Thursday, May 08, 2008

Christopher Folino Interview

Chris was kind enough to subject himself to an interview with us and I have to say that Chris makes it easy to interview him. This intervew should create a few laughs as Chris is a fun interview.

I have also included the cover and first eight pages from Sparks #1 to give you an idea of how good this book is, now go out and tell you store to order multiple copies of it, so you and and your one friend can enjoy it.

Jim: Who is Christopher Folino? Cab driver by day, writer by night?
Chris "I'm a man without conviction; I'm a man who doesn't know, how to sell a contradiction." Or a man whose not afraid to throw down some Culture Club lyrics! Yeah. See, I read your blog (editors note : any references to Culture Club in this blog must be credited to Lee), and not to be a dick, well, okay, to be a dick, when people start taking themselves too seriously about who they are, I want to kick them in the nuts! I'm almost 40, I have three cool kids, a loving wife, a full time job where I work with cool people, except for Fernando Velloso, I hate you, I really do and I played way too much Dungeons and Dragons and listened too much Springsteen, and lastly, I do fancy myself as the greatest Intellivision Major League Baseball Game player to ever grace this planet.

Jim: William Katt is the "executive producer", so what does that mean? Is hethe money guy, the creator, your blood brother?
Chris: I met Bill on the set of Gamers the movie which I self-financed via credit cards and bank loans with my friends. So, Bill and I hit it off and he was at Gen Con while we were promoting the movie, meaning he signed copies for free and I got to collect all the money!
Bill smiled and he turned to me after 12 hours of doing this and said "You owe me…you really owe for this!" And I thought, he was going to make me dress up in the Greatest American Hero outfit and mow his lawn or something, but, no way, this freak wanted me to help him write some stuff for his comic book line. He said it was a "Childhood dream" and I told him my "Childhood dream" was to steal that golden watch from Robert Hayes and nail Morgan Fairchild. However, I let that dream die after seeing Morgan do those Old Navy commercials.
Executive Producer means basically the launch title we wanted to get out was called Mythology Wars and we've switched out a few artists because Mr. Katt is a perfectionist and this book is his baby. Seriously, if you think Greatest American Hero means a good deal to him (and it does), oh no, Mythology Wars is why Catastrophic Comics was even created. It's an original story and after 2 ½ years we found an artist to start pumping life into that project. And to answer the second question, William Katt is more like my pimp.

Jim: Where did the idea come from? Have you had it as an idea for a long timeor just recently?
Chris: The coolest thing with Sparks was it was a new idea; it came to fruition last June, while I was frustrated with the lack of progress finding the right artist for Mythology Wars, which I co-wrote with Bill. I started thinking of another idea which turned into Sparks and the pieces started falling together over the course of a few days. Bill gave a lot of guidance and helped set the foundation and he's been 110 percent supportive of the project, even considering how dark it is.

Jim: Catastrophic Comics - who are they? William Katt, you or someone else?
Chris: Catastrophic Comics is all William Katt. It's his brain child, his baby, his reputation, his check book.

Jim: Did you pitch the project elsewhere?
Chris: No. I don't have any friends, not even in low, low places.

Jim: Is this a paying job or a labor of love that you hope sells enough to bring in so money on the back end?
Chris: I have a day job, thank God, and I do all my writing from like 11PM to 6AM. There's no money, just an amazing opportunity to have an artist this talented (JM Ringuet) bring the world of Sparks to life. Honestly, if sales don't increase for Sparks and Diamond drops us, I will personally go get a credit card and finish it.
I believe in the project that strongly and if you want to know what an idiot I am, go rent Gamers. If that movie ever brings in any money before I die, I will shave my Chewbacca-like back and post it on You Tube! I'd like to get a few more projects in before I get called down to start serving tea to Hitler and Halliburton executives in the afterlife.

Jim: How do you write this book?? Full script to the artist with the layouts,plot only then you script after the art or a mixture. The first issue was paced so well and the marriage between art and script was a top notch job.One of the better jobs of pacing a book I have seen.
Chris: First, thank you, you're too kind, Uncle Jim.
I send JM Ringuet, our artist, one script at a time. At first I went overboard with JM and gave him as much reference material as possible to visualize Sparks' world, so I used a great deal of photos and one of the best sources for lighting, which is the movie The Third Man. Even though it was shot in black and white, nothing beats that movie.
I also sent JM about a hundred different film noir reference photos so he could nail the feel and mood of the book. And lastly, we made sure that where Sparks lives has the crappiest weather in the world.
But by the fifth page, I learned JM Ringuet doesn't need references. He's JM Ringuet; the man is a French God! Seriously, he alone will make all Americans love France again!
And for me, I like visuals better than spelling everything out and JM was really concerned and I think our editor Derek McCaw was, too, about folks wanting more dialogue. And I'm like, forget that! Do you see what JM drew and then colored? I'm just buying the book for the pretty pictures alone and it tells more of a story with emotion. Seriously, JM even sent me a guide to writing comic books by Alan Moore after the second issue, because, he was like "Dude, you got no dialogue in some pages" and I lied and told him I read it. But at this point, I'm like, damn, I'm not Alan Moore, I can't write like that guy. He's a legend. On a good day, I can match the writing talents of one member of the failed TV Show "Small Wonder".
Seriously, though, I view Sparks as my only chance to ever write a comic book, so every panel counts and if you can tell a story without words, then why not? If I want to read, I'll go buy a good trashy Dendrophillia romance novel. Think Fabio intimate with a tree on the front cover!

