TOP

Issue #41

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Issue #41

THE BIG MAN CONVERSATION

You may recall that Matt Fraction was a former editor of Savant. You may further know that
he’s a partner in the award-winning design firm MK12. What you may not know is that he’s writing
Rex Mantooth: Kung Fu Gorilla for inbred hillbilly Robert
Kirkman’s Funk-O-Tron in November.
Ol’ Fraction is poised to make a big splash, and since I get a
lot of emails every day from folks asking me THE SECRET and HOW
DO I BREAK IN and I WANT TO DO COMICS, TOO, and apparently since these
people just don’t listen to me, I figured I’d pull up a metaphorical
stool at the proverbial bar and order Fraction and me a couple of
virtual pints and talk about how he’s getting ready to climb up the big
diving board and get his feet wet.

[SLAP!]
So. Matt. Introduce yourselves to the people, before I treat you like
McQueen did McGraw in Getaway.

Matt Fraction: Howdy, y’all. I’m Matt Fraction. By day I
co-own and co-operate MK12, and by night I write like a monkey on acid
and hope the commas ain’t spliced and the participles don’t dangle when
the sun comes up. I’m six-one, have big blue eyes, and a penchant for
swearing inappropriately. I am a long-time listener and a first time
caller. I have a cowboy hat and my girl writes the smut. Thanks to the
work I did at Savant and other general online dickery, my first comic is
about to come out as part of Funk-O-Tron’s Double Take #6
(Sep012027), alongside teen heart-throb Joe Casey and new-father Charlie
Adlard’s Codeflesh. Howsitgoin’, Uncle Lar?

Larry Young: It’s not what’s going on, it’s what’s coming off that
counts, man. So, here’s the thing. I get a lot of email from people
asking me THE SECRET, and I tell them that the secret is that there’s no
secret. The secret is to just buckle down and Do. The. Work. When you
all started up MK12, wasn’t that sort of a pick-yourselves-up;
dust-yourselves-off sort of thing? Tell us what happened there.

MF: That’s the the thing, man– the secret is easy to say and
understand, but a bitch to execute. With MK12, we were a typical
dot-bomb story: Money Man has Big Ideas, Money Man doesn’t yield the
Tall Dollars overnight, Money Man Pulls Plug and Fires Us By Email. We
sat outside and smoked a lot of cigarettes and talked about where we
could find work… And to be totally honest, the thought of printing up
our resumes and having our khakis pressed made us sick to our stomachs.
We decided that, you know, we thought we were the smartest kids in the
room, so let’s try and prove it. You can take the boy out of the punk
club, but you can’t take the punk club out of the boy, so we said Do It
Yourself. It meant a year of peanut butter and ramen, lots of abject
terror and panic attacks but — man, we were the fucking Captains of
our Fate, you know? We were behind the wheel, no one else. It’s been an
education on the fly, that’s for sure.

The lesson seems the same, though– put your money where you mouth is
and fight like a motherfucker through whatever you have to if it means
getting what you Want and Need.

So, in that vein, what’s a guy like you, you know, this year’s Man
Most Likely To, make of the sort of infighting and inbreeding that makes
Comics 2001 the sort of mess it is now? I mean, there are a lot of
strides-forward being taken, here and there, yes. But it seems like the
corporate juggernauts are no longer leading the charge towards
innovation and are instead entrenching against Positive
Change.

MF: Aw, Shucks. The aforementioned Corporate Juggernauts are all
playing at being Microsoft, aren’t they? They can’t really innovate, so
they gobble up those who do… And then can’t figure out why grafting
new ideas into old thinking gets you jack shit.

The good news is that lots of great cats are getting new eyes on their
work — Jon Lewis writing Robin??! Gilbert Hernandez at
DC?!? Peter Bagge on Spider-man??! but at the same
time… You know, sigh. I want to care about that kind of bullshit, I
really do. By and large I just feel like I’ve got nothing to say with
characters and stories that aren’t my own, you know? So honestly, as
great as it is to see some insane hiring polices in effect and know that
Good People are behind the scenes… But where’s the new??!
Where’re the balls? Where’s the pop and crackle that comics so
direly need? It’s there, it’s out there, sure, but it’s not coming from
the big guys.

This might be shallow, but this infighting bra-and-panty slap-fighting
just fucking slays me. Let the big frigates fire at one another so
smaller, stealthier vessels can navigate right on through.

So: better distribution, blah, blah, blah. Greater outlets having
comics available, blah, blah, blah. Tell me: How do you and your family
suffer for Your Art?

[Mantooth]
A page from “Rex Mantooth: Kung Fu Gorilla.” Click to enlarge.

MF: This is optimistic naivete at its finest, but: there are so
many fucking problems with the industry that do we really still need to
stare in awe when, say, JIMMY CORRIGAN goes huge? Hmm. Let’s see: it
was made OUTSIDE OF THE FUCKING SYSTEM. Great Books produced by those
with a spring in their step and gleam in their eye will Find A Way,
always. Look at Channel Zero, right? Organic mutant viral
marketing, nonlinear thinking, and a great fucking book (to totally
polish yours and Bri’s knobs for a second) will get your work Seen,
Bought, and Read.

