Interview: Shawn Gabborin & Chad Cicconi

It’s been roughly 10 months since the first issue of Fracture hit the stands. Now that the trade is out do you still feel the same about the book as you did when it was first released?

SG: I’m still very proud of the comic we put together.  Looking back on Volume 1, I can’t think of anything I’d really change about it.  I’m not saying it’s perfect (what comic is?), but I’m proud of what we accomplished.

 

& so you should be. It’s a great book that took a familiar concept & turned it on it’s head. The original 3 issues had some interesting back matter, will the trade just collect the 3 issues or will there be some new material to go with it?

CC: The initial trade paperback for FRACTURE is a digest-sized book, containing issues 1 through 3 of the series, with no additional material, at a reduced price of $9.95.  We were hoping to make the book available in that form and at that price so folks who didn’t pick it up initially would be able to grab this version and jump on the FRACTURE bandwagon as easily, cheaply, and painlessly as possible!  Depending on the response we get to this first trade, we may release a full-sized Trade with some extras at a later time — or there may possibly be a more deluxe version after volume II with some back matter and extras.  Those are still in the planning stages at this point, as we’re hard at work on the issues for Volume II right now.

 

I actually quite like my trades in digest size. It makes them easier to carry around without mashing up the corners, the lower price point is a bonus too. So how long will we have to wait for the start of Fracture volume 2 & (for those of us already on the bandwagon) can you give us a hint as to what sort of direction Jeff’s lives are going to take?

 

SG: Well, our print schedule at Action Lab is very full right now (full of awesomeness!), so I think we’re looking at a late 2012, early 2013 start date for Fracture Volume 2 (Chad, correct me if I’m wrong).

We’re ramping everything up for Volume 2.  We’re expanding the supporting cast, we’re bringing in more villains, and we’re adding to the clutter inside Jeff’s head!  Due to that, Jeff’s lives are being pulled in a lot of different directions… quite literally.

 

Late 2012 / early 2013 still seems like a way off yet but as you say Action Lab has a pretty full slate till then. With Jeff’s mind (& his universe) ever expanding do you have any ideas to spin off the other characters into books of their own, if there was call for it, or would you rather keep it as a completely self contained story?

 

SG: Some of the villains we inserted as members of the Society of Thorns were originally villains for other superhero ideas I had… so I guess there is the potential to see some of them again.  However, it can be hard to get people to venture outside of the big two for their superhero fix… so the current plan is stick to just the one indie superhero title for now.  Once Fracture is complete, there will always be the opening for some of the characters to return in their own way, if the market seems to be there.

The Society of Thorns are a very varied looking bunch of people. While Shawn obviously held the reigns in telling the actual story how did the actual design process for the characters work? Were there specific instructions for each of them or did Chad have a relative amount of freedom with the look of the hero & villains? Also Chad, you made a point in the back matter for issue 3 that you didn’t like capes even though you both knew that Virtue needed to have one. Is there any particular reason for that?

CC: There were some specific instructions for several of the members of the Society of Thorns.  However, for most of the others, Shawn let me go crazy with designs and even some of the character names.  There is one scene in issue two in which we see a meeting of the Society where many members are seen in the background.  I got to have a lot of fun in that scene with the designs and names of lots of the people who aren’t in the front with “speaking” roles.  I can let you know there is a similar “meeting” type scene in volume 2 with even  MORE members of the society, in which I got to do a few easter eggs and have more fun this time around.

I didn’t like capes for no other reason than my own shortcomings as an artist.  The flowing, folding, rolling contours of a cape are not the easiest thing in the world to draw, so when I was objecting to a cape, I was just being lazy.  In hindsight, having to draw that cape has made me think more about things like clothing folds, so it’s improved me as an artist.  I hope the cape in volume 2 looks even better!

 

SG: I was so excited with what Chad did with the Society of Thorns.  I gave Chad character rundowns for six or so members of the Society, mainly just telling him a bit about the characters… but only costume suggestions for two or three of them… and that’s all the bigger I intended to make the Society.  Then Chad came back with the page from issue #2 where we first meet the Society of Thorns, and it was full of villains!  And I have to admit, it made for a much better scene.  So yeah, I gave him about six characters, and all of the other members of the Society were created by Chad, looks and all.