Jim: How did you get together with your artist?
Chris: Derek McCaw from Fanboy Planet suggested JM Ringuet and that was really it. I lost my comic book virginity to that Frenchman and he's been a great friend and he's really the heart and soul of Sparks. Without JM there is no Sparks. I think we could sell the book with blank word balloons and anybody could fill it in with dialogue and it would be the same. I learned from Mythology Wars how rare it is to find an artist that combines talent, ability to deliver on time and coolness. And he's French and I still love him despite that.

Jim: The DOA and Terminator lines are nice homage's are there others that I have missed?
Chris: I use to work for a public access station in El Monte, called KELM and the original DOA movie somehow lost its copyright protection and we got to run that movie like 13 times a week. Man, I don't think there's ever been a better opener for a movie and when I was thinking of Sparks, what the meat of the story was going to be, the original DOA opener kept coming back into my mind and it's such a classic film noir that it hooks you right in. For Sparks, there's a reason I chose the newspaper reporter instead, because the cops are hunting him.
And the line from Terminator was a little nod to one of my favorite films as well. A friend of mine told me that I used an Officer and Gentleman reference on the last page of Sparks #2. However, I don't think I ever watched that movie long enough to care to see if it's true. Not that I hate Richard Gere's movies, but I really hate all of Richard Gere's movies. I also had no shame in placing references and signs about Gamers the Movie and the name of my kids and wife all over the place. The R.E.D. G. that Sparks is exposed to, the initials stand for Rose Elizabeth Dedal Guillen, which is my wife's name. When you find out what the R.E.D. G does at the end of the story, there's a good chance my wife will divorce me. I'm pretty sure of it.

Jim: How long is this series?
Chris: Man, I pitched Sparks to Bill as a three issue series, but as I started getting into writing the story, I'm like, damnit, I want to give Sparks a full treatment. So I called Bill and asked "Hey Greatest American Heroic Publisher, how you doing? Yeah, did I mention how much you'll always be the real Sundance Kid to me, f***K Robert Redford, you did better in Butch and Sundance: The Early Years and hey, do you mind if I go eight issues, okay? Oh, you kind of guessed that? Were you wearing the suit again and saw me pacing around my house naked with a Slim Jim? That was just research Bill….yeah…
Well, I promise, Bill, I can do it in eight! " And now, I'm like at writing book five and I'm thinking to myself "I'm going to go ten or maybe twelve." I better start filling out a credit applications out in my children's names. I can hear the twins now: "Daddy can't pay for our colleges because he's writing a book only four people are reading…hey that's two better than his movie!" Wow, my kids are just mean in the future. Honestly, I'm trying for eight. I really am. However, there's enough to continue.

Jim: Did you think about going direct to a full blown graphic novel first as opposed to a mini-series?
Chris: From the start Bill wanted to go after a monthly fan base, to create good will between stores and readers and really try to earn their trust with Catastrophic. Bill knew it would be more expensive. However, if we don't bullshit them on quality, story and deadlines, maybe, then just maybe we've got a shot. A lot is riding on Sparks as the launch title, and Bill really wants Catastrophic Comics to be the "Pixar of comic books." So really, there's no pressure there at all. Because, I've been to Pixar Studios once and I made sure I drank the Kool-Aid from the magic well hidden in John Lasseter's office so I'm golden! FYI, Brad Bird hogs that well up most of the time.

Jim: What are your ambitions in the comic field?
Chris: God, I don't know. True story, when I was in my mid-twenties I went to the Santa Monica pier and my friend from out of town paid to have this gypsy read my palm and she was like "You will never be rich and you will never be poor." I was pissed off, I was like "What the f*** kind of palm reader are you? Seriously? That's what my palm says? How f***ing boring is that?"
So, if I can either go broke or get really rich in the comic book world then, bam! I will go back to that Gypsy and say "Bitch, you've been pwned!"
Seriously, right now my only ambition is to see Sparks get done from start to finish.

Jim: Any other projects in the works?
Chris: You know, I'm beyond fortunate enough to have made a movie, now write a comic book , and I truly think the only thing left for me is to sell Amway. How cool would that be to be the "Guy" who sells Amway at Comic Book conventions? "Hi, Art Adams, you're work is incredible, yes, big fan, when you draw, do you get ink on your shirt? I got the solution for that? And do you need motivation to work for yourself? Amazing, I have just happen to have the tape to keep your fingers working for themselves, not the "man".

Jim: If the big two came knocking and said what character would you like towrite who would it be and why?
Chris: You know what character I'd love to write for is Krpyto, Superboy's dog. I think I could put Pride of Baghdad to shame. You think you cried over a bunch of lions? Wait until you see my one-off with Krypto. It's a wicked twist to the Michael Vick story and you can call me shameless, but that book will sell!

So now I want to see that Krpto story, that book would sell.
Also go check out Gamers.
Thanks again Chris!


  1. WAIT A MINUTE!!! I never did Culture Club lyrics. That's pure fabrication. Rick Springfield (I wish that I had Jessie's girl) maybe but Culture Club... no.