Word Balloon Podcast

Word Balloon Matt Fraction and IFC FILMS Matt Singer

Show Notes


On this episode of Word Balloon, Matt Fraction willingly debates the story beats of Fear Itself.
All of the tough questions are asked. We talk about the recent trend of the event story epilogues
occurring outside of the actual series. Why kill Thor, when he just had just been resurrected, and
is it likely he’ll be back in time for next summer’s Marvel’s The Avengers film?

You’ll also hear what’s coming next in Casanova, Iron Man and Tanarus: God Of Thunder, plus an informative preview of The Defenders. Matt expands on what we’ve seen in the Fear Itself epilogue, and how the Hulk hands this new Defenders line up its first problem. You’ll hear details on the team’s line-up, plus Fraction discusses his decision to write this book in a modified Marvel style collaboration with artist Terry Dobson, as opposed to the usual full script.

For aspiring writers Matt goes in detail about the different discipline of writing 20 page issues
compared to the former 22 page comic. It’s more complicated than just cutting 2 pages from each chapter of a story arc.

Then IFC Film Critic Matt Singer joins me to talk about this years slate of comic book films.
From The Green Hornet, The Marvel films Thor Captain America and X-Men First Class,  Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens, to the coming Adventures Of Tin-Tin movie, We’ll discuss the successes and failures. Plus we preview next year’s slate of comic book movies.


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  1. Man- Fraction was defensive.
    It would have been nice if he could maybe just see that something he did- didn’t quite work(aka blew)
    You didn’t hit a home run – you struck out.
    Just face it.

    I was hoping there would be a debate- maybe I would come around a bit after hearing more about the underpinnings- hidden reasons behind his decisions.
    But I just heard a lot of justifications.

  2. I’ve loved everything Fraction’s done, but Fear Itself was disappointing. And he totally sounds defensive in this interview. I don’t put all the blame on him though.

    Thank goodness Marvel keeps their nose out of Casanova!

  3. Is it defensive ? I did ask some pointed questions, so I’m not sure what disagreeing tone he could’ve otherwise taken.

    I think it’s just him explaining why those decisions were made. Like I said in the talk, Fear Itself is just the latest example of how events are being done, right or wrong.

    I think it’s great that he’s willing to give his POV.

    • I think it’s a great interview, John. And I’m glad to hear Matt’s POV. It shows how much of the way the book comes out is out of his control.

      The “event machine” causes a writer to have to compromise a story to other writers and editors even more than usual superhero comics.

    • I agree that it’s cool he stepped up to talk about it.
      I give him respect for that. And certainly a lot of Fear Itself is editorial.
      But at the end of the day it’s the writer’s responsibility to deliver on an arc.

      And yeah, he sounded very defensive at several points in the conversation.
      Inflection- tone- swearing.
      I have listened to some other fraction word balloons- doesn’t seem like he cares to have his writing questioned.
      It this many people are putting Fear Itself down-(regardless of how it sold) I think it would benefit him to think
      you know maybe they have a point maybe it didn’t work instead of so staunchly telling us why it in fact Did work
      and we just didn’t get it.

  4. Thanks Kellboy and Tom Swift

  5. I think he did sound a tad defensive… but he is writing Defenders! (hucka hucka)

    Some moments were kinda uncomfortable as you guys were circling, but I appreciate both the tough questions and him giving his take on why things were the way they were.

    I’m always a little bummed when every comic book conversation nowadays comes back to money bags, but (… wait for it …) In This Economy what else can you expect? People have critical issues with your book? “Fuck you! Look at the numbers bitch!” Don’t wan’t three Bendis Avengers comics? “Fuck you! Numbers!” Not that Fraction came off like my quote, it’s just that more and more anytime someone has an issue with something, instead of actually listening to each other, people just point at numbers and money bags.

    I’m a BIG norse mythology guy and I actually enjoyed Fear Itself despite the IFanBase’s general opinion. So it was cool to hear him talking about the Serpent and Ragnarok. Glad I wasn’t just reading into things.

    Wasn’t really that interested in the Defenders for budgetary/not my favorite characters/bullshit reasons… But I really enjoy the conversation about them doing things Marvel style. I love Dodson’s art and the experiment really intrigues me. I’ve decided I’m gonna give it a shot. We’ll see how it goes, but no matter what I’m sure it’s gonna be damn purtty to look at.

    • I think the “Numbers!” response isn’t necessarily intended to deflect legit criticism, but more to remind us that there are comic book readers that don’t post on internet forums. You know, one man’s “Fuck you, Numbers!” is another man’s “Maybe this just wasn’t your thing” or something like that.

      I was disappointed with how Fear Itself ended, but I don’t hold a grudge against Fraction for it, and I applaud that he was willing to discuss it.

      I was a little surprised when Matt said each new issue of Fear Itself sold better than the last. I believe him, because he’d certainly know better than I would, but still…surprising.

      I think an interview like this really shows John’s skills as an interviewer (and maturity as a fan).

    • I went and looked it up (I know I’m crazy) because the numbers going up and up sounded kinda whacky to me.

      For the first 5 months the numbers dropped. From around 129,000 to 91,000. That’s over the course of months, so not a radical drop.

      That’s where the craziness starts. He is totally right. By September the numbers started climbing and they kept on rising till the series closed.

      How does that even make sense? People are jumping on at issue 5 or 6? Buying more than one copy?

      I don’t understand.

  6. It’s difficult to be subjective about something that you just spent 8 months of your life writing. I’m impressed Fraction attempted to tackle the difficult questions and it was refreshing to hear such an honest conversation about the industry and about a book, such a short time after its release and prominence.

    The film reviews were also entertaining. Thanks John.

  7. beginning and end of interview: Fraction is incredibly overrated and should never have been burdened with having to shoulder an entire company event, he’s just not that capable, bottom line.

  8. Major props to Fraction for willingly allowing his work to be questioned. Why are people surprised he’s being defensive? I would be too.

  9. Great interview with Fraction. I’m not the biggest fan of his stuff, but it was interesting to hear him talk about the aftermath of Fear Itself. It was kind of sad to hear that he’s not making anything extra on Casanova.

    • Also the comparison of Thor to Bush is AMAZING!!! Great interviews as always. John-you should have talked about Thor in your Asgardian voice.

  10. I didn’t read Fear Itself because I am kind of done with events but this was an interesting listen.

    Just a quick question, John: I see on your Jinxworld message board that you’re recording a new Rucka debrief today but you closed the thread for questions after only one question. Is this still happening?

  11. another great interview, i really enjoyed fearitself, i could never understand all of the bad press it got, and i really like Matt fractions writing style, but like he said in the interview people are going to hate just to hate. So Matt great job on the fearitself event, and john keep up the great podcast.

  12. First time I’ve ever listened to a word balloon, you are a great interviewer John. I really appreciate your follow up questions and I think you and Matt had a very interesting conversation.

    One point that I found interesting is that Matt admitted he killed Thor because he needed to add some weight to his story. It’s like I know there is something very lame about that, I know it’s there, but I can’t quite express it in words.

    • thanks cutty. glad you liked what you heard.

      i agree with your concern when matt said that a character’s death is needed for a story to have some “weight”.

      the fact that these heroes are revived so quickly shows that there’s a flaw in that sort of thinking.

    • I think the flaw in that thinking is that ANY death AUTOMATICALLY creates INSTANT dramatic weight in a story. Thor’s death is pretty heavily foreshadowed in the early parts of Fear Itself, so it felt kind of inevitable to me when it happened. But the off-handed way in which it happened doesn’t seem to fit with Matt’s stated reasoning for doing it in the first place. Especially when almost all of us are aware of the cyclical nature of Norse mythology (and superhero comics in general).

      Love it or hate it, Fear Itself is a fascinating case study for modern event comics.

  13. Fraction’s constant talking over John and dropping F bombs every second made for painful listening at times. Otherwise the interview was still very interesting.

    The “numbers” argument is kinda flawed. A lot of people put their faith into the Fraction Brand name and trusted Marvel editorial to deliver an event that kicked ass. The faith wasn’t rewarded for a lot of people. So yeah numbers……but next time when you expect big numbers, you might not get em because your brand name took a giant hit.

    The Cassanova thing, shows how screwed up the financial side of the entire creator owned universe is. That was sad.

  14. Great work John. I’ve read that the great journalist is not the one to ask a tough question, but the one that demands a follow up. This was a great interview that lead to some revealing insights and responses from Fraction on the Fear Itself thing. Keep on the good work.

  15. Regardless of whether I like his writing or not, I think Matt Fraction is my new favorite purely from this interview.

    P.s. “DC just gave you 52 .1’s” best comic quip of the week.

    • I thought he was reaching with that one. Marvel’s point ones vs. the DC Reboot is an absolute apples and oranges comparison.

    • Yeah, it’s a great soundbite, and while Marvel and DC may have had similar mission statements with Point One and New 52 (Great jumping on points!), in execution the new 52 set a new tone for the entire DCU (and flat-out rebooting a few elements/characters), whereas the Point One issues were a bit more diverse in intent — some were the clean jumping on points Marvel was selling, others were not.

    • i gotta say overall, maybe i missed the point of the new 52, but i guess i w as expecting an actual clean NEW start.
      in a lot of ways, they just felt like an excuse to jack around the continuity under the auspices of reboot, sans an actual reboot.

  16. I always enjoy your chats with Fraction, John. I enjoy hearing his perspective on the world of comics.

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