Celebrated comic book writer Matt Fraction — of 'Hawkeye', 'Iron Man', 'Fantastic Four', 'Thor', 'X-Men', 'Iron Fist' and 'Casanova' fame — has a plan to make comics “less comic-y”. Well, sort of.
“Oh, oh, I wish I was so organised and far-seeing as to make plans,” counters Fraction, best known for his work with Marvel and Image Comics. “I suspect it's more about trying to find my way in to writing these long-running (in some cases) or long-existing characters that I didn't create but rather inherit for a brief time - to start with the characters themselves and grow out from there.
“The pyrotechnics and visual excitement and action stuff, the genre stuff, the superhero stuff — it's all meaningless if you don't care about who it's all happening to, I guess. Or if I don't care about who it's happening to.”
The stars of Fraction's comics may be godlike beings, but he never loses sight of the fact that they're also human beings. Unlike many other mainstream comics, which are often written for an ageing audience of diehard fans, you don't need to be a “supernerd” to understand what's going on in his stories. In fact, two of the biggest fans of Fraction's recent run on 'Fantastic Four' were his young children.
“'Iron Man' and 'Thor', which I had been a part of for… eesh, like five years? Four years?... were very much NOT for kids,” he explains. “And so much of the early Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby] stuff just sparks wonder with kids, if you've ever shown it to 'em.
“So we'd pile into bed at night and I'd read old Stan and Jack issues to them, and then when my issues came out, we'd read those. One night my son realised I was ripping him off for ['Fantastic Four' character] Franklin [Richards] and then realised I was basically just lifting my family life. He literally said — 'hey, that's just like I do'. And he gave me this very adult look. Hilarious.”
Matt Fraction will participate in a number of Brisbane Writers Festival sessions from September 6-8. For more information, head to bwf.org.au