Talking To Brian Buccellato About Foster, Flash And Fatherhood

Jesse James of Jesse James Comics writes for Bleeding Cool like an unstoppable writing machine.

During Amazing Arizona Con this year I was hanging with Spaz Dog Press just chit chatting.  Then all of a sudden Shawn says “I’ll be back I have to go get a Foster book”.  Well he said it so excitedly that I just followed him.  I cant remember what the conversation was or how it got started. However, the second I started talking to Brian Buccellato I knew he was someone I was going to be getting to know better.  Since that convention, we have bumped into each other at several cons.  Each time he always took time to talk to me.  At Phoenix Comicon this year I had the Honor of being a host for him and brought him out to the show. This wasn’t for my store or any marketing ploy.  In fact I didn’t even have him do a exclusive for the store or have him sit at out tables.  We moved him by his his friend and partner on Flash, Francis Manupal.  It was for the fans of Az to get a chance to meet someone who is very humble but also very serious about his projects.  Though, Flash is a big project for Brian I talked to him more about his self published Foster series. Brian, during his busy schedule, was able to take some time to talk about his beginning and were he is heading with his very own comic creation.

I born/grew up in New York City and went to school at The High School of Art & Design in Manhattan. I’ve lived in Los Angeles since 1994.

Did you grow up reading comics?  If so what did your read?

Absolutely. I grew up reading pretty much every Marvel book I could get my hands on. It all started for me when I was around eight years old… my mother’s friend gave us a box full of comics and I was hooked. Classic Ditko Spider-Man, Marvel Two-In-One with the Thing, The Incredible Hulk, Conan, Marvel Team Up, Marvel Tales… pretty much every Marvel Comic you can think of from the 70’s. My favorite comic of all time was Uncanny X-Men, and loved the Claremont/Byrne run best of all. As I got older, I followed creators like Byrne, Miller, Simonson… pretty much all the greats from my era.

Did you have any mentors or any classes you took to start your career?

Going to a vocational art high school helped me develop some art skills. But it was my brother, Steve, who taught me how to color comics at the beginning of the digital coloring age. As far as writing, I’ve taken a few writing class, but mostly I devoured books on story and writing technique, joined writer’s groups… and wrote my butt off for over ten years, working on the craft.

What was the first comic you made?  Do you look back as a reference of how far you have come?

Depends what you mean by “made”. The first comic I got solo credit writing for was Darkness vol 2 #21, in 2004. I don’t really look at it as a reference point because the issue still stands up (in my humble opinion). I do have copies of the first screenplay I ever “attempted” to write in 1996 and it is SO awful that it make me laugh. It’s also a great indicator of how far I have come. If you can’t look upon your past work and see how horrible you were, then you haven’t grown as an artist.

When did you say “I got it?”  Or is there even a time when a creator gets in a comfort zone?

It sounds REALLY arrogant to sit there and say “I got it.”  I know I have room for growth, but I’m also know that through hard work and talent, I have made myself into a good writer.

On the coloring side, It came pretty easily to me and I had the advantage of being coached by and working for my brother. When I started to get work independent of him was when I knew I could make a living coloring. As a writer, it was a slow and steady process… but when people started wanting to collaborate with me, that’s when I knew I was getting there.

You have teamed up with so many creators in your career.  Is there any concerns that now a days you may never even meet your fellow creator in person?  Or is that even important in these modern times?

I don’t know if it’s a concern. I’ve never met or even talked to Noel Tuazon  who draws Foster for me… but we correspond through email and I feel like I do know him personally. At the end of the day, I’m sure our paths will cross… but it’s not something that troubles me. This is the world we live in.

We have bumped into each other quite a few times this year at conventions.  How important do you feel attending these cons are both to your career and connecting to your fans?

It’s essential. Comic creators are in the unique position to be able to directly interact with the people who are responsible for keeping us employed. The intimate nature of the comic industry allows us to really connect with and foster fans that will endure throughout our careers. Comic fans are passionate and opinionated… and they are also fiercely loyal. When I go to cons, I feel like I am building relationships one fan at a time. I’ve only been at this since Flash was announced one year ago, and I am thrilled with the “fan base” that I have fostered. All you have to do is create good product, go to conventions and interact with fans… and NOT be a jerk about it. It’s not hard… just be genuine with people and they will get your back.

What are your thoughts on Kickstarter and is it for everybody?

As someone that has successfully done a kickstarter campaign ($8,111 for my FOSTER ANTHOLOGY), I can’t say enough great things about it. It’s an amazing vehicle to get projects off the ground, create interest, and even offer an avenue to “pre-sell” product to help finance projects. As long as the creators keep up their end of the deal, I think it’s an amazing opportunity for everyone with the fortitude to realize their dreams. I have some pretty crazy aspirations with my creator-owned book and hope to be able to raise BIG BUCKS through kickstarter, so I can finance FOSTER as a live action web-series.

