The Outhouse asks Matt Fraction about EVERYTHING!
Matt Fraction is the Eisner Award winning writer behind Casanova, Invincible Iron Man and The Immortal Iron Fist. He stopped by the Outhouse to discuss his current workload as well as his upcoming Hawkeye series.
The Outhouse: Matt, thank you so much for stopping by. Let's briefly start by talking about last year's Fear Itself event. What was it like to take point on such a major event and how does it feel to be finished with the project?
Matt Fraction: It felt great. The book was a ton of work; as thrilled as I was for the opportunity and as much fun as it was, to be done with the beast felt great. It was nine issues plus worth of material in seven months, on top of all the attendant high-class problems that go along with dong an event... I was more than happy to close the file, finally. I'd been working on it a long time, too, like, more than a year before it saw the light of day. It was a monster of a project, great to do, but it never felt so good as when it was all said and done. Besides at that point I was anxious to get on to the new stories that came out of it.
OH: What's it like to finally see another volume of Casanova hit shelves? It's been over three years since the last miniseries was published and obviously both yours and Fabio Moon's careers have grown immensely during that time. How does seeing a new volume of Casanova release differ from seeing the first two books come out?
MF: Like giving birth sideways? CASANOVA has always been the most difficult thing I've done and this volume was no exception. This is most different in that instead of seven16 pages chapters, it's four 32 page chapters -- actually we went long on the final issue, screwing up the symmetry of the thing, but what the hell, it's a finale. It had been so long since Bá and I had worked together, and we'd both done so many books between then and now, it was a kick learning how to make comics together again.
here, this is a weird thing: the first CASANOVA series ate up most of a 200 page notebook. The second, about all of a 100 pages notebook. This one? About twelve pages, including the two new shorts we did in the lead up. It was all internal. I wrote and rewrote the first issue a million times...
OH: How does the process between writing a book like Fear Itself differ from writing Casanova? How does the lack of, for lack of a better term, "editorial control" affect how you write?
MF: It was just as grueling, just in different directions. With FEAR ITSELF, especially at the onset, there were so many eyes on the thing, so many rounds of notes and revisions, and -- and why not? It was a line-wide summer event book. it was pretty important to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. As the series progress it became largely just Tom Brevoort and myself. WIth CASANOVA, I was brutal. Good was never good enough, or at least what *I* thought was good was never good enough, and I threw out at least three pages for every page we published. I had to relearn how to do everything. Lack of editorial control as a concept tends to make me crack down harder...
OH: Probably the coolest thing to come out of Avaritia in my opinion (besides the Samurai Panda Bears) was the revelation that Casanova had put Desmond Diamond on the path to becoming Newman Xeno, much in the same way that Newman Xeno had put Casanova on his current path. Has it always been the plan to make the two characters so interlinked?
MF: Yes; a Mœbius strip of morality, those two.
OH: How much of a delay do you anticipate there being between Avaritia and Acedia? I have a funny feeling that once people start reading new Casanova again, they're not going to want to stop...
MF: I dunno. Hopefully not long.
OH: Moving onto Defenders, how exactly did you become involved with the new book?
MF: I had to leave UNCANNY X-MEN to take on FEAR ITSELF and Marvel was looking to place me post-FEAR ITSELF. I was never a DEFENDERS fan as a kid, so I had no nostalgic connection to the thing, but when Axel and Tom started spinning it as "a team book staring all the characters you want to write on their own" I started thinking. And when I found what I thought was a mandate for the book that removed it from seeming or feeling like an AVENGERS clone, I was jooked.
OH: Dr. Strange, a personal favorite of mine, has been depicted many ways over the last few years depending on who's writing him. What sort of character do you see Dr. Strange as?
MF: My first encounter with STRANGE was in early early early marvel trade collections -- SONS OF ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS, and a DOCTOR STRANGE collection called MASTER OF THE MYSTIC ARTS with a big yellow BY STAN LEE on the cover were in the library when I was a kid and discovering Marvel books. [Editor's Note: Coincidentally, that's the exact collection that introduced me to the good Doctor as well!]
My Strange is that very earliest Ditko vision, then; fedora, turtleneck, creep. Almost magic-noir. Physical and mysterious and cold. So that's the Strange that's at the center of DEFENDERS, the guy true to those first couple years of stories.
OH: Defenders also has you writing Danny Rand again. What's it like to be writing the character again? Do you feel the character's changed at all since you last wrote him?