 

I thought the cape turned out pretty well in volume 1. I can understand your frustration with them though. Now comic scripts differ from writer to writer. Shawn do you write with exact layouts for the arrangement of panels on the page or Chad do you contribute to the pacing & layouts as well?

 

SG: I tend to think of page layout as the artists job.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  What I mean is, I want Chad (or any artist I work with) to be able to display the action of a page however he sees fit, without me stepping on his toes or anything like that.  The most direct I write toward page layout would be “large panel”, “small panel”, “similar layout to panel 2″… simple things like that.  I don’t think I ever get deeper than that.

As for individual panels, I may get specific on what I want to be “physically” in the shot… but rarely do I dictate camera angles and such.  I like to leave as much up to the artist as I can.  There have been plenty of times that Chad has blown me away with a panel layout that, had I tried to get too detailed with my writing, would NEVER have come out as good.

 

CC: I can’t add much to Shawn’s answer on this one.  He’s absolutely correct in that he doesn’t give fine detail in his scripts as to camera position, staging, etc.  He usually keeps his description to who or what is in the panel and what is happening, plus dialogue.  It’s left up to me to decide the focus, direction of action, camera angles, relative size of panels, etc.  The most he usually gives by way of specifics along those lines is something like “big panel” or “close up.”

That leaves me great freedom to interpret the scripts for maximum impact and best storytelling as I see fit.  For example, in the latest issue we’re working on, there was a two page action scene, and after playing around with layouts, I decided I  wanted to turn it into a double page splash scene.  I did a layout for it, and after looking it over with Shawn, we went with it!

I think your answers there highlight just how collaborative a medium comics actually are. However it wasn’t just you two that worked on the first volume of Fracture. The letters & colours were done by Dave Dwonch, but he’s going to be busy with other projects for volume 2. Who do you have stepping in to take over his duties?

 

CC: We have just worked out a deal for Bill Blankenship to step in and do the colors for us on FRACTURE volume II.  Bill is still the artist on his own series, Double Jumpers, but we learned he was also looking for some extra freelance work and we were excited to be able to add him to our creative team for Volume II of FRACTURE as well.  We haven’t decided yet who will be doing our lettering (whether Dave has the time to continue that or if we need to find a substitute), but we hope to be able to announce that shortly.

 

Now, the first volume of Fracture is very traditional in its look & feel, which juxtaposes really well with the darker, more psychological elements of the story. When you both started work on Fracture did you intend to create something so different or were you originally thinking of something more “old school”?

 

CC: My recollection of our discussions was that one of the reasons Shawn considered asking me to do the art for this book was that my style of art is reminiscent of the older-school “bronze age” comic book art.  If you are familiar with my artwork, you will know I pencil and ink pretty cleanly, without a lot of heavy blacks, and very little of the “painterly” style you see so much now.  So I believe Shawn’s intent was to have the book LOOK like an old school bronze age book from the seventies, while at the same time telling this psychological story about Jeff’s journey.

 

SG: The idea of using a classic comic style for Fracture was my intent from the beginning.  It was so much the intent, in fact, that up to the final drafts of the script the hero’s name (or “place holder” name) was Vintage.  The subject matter of multiple personalities can come across as very dark, so I wanted a classic superhero art style to help lighten the tone of the book.  Which, I guess gave the creative on the book, between the light art and darker subject matter, a “split personality” of it’s own.  But at least these two get a long!

It’s interesting that you mention people “getting along” after all Lower Triton has a lot of villains but does it have any other heroes?

 

S.G. While we haven’t really gone into it in the book as of yet, not all members of the Society of Thorns are active in Lower Triton.  Its members are from various cities, basically coming together to share info on their “arches” and to ensure one’s plans doesn’t interfere with another’s.

In Fracture Volume 2 we’ll be introducing a new hero in Lower Triton, as well as touching on a few heroes from the city’s past.

When he’s not writing superhero comics Shawn usually enjoys scaring the Hell out of people with his indie horror title Short Stack. You can find out about that & everything else at his website here.

Chad Cicconi spends much of his time drawing comics but when he isn’t he likes to keep his skills (& his pencils) sharp drawing sketch cards. You can chart his progress with both at his personal blog here. You can also find him on Facebook which is some social networking thing you might have heard of.