Tuesday, March 15, 2011

COMICS: A Conversation with Matt Fraction

The following features quotes and excerpts from a conversation I had with Matt Fraction, writer of Uncanny X-men, Invincible Iron Man, Thor, and the upcoming mega-event, FEAR ITSELF.

I got a phone call from Hawaii over the weekend. Matt Fraction, writer of the huge Marvel event, FEAR ITSELF was calling as part of a promotion with comic book stores, to answer questions and stir interest in the book.

"It's about something you've never seen before. It's a new story." - MF

"[Fear Itself's] about something you've never seen before. It's a new story." Matt told me.  "It's a war of the gods, that the heroes are [caught between]." Originally, he and Ed Brubaker were asked to do a Captain America/Thor mini-series to coincide with the movies this summer. The story quickly grew until it became something much bigger, "like Civil War", Fraction said.

"The new Red Skull [Sin] discovers that Odin is not the All-Father, as previously thought." He said. "She frees an ancient evil, who grants her god-like powers as thanks. This leads to Captan America and Thor's worst nightmare: For Cap, an ultra-powerful Red Skull with the power of a god; for Thor, it's the knowledge that everything he knew and believed is based on a lie. He [no longer] knows who he is."

"He is forced to choose between standing with men, or standing with gods."

I asked Matt about whether readers are going to be forced to buy the spin-offs and one-shots, and also about how hard it was going to be for new readers to jump into the event.

"You don't need a PhD in Marvel to read the books." He said. One of Marvel's goals was to make the book as "clean and accessible as possible, without writing down to older readers."

As for all the extra mini-series and one-shots, Fraction put it simply. "The spin-off's are all stand alone. If you love the character, you'll love the spin-off." At the same time, "You don't need to buy the extras to enjoy the whole event."

He implied that each issue of the main issue comes with something big happening, or an event. "I want there to be something big in every issue," he said, "We hear from readers that [they want] events that matter." He let slip that something huge happens in issue 3 that will bring about a lot of mainstream media.

(Don't tell anyone I said that.  :) )

"There is something to keep people excited in every issue," he continued. "We want this to work as a mini-series where you can't wait until the next issue."

Since Civil War was brought up as a comparison, I pointed out that Civil War shipped behind schedule for the last couple issues, due to medical issues involved with some of the creative talent. I asked how far they are in the process of putting the book together.

He admitted that they've already dealt with behind-the-scenes issues, but it hasn't affected production. He also pointed out none of the talent involved are known for falling behind. "We can't predict anything, but we're doing our best and [we're] not known for not producing." He told me that they're already into issue #4 of the main series, which puts them about 2-3 months ahead of where they should be at this point in the solicitation cycle.

Like Civil War, Fear Itself will have resounding effects on the Marvel Universe. "This book sets the tone for the MU for the next two years."

We'd like to thank Matt from taking time away from his vacation to call and chat.


Follow-up notes: I'm a big fan of Fraction's work on Uncanny X-men, Iron Man and Thor. Based on the way sale have gone on these books the last 6 months, many of you agree. He's done a great job putting out quality material, and getting it out on time.

In other interviews, the entire creative team has stressed how important this event is to Marvel and it's future, and how they didn't want the spin-off books to be absolutely necessary to enjoy the story. I believe that they're telling the truth, and believe that the event is going to be worth the money.

Fear Itself: Book of the Skull comes out this week.

We'll have copies.


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