Normally when I go out to the flea market, I'm usually just looking for a few collectibles amongst the clutter. On one particular Saturday I ended up meeting two guys named Kevin Martin and Evan Roacha who are opening their own comic book shop in Brooklyn, NY called Slingshot Comics. We got to talking and found out they were looking for independent talent to start doing blog material for their website and shop. I was more than happy to show them material I've worked on over the past few years with my book Chicago Typewriter and they agreed on doing an interview about the book, my influences, and the creative team that collaborated on the project...
Creator Highlight: Brandon Fiadino of Chicago Typewriter
Recently, I had the chance to meet with a new comic writer and creator, Brandon Fiadino. Brandon is currently working on a new comic of his own creation called Chicago Typewriter with artist Djibril Morissette-Phan, colorist and letterer James Greatorex and editor Michelle Fox. Brandon talked to me a bit about the book and some of his influences.
SC: Without giving away too much about the comic, can you tell us a bit about what Chicago Typewriter is about?
BF: Chicago Typewriter is an alternate reality 1920s gangster era prohibition story based around a gangster named Emilio Enzo. He has a troubled past and was institutionalized by the state into an insane asylum and eventually he gets released to where he takes on and lives in the city of Chicago. He is brought up in the slums where it comes to be that he gets his own crew. Being a gangster, Emilio takes on others in the criminal underworld and as the book becomes more supernatural, he begins to take on the actual underworld by using technology created by an experimental scientist under his employ. Although he is not a good man himself, he takes on the forces of evil.
SC: Where did some of the ideas for this book come from?
BF: When I was first creating the story for Chicago Typewriter I had originally wanted to do a superhero story. I came to read a lot of self help books and articles by writers like Jason Aaron, Peter David and Alan Moore. At one point, Jason Aaron had said, “Don’t create a superhero because everyone already has their favorite superheroes”. I then changed the direction of what I was writing and created something else. It started with sunglasses. I had always wanted to create a hero that when he put these sunglasses on, he changed in some kind of way or got some kind of power. I started with that and took it to where it became something psychological. When Emilio puts on the sunglasses, his personality changes and that acts as his trigger and his mask so that he can become this enigmatic gangster that he really isn't . He’s actually broken from the institutionalization and all of the experimental psychiatric treatments from the past. I started out with the story just being about gangsters, then it eventually became, "what if the gangsters were controlled by something else?" Then it started to go into the urban myth and occult stories.
SC: Have you always been into comics? What was the first comic that you can recall being a real influence for you?
BF: I was always into superheroes growing up. Even when I was little, it was always about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Saturday morning Fox Kids cartoons like X-Men and Spider-Man. I love Anime and Manga too. I watch Dragon Ball Z and Gundam and all of those types of things.
The earliest comic that I remember buying was the first issue of Spider-Man 2099. I also remember going on a trip to Mexico with my mom and right before we got on the plane, I picked up that really bad 90’s book where Spider-Man became Carnage and I was like “I’m 5, I really need to buy this”. I remember those being my earliest comics and since then I had dropped out then came back and for a while now I’ve stayed and collected ever since and now I want to write them.
SC: Are there comics that have directly influenced your writing style?
BF: I’d say definitely Frank Miller and anything Noir(ish). He’s probably one of my favorite writers. I know a lot of people do this, but when I started getting back into comics, I tried to read more of the epic stuff that I had never read. I went to Borders, grabbed The Dark Knight Returns, sat on one of their couches and read the entire thing and was like “Oh, so this is what Batman is really supposed to be”. He was this hardened vigilante who's internal monologues were so much better than even the words that came out of his mouth. I really like that internal dialogue style from writers like Frank Miller.
SC: Any Alan Moore stuff?
BF: I’ve read Alan Moore, I really like him. V for Vendetta is probably my favorite of his.
I try to throw that gritty style into my writing where I make the city into its own character with its own characteristics making it alive.
SC: Will Chicago Typewriter be self published or will you be looking for publishers to sell the book to?
BF: I’m going to self publish the book. I’m putting up all of the money myself right now and then I’ll run a Kickstarter which I’ll be announcing in the near future. I’ll be going out to conventions, just as any writer would as a self publisher. I’ll send it out to independent publishers to see what they have to say and maybe any podcast sites to see if they like it and would want to support it.
SC: How many issues are you planning on doing? Will this be a mini-series or an ongoing book?
BF: I want Chicago Typewriter to be an ongoing book. I’ve always liked the Vertigo imprint where its like 60 issues, so it’s a long running story but eventually does end. I feel like that’s the best way to keep quality within the book. The first book that’s coming out will be a double sized issue with 53 pages instead of the normal 22 to 24. It will be its own self contained story that takes place after the long running story that I want to tell, so you’ll be dropped right into their world so that it doesn't need to be built up.
SC: Do you have a date that you’re aiming for to be on the shelves?
BF: I don’t have a date yet, but the book (hopefully) should be finished by the end of the year. I’ll definitely have some kind of announcement by then for the Kickstarter, but I’m not putting myself under any kind of scheduling pressure or anything like that.
SC: Speaking of scheduling, you have to work with someone from outside of the United States. Can you tell us about the artist Djibril Morissette-Phan that you’re working with?
BF: I’ve talked a little bit with Djibril. Mostly, we've communicated through email. We talked one time through Skype where he was able to tell me what he thought of the issue and what he felt that we should do and not do. Originally, I wanted to have him do the long running story but he felt it was better to come up with a self contained story and commit to that because he was unsure where he would be as an artist down the line.
From what I do know about him, though, he started out as an animator and switched over to comics a couple of years ago.
SC: He’s pretty young, right?
BF: Yeah, Djibril is twenty years old. When I brought him on to the project, he quit his day job to become a full time freelance artist and has gone on from there.
SC: Where can people follow you?
BF: People can follow me on facebook.com/ChicagoTypewriter. I also have an Instagram @killthetypewriter and a Twitter @brandon_eff.
As I get closer to getting my Kickstarter going, I’ll also have an official website devoted to the book with a blog series about the steps that I took, what I bought and what I read, to show people the resources that I used so that they can hopefully go and do this themselves. I’d like to show people that it is possible to create your own comics.