From high seas adventure to the mean streets of crime-ridden New York, writer Frank Barbiere is getting around. I already spoke to him about the future of Five Ghosts, his supernatural adventure series with artist Chris Mooneyham, and now he shares details on The White Suits, featuring the dazzling artwork of Toby Cypress. The four-issue miniseries kicks off in February from Dark Horse.
JK Parkin: I thought we’d start with the most important question: Do you own a white suit?
Frank Barbiere: Unfortunately, I currently have a hole in my wardrobe where a white suit should be. Maybe if the book does well I can buy one!
But seriously … what’s the premise of The White Suits? And who are the two characters seeking revenge against them?
The White Suits is an action/crime story about a mysterious group of killers known as, you guessed it, The White Suits. The group has history dating back to the Cold War (which we explore in our DHP shorts), but in our present narrative they have resurfaced in NYC and are systematically eliminating the city’s gangs. The crime lords of the city have banded together to deal with the problem, while a rogue FBI agent who has a history with the Suits is plotting her own battle. She’s been on the tail of a man she suspects was once a member and finally corners him, only to discover he has amnesia — so the two of them are on a quest for truth (and revenge) against the Suits. The story is fueled by the mystery of exactly who the White Suits are — which will come to light by the end of the mini-series.
The first story that appeared in Dark Horse Presents was drawn by Luke Radl, while Toby Cypress is drawing the ongoing. What was the reason for the change in artists?
I had originally commissioned Luke to work on the series, but he ended up going his own way after the first short. The second short was then drawn by Giovanni Valletta, and then I managed to get in touch with Toby (who is one of my favorite working artists in the industry). I was ecstatic when Toby agreed to come on board and join us for the series; his art has given the book such a distinctive look and feel, and he blows me away with every page. Toby has really made the book his own, and Dark Horse has been wonderful about giving us the freedom to make the book look and feel wholly original. Toby has been knocking it out of the park, and I think people are going to be blown away by the finished book; the art appears in black and white with red, and every now and then some full color for dramatic effect.
Will the miniseries wrap up their story, or do you envision future stories with these characters?
In terms of The White Suits, the miniseries can be seen as a very close-ended Act II. There’s certainly room for more to come after, and loads of material that comes before, but the mini wraps nicely, answers questions and is a complete unit. We’re hoping if we can find an audience we can do more, but time will tell, and we’ll be satisfied getting at least this chunk of story out to the masses!
You’re working on a pulp/supernatural adventure, a crime book as well as a superhero book for Dark Horse. How important is it to you to be able to play in several different genres when writing comics?
I absolutely love writing comics, and the fact I’ve been fortunate enough to be working on more than one project right now is thrilling. I love telling stories and find genre as a bit of a “means to an end” — a vehicle to explore story. Getting to jump around has really kept things fresh and allowed me to see elements in my work that I may not have seen elsewhere; I’m hoping in 2014 I continue to work and get better, as there’s nothing quite as teachable as putting out actual books and working month to month. Comics are really all about collaboration, and the fact I’ve been able to work in different environments (with editors, with heavy collaboration, completely on my own) has taught me so much. I’m hoping people continue to follow my work and notice the fact I’m working my ass off!
What else have you been working on?
Right now I’m working on Five Ghosts every month from Image Comics, Blackout and The White Suits for Dark Horse (which are both four-issue miniseries), and the Solar reboot for Dynamite Entertainment (which is an ongoing series). I have a few other personal projects in the works that haven’t been announced, so I’m certainly very busy! I also have a Robocop one-shot coming out with BOOM! in February.