Gamers To Sparks:
An Interview with Chris Folino
just a couple of weeks, the second issue of Sparks hits
the stands. The first title from William Katt's imprint
Catastrophic Comics, the book focuses on Ian Sparks, a would-be
crimefighter in the late 1940s who finds out that it's not
the glamorous life he thought it would be -- and then some.
A couple of weeks ago, Derek sat down with Katt -- after
all, it's his name above the title.
your pull list, isn't it?
the guy actually writing the book with input from Katt is
Chris Folino. If the name sounds a little familiar, it's
because Fanboy Planet has touted him before as the director
of the film Gamers. (Full disclosure: Yes, Derek also edited
the book Sparks, and he has nothing interesting to say on
the matter; that's why this isn't HIS interview.)
Watson sent a few emails Folino's way, and this is what
he got back -- some interesting commentary on a title that's
garnered some high praise and good sales. Check it out at
your local shop!
Watson: In his interview with Derek, William Katt
suggested that Sparks came out of frustration -- where would
you say your inspiration for Sparks came from?
Folino: Bill is right. I was really frustrated
with my children for choosing to go to school instead of
traveling to the Tijuana border with me to sell copies of
This was before we had our distribution deal and daddy needed
some new Lebron James shoes.
at sundown while chewing on some amazing chiclet gum that
my life changed forever. For in the shadows, a dark and
mysterious silhouette appeared before me. The man was injured
badly; however, he still had a cigarette in his mouth and
with the desperate background of an impoverished and beaten
land, this shadow just burned an image in my mind and the
story of Sparks was created.
when a motorcycle passed by and flashed its light at the
silhouette, I realized it was nothing more than a poorly
made porcelain Bart Simpson doll with a cigar in its mouth
that was just so damn creepy looking. However, I'll take
the inspiration from whever I can get it.
memory is correct, it was a little over a year ago, and
delays were happening with Mythology Wars and at
that time Gamers was going nowhere fast. I'm talking,
we were in our second year of self-distribution and the
inspiration for Sparks was as easy as looking in
all the pieces fell together quickly, and my friend and
world-renowned comic book guru, Derek McCaw, who I swear
to God, I'm not dating or letting touch my MANGROOMER, suggested
Tim Watson: We keep referring
to the book as dark -- do you consider yourself dark?
Chris Folino: I'm a dad with three kids.
My life involves watching countless hours of Wow Wow
Wubbzy, Camp Rock and Bunnytown. I consider
myself a man subjected to so much goodness and kindness
that I have to feed the other side to stay balanced. Otherwise,
I'd be dressing up every day as Greg Page, the original
yellow Wiggle, and I'd go out give complete strangers a
hug...but without pants on or my signed Greatest American
Tim Watson: What? He signed your Underoos?
You drew pretty heavily from your own experiences for
Gamers; what part of your life has influenced the telling
Chris Folino: My biggest fear in life really
isn't failing. God, I do that on an hourly basis! My greatest
fear is not being as talented as you think you are, which
terrifies me. And Sparks is that guy and until
book six you don't know what the hell is going to happen
and you don't know if he will pull it off or not.
two actors who left the business thanks to him.
with Gamers, it's been a wild ride, one where we
had to seriously gamble on professional football to pay
for some of the music and to keep our monthly bank loan
afloat. It was truly pathetic and cool at the same time,
because I had no idea what I was doing gambling! And for
three months God really, really liked me and the Colts!
Moreso the Colts!
the movie has distribution, we just have to see what kind
of numbers it makes, to see if we can pay back the whole
loan or not. And if we can, then we get to make another
movie and do it all over again!
Tim Watson: Going from screenplay writer
(and director) to comic book writer, what kinds of adjustments
do you think you've had to make in your style?
Folino: First off, let's clarify for everyone reading
that I have a day job! Any idiot can make their own movie.
All you've got to do is mortgage your own house and max
out your own credit cards and some friends and beg.
Gamers was a dark comedy and Sparks is
a dark superhero noir. I just made sure that when I wrote
the comic book I did so in the dark and listened to a lot
of early Springsteen to depress me! Nothing like a little
Badlands to place you right in the mood of Sparks!
JM and Derek will both tell you I have no clue on how to
write a comic book. I kind of hate words, and would rather
see JM draw the emotion out. My style is to make JM do all
the work to tell the story!
all the work to tell the story.
Tim Watson: How has JM Ringuet
changed your approach to the story from the way you thought
you were going to tell it?
Folino: JM is the heart and soul of Sparks
and he raised the stakes for me in terms of bringing these
characters to life and forcing me to make a story that doesn't
suck. I've never spent this much time on a story, going
over it, back and forth, to make sure every panel counts.
Tim Watson: Are you secretly
working on a Sparks screenplay, hoping for that leap to
Folino: I wish. Honestly, I understand the opportunity
of a lifetime here and I just don't want to screw it up.
Because it's Bill's reputation and his checkbook. Making
comic books isn't cheap.
goal is to make the ending of Sparks Book 6 be
frickin' memorable. There are so many amazing writers in
the comic book world and I don't know if I will ever get
this opportunity ever again. So I'm going to do everything
I can to make the book great.
if people bought it, too, so Bill could make his money back,
that would be awesome. I just don't want to keep shaving
his back for him the rest of my life. FYI, Bill has the
Greatest American Hero emblem made out his own chest hair.
and Katt at a signing, pre-shaving.
less creepy than you think.
Tim Watson: If you were given
the chance, what would the plot of Gamers II be?
Folino: I'd rather be given the chance to work
with the cast and crew to do some other subject matter,
to be honest. However, since this is all bulls*** anyway...
Gamers 2 would see the gang all broken up and the
Iowa Farmers would be surpassing their record and Reese
would be the one who pays them all to get back together.
I would make sure to offend every race and religion in the
sequel. I want to continue that proud tradition.
Tim Watson: You'll be at Comic-Con.
What offerings should fans bring you?
Folino: I will be hanging out at the Catastrophic
Comics booth, which we are sharing with Illusive Arts Entertainment.
I appreciate the fact you think I even have a fan. Hell,
if I have any fans, I'll invite them to lunch. Taco Bell
know where Taco Bell is in relation to the Convention Center?