Comic book fans can attest that it is often hard to find treasures among modern publications. We hold classic titles from years gone by so high with reverence that it often seems to be the case that the next release of significance comes as a surprise. Enter: Flutter…
Flutter was not merely a surprise for me when I read the preview issue – it was like a baseball bat across the back of the head. Delving into the context of super-powered beings, the new graphic novel dives deep into the consideration of sexual orientation and gender identity – a concept that could well place Flutter as the most important graphic novel of the decade.
This might be a bold call to make – but there’s something significant about Flutter’s exploration of this social commentary. While we’ve seen some of the bigger publication companies seek social popularity by uncovering that one or two of their characters just so happen to be gay; Jennie Wood and Jeff McComsey take Flutter instead and explore a more grounded and serious side that will resonate strongly and sensitively with countless readers.
And so after having my mind blown by the preview issue, I had a chance to shoot out some questions to artist Jeff McComsey about Flutter, who explains the importance of social context in comic books, and what to expect from the full graphic novel upon its release.
Geeks of Doom: Jeff, I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the preview issue of Flutter, your collaboration with Jennie Wood, and it sincerely stuck a major chord with me. We’ve had some major publications bring on board homosexual characters before, but the contextual framework of Flutter brings a deeper and different tone to exploring gender identity and sexual orientation – it feels like a new cornerstone in comics to me. Was this an important aspect to you when deciding to jump into this project?
Jeff McComsey: I love the medium of comics and all that goes into making them. I think Flutter is a good example of where comics can be taken in a social context and still be entertaining. I think one of the greatest things about comics in the last 15 years or so is that so many other voices are beginning to be heard through the medium. There was a time when it was either Sunday strip comics or super heroes but now the spectrum is so much fuller in terms of types of stories and artistic styles. For me I was excited to work with Jennie as well as taking on material that was outside of my usual work.
Geeks of Doom: The 25-page preview establishes the setting for the full graphic novel release, and is available online for fans to check out… but what can they expect to experience in the remaining story?
Jeff McComsey: They can expect some tense moments in the lives of the characters we’ve introduced in the first 25 pages as well as some kick ass action in the small town of St. Charles New York.
Geeks of Doom: Do you feel that Flutter has promise to become a series of books, or is the intention to let this single volume stand on its own with the messages and questions within?
Jeff McComsey: Jennie did a fantastic job crafting a first volume that can stand alone nicely but also sets us up for a long term story. I know that Jennie has a plan for these characters past Volume 1.
Geeks of Doom: I noted a couple of aspects of your art while reading the preview that I wanted to ask you. The first is that the line art seems a bit bolder than in some of your other work. The second thing I noticed was that the seemingly ‘threatening’ adult figures have a lot of “hard” geometric objects encompassing them in certain frames as opposed to the more smooth / freer feeling frames focusing on Lily. Were these approaches deliberate and conscious while developing the art, or did it just naturally evolve that way?
Jeff McComsey:Flutter was a lot of fun to draw. I’m comfortable doing character driven stories and I enjoy the expressive nature of teenagers. They don’t really hide their emotions but rather wear them on their sleeves, which is fun to draw. The adults in Flutter on the other hand are a lot more pensive and secretive so the two juxtapose each other nicely.
Geeks of Doom: Jennie Wood is the writer on Flutter – how would you describe your collaborative experience with Jennie on this graphic novel?
Jeff McComsey: Jennie’s awesome to work with. Jennie had a solid vision for her story and the characters in it which immediately came through in the script. She’s a hard worker who takes notes very well and is eager to do what’s best for the story. She is also a woman who possesses abundant patience, which is rare in people even more so in writers. It was a great partnership!
Geeks of Doom: Every artist seems to have their own take on how to undertake new projects. How do you approach new projects, and specifically what considerations did you keep in mind for Flutter?
Jeff McComsey: My first step is to read the script several times and get a feel for the themes and characters. After that it’s all pretty practical stuff. I start sketching my page layouts and send them off to Jennie for her thoughts. A lot of that is just making sure that this character speaks first so they need to be on the left side of the panel and making sure I’m moving the camera around to keep the page interesting.
Geeks of Doom: Jeff, I am a little ashamed to admit that I was a virgin to your art until reading Flutter. But now that I’ve come across your work, I’d love to see more. So, for fans such as me, who are total n00bs to you, what other works of yours would you recommend we check out?
Jeff McComsey: FUBAR, the historical zombie series of anthologies that Steve Becker and I publish is a great place to see my work. I usually do half dozen different stories in those volumes. We have two volumes out now the first is FUBAR: European Theater of the Damned (European theater WWII). The second is FUBAR: Empire of the Rising Dead (Pacific theater WWII). We have a third volume called FUBAR American History Z (all American history) due out in May and can be pre-ordered here.
Geeks of Doom: I notice that a lot of the work you have done, or been a part of, is much geared to reaching out to the audience. FUBAR, for example, has an extensive history with reaching out to fans via Kickstarter and so on. Do you feel these breeds of social media technologies have become game-changers for up-and-coming independent comic creators, and where would you like to see these fan-outreach experiences evolve into in the future?
Jeff McComsey: Absolutely – Kickstarter has done amazing things for independent comics in the last two years and I hope it sticks around for a long time to come. It has opened up opportunities for motivated indie creators that weren’t possible just a few years ago. As far as the future I just want to see more crowd finder comics out there in the world. More comics are always a good thing.
Geeks of Doom: So, as I was prepping some questions for our interview with you, I came across your Pulped Portraits web site – and I was so blown away I think you have just become my new hero! How did that come about, and if fans are interested, what do they need to do to get their own Pulped Portrait happening?
Jeff McComsey: It started as a reward for supporters of a book Jorge Vega and I were doing called BLOODY PULP. The person who wrangled for the most votes for a now defunct online comic competition site called ZUDA got their likeness "Pulped". After that I started offering them as commissions.
Geeks of Doom: As I was digging around the web looking at some of your work, I saw that you have a bit of an attraction to that addictive social news site called Reddit – as I have too. So, in traditional Reddit AMA format, let me close out the interview with the unavoidable AMA question: What would you rather fight – a horse-sized duck or ten duck-sized horses?
Jeff McComsey: As a Redditor for 3 years, I can definitely say 10 duck sized horses. I mean just think of a horse sized duck’s beak! That thing could crush a skull. I actually did an AMA when our Kickstarter funded FUBAR volume hit the New York Times best seller’s list and it was a lot of fun.
Geeks of Doom: Cheers for taking the time to answer our questions, Jeff!
The full 110-page graphic novel of Flutter has a street date of February 15 – March 15, and is currently available for pre-order. For the curious and interested, the preview is also available for reading at this location.