Crime touches on more than just the criminal and the victim, and in the upcoming OGN series November those lives will be shown and their stories told.
Writer Matt Fraction is collaborating with artist Elsa Charretier on a trilogy of crime thriller OGNs followings three women from different walks of life that are now bound together as they enter a dark criminal underworld. One woman is on the brink of losing her sobriety and marriage, another wants an escape from her previous dangerous life, and the third is a good Samaritan who is trying to do the right thing. And there’s one man, who seems to be the cause of the city’s destruction, that connects them all.
Fraction and Charretier spoke with Newsarama about the OGN trilogy which debuts on November 6 with November Vol. 1: The Girl on the Roof, and how the series was inspired by real events in their lives.
Newsarama: Matt, what sparked the idea for November?
Matt Fraction: Numbers stations. And thinking about and listening to numbers stations. Wondering who was on the other end, whose voice I was hearing, and what they did when they weren't reading those numbers. What happens when the numbers don't come - for them, and for other people listening? What kind of life would you have to build around the operation of such a thing?
And a carjacking that terminated in the front yard of my old house. We were told there was a gun used in the carjacking but the police didn't recover it. My wife found it a few days later under a bush in our yard. It was loaded. I thought, people find things like this all the time.
And, I had a character in my head for a while that came from the idea of someone with preternatural gifts being prevented from using those gifts because of who they are, their gender or color or orientation or - or any other fundamental aspect of their identity. Thinking about the awful and ignorant human tragedy that allows our own malignant self-interests to select against our own well-being; feeling awe and gratitude in the face of the grace and bravery that kind of person shows when they do the thing anyway.
Really what sparked it was, Elsa wanted to work with me. And I wanted to find something for us to do that would be fitting of her time and attention and talents.
Then I realized all of the above were all the same story.
Nrama: Elsa, what inspired your art style for November?
Elsa Charretier: I am a big fan of David Mazzucchelli's and, more specifically, Batman "Year One." For new projects I like to start from an artist, a book I love, and see how I can incorporate some of the style, some of the qualities of that book into my own work. More often than not, the end result is completely different from what I had in mind, and a long way from the original inspiration, but that technique pushes me to experiment in different directions.
Nrama: Will each volume focus on the point of view of a different woman?
Fraction: It's an ensemble book and each volume is driven by one of the three women we follow; I don't know that i'd say it's their point of view but they definitely influence their own respective volumes above and beyond their own individual storyline.
Nrama: Can you tell us a bit about these women? What makes them different and similar?
Fraction: One's a woman hanging onto her sobriety and marriage by her fingernails when the worst day imaginable to be an emergency operator for the police happens. She wanted to be a cop but had to settle for answering phones but she can't turn off the cop part of her brain.
One lives a life of obligation in a legally-dubious grey zone that offers her a lot money but very little of society's protections or recognition. And she wants to escape.
One's a good Samaritan that's willing to stand out in the freezing rain after a hellacious day that finds a gun in a puddle of rain, and decides to call the police for fear of someone else finding it, and what might happen if they do.
Nrama: And how about the man who connects them together?
Fraction: He's the unseen hand. The dark mover. He doesn't realize it but he's the one that's bound these three women together for better or worse.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about how you came up with the girl’s character designs, Elsa.
Charretier: A powerful character design will tell you a lot about a character before they even "open their mouth", so to speak. Through their posture, clothes, hairstyle or facial expression, you want to be as specific and smart as possible. Nailing the design is, to me, half the job of drawing a comic book. You either end up with a character that really wants to live on that page or one that will keep fighting you during the entire book. I tried to challenge myself on November, tried to come up with body shapes I hadn't developed before, and make sure all three women visually came across very different.
Nrama: Who's your favorite character to draw or favorite aspect of the story to draw?
Charretier: Drawing comics to me is about drawing characters. I love faces. And bodies. Their environment of course helps shapes the story, but it's the characters that really draw me in. Matt's dialogue is so subtle, so human, that a good part of my day on November is to try and pair the character's line, or thought with the right expression/body language. And I can't get enough of those three women.
Nrama: What genre do you feel this story falls under?
Fraction: It's a crime thriller.
Nrama: Do you have more plans for the world of November past the three volumes?
Fraction: What, like a December? That's crazy talk.