Chris Eliopoulos / Franklin Richards Interview
Chris Eliopoulos is half the writing and all the art team on Marvel's Franklin Richards series for younger readers. Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius was one of the first books I found out about when starting this site. It is still going strong and Mr. Eliopoulos joins us now for chat:
Comics in The Classroom – Scott: Around here we like to start out right away with the hardball questions…like: Tell us about yourself and a bit about your history in the business.
Chris Eliopoulos: Well, I've been in the business since 1990, 1989 if you include an internship at Marvel. I was hired directly out of college to work in the production department at Marvel where I eventually learned the craft of lettering. All the while I was cartooning. I co-wrote the monthly humorous calendar and doing some drawing here and there that Marvel published. After 2 years I went freelance as a letterer and while working with Erik Larsen on his book, Savage Dragon, started doing a monthly feature in that book. Eventually I pitched Marvel the Franklin idea and it took off.
CitC: I'm sure that you have answered this question too many times since you began this series a couple of years ago, but how did it all begin?
CE : The former president of Marvel asked me to pitch some ideas. The idea I originally pitched was Franklin . He wasn't sure about it so it sat on a shelf for a year or so until Marvel started their kids line. I pitched the editor on the spot and while I was talking he called the sales manager telling him they had a new book. I worked a bit on it with an editor and we were going to do a full 5 issue limited series. Then it was decided to do a “test” as a back up to see what it was I was thinking of. Then they wanted to make sure that with all my work I didn't drop the ball, they asked Marc Sumerak to co-write it with me.
CitC : Franklin Richards has been included as an extra feature in other Marvel comics and in Marvel's last couple Free Comic Book Day issues. It is part of Marvel's selection of online Digital Comics and the first four issues have been collected in digest form. Was this what you two guys and Marvel were hoping for when you began? And how supportive has Marvel been throughout this whole process?
CE : I honestly didn't expect anything. I figured I would do 4 backups and stop. If you look at the current comic book market, it's not always kid-friendly or do they take well to cartoony work. To Marvel's credit, they felt like they had something different from the usual superhero offerings and continue to let us play.
CitC : I know you have early elementary aged children yourself. Has them getting older changed your storytelling? Are you writing the Franklin stories for a little bit of an older audience now, or does that not affect it at all?
CE : My children getting older hasn't really affected the stories too much. I sometimes go to them with questions about what they like or what is “cool” but I've been writing and drawing this for my enjoyment and the 8 year-old me as well.
CitC: I always thought that FR would work as a children's book. I don't think anything should change in the storytelling, I just think it would work if it was published in the printing format of a children's book…different grade of paper, different size, etc. This is a longwinded way of asking what kind of a response you guys have gotten from kids?
CE : We've gotten a great reaction from kids and adults. The problem is getting the book seen. The collection has been out, but bookstores are afraid to buy this because they are unsure what it is. I think they see the Marvel logo and think it's not appropriate for small children. The children's book market is a tough nut to crack.
CitC: LAST QUESTION: Where is Franklin going next, and what is up next for you? I know you are one of the big letterers in the business, so are that and Franklin the main focus' for you right now? Have your creator owned projects taken a back seat for the moment or is that side of things still going forward?
CE : Franklin will continue. We have a one-shot in September and another in November. Following that will be the second trade and my hope is to continue on next year with more one shots. I am also lettering a bunch of titles and I had a 6-page story in Spider-Man Family #4 that was all-ages friendly and was received well. I'm also doing an all-ages friendly 22 page story in Spider-Man Family #6 out in December. I'm also retooling my new website, miserylovessherman.com. It's a comic strip web comic about a boy and a couple of aliens. Again, all-ages friendly because as a father I really want to enjoy things together with my kids, including reading.
CitC: Thanks for taking the time to do this for us.
The newest Franklin issue - FRANKLIN RICHARDS, SON OF A GENIUS: MONSTER MASH is out on shelves right now.
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