“There’s a level of freedom that just will never happen on corporate owned characters.” Joshua Hale Fialkov discusses The Bunker #2 and working outside the mainstream
The Bunker is a dark and twisted, self-published time travel tale from writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist and Joe Infurnari. With it’s split narrative across multiple timelines and Infurnari’s brooding black and white graphics issue #1 rightly made itself a home in last month’s Sunday Digest, but with issue 2 about to hit ComiXology this week, what are the real secrets behind the bunker and it’s cryptic messages from the future. We contacted writer Joshua Hale Fialkov to find out more about the Bunker and how he would react to a cryptic message from his future self?
The Bunker blends lots of different sci-fi elements, from TV shows like Lost, to movies like The Hole to the time travel ideas of 12 Monkeys and the Terminator, but what was the inspiration for you as the writer?
JHF: All of those things, to some degree. I’m a big fan of soft sci-fi, the type that deals with real world problems and issues but twisted through the eye of science fiction. Richard Matheson did this a lot, both on his own and on the Twilight Zone. For me, the question of the strange journey of my life was something I was really examining, in terms of my own happiness, my own failures, all of that. And, the age old question of if you could write a letter to your younger self always floated around in there. Of course, the sci-fi weight you put on top twists it in a whole new a nd different direction.
The story is very tightly inter-woven as the characters deal with their potential futures, is the story all planned out and if so how many issues of The Bunker can we expect?
JHF: We’re hoping it can go on for a nice long time. But, it’s really up to the fans, y’know? Joe and I have both a long term plan and a short term plan, and as we move, we get to sort of analyze and change based on people’s reaction. It’s a wonderful way to work.
How does working on this kind of self published book differ from your more mainstream work? Did you feel you could tell a darker more adult story by being self published?
JHF: Oh sure. I come from indie comics, so, the idea of going back there feels much like coming home. I love working for Marvel, it’s a genuine joy and a pleasure, but, nothing compares to working on your own ideas. There’s a level of freedom that just will never happen on corporate owned characters, and, as you said, we can tell as complex and dark a story as we want.
It has a very bleak tone, how and when did you decide to go down the monochrome route for the art and also landscape format? How important a decision was that for getting the look and feel of the book?
JHF: The landscape format was from the experience I had working on digital comics at DC. We would write the script in ‘full page’ form, and then the artist would lay it out to be split in half. The benefit being you get two times the pages for half the cost. But, at the same time, I felt like you lose some of the page turns and drama that’s inherent in laying out a page to work in one format only. So that’s why we almost immediately decided the book would forever be landscape format. As for black and white, it’s subtle but the book is actually toned just enough to give a bit of a subconscious reaction from the reader so they understand WHEN they are. It’s pretty subtle, but really cool, and 100% Joe being a genius.
You’ve published the first two issues digitally via ComiXology and also your own website how do you think the growth of digital has helped smaller self-publishers like yourself to get a new market?
JHF: I think had Joe and I not had track records and existing fanbases, our success would have been really different. Hell, just the fact that I’ve done so much mainstream work made getting coverage and spotlights that much easier. So, it’s still tough if you’ve never done anything before, but, comparatively speaking, whether it’s via ComiXology’s Submit feature, or on your own, there’s never been a better time to do what you want how you want.
Do you feel you can make more experimental titles without having to rely on a major distributor? Issue 2 especially has some very dark themes, any concerns about censorship?
JHF: Yes and no. This was a very peculiar set of circumstances in that both Joe and I wanted to do a book, not wait, and, neither of us needed to make money. Obviously, we’d both LIKE TO make money, but, y’know, it wasn’t a prerequisite, so the level of risk on the book was much less than it would be on someone who was solely relying on it for income. But, I think it’s certainly reminded me why I got into comics and what I want to be doing in them.
The use of time travel is a powerful tool, but one that can easily become convoluted how do you avoid falling into the traps of time travel cliche?
JHF: As a huge fan of the genre convention, I’m extra aware of all that. There’s a very strict reasoning for how things travel backwards, and, eventually, why they travel backwards. Once the Bunker is here, that’s the only real time travel you’re going to see… for a while anyways.
The idea of knowing your own fate is a very powerful one, but if you were sent a letter from your future self, would you want to know your future or would you rather be ignorant of the whole thing?
JHF: Part of the idea behind the book is that question, obviously, and the thing that I come out on is that there is no set path we walk down, and while I’ve had horrible things happen to me, I’ve also had wonderful things, and one doesn’t come without the other, and shortcutting to it would just steal both things away from me.
The Bunker #2 is available via ComiXology on Wednesday for £1.49/$1.99 or you can read more at www.thebunkercomic.com