Having Power Man skinnin’ the duker and slapping the word MATURE on your
cover insures nothing, no matter how good the book is.

Anyway: me and my work. It’s my job. It’s what I do. I meant to tell
you this, actually– but I was talkin’ to Mamma Fraction the other day,
right as I was about to start this One Thing that I had to get wrapped
fast, telling her about the Thing and she says, I swear to god, “So shut
the hell up and get your ass to work.” I love my moms. The point,
though, is I have a really fantastic support system, be it writing or
MK12. My friends, my girl, my coworkers, my family all give me the gift
of Leaving Me The Fuck Alone when I need it, and kicking my ass when I
need it, too. But ‘suffer’? Hells no, man, I’m having the time of my
life.

Your only nourishment for the next three days is a bottle of
Seagram’s Seven your dad stashed in your luggage for you when you left
home after the semester break, and two stale bags of Pepperidge Farm
Mint Milanos. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?

MF: Write. Like a bastard.

Hey, here’s one for you: you run your show, you know what makes shit
tick, and you know how to get The Word out. I’m thinking a lot about
this old thinking, and that it seems like– to pick up a war metaphor
for a sec-it seems like everyone’s fighting all these different wars, on
all these different fronts, and even the generals are clueless as to
when the air support shows up. What I’m saying is, everyone is blaming
everyone. How essential are these old, tumor-ridden dinosaurs anymore?

Well, I think that the reason you have so many different factions
fighting the war on so many different fronts is because no one knows who
“the enemy” is. Now you and I know “the enemy” isn’t other publishers or
video games or cheap drugs and loose women; “the enemy” is capital-B
Boredom. Not everyone producing comics gets that you can’t just do a
words-and-pictures story and cash your check and expect people to care.
It’s like the dinosaurs trying to blithely pretend that they didn’t hear
that big impact and that they don’t notice the sky’s turned to nuclear
winter and just lumbering along their way, anyway.

Part of the dinosaur thing is the investment in inertia. Why do
something different that may not work, when we can do The Same Old Thing
That Always Has? At least we know where the files are for that, right?

MF: Could you Kick Out The Jams without Diamond?

Well, maybe, but why would you want to? Diamond’s doing yeoman’s work with what they have to deal with. If there’s an unfairly beaten-upon whipping boy in comics, it’s Diamond. Those guys are carrying their share of the load, believe
me.

MF: If the Big Boys croaked tomorrow, would there still be
Comics?

Sure. As long as there are people with instruments who make marks on
a flat surface, there’ll be some kind of Comics.

MF: Would comic shops survive?

Look, what’s the best-guess at now, for comic shops in the U.S.?
3000? It’s an industry truism that 10 per cent of the comic shops buy
ninety percent of the comics. So if the comic store infrastructure
collapses, it’ll be the bottom 2700 stores that go, and even then we’d
only lose 10 percent of the market volume. That’s just mental.

MF: Let’s play Apocalypse: tell me what happens when publishers
have no other option than Do It Yourself.

Marvel would find a way to make that Heroes’ World thing work.

I’ll let you have the last word.

MF: Right on. So– yes. This is what it comes down to: How you
do it is simple, you just fucking do it. You fight as long and as hard
as you have to. The Good Ones will fight the Good Fight. There are
great people everywhere who love love love this medium and make that
known every day. And Good Work will always find an audience if the
thoughtpeach is shaking just the right way.

It’s like this: you do me a huge favor, and say “Hey, Fraction — write
this thing for me.” I say okay, and want to do just as big a solid as I
can to say thanks, somehow. So now we’ve got MANTOOTH. It’s a monkey,
sploding stuff and kicking dudes, I don’t fool myself there — but it’s
the best goddamn monkey-splode-kick book I could write. This is my
activism: do the best work you can and get it out there. Never stop
fighting.


“If forty-five year old housewives are gonna pay for my Benz, then
them’s the breaks,” quipped larry@comicbookresources.com

The lads over at Grayhaven Magazine have done an interview with me which I very much enjoyed doing. I liked how it turned out so much, in fact, that I flowed them some illustrations for the article you will see nowhere else: a promo piece by the pre-famous Becky Cloonan for Brian Wood’s upcoming Channel Zero: Jennie One, and a fully-toned page of Brandon McKinney’s and my impending superhero OGN Planet of the Capes. If you don’t want to read more of my hot air over there, just scroll down to the bottom for the pics.

I am just astounded that Total Movie, my favorite DVD magazine ever, is back after folding under the last regime. Some like-minded cats have resurrected it and breathed life back into its dying corpse. Six issues, a free DVD each month, plus forty free DVDs for a year’s subscription of $39.95. I’m not shilling for these folks; this is really a friggin’ deal. Hit Inside DVD for details.

While you can get your news and commentary about the funny books all over the Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at the Loose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else.