Francavilla Steps Forward With BLACK BEETLE in DHP
Artist Francesco Francavilla has quietly become one of the most dynamic and speedy artists in comics as seen from his work in DC Comics’ Detective Comics, plus Marvel’s Black Panther: Man Without Fear and the current Captain America & Bucky arc, and even regular covers for Dynamite Entertainment. And now he’s spreading his wings with a story of his own as he writes and draws a three part pulp-noir story in the pages of the prestigious anthology Dark Horse Presents.
Newsarama: Francesco, you’ve written comics before, but never on this big of stage – what’s it like to be able to do it here at Dark Horse Presents and now with your own creation, the Black Beetle?
Francesco Francavilla: I have written short stories here and there for a few anthologies, but this is definitely a new experience for me in terms of structure (longer story, divided in three acts) and audience, and I am very thrilled and thankful for the opportunity. As someone who has still lots of stories to tell, I consider this debut in Dark Horse Presents to be very important and possibly something that could set a new path for my future career as a full-on storyteller.
Francavilla: Black Beetle is the protector and hero of our story. His mission is to fight crime in Colt City. We don’t know who he is, not yet anyway. When we meet him in my three-part Dark Horse Presents story Night Shift, we learn that he’s patrolling the city streets and protecting the citizens the best he can. How he came to be in this position and why he feels compelled to protect others is something we’ll discover as we go along. This is definitely an action-packed thriller with lots of twists and turns, so I hope fans will come along and enjoy the ride!
Nrama: If Black Beetle’s the pulp hero, what kind of pulp adversary/adversaries will he be up against in Night Shift?
Francavilla: It's a short story, so I don't want to reveal too much other than to say that they are highly-trained, professional baddies.
Nrama: What kind of world does Black Beetle live in, Colt City and beyond?
Francavilla: Colt City itself is used as a character and is featured prominently in the series. It’s a fictional city set in the late ‘40s America on the East Coast and has a very pulp-noir vibe to the environment and inhabitants. Located on beautiful Colt City Bay, it is home to Black Beetle and is the main location for his tales & adventures. And of course, being a metropolis, it comes with all the bad guys, criminal elements, and villains that will make life in Colt City quite interesting.
Nrama: What kind of story are you aiming to tell here, Francesco?
Nrama: As you mentioned, this isn’t the first time you’ve told stories with this character as you’ve released ashcan comics and even a webcomic previously. For people that like this story in Dark Horse Presents, is there a way they can se the previous Black Beetle stories you’ve done?
Francavilla: The first published appearance of the Black Beetle was the No Way Out ashcan, which included the first few pages of a full length (and still unpublished) graphic novel. The ashcan is sold out but I do plan to release No Way Out in its entirety so everyone can enjoy it. The other published story is Kara Bocek, a web-only tale that ran on my Pulp Sunday blog a couple of years ago. I plan to have that in print and available soon as well.
Nrama: Speaking on the craft of this, I’ve seen you on several occasions do your own lettering, especially with titles. Will you be lettering and coloring your own work in this Black Beetle story for Dark Horse Presents?
Francavilla: Yes, I am hand drawing all the SFX and will take care of balloons and lettering as well.
Nrama: And speaking of going beyond just drawing, you’re also writing. We’ve seen a number of popular artists expand to write and draw their own material in recent months. What are your thoughts on doing more of it, with creator-owned work like this story for Dark Horse Presents but also work-for-hire like at Marvel and DC?
Nrama: This Dark Horse Presents story of yours is coming out at the same time your art on a half-dozen covers and you’re drawing Captain America & Bucky – which is nothing compared to when you were drawing both Detective Comics and Black Panther: Man Without Fear last year. How do you balance it all, Francesco?
Francavilla: I take crazy pills. [laughs]
Seriously, I think I have said it before, but it’s the result of a few things: most definitely hard work and dedication, a pure love and passion for this medium and this craft, very few distractions (i.e., no videogames over here), and last but not least, complete support from the best woman I know, my wife. Also, never underestimate the power of espresso!