BOOM!'s THE FICTION Brings Storybooks To Life But With Consequences

'The Fiction #1' first look
Credit: BOOM! Studios
Credit: BOOM! Studios

No matter how scary or how fantastical fictional stories can be, you can escape by closing the book or turning off the movie. But what if the fiction followed you, and took you to those imaginary worlds made real?

When four childhood friends stumble upon magical books, they are transported to a fantastic dimension where fantasy is a reality - a harsh reality. One of the children stays behind and is declared missing by his parents. The friends make a pact to never reveal what really happened, but years later, the books return in their lives...and another friend goes missing. It’s up to the remaining two to find out the mystery behind the books, but how long can they survive this ultimate nightmare?

That's the story of The Fiction by Curt Pires and David Rubin, to be published in June by BOOM! Studios. Newsarama talked to Pires about The Fiction and his process behind the creation as well and how it differiniates from other literary-inspired comics. BOOM! also sent Newsarama an exclusive first look at the first six pages of the book, as well as character designs, and two covers including the Tula Lotay.

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Newsarama: Curt, when I was told about The Fiction, it sounded reminiscent of The Pagemaster, if you remember that, but the covers here almost have an The Unwritten vibe to it. Does it like somewhere between or is it something entirely of its own? 

Curt Pires: Well, both those stories also play with the interaction between fiction and reality, and the way that stories can shape the real world, so it’s not a stretch to say we’re swimming in the same body of water on a very surface level. But beyond that? The Fiction is totally different from both those works. All due respect to the creators of both those works, but when it comes to making art, making comics I’m not interested in being a cover band--following in someone else’s footsteps. The Fiction is myself, David, Michael, and Colin just cutting loose and saying “this is what comics can be." The only limits on our imaginations are the ones we set for ourselves.

Nrama: Tell us about these characters and their histories together. How were they each affected by the book in The Fiction?

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Pires: Well it’s books--plural, there’s more than one. But we see each of the characters affected in distinct ways. Mac had a hard time processing what happened to him so he developed this hard shell, this coldness to him, and he tried hard to forget about his imagination, turn his back on that part of him. Kassie also struggled with it--she lashed out at the world, became a bit of  rebel, stared into the abyss, it looked back, she screamed into it. Tyler processed it in the most healthy manner, but it still will come back to haunt him during the course of the story. And Tsang? Just wait until you see what The Fiction did to him.

We’re not even talking about the parents yet.

Nrama: When mentioning the parents, are they affected worse by the books?

Pires: Yes. Not going to say how. Some things people are just going to discover through reading the comic.

Nrama: Is something like The Fiction more horror-based or fantasy-based?

Pires: It’s really a hybrid of both. A fantasy/horror of sorts. There’s definitely suspense and horror and terror within the book, but there’s equal measures of both wonder and horror within the book. Kind of like the rest of reality, y’know?

Nrama: What makes something The Fiction stand out on your creative resume?

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Pires: I don’t really think of it as my “resume”--as an artist it feels weird to think of things in terms like that, ones traditionally embraced by capitalist systems/structures, although co-opting the terminology could be interesting…

That said in considering it within the context of my larger “output” it feels very different and special. I’m so delighted to be working with David Rubin--he’s a genius. I’m equally delighted with the way the scripts are turning out, it feels like I’m breaking new ground, treading new water, and people are going to be really delighted with how the book turns out, I believe. This is a result of me trusting myself to explore new thoughts and feelings--and the wonderful back and forth with series editors Eric Harburn and Jasmine Amiri.

Nrama: It seems we're being ushered into this renaissance of creator-owned comics, so what was the appeal of going to BOOM! over other publishers to take The Fiction?

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Pires: What made me want to bring the book to BOOM! was initially just a desire to work with Eric. I’d seen he’d be doing really cool books over there and he’d mentioned to me that he was a fan of the work I was doing on Theremin (travelling back in time to scenic 2013) so we started talking. On a larger level I just really believe in what BOOM! are doing. They’re supporting new voices in comics, taking shots on smart cerebral books, encouraging conversations about diversity in comics--it’s a wonderful place to be working. Bryce, Matt, Ross--everyone I’ve dealt with is genuinely interested in making good comics, and on a larger level, making the industry a better place--and those are the type of people I am interested in collaborating with.

Nrama: David Rubín is the artist on the series, but when designing worlds and characters, did you have a specific look for each thing, or was David given carte blanche? Perhaps somewhere in the middle?

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Pires: I certainly offered my take on how I think things should look, I’m pretty involved in that regard, but at the end of the day David has carte blanche. He’s a genius. Whatever he comes up with is going to work and push the project in new, bold, beautiful directions.

Nrama: What would you consider to be the heart of the story?

Pires: That’s really up for the reader to decide. As an author I have my own take for sure, but that’s for me to know/process. I don’t want to force people to see things in a certain way. In that regard I’m very much of a Lynchian school of thought. I don’t like to tell people what my work means. It means something different to everyone.

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Nrama: Do each of the books have their own personality as well or does the person who possesses it make what they will of it?

Pires: It doesn’t exactly work like that. The books are alive but not in a way that we as humans can even begin to understand. That’s what’s “magic” about “magic." it defies conventional classification, it defies easy comprehension. The books are magic in this regard, they’re not something us, or the characters in the book can even really begin to understand.

Nrama: The Fiction is still a ways away of coming out, but do you have anything lined up after that?

Pires:In July I’m dropping The Tomorrows over at Dark Horse. It follows up The Fiction as my second huge creator-owned book of the summer. It’s a six-issue first season. It’s about a dead future where our reality is a surveillance state and art is illegal. The Tomorrows are this counter culture organization who fight against this, and try to bring beauty back into the world. It’s very much in the vein of The Invisibles or Planetary,  big sprawling epic, with big ideas, and social themes. It seems like people forgot we could make comics like that. So I’m bringing it back.

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