Everyone has at one point in time formed their hands and fingers into make-believe guns and shot them off at imaginary targets. But what if those finger guns could really shoot off? That's the premire of the upcoming creator-owned series Finger Guns from Vault Comics.
These guns don't shoot bullets, but rather shoot of a change in emotions to whomever is in their sights. The two shooters in this case are teens Wes and Sadie, and they use it to the fullest extent in a teenage drama with some inventive superpowers.
With the series set to debut this Wednesday, Newsarama spoke with writer Justin Richards and artist Val Havorson about superpowere teen angst and their work with letterer Taylor Esposito and colorist Rebecca Nalty.
Newsarama: Justin, can you tell me about how you get the tone of teenager-dom right for Finger Guns?
Justin Richards: I appreciate that you feel that way, so thank you!
I definitely try to keep the dialogue short and to the point with our kids. They’re not philosophers or intellectuals. I try to draw on how I spoke as a kid. Luckily I never grew up at heart and therefore it doesn’t take Adrian too many notes to keep me on track.
Nrama: Val, the artwork for this is giving a kind of dark Archie comics vibe. Is this totally off base? I’d love to know more about how you developed the style of Finger Guns.
Val Halvorson: I consciously developed a bit of a cleaner style of inking for Finger Guns as opposed to my usual work. My regular inking style was a bit messier and grimier, but I wanted to have the inks read clearer for this story since it takes place in the current day and isn't about gross body horror monsters or noir back alleys.
Nrama: There is the quality of being a teenager and always feeling like you have a, well, gun to your head. It’s the pressure to perform in front of peers, parents, and for yourself. Were there any specific instances of your youth that informed Wes and Sadie?
Richards: I wouldn’t say there are any specific moments really. I would say it’s more about remembering how I felt in middle and high school. I was a bit of a loner in school. I would usually attach myself to only one friend or a small handful of them. I never went to parties or skipped class, I just went home and played video games and guitar in my room. It’s the collective vibe of my childhood that I attribute to the tone of the book and our sad kids.
Halvorson: I based Wes off of myself a bit, (he has the same headphones as I do) and specifically gave him pretty much one outfit (with only the shirt changing really). Sadie is too cool to have been me, so I based her style off of current alternative fashion and have her whole outfit change every issue.
Nrama: Val, you’ve spoken previously about going through a second puberty and how this impacted the way you thought of the characters, especially Wes. What is something about growing up and experiencing puberty you think adults forget? Does Finger Guns offer a window into puberty we’ve forgotten?
Halvorson: I think adults, especially adults with kids of their own, forget how much teens are going through a lot of internal turmoil. Puberty is a hard thing to go through even without a lot of external forces holding you down. People don't give teens enough credit for how much shit they have to go through along with their entire body chemistry changing for several years.
Nrama: One thing I kept coming back to is the way the powers Wes and Sadie have developed. Wes feels ignored by his parents, so he has the ability to create these big, huge feelings. Sadie, on the other hand, is traumatized by those same big feelings. I think it offers readers a perspective about how our home life impacts how we view the world around us, is that an accurate reading?
Richards: There’s no wrong way to read a comic! What I’ll say is that the homes these kids have been raised in are very different. Wes is kinda left to his own devices and borderline neglected, meanwhile Sadie has parents who are around, but maybe that’s not always in her best interest. In a round-a-bout way, these upbringings are why each kid discovers the effect they do and not the other way around.
Halvorson: They definitely complement each other, with their powers. One thing I've always loved about the script is that it showcases that there are multiple ways for a kid to have a troubled home life. Wes and Sadie have almost opposite experiences in that regard, but they are both suffering regardless.
Nrama: From pages 20-23 of the first issue, we see Wes and Sadie really grappling with using their powers and the idea of control. I think the readers of Newsarama would love to know about how you two worked on those pages specifically, was there a lot of back and forth?
Richards: Val and I have been 100% on the same page since we started working together on this project. I really wanted there to be a moment where the kids would stop and think about what it means to take control of someone’s emotions. I think it’s pretty true to life that 13-year-olds wouldn’t think about something like that until they experienced it themselves. It’s no small thing to control someone without their consent, especially when it’s something as essential to us as our base emotions.
Halvorson: Justin and I have been in sync like mech pilots on this story. This is a moment where Wes finally realizes that his powers have consequences and this is something that Sadie already knows too well. I spent a lot of time really pushing the facial expressions in this chunk to drive home the weight of what they've done.
Nrama: I think it’s done deftly, handling this idea of emotional control and showing what it is like to possibly exert control over others feels like a very abstract idea, so learning more about the development process behind this would be great! Could you also tell us more about the work of Rebecca Nalty and Taylor Esposito on Finger Guns and how you all worked together to create a piece that feels timeless?
Richards: Honestly, it’s been super easy because they’re all so great at what they do!
Halvorson: Rebecca Nalty's color work is amazing and Justin and I have been geeking out over her pages every time she sends them in. This is the first time I've had someone else color my lineart and I'm very impressed with her color choices. I especially love the noise filter she puts over the colors, I think it gives it a nice nostalgic feel. Even though the comic takes place in the present-day, it definitely harkens back to anyone's time as a teenager.
Nrama: Finger Guns balances reveals and emotional beats so well and that’s why it breaks the heart. The lack of words mixed with Val’s expressive work on Wes and Sadie, leaves the reader wanting to step in and help, was this intentional?
Richards: Absolutely! We all want to help them. You’ll see that they’re not always making the best decisions and sadly, there’s nothing that any of us can do! Especially not me. ;)
Nrama: I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask for any hints about what the future of Sadie and Wes holds, anything you can tell us?
Richards: Look forward to more tears, jeers and good tunes!!
Halvorson: There's gonna be a lot of emotional high stakes and a few new powers, but if I say more Justin might merc me!
Nrama: Anything else either of you would like to add?
Richards: The last thing I’ll say is that if you want to get even more out of our comic pay attention to what Val likes hiding in the background. Issue #1 has some stuff that might help you find more music to listen to put you inside Wes’ headphones.
Halvorson: The record store almost killed me please look at all the records I drew on the shelves! I have no self-control when it comes to that kind of thing, haha!