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Rock Star Really Wanted To Draw Comics

Before 28-year old Joe Hahn found his calling as a member of alternative-rock band Linkin Park, he was an aspiring comic book artist. The musician sat down with Wizard to reflect on his career, his love of comics and what could have been...

W: You were into illustration in high school and you went to art school after that. Were you that kid who drew Wolverine on the back of your spiral notebooks?
Joe Hahn: That was me. I used to try and copy Jim Lee and the way he drew. I was really into X-Men when he was drawing it.

W: What kind of career were you aiming for?
Joe Hahn: In high school, I really wanted to be a comic book artist. I used to be one of those kids that would show his portfolio to different comic book artists and get feeback and all that.

W: What kind of feeback did you get back then?
Joe Hahn: Actually, I met Jim Lee once and he was really nice to me. And then I tried to talk to Todd McFarlane once and he just completely ignored me, like I wasn't standing there.

W: So what steered you away from comcs and art to music?
Joe Hahn: It kinda goes hand in hand. I got into [comics] back in the day, when McFarlane was drawing Spider-man and Image took over the industry. That was an exciting time. I went to art school for a year, and landed in special effects. That was also an introduction into film for me. When you tie that all together-Storytelling through comic books, [special effects] and the film world-it eventually made sense for me to make the jump into storytelling through music videos and different films. I went to art school with Mike Shinoda from the group. That's where we met. He was doing some music stuff and I was deejaying at the time. One thing led to another with the music and eventually we got signed. But, at the same time, we've always been active in the visuals of what we do. Mike is always playing around with graphics, and he sets the visual tone for what we do. I stick more to the video side of things. Comics are my biggest inspiration. I go to the comic store every week.

W: So you actually have a weekly "pull list"?
Joe Hahn: Not these days. I just flip through everything, see what's cool. Recently, I really liked Transformers/ G.I. Joe.

W: Not surprising looking at the cover of "Reanimation" (Linkin Park's re-mix CD) that's fairly Transformers-y.
Joe Hahn: Yeah. Kinda Transformers-y, a little Gudam-ish. I grew up on "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers" and "Thundercats." Actually, even before that one of my greatest inspirations was "Robotech."

W: Who is your favorite superhero?
Joe Hahn: Oh man. There was a bunch. [I'm really into Spider-man, Punisher [and] Wolverine, of course.

W: Do you have a favorite comic book movie?
Joe Hahn: With comic book movies, as a fan sometimes I get caugh up in the details of the characters. Then I get upset when they don't portray them the right way. I thought Bryan Singer did a good job with "X-Men" and "X-Men 2"

W: Being a video director, would you entertain the idea of directing a comic book movie?
Joe Hahn: I'd definitely consider it, but the quality's the catch. I'd really want to do it my way and cater to the original fans. I'd really love to do a live-action version of "Robotech."

W: Finally, any truth to the rumor that Linkin Park is secretly harboring a mutant?
Joe Hahn: Where'd you hear that one?

W: The Internet.
Joe Hahn: Oh, okay. It is true. It's the fungus under Chester's [Bennington, lead vocalist] big toenail. [laughs] - September 2005



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