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War Rocket Ajax #21: Matt Fraction and the ‘Fear Itself’ Exit Interview

Superstar Marvel Comics writer Matt Fraction is one of our favorite guests on ComicsAlliance’s War Rocket Ajax podcast, so when our fans requested an exit interview on Fear Itself, we were happy to oblige. So join us this week as Fraction talks about what it was like to be put in the position of writing an event comic and what it was that inspired him to do it on this week’s show!War Rocket Ajax v.2, #21: The Love Bunker with Matt Fraction
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)

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In this week’s episode, Chris and Matt are exhausted from a week of full-on self-promotion mode, plus a review of a Batman-themed video-game peripheral and even more discussion of Batman: Arkham City and the somewhat noticeable shortcomings of the plot.

When Matt Fraction joins us, we talk once more of Santa, No! and Dinosaur Train, before catching with what it felt like to be the guy in charge of a big event comic”:

It was great. It was amazing and awesome and I got to work with Stuart Immonen, for God’s sake. Everything he does, you think “This is it, Stuart is at the top of his game,” and then he does something else and you go “oh, now this is the top of his game!” He hasn’t found the top of his game yet.

And a zillion people read it, and it was amazing. My family got to read about it in USA Today. That’s pretty f***ing cool, you know? And I got to kind of say my two cents about what I like about these crazy things. So, you know, it was huge. It was amazing. It was great. It was exhausting. But what a high class problem to have.

Just the scale was nuts. I’ve never done anything on that scale, even Iron Man, Thor, whatever it was, nothing really existed on that scale before. It really exists in kind of a rarified air, projects of that scope and magnitude. It was like playing for the Yankees. It was an eye-opener.

And there was some internal stuff. We had to have a big lead time, and we had a retreat that was just me. We had a retreat that was me and the entirety of Marvel’s editorial department in a room for two days. That was intense. We had to get stuff ready to help with the marketing of it all and to help with the crossovers and the tie-ins, and it was a lot of work beyond just writing a script. I did more drafts of that first issue than, I think, of anything else. More people at Marvel read it than anything else, so I was getting notes from everybody, and it was a ton of work to get it up and moving off the ground.

We also talk about what parts of Fear Itself came from Fraction’s own personal life:


It’s about fear being contagious. Have you ever thought about buying a gun? Have you ever thought about personal protection?

The reason I left Kansas City — a carjacking terminated in my front yard. A car literally crashed through my yard and had it not run over a tree, it would’ve plowed into the cornerstone of my house. Cops, guys running, the Grand Theft Auto helicopter four feet over the roof of my house, dude’s on the run, and I saw it happen. I was coming downstairs and I saw a car crash through my yard.

And when my neighbor and I were stuck, because the cops don’t actually help you clean any of this sh** up, right, you have to pay for the tow truck to tow the car out, we’re sitting there with an axe chopping under the axle of this car trying to chop the rest of the tree out at the roots so they can pull this car out. There’s one last cop there who’s not the arresting officer, and he says “Look, I wasn’t the arresting officer, but apparently the guy had a gun. So we didn’t find it when we arrested him, so there might be a gun somewhere.”

Cut to three days later, [my wife] Kelly Sue and [son] Henry find the gun. It’s loaded. And I thought about keeping it. Instead of calling the cops and having them come get it, I thought “Well, the next time this happens, I’ll have a gun.” Right?

That’s a f***ed-up way to think. That’s a f***ed up thought to have, even no matter how transitory the thought is, and it was extraordinarily transitory. It’s that stuff. That edge of succumbing to panic and succumbing to mob mentality. I felt that urge, sort of like, let’s begat violence with more violence.

Kansas City is named for a state it’s not in and a river it’s not on, and after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, there’s this road that goes out of Kansas to Overland Park, Kansas, which is sort of the main suburb where all the white people went. They barricaded this road, Metcalf Avenue, and I’ve seen newsreel footage, and these guys running barricades, and they say “We’re gonna keep out the Negro hordes.” The night Martin Luther King was assassinated, these guys in Overland Park, Kansas believe with all their hearts that “Negro hordes” were going to come rampaging over the state line into Overland Park, Kansas, and so by God they’re going to block off their entrance. And that’s f***ed up.

I find that completely f***ing terrifying, and I don’t think it’s like “Oh, well that was 1968.” I don’t think we’re so far away from that. I think you see it in Katrina, you see it in response to natural disasters, you see it in f***ing lunatics that bring guns to political rallies, you see it when psychopaths go berserk in crowds.

A lot of that was coming to a very personal place. It’s things that terrify me. None of it was speculatively frightening, it’s things that legitimately frighten me.

All that, plus the Secret Sarlaac in this week’s interview!

Show Notes:

Matt Fraction is on Twitter, and apparently he also has a website.

Don’t miss Matt Wilson guest hosting this week’s episode of Awesomed By Comics!

Rock Paper Shotgun has some lovely pictures of the Batarang Controller.

Start your holidays on the wrong foot with SANTA, NO! (NSFW)

Self-Promotion Corner: To read the comics of their own that Chris and Matt mention on the show, check out Copernicus Jones, Awesome Hospital, and Dracula the Unconquered!

Chris’s Rec: Jem and the Holograms: The Truly Outrageous Complete Series.

Matt’s Rec: Batman: Arkham City (with an awful lot of qualifiers).

Comics Reviewed:

Detective Comics #3: “If this was in a Batman ’66 context, I’d think it was really funny. It’s like a Batman ’66 deduction, but without the self-awareness.”

Action Comics #3: “Kind of a mixed bag. It’s not that I hated this comic, I was just very ambivalent.” “There’s interesting stuff, bu nothing exceptional, and again, it oddly feels slow and kind of drawn out. Also, it’s $3.99, and it’s a 20-page story and you get a bunch of, I guess, ‘bonus’ stuff. But it’s all promos for the other Superman family books. It’s not a good deal.”

Amazing Spider-Man #673: “The last two issues were pretty great throughout.” “I now kind of like Kaine legitimately as much as I did when I was 13. Dan Slott found out what was cool about Kaine and wrote a story with it.”

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