When Brian Buccellato began writing The Flash, he got some advice from the comic's former writer, Geoff Johns.
"Write what you know."
For Buccellato and his Flash co-writer Francis Manapul, that meant writing a superhero comic that mirrors their experience as new scribes at DC comics, taking the superhero through the process of discovering and developing his powers.
But Buccellato has also applied the "write what you know" advice to his new creator-owned title, Foster. Although Foster has a decidedly horror theme, at its heart is a man who is struggling with the responsibility of fatherhood — something Buccellato knows well as a dad himself.As a horror comic, Foster has its share of dramatic battles with scary monsters — both real and psychological — but the comic centers on the compelling and emotional story of a tortured hero who helps a child. Illustrated by the appropriately gritty artwork of Noel Tuazon, the story is set in a stylized pre-digital world that mirrors the murky past of its reluctant protagonist, Eddie Foster.
As an artist himself — best known in the comic business as a colorist — Buccellato designed the characters and setting as he wrote the story. He relied on his experience as a screenwriter as he wrote the story, with hopes to eventually pitch Foster as a feature film or TV show.Once Buccellato found Tuazon and got the first issue done, he began educating himself on how to self-publish. Next week, he'll debut the new comic at the Amazing Arizona Comic Convention, beginning the title as a six-issue story with hopes of eventually writing an ongoing series.
As the colorist/writer embarks on his first foray into creator-owned comics and self-publishing, Newsarama talked to Buccellato to find out more about Foster.
Newsarama: Brian, let's start with the premise behind Foster. How would you describe your main character, Eddie Foster, and what happens to him to start this story?
Brian Buccellato: Eddie Foster is a haunted war veteran trying to forget the world at the bottom of a bottle, and he becomes the guardian of a 6-year-old boy named Ben. But it turns out that Ben is the half-breed offspring of a woman and a primal race of supernatural creatures that lurk on the fringes of society. And they need him to repopulate.Three rival factions want to get Ben, so Foster has to navigate the shadow world, twisted scientists and his own past in order to keep the boy safe.
Nrama: What were your influences as you came up with the story behind Foster and this gritty world where its set?
Buccellato: The influences are some of my favorite movies for that time period from 1967 to 1978, like The Godfather, French Connection, Exorcist, you know all the way up until Star Wars and Jaws. There are so many movies that have influenced my taste and everything that I love.
I wanted to take a story and put it into that time period in New York, L.A. and San Francisco. It's a world where there's no Internet, no computers everywhere, no cell phones. It's an analog world. And that's where Foster takes place.Another influence on this story was a conversation I had with Geoff Johns, when I started co-writing The Flash. And Geoff basically told me to write what's important in your life; write what you know. And there's nothing more important in my life than my son.
I really started thinking, what can I write about? And really, fatherhood and responsibility are the key things in my life. Everything I do, from writing comic books to coloring comic books to whatever I do, it's all for my son.
So I wanted to write about fatherhood. I didn't want to write about me, but that was the subject.
And I started thinking, what's a horrible position for a father to be in? And for me, I thought one of the worst things would be, what if there's a monster inside your son, and you had to teach him not to be a monster?
That's where it came from.
Nrama: Yet when we first meet Foster, he doesn't want the responsibility of fatherhood. Why start with someone like him?
Buccellato: So that he has someplace to go. I wanted to give him as many challenges as possible.He does have a history, and you'll find out further along in the story that there were people who were important in his life that he lost. And you'll find out why this is sort of a redemptive tale for him.
For Foster, if he can protect this child and he can show this child that he doesn't have to be the monster inside of him, then he'll go a long way toward quieting the demons inside himself.
I've always liked the tortured hero. I don't see Flash as a tortured hero. I know Geoff went a certain way with him, in terms of his mother and stuff. But to me, Flash is this stand-up guy. He's a hero that everyone wants to be. That's how I view Flash. And that's a great archetype.
But in Foster, I wanted to go the completely opposite way.
Nrama: As you jump into creator-owned comic, why are you starting it as a self-publisher?
Brian Buccellato: A lot of different reasons. I guess the biggest reason I did it was because I wanted to be able to control my intellectual property. It's a story that's mine, and I created it myself. And I wanted to control its destiny.
My background in writing is in screenwriting, and I have contacts in the industry. I work for Tim Story, who is a feature film director. He did Barbershop and Fantastic Four. So I have the means to take my IPs and go to Hollywood.So I don't want to share that piece of the pie with somebody who is only going to offer me printing costs, an ad in Diamond, no marketing, and get me some meetings for Hollywood. I don't need all that. I mean, I could use the money! I could use someone to help me pay for this stuff. But all the other stuff, I didn't feel like I needed. So why divvy up the pie and then have to concede creative control to someone else? Because that's what happens when you go to publishers. You no longer control something that's yours.
Generally, in Hollywood, if you approach it as being the writer of the comic, then you'll never get the chance to write the screenplay. So I have to be careful how I position myself. I have a larger vision for this property, as a movie or TV show.
Obviously, I'll continue to do the comic, because it's got such a great potential as a comic book series. That's where I envision it playing out in the way I've written it in my head. But I want to be able to do another medium and have that control.
Nrama: How did writing The Flash open the door for you to self-publish your story?
Buccellato: I've been writing for 15 years, and people always said, "You should do a comic!"
My response was always, "Who's going to read it?" I mean, think of the tagline: From the colorist of... whatever book.
I just didn't see how it would be viable. I don't have a fanbase as a colorist in the world of comics.So I just concentrated on my screenwriting. I love comics, but I had tried to break into comic book writing, writing things like Darkness for Top Cow, and it was just really hard. The industry is such that you have to come to the table with a name or you're not going to get writing gigs. So I decided to hone my skills by working within the movie industry, and I've been doing that for the last few years.
I've been Tim Story's assistant on and off, and right now, we're finishing up Think Like A Man that's coming out in March, and I even have a cameo in it. (If you see the movie, look for me in the Barnes & Noble scene. You won't be able to miss me.)
So I've been ghost writing for him for a few years, helping to shape some of his stories. I've also written four spec scripts for him that are in development, with one that looks like it'll happen soon.
But then, when the opportunity with The Flash came up, I was thrilled that I finally had the opportunity to write in comics. I enjoy the medium so much. I love comics. And this opportunity finally got me some notice as a writer. So I figured it was time to come out with something.
I know Foster isn't going to have huge sales, but it's something I can grow. I decided to go with a grassroots effort.
Nrama: So how can people get their hands on Foster?
Buccellato: My plan right now is to start with a limited 500 issue run that will be signed and numbered, and it will be available at the Arizona Con in January 2012. And then after that, when issue #2 is finished, I'll be soliciting it through Diamond with a normal print run. I'll also have it available via a website.
Nrama: So you're learning about being a self-publisher, aren't you?
Buccellato: Yeah! I'm kind of learning as I go because I'm doing it all myself. I did the production myself. I did the writing and the coloring. And I'm marketing it and talking to the retailers.I'm hoping to have it available for download on my website. And I'm hoping to have it available through a digital distributor soon.
I'm doing it all on my own, which is probably stupid. But I'm learning as I go. And it's actually kind of exciting to be here at the beginning of the whole thing.