Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of the three-issue comic book series, Dead End Kids. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the series?
Frank Gogol: Thanks so much! Dead End Kids is about three kids in the late '90s trying to solve their friend’s murder. So, think Stand By Me or Stranger Things meets The Hardy Boys, but set in 1999 and quite a bit darker. At its core, though, Dead End Kids is about the very real traumas of childhood. These four kids all come from very different, but very broken, homes and find safety and stability in one another. And this is the story of what happens when the stability is torn away because one of the kids is murdered.
BD: What inspired you to tell this story, and were there any creators or projects that influenced your process?
FG: It was really two things.
The first influence was coming-of-age stories. I have a real love/hate relationship with them. There have been so many great stories in this genre -- The Breakfast Club, Stand By Me, The Sandlot, and so on. I’m a sucker for a good found-family story, I really am, but these stories never rang quite true to my experience growing up.
You always see at the end of these movies that the kids meet, spend a summer together, sort of fix one another, and then part ways, but that’s now how life has gone for me. I’m still incredibly close with the kids I grew up with and leaned on for support when I was young. One of them will even be my Best Man at my wedding in September. So, I wanted to write this kind of inverted take on the classic coming-of-age formula.
The other influence was that about a year and a half ago, I turned 30 and, for the first time in my life, I started to get nostalgic for my childhood. I really missed those days playing outside, building clubhouses, and having to be in before the streetlights came on. But the more I thought about those days, the more I remembered how not-so-great it actually was. My home life was not the greatest and neither were my friends’ home lives. A big part of the reason we all spent so much time outside and in the woods together was because we didn’t want to be at home.
So, Dead End Kids is me telling a coming-of-age story with a fresh take that’s more in-line with what my experience, and what I suspect is many other people’s experience, growing up.
BD: Why do you feel that readers will most connect with the characters and story behind Dead End Kids?
FG: I really think that, at one time or another, most kids feel like outcasts, whether it’s a socioeconomic thing or because their home life is troubled and they feel alone. On some level, we’ve all felt that. I think this is a big part of why the coming-of-age genre speaks to so many people. And that’s the kind of stuff I tap into with these characters--they’re a little messed up, but they've got one another and can be messed up together.
Dead End Kids is not a story about kids fixing one another. It’s a story about your found-family and finding stability at a time when you so desperately need it.
BD: What can you share with us about the creative process of working with your creative team, especially given that many of the members worked together previously on your project, Grief?
FG: Having worked with Nenad and Sean on Grief was very much a learning experience. Creating that book was my education in making comics and I owe these guys, and the rest of my collaborators on that book, so much. I am the creator I am today because I was privileged enough to work with them. And when I was conceiving and writing this book, I, without realizing it, was writing it for Nenad and Sean. I just had such a terrific experience working with them the first time around, it was like my subconscious was moving the pieces on the chess board to make it happen again.
I have to say, too, that they are the real stars of the book. They took my vision and elevated it, the way great collaborators do. So much so, that each time I reread Dead End Kids, I notice these little nuances, these little imprints of them, that truly make the book something special.
BD: What makes Source Point Press a great home for your series?
FG: Present company excluded, of course, I don’t think there’s a better indie publisher around. Source Point Press is more than a publisher. It’s a family. It’s a punk rock band. I’ve worked a lot of conventions since getting involved at SPP and the thing that absolutely sets us apart from other publishers is that at 60+ shows a year, sometimes in 2 or 3 cities across the country in a given weekend, our booth is manned by the people who create the books that we’re selling. No “booth babes.” No interns. The real-life people who pour their everything into these comics.
I see these people almost every weekend. We’re on the road. We’re sharing cramped hotel rooms. And we’re a family of people who all love one thing: comics. For that reason alone, I’d never really considered bringing Dead End Kids, or any of my creator-owned work, anywhere else. The other side of it is the quality of the books coming out at SPP. There is a genuine distillation of the indie comics spirit in the DNA of every book that comes out of this publisher and I, honestly, couldn’t imagine putting Dead End Kids out anywhere else.
BD: As Dead End Kids continues, are there any exciting updates or plans that you would like to share with our readers?
FG: Issue #2 just hit PREVIEWS this week, and it’s easily my favorite thing I’ve ever written. I really excited to see what people think of this issue, in particular.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about your work?
FG: For anyone who wants to know more about my work, definitely check out Dead End Kids. Grief is still available at conventions and through Source Point Press, as well. For a more direct connection, people to keep up with me on my newsletter or on Instagram.
In addition, here are the pre-order codes to share with your local comic book shop:
Dead End Kids #1 - MAY191908
Dead End Kids #2 - JUN191916