Some titles get announced at New York Comic Con, and some end up discussed by default. Take “Point of Impact,” which has its first issue released by Image Comics on the eve of NYCC. Written by Jay Faerber, it also comes on the heels of the untimely cancellation of the critically acclaimed Near Death. So with he talented writer switching from one gear, to another (well, crime, to more crime, really), we chatted with him about all of this, plus the span of his career, and more:
MTV Geek: We’ll talk about the specific titles in a second, but one thing I think really characterizes your work is a crisp, clear pitch line. Is that something you go for? And how do you come at your ideas, in general?
Jay Faerber: I think it’s important to have a clear hook for a project — something that can be easily and quickly summed up. You need every advantage you can get to help your book stand out from the crowd, and a clear hook helps with that immensely. I think it’s especially important for independent super-hero projects, since you’re competing against Marvel and DC. You need to be able to tell people what sets your book apart.
All my ideas start with that hook, and I just build from there. Most of my ideas tend to be open-ended — my books are designed to go and go and go, with no ending in sight. So once I have the hook, I usually try to find the engine that will drive the series for as long as possible. That’s why I never specified exactly how many people Markham killed in NEAR DEATH — so it’s not like he’s trying to atone for killing, say, 100 people. Because that gives you some sense of how many stories you’ll be telling. I kept it vague so the book can go on
for as long as I want it to. Or as long as readers will support it, it turns out.
Geek: Okay, let’s talk Near Death in particular… I’m certainly sad to see it go, but why do you think it didn’t catch on? And do you think there’s a chance it could get a second life in the trades?
JF: I don’t know why it didn’t catch on. I think we started off at a disadvantage because our first issue launched in Sept 2011, the same week as DC’s new JUSTICE LEAGUE #1. So we were completely overshadowed by DC for the entire month. DC and Marvel are juggernauts on any given month, but September was particularly brutal. But past that — I don’t know. Reviews on the book were really good, but for whatever reason, not enough people jumped on board.
It’s too soon to tell if trade sales will have a significant impact on the book. From our initial trade orders, I’d say “no.” But we’ll how many times we sell out and have to go back to print.
Geek: Near Death is so clearly inspired by TV, yet its essentially formatted for comics… Was that the thought process going in? Or was it intended almost as a proof of concept for a television adaptation?
JF: It was definitely intended as a comic book. If that’s all it ever is, I’m totally happy. I think Simone and Ron and Charles and I put out a great book that I’m incredibly proud of. It was never designed as some sort of TV pitch.
Geek: In weird way though, because its such a throwback – and I mean this in a good way – I’m not sure it would entirely work for modern television as is… Do you agree? Or am I being crazypants? That’s a journalistic term, by the way.
JF: I think it could work on the right network (or cable channel, as the case may be) with minimal changes. I’m actually in the middle of shopping it around and going on meetings with various producers, to find the right one to partner up with. But chances are there will be changes, if it ever makes it on the air. And where it ends up will depend on what sort of changes would need to be made. Some outlets would probably want the serialization beefed up. Others might want the tone lightened up. Others might want the tone to be even darker. Adjustments would have to be made, and that’s cool — that’s how the whole thing works. I learned a lot about how TV shows work when I was a staff writer on RINGER. If NEAR DEATH were to get picked up somewhere, my job would be to try to retain the integrity of the property, despite the changes that would need to be made.
Geek: Your big new project is Point of Impact. What’s the idea there?
JF: Earlier I said that most of my ideas were open-ended and intended to go for a long time. POINT OF IMPACT is the exception. It’s a 4-issue murder mystery that starts with the death of a woman named Nicole Rafferty and the story follows three people as they investigate her death: her husband (an investigative reporter), her lover (a former soldier), and her friend (a Homicide detective). These three people investigate separately, all following different leads, and the reader gets to see the whole thing unfold.
Geek: Can you talk about your collaborators a bit? What’s the look of the book?
JF: The book’s drawn by a Turkish artist named Koray Kuranel who’s just fantastic. He does a lot of storyboard work and you can tell — his storytelling is amazing. There are a lot of silent passages in this story, simply because his art is able to carry so much. He also did the covers, which are really striking — they’ve got a great stark design sense. The book was lettered by Charles Pritchett, who also lettered Dynamo 5 and Near Death.
Geek: When you’re approaching something with multiple viewpoints, how many times do you have to approach the book from the outline stage, before you can even attack the script?
JF: Yeah, this required a lot of outlining and a lot of doubling back. The interesting thing is that we’ve been working on this story for a LONG time. Like, years. It’s something Koray worked on in his spare time. So I wrote the first draft of the first issue years ago. Then, over time, I’d write each next issue. And thankfully I had a pretty thorough outline to work from, since there was so much time in between issues — I’d forget what was supposed to happen!
Geek: This is clearly a format that’s appealed to writers before… What do you think is so appealing about the multiple narrators/Rashomon style?
JF: One of the things I wanted to try to explore with this story is the way we, as people, serve different needs among the people in our lives. We’re one thing to our spouse, we’re another thing to our parents, we’re something else to our friends. So I wanted to examine this one woman — Nicole Rafferty — and how these three people in her life, none of them knew her as well as they thought they did.
It’s not quite a Rashomon story, since we’re never seeing the same exact event from multiple POVs. Instead, we’re seeing different reactions to the same event. But I think writers are always interested in getting inside their characters heads and examining how they each view the same thing.
Geek: Looking over your resume, it looks like you keep swinging back and forth between superheroes and crime… Do you scratch one itch before heading to the other? And any chance you could combine the two?
JF: I think a lot of my super-hero work has elements of crime stuff in it — particularly the way the heroes try to defeat the villains. A lot of time there’s some detective work involved. But yeah, I think you could someday see me do more of a street-level super-hero book. Something more like a pulp hero, that would mix in the crime stuff more easily. But it’s not something I’m dying to do. One of the things I like about crime stories (in books and TV) is the complete lack of guys in masks. So I don’t feel any pressure to try to mix the two.
Geek: Anything else you’re working on? Things people should check out?
JF: Nothing worth talking about yet. POINT OF IMPACT is on sale Oct 10th, and with any luck we’ll see another new comic project (or more) from me in 2013. And in the meantime, I’m still working on TV stuff as well.
Point of Impact is on comic book stands October 10th from Image Comics.