal experience.

TNB: Would you be interested in fiddling around with other characters that exist in Ubisoft’s extensive library in the same vein as you did with Immortals and Captain Laserhawk?

Ben Kahn: Absolutely! There are great characters to explore and stories to be told. If it’ll be fun and exciting to write, then I’m ready to go.

TNB: Representation. It’s been a focal point in all mediums of entertainment. How important was it for you to be able to continue contributing to LGBTQ+ representation, especially with Captain Laserhawk seeing as the focal characters represents this group?

Ben Kahn: If there was one thing this manga absolutely had to accomplish it was this – take this very gay franchise, and make it even gayer. Dolph Laserhawk is many things, but above all else he is a Disaster Gay of the highest magnitude.

TNB: Staying on the topic of representation, what do you feel the industry as a whole can do to continue allowing minorities and marginalized groups to be able to tell the stories they want to tell?

Ben Kahn: Hire us! Greenlight our pitches. Give books about marginalized groups the support they need to thrive in the market. There’s so many talented and passionate people out there, and the world will be so much better if we let them show us what they can do.

TNB: Your Top 5 Video Games of All Time:

Ben Kahn: Metal Gear Solid 3, Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy X, Jak II, Uncharted 4

TNB: Your Top 5 Films of All Time:

Ben Kahn: My favorite five movies! You got Dark Knight, Godfather, Mortal Kombat (1995) (hey, it’s my list. Deal with it), The Shining, and maybe it’s recency bias, but I really loved Barbie.

TNB: Favorite comic book series, writer, or artist, and why?

Ben Kahn: I’d say if I had to pick one series, it’s Sandman by Neil Gaiman and a whole bunch of amazing artists. It’s the comic that made me want to be a comic book writer. And then I’ll also say 52, because it’s a fantastic, sprawling superhero series and it lets me shout out Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison, and Keith Giffen all in one recommendation.

TNB: What does a regular day for Ben Kahn consist of?

Ben Kahn: I get up at about 6:30 most mornings to get ready for work. My commute to the office is about an hour on the train, so I try to get writing done or read a few comics before work. After a full day of day job-ing, I head home so the real work can begin. I try to exercise, write, and cook (if I have time/energy) before bed at around eleven. And if it’s a Wednesday, I’m recording a new episode of Progressively Horrified, my horror movie review podcast that I do with Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin. The days are full, but they are productive and good.

TNB: One or two random facts about you.

Ben Kahn: Here are a pair of fun facts. My first ever piece of published writing was for an academic textbook on comic books. I wrote the section on Invincible! And before my first comic came out, I spent three years as a mobile game designer.

TNB: What motto, quote, or philosophy do you live by?

Ben Kahn: Live life like an anime protagonist – find something you care about passionately, work as hard as you can at it, and support your friends along the way

TNB: I want to thank you again for your time Ben, it’s been a blast putting this interview together. Looking forward to reading your responses and putting this interview out to the world.

More of Ben Kahn’s work can be found on their website: and you can keep them on X (Twitter).

Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is now streaming on Netflix. Captain Laserhawk: Crushing Love is now available on digital and will release in print on march 12th.

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