@’s by FAUST Writer David Quinn !!!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): I’m here with David Quinn and most of you probably know him as the writer of FAUST, one of the more graphic titles that I’ve ever read and also probably one of my favorite titles I have ever read as I was growing up as a young comic book reader. Thanks for talking with me today, David.
DAVID QUINN (DQ): It’s a pleasure. We’ve been waiting a while and working hard behind the scenes slowly, but surely finishing the FAUST story. I think a lot of people don’t believe it was going to happen. They didn’t think it was ever going to happen, I’m sure. So when the time came, Tim Vigil and I wanted to be sure that we found a way to let everybody know and we thought of a really great way to kick him off since I’ve had some great conversations with you, would be to let you announce for the first time the slate of things that are coming out in the 2012 25th Anniversary of FAUST.
BUG: Very cool. Well thank you for that, because I have been a fan since…I think I accidentally got the first issue, because I think had my comic book store owner read the book first, they probably wouldn’t have sold it to me, because I think I was about twelve years old when I first got it, but I loved it.
DQ: I of course was only 13 when I wrote it.
BUG: Oh you were? (Laughs) I thought we were around the same age, yeah. So what’s your announcement? What do we have coming up for FAUST this year?
DQ: Well the big news is we can finally tell people that the ink is dry, we are correcting letters, creating covers, and through the Comics Direct market this Fall people will see the last two chapters. It’s ACTS 14 and 15. There’s a little more back-story about that and we will explain how that happened, but anyways, it’s ACT 14 and 15 probably released in October and November and to build up to this, since it’s actually is 25 years since the first book came out in 1987 on an unsuspecting comics market, the market’s changed a lot. In some ways a lot of adult books have caught up with FAUST. A lot of self published… Well I say “Caught up,” but you know… A lot of self published and creator owned publishing has gone on, which echoes the sort of feeling there was out there in 1987 when a lot of people were doing it. There are a lot of darker comics these days, which sort of all have their initial rumblings and some of the things that were out in the mid 80’s like DARK KNIGHT, WATCHMEN, CROW, and FAUST which all hit around 1986 and 1987. So 25 years later and we are finally putting out our last two chapters. We obviously have not worked full time on this endeavor in those 25 years, so in order to help the market wake up to it and help everyone be alert that this is happening, we are making an event out of it and we have four collections, which are called THE COMMUNION and are reissues to the marketplace through Diamond and other distributors through comic shops starting in July and building up to the fall. So every month there’s going to be something from FAUST. Some time it will be a new variant cover, like a sketch cover, some times it will be a signed edition that hasn’t been released before that’s still in first printing, sometimes it’s some thing that’s offered again. You know, we may have half a thousand trades left in a warehouse that we just couldn’t pack up, so better in the hands of readers than with us, right?
DQ: So every month is going to be FAUST starting in July and building up to November. BUG: Is it four or five editions that are going to be coming out in July? Is that going to be every week in July?
DQ: No, it’s two in July, two in August… Through the summer months there are two releases each month.
BUG: Oh, fantastic.
DQ: Then in October and November it’s the two new books. So basically what that means to someone who wants to read FAUST for the first time, revisit it, buy one for their child or parent (Laughs) or whatever, your comics shop will have them, all the FAUST stories in print again this year. Then we will have the final two chapters. About the final two chapters, these are actually a part of a huge finale that was originally scripted in 1996 about the time that I wrote the FAUST film that Brian Yuzna directed and came out through Lionsgate in 2000. I think a lot of your readers have seen that. I’ve seen it discussed on the site a lot and actually I constantly meet people these days that say “I saw this weird movie late at night on TV. It was so bizarre and so cool.” Some people also say “It was so bizarre, but it looked like it ran out of money.” Anyways, people remember it when they see it and then they come and meet me at a convention maybe and I’m sitting at the table next to my comedy book, THE LITTLEST BITCH, and FAUST is on the table with me trying to keep that alive and they say to me “There’s a comic too?” (Laughs) So for some of those people who saw the movie first, maybe on Cinemax at one in the morning and might want to read it, you’ll be able to read them all this year. So we wrote this finale, we put it together, I had a script and handed them off to visual in 1996. He started drawing it and he expanded it to like over a hundred and twenty pages, so it eventually became Act 12, Act 13, Act 14, and Act 15. He had been in the industry over the last ten or fifteen years and all of his devotees know where to find him in the artist’s alley sketching these just wonderfully detailed sketches and offering up prints and he’s even done other stories, some stories based on Frazetta books and several other sort of horror and genre things. I in the mean time, as I’ve mentioned to you the last time you and I talked, I took ten years out of the business completely and while I focused on FAUST when I needed to and Tim had a book ready and we were going to put it out and I would have to do some lettering rewrites or lettering corrections or do a little publicity or whatever, I really didn’t do any work for hire in comics at all and spent all of my time doing business communications consulting. Fortunately that’s been successful enough now that I do have a little bit of a balance between business writing and creative writing and can put a little more time into this. So we are trying to do it right, Mark.
