WHILE WRITER MATT FRACTION is currently writing—and snagging Eisners for—high-profile Marvel comics like The Invincible Iron Man, he got his start with smaller books, like The Five Fists of Science (in which Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain team up and, naturally, fight crime) and Casanova, an exhilarating, brilliant, mind-bending spy epic he created with artists Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. This week, Marvel's creator-owned Icon imprint starts reprinting Casanova—complete with gorgeous new colors—to pave the way for a third volume of the series. Fraction, who lives in Portland, will take a break from dreaming up Casanova's transdimensional exploits and jotting down quips for Tony Stark, and will instead sign issues of the remastered Casanova #1 at Floating World Comics.
MERCURY: You seem to have fun when you're writing. It's dense stuff, it's jumping around. As a reader, I'm trying to play catch-up, rereading panels—
MATT FRACTION: It speaks, I think, profoundly to my sense of value and self-worth that when [Casanova] was a two-dollar comic, I was like, "Well, it's gonna take you twice as long to read than a four-dollar comic! I'm gonna work twice as hard 'cause you're paying half as much!" [Laughs] I need therapy.
How are you approaching volume three compared to how you approached the first two volumes?
It's more experimental. The cutting's entirely different, the imagery is different, the text itself is different. There's a lot of... I don't know what the words are, but there's no worse comic in the world than a caption that says, "I was walking down the street," and the panel is an image of a guy walking down the street. So whatever the opposite of that is.
The thing that I love about comics is you can take the written word and you can take an image and you can overlap them, and in that overlap you create this kind of third channel of data that the user, the reader, interprets. It refuses passive consumption; it needs you to put these two together and determine what the real story is. You take the image and you take the written and you see where the truth actually lies.
How weird is it being on Marvel's brain trust, collaborating on Iron Man 2 and whatnot?
Oh, it's completely insane. I wish I could go back and tell 10-year-old me, "It's okay! It all works out okay!"
I've been reading this stuff my entire life—my first issue of Iron Man was #198, and my first issue of X-Men was #206. And I wrote X-Men #500.
I mean, I was the fat kid. I was the only long-haired acid freak in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Since 1973, I got called faggot and beaten up every day of my fuckin' life when I was there, you know? And [comics] were the tether I held onto. This is the stuff I held onto for dear life. And you just knew, innately, "I'm gonna get out of here, I'm gonna escape." I really wish I could go back and tell that kid with the split lip crying in the parking lot, like, "It's okay! It all works out okay. They never leave, and you get to do this stuff for a living." It's retarded. It's great. It's stupid how silly it is. The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward nerds.
For a complete transcript of our interview with Matt Fraction, go here.