The launch day of The Bunker, a new comic from Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari is finally here! Make sure you don’t miss out, and while we’re all excited over this new epic comic, lets sit down and have a chat with Fialkov himself.
I’ve written before about my deep love for I, Vampire, and how the cancellation of that title really shook my belief in DC as a publisher. Alongside Saga and Hawkeye it was my favourite comic of 2012, a completely underrated gem of a book with masterful storytelling from both writer and artist.
You can perhaps imagine my excitement then when I came across this website, The Bunker, counting down to the launch of something from Fialkov and Joe Infurnari, the creators of my favourite strip, Homestead, from Occupy Comics #1. And you can read my advance review and preview of the first chapter here (go read!). As you can tell, I’m a little bit smitten.
And of course had many questions to ask! Thankfully Fialkov was more than happy to fill in the blanks…
There has been a huge amount of secrecy around The Bunker – what can you tell us about the story itself? What was your inspiration behind the (fantastic!) premise? And do you have it all mapped out on a giant wall?!
JHF: It’s a story about a group of friends who discover that their lives as they saw them are essentially over. If they don’t change who they are, there will be dire consequences. Like, apocalyptical consequences. And we get to see the story from both ends, so to speak. It’s hard to talk about without spoiling things, though…
The idea came out of a couple different places… First off, I love grounded sci-fi/fantasy. The way that writers like Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont (in both their novels and tv work) blended science fiction elements into our every day mundane lives is a big part of why so much of their work is so firmly lodged into our pop culture consciousness. Obviously, this goes double for Twilight Zone which remains my number one with a bullet tv show of all time. So, I was thinking about time travel in those terms. In terms of what time travel is at its barest form. A chance to change things. Well, then, what is the logical consequence of those changes… It totally screws up the previous people’s lives. At some point during all this rumination, I found a box of old documents… Lots of note books and scratch paper with random scribbles on them, and I had no idea what a lot of them meant. I’d left notes to my future self that, y’know, were completely useless… Except…
Unlike your print work across many of the biggest comic publishers, The Bunker is something that you and Joe Infurnari are doing yourself. How did you come to the decision to go it alone, and how has that affected the creative process?
JHF: Well, part of what’s been great about this experience is Joe and I are both experienced self-publishers, and, a lot has changed and gotten easier in the years since we’ve done it. So, I think we’ve both really relished the level of control and complete and utter freedom that comes with it. We talk about story, both macro and micro in a way that is just completely free form. Things shift and move and change every time we talk, and it’s always for the better.
Of course, some of your earliest work was in the indie market, Elk’s Run and Tumor, both award winning and critically acclaimed books. You have titles out at Marvel at the same time as publishing The Bunker, but does it feel a little like coming home?
JHF: Definitely. Look, working at Marvel has been an absolute dream come true. I’m working with some of my all time favorite artists on some of my all time favorite characters surrounded by two of my favorite writers (in Wood and Bendis) with two of my favorite editors. Every day is an adventure, and I mean that in the very best way. But… There’s a degree of letting go that comes with doing work for hire. Joe and I continue to tinker and refine and polish every single inch of the book till we’re BOTH happy, and that’s… well, it’s wonderful.
The Bunker will be available digitally both through your own website, whatisthebunker.com, and ComiXology. There is of course a lot of chatter about digital comics at present, what are your thoughts on the potential creative and financial freedoms that digital provides? And can we hope to see a nice collected print edition at some point down the line?
Ask me at the end of the week about the financial side. Joe and I looked at doing this book as a labor of love first, and a pursuer of profit second. We both really believe in this story and characters and that if we provide an easy way to check it out, people will jump on board.
I started in webcomics, then with Tumor, did the first original graphic novel for the Amazon Kindle, so digital is something that’s always been at the forefront of my mind. I think right now is the time for taking the opportunities we have and running with them.
One of the things I’ve noticed across many of your titles, including The Bunker, is the very natural diversity of your cast. From powerful women to just the realistic banter between characters, it seems like the portrayal of women is quite important to you, and that the characters perhaps come first in the initial plot building?
JHF: Thank you, that means the world to me. I’m certainly cognizant of diversity in my casts, and it’s one of the things with Bunker that I worry about. It’s a book about a bunch of white upper middle class kids, who by nature of their upbringing are just sort of screwed up. You will see more people of color as the story continues, but, we’re starting where we are for a reason.
As for women… I have a wife who is an amazing, strong, smart, hard working, ass kicking dynamo. And a daughter who’s on her way to do the same. So much of my life is filled with these two women, and their impact on my life and my writing has been gigantic.
But, even with that, characters are characters. Getting a chance to write women, strong and weak, smart and foolish, petty and deep is one of the real pleasures of what I do. I’m curious what you’ll think of chapters 2 and 3 which follow the two female leads.
In the first chapter we see some of the story take place in the here and now, and other parts flashing forward to several years AME (After Mass Extinction). Will other chapters similarly have both times explored, or are we more in the now, or even more in the AME? If you can say!
JHF: All of the above and more. We see the future, we’ll see the extinction event itself, we’ll see the past… We move where we need to move to tell the story. It’s an immensely fun way to tell a story.
From the set up alone, The Bunker looks to be a very ambitious and potentially long running series. I’m guessing that depends on how successful the digital distribution is, and what lies behind the comic having its own website too… should we all get on the mailing list if we want this comic to succeed?
JHF: Absolutely. We’re going to continue to do early access on our mailing list, as well as exclusives and behind the scenes stuff. Joe and I want nothing more than to be able to do this comic for a long, long time. Hopefully, the audience agrees.
Thanks again to Joshua for being up for this interview, and for the sneaky peaks at The Bunker!
Laura Sneddon is a comics journalist and academic, writing for the mainstream UK press with a particular focus on women and feminism in comics. Currently working on a PhD, do not offend her chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible. Her writing is indexed at comicbookgrrrl.com and procrastinated upon via @thalestral on Twitter.