DQ: For those of which who still remember us or for a few people who want to revisit something that’s unique, we are really trying to make sure everyone knows about it.
BUG: So was there a reason behind your break from comics there for a while?
DQ: Just the economics. I mean I was always able to work and put my kind of stories out there and I found publishers, even in the very darkest days of terrible print runs and really when the distributions… The direct distribution system, the comic book shops that sell primarily super hero comics… even when that system was just shredding itself and the whole industry was practically committing suicide; I was still able to find interesting publishers to do work with, like Avatar and Chaos. I worked for Marvel. I worked for DC. I worked for Image. I even did a book for Dark Horse, so there was always creative work to do, but like a lot of things in the print medium, the amount of full time work for hire kind of freelancers that the industry could support went way down. I mean in 1993 there were probably a hundred guys making a living full time off doing work for hire comic script writing and you know, by 1999 it was a fraction of that. So from a combination of wanting to challenge myself a little bit more and kind of raise my game as a professional and kind of raise my game as a business person, between all of that and the fact that there was just not that much money in comics anymore and I wanted to take care of my family, I really had to build this other business.
DQ: And you know, there’s a creative side to business communications, but it hasn’t really fed that need, so I’ve been fortunate in that I can have a line of short stories, film scripts, comic scripts, music, all of these things that I like to write, that I can keep doing and have a little audience for. So you know, I don’t have to try to stand in line and raise my hand and say “Yes, I want to write this third THOR book,” since you have 50 guys competing to do that, you know?
BUG: Yeah. So about FAUST, for readers who might not be familiar with the original story and where you guys are taking it, how would you describe the story to somebody who’s never even heard of FAUST before?
DQ: The FAUST legend is one of the earliest stories that humans have been telling themselves to get through the night and get through our lives. It’s about someone who sells their soul for power and knowledge and then tries to win it back and if you take a little time, you can have a marvelous journey looking for this story all over the place. It was part of almost every culture. Everyone has a story like this. It’s not always called Faust or The Devil obviously, and this story continues today, because they make big hit movies like WALL STREET, which tells a similar story. Tim and I were doing a ton of these superheroes and hell on earth and we were playing with it back in the mid 80’s looking for a way to put it into a story and this just seemed natural. In hindsight, we’ve been really on the nose. (Laughs) If you’re going to do a story about Faust and call it FAUST, it’s very on the nose, but it was a natural for us. It was unusual, because it wasn’t THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. It wasn’t even THE CROW, it was further beyond in the madness and further beyond into darkness and yet it had all of the super hero elements that we had learned from superhero comics right up front and in your face, but the only thing that was ruthlessly psychological and ruthlessly sexual and ruthlessly violent, way beyond anything that was in comics at the time.
BUG: Yeah, the look of FAUST… Who came up with the look? There seems to be elements of all kinds of different things in comics, but it is definitely a distinct look. Was that Tim Vigil’s work or did you guys collaborate on that?
DQ: We collaborated on everything right down to the cast of characters, but there was a previous character he worked on called Grips, which was a guy with a mask and claws. Of course everyone knows Wolverine and a lot of young people at the time probably thought “What if Wolverine really went crazy?” Well Marvel Comics wouldn’t do that at the time, although maybe they’ve done similar things since now that there’s an appetite and vein in the distribution for a more adult comic, more of something slightly in that direction. Anyway, so I guess to answer your question, that was a Tim Vigil tradition that we played with together. We were very collaborative at the beginning, because we happened to be close together in Brooklyn. He’s from Sacramento and I lived in New York at the time, so even thought we had done a lot of our scripting and writing over the years separately, we started very, very collaboratively in the same room. So we were going back and forth a lot on who the characters were, what the story would be, and you know a prime incident of it was my interest in doing a story about the Faust legend and Tim was interested in doing a story about this violent character with claws that would be similar to that GRIPS book that he had done before, but it would have a story that he would be more involved in and a story that would stretch in more directions and obviously he’d get to finish his art to the level of where he wanted to do it.
BUG: The book is filled with ultra violence, a lot of gore. There are a lot of twisted sexual things going on in there. Did you ever run into any problems with angry mothers? Angry store owners or Church groups or politicians or anything like that along your way?
DQ: I probably should prepare a fake answer to that question that’s very, very melodramatic and kind of do sort of a Hart Fisher (AMERICAN HORRORS) scenario raging at the world kind of answer. I’m not making fun of Hart, he’s a friend of mine, but he seems to always get himself into a position of being like the last angry man shouting at the world that just doesn’t understand. Actually I don’t know. Maybe it was because of the way we did it. At the largest, maybe 50,000 people read some of the runs in the early 90’s and the movie… while it was released all around the world in 2000, it’s really only been on DVD and cable in North America, so I guess what I’m saying is we were kind of too small for any politician to make their name on making us look bad.
