Q&A with Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Q. What's it like working on a huge initiative like The New 52?
A. FRANCIS MANAPUL: It's a dream come true! I've been clamoring to work on this book for years, so to be able to take the driver side seat is a huge honor. To steer The Flash's adventures for this new era in the DC Universe has been daunting and exciting all at the same time.
A. BRIAN BUCCELLATO: It’s been a huge thrill! Taking the reigns of an iconic character like the Flash and reintroducing him to the revamped DC Universe was a rare opportunity that we didn’t take lightly. Francis and I were honored to be able to put our stamp on the character.
Q. How are you balancing making these stories and characters feel fresh and new while still respecting what came before?
A. BRIAN BUCCELLATO: The Flash is a character that has endured for over seventy years, so there was ample source material to draw upon as we designed our take on the Scarlet Speedster. We did a ton of research and tried to stay as true to him as we could when choosing how best to bring him into the New 52. Understanding the character is paramount to being able to respect what came before. We know who Barry is and that colors all of our decisions as we mapped out new directions for the book and lessons he has to learn.
A. FRANCIS MANAPUL: As a long time fan of the Flash, I do feel a sense of responsibility to strike a balance. However like Brian said, having done the research, we understand the essence of the Barry Allen. This allows us to put him in a modern setting and add our own voice to the character, but at the same time remaining true to the heart of the character.
Q. What would you say defines The Flash?
A. BRIAN BUCCELLATO: Barry has a strong sense of honor and a classic hero’s moral compass. He is not a tortured or motivated by guilt or a personal agenda. Barry believes that he was “chosen” to have this amazing gift and that being Flash is what he is “meant to do.”
A. FRANCIS MANAPUL: Barry has a very black and white sense of justice, and this world full of gray areas constantly challenge his ideals.
Q. What have you thought about the response so far for The New 52 and The Flash as a whole?
A. BRIAN BUCCELLATO: We couldn’t be more thrilled with the reception of Flash and the New 52 as a whole. In the dozens of conventions and signings we have done this past year, there has been palpable excitement and enthusiasm for our book and for DC’s courageous re-launching of the universe. It was a much needed shot in the arm that has clearly re-invigorated the industry. On a selfish level, it is an incredible feeling to have so many die-hard Flash fans embrace our take on the book, while at the same time bring new Flash fans into the fold.
Q. The Flash really pushes the boundaries of art and storytelling. Can you talk a little about how, or if you see yourselves doing so?
A. FRANCIS MANAPUL: The marriage of art and words is what comics are about. With such a small creative team, what you're seeing in The Flash is much more raw and unfiltered. Being a co-writer on the book allows me the opportunity to really push how we tell the story visually. Knowing what our intent is lets me do things in and outside of the panel that tell a story within a story. We definitely reward those who read our book more than once.
A. BRIAN BUCCELLATO: I think this is a natural outcome because there are only two of us working on the book. Since we co-write it, Francis does the art, and I do the colors, we are able to fold all of the steps into our creative process. We are both visual storytellers, so it’s not like there is even a decision to push any boundaries. The finished product is a COMPLETE visual representation of what the writers wanted because there is no loss of translation.
Q. You two work in two different cities in two different countries. How do you guys work together creatively?
A. BRIAN BUCCELLATO: SKYPE, and lots of it. We take advantage of all the modern means of communication…. Skype, email, text, and even the phone. We discuss the stories in great length before retreating to our workstations to do our parts. We also pass the baton back and forth, creatively building upon what we have talked about. There is also a ten-year friendship and a mutual understanding of each other, that gives us a shorthand that makes the process go smoother. For my part, there is no one I would rather be making comics with.
A. FRANCIS MANAPUL: The key is communication. Like Brian said, we use every available tool in order to keep our geographical location a non-issue. I feel like we're sculptors. When we write we pass the files back and forth like a piece of clay we are molding. What you get is a finished piece with both of our fingerprints all over it, without having to be in the same room.