Matt Fraction has a career most writers can envy. He gets to write some of the most interesting and exciting characters in the Marvel Universe and has also had great success with his earlier work as well.
Some of his accomplishments include the graphic novel 30 Days of Nights: Bloodsucker Tales, The Five Fists of Science and Casanova. At Marvel he’s written for Publisher: War Journal, The Immortal Iron Fist and The Order.
Now, he pilots the course of everyone’s favorite billionaire drunk Tony Stark in Invincible Iron Man and will soon take the reigns of another popular Marvel character’s comic: Thor. Recently, I had a chance to ask Mr. Fraction a few questions about Iron Man, Tony Stark, his work and what’s in store for him down the road.
The Flickcast: For those who don’t know, can you give us a little info on your background? For example, when did you first start to write?
Matt Fraction: Professionally? I did some journalism and magazine work in the late nineties and my first comics starting coming out in 2001. Personally, I’ve been telling stories with words and pictures my whole life.
I’ve dropped out of many exciting art and film schools across the United States.
TF: What do you think makes Tony Stark such a compelling character? His flaws?
MF: The way his flaws spin against his ambition, drive, and talents. The smartest man in the world that will never entirely understand that it doesn’t all revolve around him. It puts a lot of great material in front of you.
TF: Can you describe your collaboration with artists? For example, how much of a script to you give to an artist or is it more of an outline?
MF: It’s different artist to artist but my scripts are something like this:
ESTABLISHING SHOT on a beat up old church somewhere in the southwest. In the distance, framed by the setting sun, we can see two vultures circling lazily…
CAPTION Blipitty blah blah blah.
Outlines and stuff really only chart the transmogrification path to script. They’re ultimately long letters to the artist and production team, all of which can, and oftentimes is, get thrown out in favor of a better idea.
I come from such a visual background that i kind of can’t help it.
TF: How involved were you in the origins of “Second Coming”? Was it something that had been predetermined since “Decimation” or were you a more integral role in it?
MF: Ultimately, the inception was in place before I came into the X Universe, but beyond “one day Cable and Hope come back,” there wasn’t, to my recollection, too much on the board. So we knew when Duane told his story in CABLE, we’d have ourselves a ballgame.
There was literally nothing we couldn’t have done with the story– we– meaning the majority of the writers in the various X books– got to bounce all kinds of crazy things around. There was nothing predetermined other than “tell a good story.”
TF: How do you feel about writing for the new status quo of the “Heroic Age” compared to that of Dark Reign in Iron Man?
MF: The stakes are way higher. We started shorthanding it to one another by saying that if the sun is brighter, the shadows have to be darker. As much fun as it was to give everybody a “Peter Parker year” of losing and getting beaten and outsmarted by the bad guys, now it’s time to show what happens after the bad guys get a little taste, yknow?
The good guys are high in the saddle and now that the villains understand just how sweet the good life is they’ll stop at nothing to get back there. So it’s all a lot more intense.
TF: You recently did a one-shot for Free Comic Day of Iron Man and Thor. With both films getting time in the Hollywood spotlight, could we see a continuation of those adventures down the road?
MF: Tony Stark is going to be innately intertwined in Thor’s life for a while.
TF: After writing the Iron Man 2 video game, are there elements here that we could possibly see in an upcoming Marvel film?
MF: Hm… maybe? There’s a ton of Marvel stuff in the game so who knows what’ll catch somebody’s fancy.
TF: With the video game completed, is there one Marvel character (hero or villain) that you would love to get your hands on for a video game?
MF: Man, it’s such a rich world. And video games give you such a weird confluence of tools to tell a story with. As many characters I’d like to write, I’d like to try writing a game for.
God that’s a boring answer. Um… Silver Surfer.
TF: What about comics? Is there one favorite character that you’d love to get the chance to tell a story about?
MF: Oh, absolutely. I kind of hate answering this question explicitly because I don’t want to suggest there’s somebody doing a job i think I could do better than? anyway, yes. lots of toys in the toybox to play with.
TF: Looking at Invincible Iron Man, you’ve got the current arc with artist Salvador Larroca in full swing, but you’ve also got an annual coming in June revolving around what seems to be the origin of long-time nemesis The Mandarin. Is this a re-telling of that story, or more of an update that could potentially tie into a third Iron Man film?
MF: It’s a kind of recap of who he is at his core. He’s rich and complicated character and he’s not been around in our book before; he’s not been seen for three or four years at all now, I think.
Anyway I’m bringing him around for my own purposes and if the film guys find a way into the character from there, great.
TF: With the Tony Stark/Iron Man character being who he is, you’re no stranger to working with other creators to ensure the cohesiveness of the Marvel Universe. With the current “Second Coming” crossover in the X-Men titles, your work on Uncanny X-Men has to coincide with that of Zeb Wells, Mike Carey, Chris Yost and Craig Kyle – to name a few – as well. How’s that creative process been for you to this point, and will you get the chance to carve out your own mutant-related stories after the crossover event?
MF: It’s a lot of fun to sit in a room with smarter, more talented guys from you and sorta smile and nod and let them make you look better than you are. And yeah, coming out, I think we’ve got at least a year, maybe more, before outside events, or even outside titles, start to bounce around with UNCANNY.
That said there’s always intra-office communication; we’re always trying to make sure everybody’s got what everybody else needs.
TF: Perhaps you can clear something up for us: in the recent Marvel solicitations, Thor #611 was touted as the new jump-on point for the title and its new creative team – yourself alongside artist Pasqual Ferry – but in the solicitations since released, Kieron Gillen is listed as the writer. Will you be tackling the God of Thunder, or have plans changed?
MF: Yeah, just later. 615 is my start.
TF: In Matt Fractions dream scenario, what is one character you would want to write and why? The sky’s the limit here.
MF: Y’know what? Casanova Quinn. The whole point of CASANOVA, when I came up with it, was to write the one comic I’d want to read. Because I was convinced nobody would ever let me write another one. So that’s, like, it– that’s the one– Casanova was the one.
TF: Can you see yourself transitioning back to other mediums like TV or film?
MF: I miss being on-set, i miss crew. I’d like to get back behind a camera in some form or fashion one day.
TF: What’s next on the Matt Fraction agenda?
MF: I have a stupid amount of work to get together before San Diego. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.