There was a time when Five Ghosts, the series that sees adventurer Fabian Gray possessed by literary ghosts, was a humble Kickstarter project. After Image Comics picked up the book, a five-issue miniseries became a critically celebrated, ongoing one that continues to garner fans.
As the series continues to build steam, it seemed like a good time to talk to writer Frank J. Barbiere about his experiences with the book, and his creative relationship with artist Chris Mooneyham. He was even kind enough to give us a few details about where the book's going.
Creative Loafing: It's coming up on two years since you Kickstarted Five Ghosts. What is your mindset as you take this narrative into an ongoing series format?
Frank Barbiere: It's really very exciting. We went from a place where we were desperately hoping to be able to publish one issue of the comic to where we could start thinking about the longer form story, something we've always been dying to do. Five Ghosts has allowed us to build a big mythology and an interesting and complex character in Fabian Gray - having more space to roll it out means we'll be able to reveal bigger details with careful pacing, not stress about wrapping everything up with a bow in just a few issues. We always envisioned Five Ghosts as a series of stories, and thankfully were ready to roll on into an ongoing series rather than waiting to drop another mini.
How does the comic book medium lend itself to a story like this? What can you do in this format that wouldn't work otherwise?
As I mentioned, we're able to dole out story details in a slow and deliberate way. Each arc will have a focus and a hook, but along the way, we'll be building to a much bigger narrative and story mythology. Comics are such a great serialized form, and I think the downtime between issues lets readers build anticipation and excitement, and also value the bits of story they're getting in each installment.
What's the creative process like for you and artist Chris Mooneyham?
Chris and I have worked together for many years, so we have a very streamlined approach. I write the scripts, then Chris works from them to draw the issue, then I letter it. We also have Lauren Affe, our colorist, who gets in and colors the issue. We've got a very steady workflow and each member brings so much to the book - it's very much the product of all three of us working together, rather than just one person steering the ship. Chris and Lauren add so much of their own influence and ideas that by the time the issues come together, they look completely different than we planned... always for the better. It's the benefit of working with true collaborators whom you trust implicitly.
Is there anything you can say about where the story's headed? What kinds of new characters will Fabian encounter?
We're wrapping our "Lost Coastlines" arc in May, which took us to a mythical island where Fabian encountered a female pirate possessed by the ghost of Sinbad, as well as the Shakespearean witch Sycorax. We've definitely opened up the idea that there are larger forces at work in our world and are building our antagonists slowly. This fall will see us embark on a horror-centric story arc that will introduce some more of those antagonistic forces and cause some major waves in Fabian's personal life.
What other projects are you working on right now?
I've got a very busy schedule these days, which I'm immensely thankful for. I've been working with Dark Horse on my creator-owned series The White Suits, which started coming out in February, and on their superhero property Blackout, which starts in late March. I've also been working hard on the reboot of Solar: Man of the Atom for Dynamite Entertainment. That will start in April. I've got a few more things in the works, as well as the continuing story of Five Ghosts, so you'll have a lot of opportunities to see my work on the shelves this year.