Matt Fraction was one of the guests at STGCC this year, and we at HereBeGeeks were lucky enough to be one of the few that got to see him in all three days. Considering he’s part of the 2-man team that brought you the Eisner Award Winning Invincible Iron man, it’s amazing how down to earth, humble and gosh-darned friendly Matt actually is. We learn from him that this is his first time meeting artist Salvador Larocca, and that he’s the latest fan of Leinil Yu’s former band ‘Marty McFly’.
So join the HereBeGeeks as we talk about Marvel and Indie comics, how it’s like being a comic scribe, if we’ll be seeing anything Singapore in comics in the future and everything in between.
Disclaimer: These are not his exact replies; most are paraphrased, with some rewritten from memory.
On Marvel Comics
How was meeting Salvador Larocca for the first time?
It was great! It was like the ending of The Lives of Others. We’re going to hang out, have dinner, get to know each other a little bit. It’s weird, because he always types in all caps *laughs*, and you expect him to be LOUD, but he’s very chill, very relaxed.
How would you describe the current persona of Tony Stark in recent Iron Man comics?
Tony Stark is more interested being a social engineer and social architect in a much bigger scale now, and providing free power, and consumer grade repulsors to the world is one such contribution.
Considering Ezekiel Stane has appropriated Stark Tech before, what happens if this available Stark Tech is repurposed in the future?
Once technology has been developed, there’s no way that you can put the genie back in the bottle. To assume that you can prevent misuse of technology by restricting that technology is a false premise. But there are other ways to level the playing field; by being better, coming up more intelligent countermeasures… more defensive, more proactive.
You did consulting work for Iron Man. Did you serve in the same capacity for the Thor movie?
No, but I was doing some work for the Thor game. That’s about as close to the movie as I got. But the game is kind of a parallel experience to the movie.
Much like how Iron Man 2 resembled the Stark: Resilient Arc?
Yeah it’s kind of like my take on the sequel. These movies are unparalleled opportunities for the guy off the street to learn about the comics. My mom thought Iron Man was a robot before, and in the first film his mask comes off. *laughs*
When I’m writing a book when a movie comes out continuity takes a back seat. It’s about writing the most understandable, most accessible, most self contained and most consistent movie that you can so that people who see the film and want to read the Thor comic can go to the comic book store, grab an issue and just plug along.
Considering you did such a good job for Sensational Spiderman Annual #1, what do you think of MJ and Peter Parker’s relationship?
It was sort of dirty pool because I knew One More Day was coming. But I took the shot and it was great.
I don’t know if Peter Parker was the best marvel character to be married, and I understand both sides of the argument. When his marriage with MJ worked, it worked very well, but sometimes it seemed like people didn’t know what to do with MJ. Way too often MJ would be relegated to hostage or obstacle. Too seldom did she play the role of supporter, friend or nurturer. I thought it was possible to do all of that, and maybe it’s a cheap shot, but I took it.
And if you were offered the opportunity to write for Spiderman, would you?
Well, look forward to Iron Man #500. And yes, I love Spiderman. For me, Peter Parker’s the moral center of the Marvel Universe. It’s good for Tony Stark to have Peter Parker to sit next to and to have someone to measure against. Spiderman will pop up from time to time where I get to write him.
From One More Day to One Moment in Time… Does Tony know who Peter Parker is, or is this going to be swept under the rug?
One More Day got confusing then Tony Stark got brain damage… He doesn’t know. Iron Man #500 is predicated on Tony not knowing who Peter is.
And how did you get all the names of the kungfu moves in the Immortal Iron Fist? Was it just Madlibs with Ed Brubaker?
Yeah, it was like animal… colour… punch! We’d just get on a roll and start popping them off. It was a lot of fun. Animals are always a good inspiration, as were anime in the late 80s. I’m also a fan of the Bruce Lee movies. I don’t know if they were super powers or real, but their moves always sounded so cool. So I shamelessly stole that for Iron Fist. Not quite like Madlibs, but very close.
I also liked to make alternate, secret kung-fu schools. I think all writers have their own pet ideas, and mine are that there are all these secret kung-fu schools within the Marvel Universe.
So, have you seen any of the more recent martial arts movies?
I love Steven Chow movies… Ong Bak was really great, and I loved Hero and House of Flying Daggers. It’s tough to find time with kids to sit down and watch non family friendly movies though. I’ll try to check out some of the martial arts movies, and maybe some of the local movies in the DVD store.
You’re already doing Iron Man, X-Men and Thor. Would you be interested in trying out other comics series, such as Avengers?
I do not want to follow Brian. I’d rather be the guy who fixes Ultimate Spiderman or Avengers than the one who breaks it. *Laughs* I’m lucky that each comic I’m currently doing is very different.
I like to use the euphemism that writing is like cross training, and these books use different muscle groups. It’s even different notebooks, different methodologies for each series. I would turn down offers for writing certain series because it’s too similar a muscle group as the ones I’m currently writing.