BUG: Okay. (Laughs)
DQ: There really hasn’t been an organized campaign. Now at the same time, Mark, I’ve had a lot of serious and sober conversations with people who found it worrying. Friends of mine who weren’t real familiar with the creative process who looked at it and wondered if maybe this was some kind of symbol that I wasn’t all right and that with Tim Vigil one of us was going to become a serial killer. I mean there have been a few conversations like that, but they were guarded and careful and measured and as I say sort of sober and not angry mothers. I think we were up front and center on one silly cable show in the early 90’s that had us and some of the Image folks and said, “Can you believe the kids are reading this?” I think anyone who actually knew the facts at the time, that this was a cable show that didn’t have the facts right, there weren’t many kids reading this. I mean a few 13 and 14 year olds probably got a copy of it and I have a point to make about that in a second, but I mean a few 13 or 14 year olds maybe got a copy of it, but it was not being pushed at the drug store to little kids, it was being bought usually behind the counter in the back at some professional comic shop that knew what they were handling. So you know, we really haven’t had that kind of a drama and every time we got a glimmer of it, I would think opportunistically “Oh wow, maybe everyone is going to hear of this book now. Maybe we will go from 50,000 to a half a million, because it’s going to be infamous.” What I eluded to when I was talking about 13 and 14 year olds reading this book, I mean maybe you got this book at that time, but you’re a thinking person and you know that when you open up a book you… I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but you open up a book and you’re looking in there and it’s a whole realized world, created to take you on a cathartic trip and leave you back in your life. It’s meant to take you somewhere, but it’s not meant to change you into something and it is not violent itself, just because it depicts violence. So I think a lot of the 13 and 14 year olds get that. I assume they did. I’m a little older than you. I read some under ground comics at that age and was quite aware that some of this was law breaking and some of this content had drugs and violence and things in it that didn’t happen in my everyday existence as a little 14 year old kid riding my bike in the streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I knew it was drama and I knew it was comedy and I know it was that kind of a trip. So I think I give the kids credit, I give the stores credit, and you know I think… I can’t even think these days what people are demonizing in order to make their political rep.
BUG: Yeah, definitely.
DQ: I think the same kind of opportunist that would do that are attacking the president instead of me.
BUG: Yeah, that seems to be the way it is now. We actually talked about this in our panel, I believe it was last year, and you’ve been a member of that panel at the San Diego Comic Con were I do a horror panel every year and we talked about how a lot of the horror writers are the most pleasant people to talk to and really it’s the people who aren’t able to express those types of dark corners, those are the ones that you need to kind of look out for.
DQ: Yeah, I think a great example is Clive Barker. He’s gone to some of the scariest places and taboo places and he’s crossed over into fantastic worlds where they are beautiful and fantastic worlds that are horrifying.
DQ: The great thing about him and his worlds is they are never just mundane. I’m not a huge fan of the SAW franchise and other just sort of; I call them “Lame Torture Horror.” You know, I may make some people mad, because they might think “Oh I don’t get it,” but if the only point is torture and avoiding torture, I just sort of don’t need that. I mean Clive… You talk to him and every time I’ve had a conversation with him it’s been reasoned and professional and I think he wears all of that insanity out in his fiction and painting and has a pretty sane life.
BUG: Definitely. Well let’s talk about the final couple of acts that you have. So this is the new stuff that you guys are doing, so what’s leading into this last couple of acts here that are coming out in October and November?
DQ: That’s a great question. It’s just a few minutes before midnight for the souls of the world. Hell has just about taken over and the character of John Jaspers, who’s the Faustian character with claws and the crazy eyes, the hood, the cape… He has been shredded physically, emotionally and mentally by his adversary, the devil character named “M.” The devil character has also gone through strange mutations trying to survive the onslaught from his creation or his son. There’s also a very father and son or Frankenstein and monster aspect to this relationship, so it’s the finale. It’s their final stand off and because there’s innocent and not so innocent bystanders caught up in the web, several other characters including a reporter named Balfour, Jade the psychiatrist of the lead character, and Claire, the wife of the devil who has been revealed to be kind of an inhuman ageless taunting adversary herself. They are all sort of locked together in the final combat. It takes two books, because it is… (Laughs) well there’s a lot going on and there’s also an aftermath that takes place in the final book that shows what happened afterwards. So this is a true end.
BUG: That’s what I was going to ask.