How long did it take for your to create Foster? How much research was needed using a war veteran?

Hmmmm… it only took me a week or so to come up with the idea and flesh out the first arc (6 issues). As far as making that initially pitch a reality, it took me half a year to go from idea to printed comic. As far as research, I’ve researched war veterans before, so there wasn’t any new research needed to create Eddie Foster. Fatherhood is at the heart of the story, and all I did was draw upon my own feelings as a parent.

Living in a such an advanced world now, was it hard to write a world that has none of the high tech amenities we are surrounded by on a daily basis?

No. It’s actually much easier, when you consider how many plots can be shredded by technology. My favorite movies are all from the late 60’s and 70’s… but if you put them in modern times, some of the logic couldn’t possibly bear out. Cell phones, CSI, the internet, social media… these are all things that can really screw up a good story. Think about Casablanca… how far would a couple “letters of transit” get you today? I purposely set Foster in “Vintage City” which is like 1974 New York because I love movies of that time period, and because I didn’t wanna deal with all the modern tech junk. Let’s face it, in a world with the internet it would be very difficult to conceal the existence of “dwellers”.

How did you pick your team for this project?

Well, considering I’m the creator/writer/colorist/publisher, there weren’t many other available jobs on this team. I really only needed an artist and letter to make this thing happen. The letterer was easy… I’m friends with Troy Peteri and he agreed to do it without any convincing. As far as the artist, I asked my pal Rob Levin (a freelance writer and editor) to recommend some names in my budget range. He gave me a list and I like Noel Tuazon the best for this project. Luckily he was more than happy to jump on board.

Is this an ongoing saga? Or do you plan to split it up into separate series over time?

From the outset, I intended Foster to be an ongoing series IF it was financially feasible to do it. The jury is still out on that, but I am committed to doing a minimum of 7 issues to finish the first story arc. Self-publishing in addition to my DC coloring and writing work creates an enormous workload, so I can see a scenario where I finish the first arc… and then take a moment to catch my breath before launching a second Foster limited series. I guess that’s more of the Hellboy model. I’d rather go the monthly route, but I recognize that it may not work out that way.

How much of this series translates into real life?

This series is an attempt to write about fatherhood and my relationship with my son. So in that sense I draw a LOT from my own life and my feelings about the responsibility of being a parent and protecting my son from the monsters out there in the world.

Is there more pressure doing a create your own book then working with a major publisher?

I’m not sure that pressure describes the difference. When you are creating and self publishing, EVERYTHING is on you. The upside is that you get to do the book the way you want. The downside is that there will be less of an audience and a smaller chance for success due to the relative obscurity of the project. There is far more exposure working for a major publisher, but the trade-off is that you have to answer to the editorial staff and the publishers. I feel REALLY honored to be able to operate in both worlds at the same time. I enjoy doing mainstream comics and playing in someone else’s sandbox (the Flash Universe)… and I also enjoy the autonomy of doing Foster exactly the way I want to.

Yes you do Flash, but how does it feel when someone comes up with Foster to have you sign it?

It’s a different type of satisfaction. When people come up to me with Flash books, I feel a sense of approval in so far as Francis and I have passed the test of writing a beloved and well established character. When I get a Foster to sign I feel validated that my unfilitered ideas resonate with others. There is little to no “built in” audience with Foster to rely on, so any Foster fan is one that I earned through hard work and collaboration with Noel.

Three creators you would love to work with?

Rafael Albuquerque, David Mazzucchelli, and Darwyn Cooke.

Any up coming Projects you can tell the B.C. Fans about?

I do have one going with a publisher that is NOT Marvel or DC… but I can’t talk about it, yet.

Your advice to a new creators starting out?

Work hard, don’t stop, develop a thick skin, and learn how to accept and interpret criticism. If you put work out there to be judged, don’t make excuses after the fact. If you are not a hundred percent about your work, don’t put it out there. Improve until you are satisfied… listen to what others have to say, and be okay with the results. Most of all… don’t half ass it and don’t give up. Remember that people succeed when they are willing to do what it takes to creatively.

Where can we keep updated with your career?

I’m always on facebook and twitter @brianbooch. I also have a website where you can order my book FOSTER and keep up to date with all things Brian.  

Finally, how does it feel to be one of the few Creators who has credits on the IMBd movie website?

It’s gonna feel a whole lot better when one of those credits is for writing and/or directing a feature film or television series…

 


Jesse James


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