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From Gamers To Sparks:
An Interview with Chris Folino

It's on your pull list, isn't it?
In 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.

But 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.)

Tim 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!

Tim 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?

Chris 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 Gamers. This was before we had our distribution deal and daddy needed some new Lebron James shoes.

It was 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.

However, 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.

Or if 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 the mirror.

However, 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 JM RINGUET.

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 Hero Underoos.

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 of Sparks?

Directing two actors who left the business thanks to him.
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.

And 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!

Now, 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?

Chris 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.

Now, 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 doing all the work to tell the story.
I think 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!

Tim Watson: How has JM Ringuet changed your approach to the story from the way you thought you were going to tell it?

Chris 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 film?

Chris 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.

My only 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.

Folino and Katt at a signing, pre-shaving.
And 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.

It's less creepy than you think.

Tim Watson: If you were given the chance, what would the plot of Gamers II be?

Chris 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...

Respectfully, 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?

Chris 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 cool?

Anybody know where Taco Bell is in relation to the Convention Center?

Tim Watson


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