MF: Like spending time with an old friend, as weird as it sounds. And yeah, he's changed a lot, but the core of him is still the Danny I wanted to write then. You know what I mean? He's still Danny, through it all.
OH: Since it's known that Casanova is going to be hopping around different parallel universes in Avaritia, any chance he'll pop by in Earth-616? If he did, would the Marvel Universe ever recover?
MF: MAYBE HE ALREADY HAS!
With his current body of work out of the way, the conversation quickly moved on to Hawkeye, his recently announced series to be released this July.
OH: Compared to some of the crazy, weird things that goes on in Defenders and Casanova, what's the appeal in writing about a guy who shoots a bow?
MF: That it's absolutely NOT THAT. And even more than about Hawkeye -- I mean, HAWKEYE is about Hawkeye, and the arrows, and the trick hots, and the everything else -- it's about the guy under the mask and why he does what he does. He's the human being on the AVENGERS and THAT'S what the book's about. The guy, the regular dude, that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Thor and Cap -- he's who I wanted to write about. I got this image of Clint in my head with tape over his nose, a bandage over the bridge, that David would draw and... and there was my book.
OH: So how did you end up attached to the new Hawkeye series?
MF: They asked, I said no, I thought about it, I asked to pitch. At first I didn't see it, and i didn't have a take but once I found it, like all the ideas I have that end up getting written, I just couldn't let it go.
OH: I feel like a lot of Hawkeye's past series have been old-school superheroics that have Clint going up against second and third string villains. Are we going to be seeing more of those sort of stories in Hawkeye or are you taking it in a totally different direction?
MF: It's not being played for laughs, if that's what you mean -- I look at the work that Bendis and Brubaker did with DAREDEVIL in elevating some of those old punchline villains -- the Owl comes to mind most immediately -- and want to do stuff like that. I want to flesh out Clint's back story and history with criminals and the underworld, and look to elevate a couple folks.
OH: Since your Hawkeye series is following up on the Avengers movie, will your version of Clint mirror the movie version of Hawkeye?
MF: Well I'm three scripts in and haven't seen the movie or read the script, so...
OH: When discussing Hawkeye, it's important to bring up his colorful history with the ladies of the Marvel Universe. Do you plan on bringing in the Hawkeye/Mockingbird/Spider-Woman triangle from Brian Bendis's Avengers' series in your new book? Will any other past flames show up to make Hawkeye's life more difficult?
MF: Oh yeah, it's very much a part of Clint's car crash of a life. I don't know about past flames; I'd rather move forward. Mockingbird will be a big one.
OH: Who do you feel Clint should be with: Spider-Woman or Mockingbird? (There is a right and a wrong answer to this!)
OH: Will you be showing Hawkeye in his role as the leader of the Secret Avengers in your book? Will there be any fallout from this summer's AvX series bleeding over into the new Hawkeye series?
MF: No, because -- first off, Rick's just crushing it over there, so to be a weird and weak echo of that would do his work and our book a disservice, and second, because our book is just a different thing, a different tone and pace. There's a kind of existential fallout from AvX for Clint, though...
OH: Kate Bishop, the Hawkeye of the Young Avengers team, will also be joining Clint in the new Hawkeye series. What sort of relationship do Clint and Kate have and what role will Kate have in the book?
MF: Very AVENGERS -- Steed and Peel, I mean.
OH: From what we've seen of David Aja's art, it looks like Hawkeye's going to have a very unique look to it. What's it like working with David Aja again? How does his art style play into your script?
MF: Nothing's changed, but everything's different. Most of all I remain David's biggest fan so to get the chance to write for him again makes me ridiculously happy. I think we push each other to do better, to be smarter, to make a greater piece of work than we would have otherwise. Whether it's dumb little details or big things -- which is hard to point out without an issue in front of me, or rather, without an issue in front of you -- we're both kinda... simpatico in our patter. And it picked up straight up from where we left off. I write for him, especially for him. I trust him, i know when to back off, when to get out in front. We have our thing pretty down.
I suspect this answer made me sound like a crazy person.
OH: Finally, what do you think is the number one reason readers should pick up Hakweye #1?
MF: THIS TIME, when we have to stop it prematurely, instead of, like IRON FIST where you had to pretend you loved it all along but really came late and picked up the trades, you can actually START OFF LOVING IT ALL ALONG.
Casanova, The Defenders and Invincible Iron Man can be found whereever comic books are sold. Hawkeye hits shelves in July.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer