Seeing art by Francesco Francavilla is always a treat. His art and colors take the characters to a different level. You've probably seen his art on BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR to covers for FLASH GORDON: ZEITGEIST, ARCHIE MEETS KISS, in the pages of BLACK PANTHER: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR, CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY and a whole lot more.
We asked Fracesco to tell us more about his creation.
Comic Vine: You do a lot of art inspired by pulp series from the 30s and 40s, what is it about the genre that appeals to you?
Francesco Francavilla: As you know, I am all for moody atmospheres, and those series and movies had plenty of moods to them. It always amazes me that old pulp films were done in black and white and there were no special effects to grab your attention. The way the series and movies made use of mood, atmosphere, light and shadow made the stories themselves more intense and enjoyable. Plus you can’t beat the beauty of those old movie posters or of the old pulp magazines/books covers: single images telling a story and really getting audiences interested to discover more.== TEASER ==
CV: Where did the idea of The Black Beetle come from?
FF: I don’t remember exactly but it’s an idea I’ve been tinkering with in various incarnations and formats for several years. I always been fascinated with Egyptian culture/art, and the Scarab/Beetle came to mind when I was first working on the initial story. Combine that with my love for the Pulps and Noir, and you get The Black Beetle.
CV: What's the story or motivation behind the character?
FF: I am taking a little different with this one. I want the story to be some sort of interactive experience with the reader. I don’t want to say too much now that will spoil any surprises.
I can say, though, that The Black Beetle is a hero, even if he operates a little outside the law (think early Batman or The Shadow). He is the ‘unofficial’ protector of Colt City. It’s his city, even if the bad guys—and sometimes even the police—don’t seem to know that, but there are more layers to BB and Colt City that will unfold as the stories roll out.
CV: Do you feel more or less pressure working on your own character versus an existing one?
FF: For me, there’s definitely less pressure when it comes to telling the stories of someone that is your own character. You can play with it as you want and put more heart into it, which makes things easier. But there’s also more pressure when it comes to the “production” side of things because, well, you have to write a script and dialogue, in addition to handling the pencils, inks, and colors. Overall I am definitely digging it.
CV: Will the 24-page story be the beginning of more adventures for the Black Beetle? Do you have more stories to tell?
FF: I most definitely have plenty more stories to tell. Some are already outlined in detail; others are simply at plot or idea stage. NIGHT SHIFT (the 3-part Black Beetle story that will appear in DARK HORSE PRESENTS starting with #11 in April) is an introductory story, accessible to everyone, that will hint at things that make The Black Beetle universe so interesting.
I am halfway through another story, KARA BOCEK, that ‘aired’ on my Pulp Sunday blog last year and which I plan to release in print when it’s completed. And a few ‘lucky’ fans got a little taste of BB in the NO WAY OUT limited ashcan I put out a couple of years ago (now sold out). When it’s finished, NO WAY OUT will be on a much larger scale in terms of BB stories (full length GN).
And there is plenty more after that. It all comes down to how well received NIGHT SHIFT will be now that BB is reaching a wider audience, so make sure to buy DARK HORSE PRESENTS #11 and praise The Black Beetle.
CV: If you could do a crossover with the Black Beetle and any other character, who would be the best fit and who would be your dream team up (if they're not the same)?
FF: Given the nature of the character and the time settings, The Black Beetle could easily cross over with Mike Mignola’s awesome Lobster Johnson, if we want to stay in the Dark Horse territory, or more generally with The Shadow or the early 1930/1940s Batman.
DARK HORSE PRESENTS #11 is on sale April 18, 2012. For more on the Black Beetle, visit Francesco's official Black Beetle webpage/blog: http://theblackbeetle.blogspot.com/