What other character would you like to write?
I hear Squirrel Girl is the next big thing. *laughs* I’m so against the Squirrel Girl thing I can’t even tell you.
How do you deal with continuity in the Marvel Universe?
To me, continuity is the devil, because it’s very closed and not very welcoming to new readers, but consistency is what make every run work. We were just talking about this, like how old is Peter Parker or Iron Man now? Tony used to be injured in the Vietnam War, then it became the Gulf War… We just try to be consistent and true to the character, and tell a good story while not explicitly contradicting something that has happened before.
Considering you brought back Kitty Pryde, how would you feel if someone got rid of her again?
That’s the nature of the medium. It’s a relay race. I’m only going to be holding the baton for a limited of time and eventually everything I’m doing will be undone. It’s privilege and honour to be a part of it. The nature of these stories is that they grow and evolve and outlive us. Longer than I’m here, Tony stark will continue will live on. It’s a pretty rare thing to be able to write for Iron Man. I just hope the stories are good.
Kitty Pryde is an example of that. I called Joss and pitched him my story before we did it. It was very important for me that he bought it, and he dug it and wanted to read it. I wanted to do it with his blessing. It was very important for me.
Any incoming big projects?
Yes. April. Depending on whether you follow the international Dateline, a big announcement will be made on by the Marvel Office, December 21st, New York.
On Indy Comics and Writing in General
When will Volume 3 of Casanova be out?
It’ll be out for San Diego. Volume 2 is being reprinted, and will be released January through April, and then I think the new series will start in July.
How’s it look like working with Gabriel and Fabio?
It’s very magical, and I don’t mean it in a touchy feely healing light sort of way. It’s very alchemical. We have a weird connection I don’t know how to articulate. It’s great. There’s a craziness that they put up with that I think only family can stand.
Would you be interested in doing any other types of books?
I’ve got kids now, and I just figured out ‘hey I could so kids’ stuff’! I’m trying to figure that out. I never really thought about doing baby books, but now that I’ve got babies I think that baby books wouldn’t be a bad way to make a living.
Since Marvel is under Disney, if you got any chance to do writing for Disney what would it be?
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse stuff, because my kid is into it right now. Essentially whatever my son likes. Or if Colonel Hathi from the Jungle Book if he could support his own feature.
Would you rather write Indie or Main stream comics?
If I could make a living off writing only my work I would, but you have to balance your profile between high profile and the more independent, iconoclastic books. It’s rare that an independent success like Scott Pilgrim happens. But if I could I would do more independent work. There’s plenty of superheroes out there, but I’m the only one who can do Casanova.
Any crosstown rivalry between Eastcoast and Westcoast?
Not so much, I think it’s because the comic community is so diverse. We have the mainstream writers, and the Indie guys like Oni Press and Dark horse, and Fantagraphics is just up the road in Seattle… it’s just so divergent.
How did you know when you hit it big time?
There’s the Eisner that Invincible Iron Man won, and there’s the PEN awards that I won which is pretty prestigious, but probably the most memorable part was when I was at a con and I literally signed my name until my hand was *swollen*. I was like ‘everything’s changed’.
It seems like it’s easier for artists to get themselves known than writers. Any suggestions?
I can only tell you what I did. I started with independent comics and kept giving them to people who could hire me, like Axel Alonso. I was lucky, because I had a day job and I could reject jobs that I felt weren’t a good fit. But eventually Axel Alonso came by and asked me to write Punisher: War Journal because he saw ‘Last of the Independants’, and I took it.
So many people out there want to do Wolverine stories or Batman stories, but only a handful will want to do a story about a bank heist. So keep on writing, find your voice, and the most important thing is to keep on giving your writing to people. Publish your work in some sort of professional form and present it to editors and people who can hire you.
On Singapore and w00tstock
You did some shows with Adam and Paul and Storm and the guys for W00tstock. How did that happen?
I’m friends with Wil, we’re just nerd buddies. One day he just mentioned the possibility of doing W00tstock… and I love the gang, and Paul and Storm, so it seemed natural. We did Portland first and then we did San Diego. Incredible night. Wil is amazing.
Will your son be growing up on Mythbusters?
He’s a little young but he’s starting to watch some episodes of Mythbusters. There’s definitely a lot worse stuff to be growing up on than Mythbusters.
How do you like Singapore?
This is the first time in South East Asia. I’ve been to Tokyo once, but it’s also the first time in Asia as a comic writer. And it’s great. The people are great. If the people in Singapore were any nicer, you’d all wake up in a bathtub of ice cubs missing a kidney and ‘CALL 911’ written on your chests.
Would you be incorporating anything you see in Singapore into your comics?
Yeah I want to do something with the F1 race with Tony Stark and the repulsor car. I have an idea but I don’t know when it’ll happen.
Well, if you need any help…
I’ll call in whatever favour I have. Photo references, you name it.