DQ: We spent a lot of time on that actually, because the end has definitely evolved from the first version that I wrote and I know that Tim and I have pushed each other I’d say and if that sounds aggressive and uncomfortable, it’s just that we’ve tried to help each other stretch to make sure that it really resolves everything that was in the story. So for the person who’s been paying attention all the way through or the person that meets it this year and reads it from beginning to end, we don’t want to leave anything unresolved or unanswered or if there’s a question asked in the books, it should be answered. And everyone should have their story… Everyone has their full story arc.
BUG: Very cool, and so this is it then? Nothing else after this one? You’re done with FAUST after this?
DQ: Probably not. We did for Avatar Press some spin offs. There’s another one plotted that they haven’t put on their schedule yet, so I think there are certainly other stories we would do in this world and here’s where I have to be careful not to spoil the end of the FAUST story.
BUG: Sure, sure.
DQ: There are certainly other stories we would do in this world, but this story does come to an end. There is a, I guess comic book readers would call it a “Faustian universe.” There is a universe that could continue and has had other spin offs in the past.
DQ: In fact, we’ve already plotted one out. At the same time, Tim and I have other projects. One is even a children's book...NOT a Not For Children Children's bool like THE LITTLIST BITCH. book like THE LITTLEST BITCHnotI’m working on a few other things. He and I have another horror story that we want to do someday, totally separate from FAUST with no crossover whatsoever with FAUST. There was a character we did called The Wrath I’d love to revisit someday. That’s not out of the question. I don’t know if those will be self published or we would do them again with our partners at Avatar, because that was always a good fit. We worked with Avatar and it sort of established their platform for doing this kind of stuff and they went on to build it even broader with other creators in the same vein. So it was like we had a platform for us and it was a platform for them, it was a good match.
BUG: I see that you’re distributing all of this through Rebel Studios, so this isn’t going to be affiliated with the stuff that you’ve done at Avatar?
DQ: These final two issues we are just dong them ourselves and we’ve always done… Everything that we are releasing this year, if it’s offered again, we are offering again and we offered it the first time. You know, when we do these things the comic just works better if we just put it out ourselves. It’s almost like we’ve tried so many things over the years we might as well just finish it the way we started it and do it ourselves. At the same time, we have worked with Avatar and that’s been successful. I’m talking with other publishers who would like to work with us, that could be a great opportunity too. There are more people doing our kind of material now than there were 25 years ago.
BUG: What do you think that says about the industry? Do you think it’s opened up? It’s kind of loosened up a little bit?
DQ: Yes and no. It’s still hypocritical as hell. I mean but that’s America. And I love this country and I chose to stay living here when I had opportunities to go elsewhere, but you know we still have a thing, the same thing that George Carlin used to make fun of and other comedians have jabbed at over the years, like if you stab somebody, a kid can see it and if you show a breast it’s adults only, you know? That’s just a strange hypocritical thing about America that we are still stuck in. On the other hand, like I say think about Kevin Eastman and HEAVY METAL is doing a wealth of our kind of material. IDW has several books that are in our vein. Image Comics has books that are practically in the vein of FAUST. You know, Bernie Wrightson continues to work. Writers like Steve Niles are working… James O’Barr came back to comics, so there are a lot of people who do our kind of stuff. I know I’m leaving some out, but you know the rest of these suspects yourself.
BUG: Yeah, well you know I’ve been a huge fan just from day one of this and I think that you guys have continued to have that strong independent spirit through all of this time. I’m so happy to see this whole story finally coming to a conclusion and I can’t wait to read it. So yeah, are there any last words that you want to say to the AICN fans here?
DQ: Well let’s see. I think the die-hard fans will take our word for it and know that when we say it’s coming out, that it is finally coming out. On the other hand, I know we have certainly earned the skepticism of others, because we’ve intended to do this for years, but business has prevented us from being able to do it, just making a living has gotten in the way of getting this done. So for all of the people that say “Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it,” because I know you’re out there, come see Tim and I at a convention this summer, we will show you pages, they’re done. We weren’t going to talk about it. We weren’t going to tell you “October and November of 2012…” We are not going to put dates like that out there until we knew they were real, so it’s real.
BUG: Well I saw some pages I believe in New York and they were fantastic. I can’t wait to see the finished products, so best of luck to you with this project. It’s always a pleasure talking with you and I can’t wait to see you at the next con.
DQ: Yeah, let’s do it and if we put together a panel with you and I and the usual suspects it will be a great conversation.
BUG: Definitely. Well thanks a lot. I really appreciate your time.
Look for more news about FAUST in the coming months, with reprints of the first issues throughout the summer starting in July, then enjoy the hell-searing ending to beat all endings in FAUST ACTS 14 & 15 in October and November! Look for more info on David Quinn’s LITTLEST BITCH here and follow his blog here for more info on what’s coming up with FAUST!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in October 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released in March 2012.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G