Nat Gertler's 'The Factor' gets collected

[The Factor]Most superhero comics are about superheroes, but not THE FACTOR. There's a superhero, but he's never seen. Instead, this series of short stories looks at the effect that the presence of the hero has on everyone else: the cops, the crooks, the man on the street, the kid playing with an action figure of the hero, and many more. Now this critically acclaimed series, written by Licensable BearTM creator Nat Gertler and drawn by a host of talented artists, is being collected into a trade paperback for the first time.

THE FACTOR originally appeared in the anthology Negative Burn, and continued in the miniseries that launched the About Comics line. The series was made up of more than 20 short stories, which combine to show a larger tale of how one person's actions can change the world. Artists include The Crossovers artist Joe Staton, Finder's Carla Speed McNeil, and Cynicalman's Matt Feazell.

"The story really isn't about the hero known as The Factor. We don't know who he is, what powers he has, or even if he is a he," says Gertler, who was nominated for an Eisner Award on the basis of this series. "I threw the hero into the real world to see how he changes the world, not in huge take-over-the-government ways, but in small and very human ways. There are tales of action and of romance, of crime and of comedy, each showing the impact on someone else."

By working in short tales, Gertler got to work with a bunch of talented and varied artists. "Sometimes, I'd have a story in mind and then seek out the right artists, like when I did the crime tales with Alex Grecian, whose other work you'll be seeing in the upcoming 24 Hour Comics anthology. Other times, like when I was working with master stick figure artist Matt Feazell, the artist's style would suggest the tale. Some stories were personal challenges. I'd tell myself 'there's no way to do an espionage story in this context,' and the next thing I knew I'd be shaping a tale about how The Factor's presence changed the life of a spy."

Some of the artists were well-established folk, like Joe Staton. Others were newcomers. "Justine Shaw was a great discovery," says Gertler. "She had never done a comic before, and in fact her work on THE FACTOR is still her only comics in print. But this year she became the first comics creator ever nominated for an Eisner Award based on on-line comics work, when she and her comic Nowhere Girl ­ www.nowheregirl.com ­ got nominated for not one but two Eisners." A couple of the artists are taking the opportunity to touch up their art for this collection, with one artist completely redrawing his story.

THE FACTOR TPB (ISBN 0-9716338-5-1) is being issued in the convenient and affordable About Comics Reader Format, 128 digest-sized pages in black and white for $9.95. It is a mature readers book due to a touch o' spicy language. The book is offered in the January issue of Diamond's Previews, and will also be available through FM International and Cold Cut.

About Comics, founded in 1998, publishes range of comics and books of interest to comics fans. They are a small company but work with some of the biggest creators in the business, bringing into print work that should be in print. For more information, see www.aboutcomics.com.

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