Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your creator-owned comic, No Heroine! What inspired you to tell this supernatural, punk rock story?
Frank Gogol: Thanks! It's been a long time coming, and I’m excited to get it out into the world. The origin of No Heroine was really a few different things kind of coming together.
Criss and I, when I lived in New Jersey, used to share an LCS (Comic Crypt in Eatontown). We’d always been friendly and vaguely aware of each other’s work. But then, I moved to San Francisco at the end of 2017.
A year later, we were both tabling at a con. Criss and I got to talking one night after the show and part of that conversation was the idea of doing a book together. At the time, I didn’t have anything in the pipeline and I was getting ready to write Dead End Kids, so we left it open ended but agreed that we’d both love to work together.
That Sunday night, I got on the plane to fly back to San Francisco and by the time I got off the plan six hours later, I’d written the first script.
My love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my personal history growing up with parents who struggled with addiction, and looking at pages of Criss’ art all coalesced and No Heroine kind of burst out of me.
BD: Criss, how did you come to work together on No Heroine, and how would you describe your shared creative process in telling this story?
Criss Madd: Frank can correct me if I’m misremembering, but I think we were at The Great Philadelphia Comic Con two years ago, and we were catching up and one of us said to the other -- I can’t remember which one of us anymore -- that it would be cool if we did a project together. We both left that conversation liking the idea, but with nothing set in stone. Then, a few days later, Frank told me his idea for the book and I really dug it and here we are now.
The collaboration’s been great. Frank gives a lot of room in his scripts and that makes it feel like we’re creating this thing together rather than like I’m just drawing someone else’s idea. Frank’s scripts are tight but open in that they have lots of room to add and expand and really make this our project.
BD: What do you feel sets No Heroine apart from the vampire and werewolf-laden stories that have preceded it, and what were some of your inspirations, as well as the supernatural “tropes” that you were hoping to avoid?
FG: If there’s one thing that’s going to set No Heroine apart from the pack, it’s going to be the fact that it’s not really a monster story. There are plenty of vampires, werewolves, and other monsters, but No Heroine is really the story of a young woman’s struggle with addiction recovery and making amends for all the pain she caused when she was a junkie.
Our protagonist, Kayla, is not a good person, but she wants to be -- and I think that’s kind of her appeal. By the time the story picks up, she’s about 90 days clean, but in her recent past, she’s hurt a lot of people and even though she’s trying to do the right thing, that doesn’t mean she’s going about it the right way or for the right reasons or that she’s done hurting people.
So, one of the ways we approached our monster story was by taking the monsters out of the spotlight to deal with a different kind of demon. We also spent some time thinking about how to approach the literal monsters in the story with fresh eyes. The end result feels like something new and different.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Kayla’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
FG: Kayla’s story is something that I think can speak to anyone. Sure, it’s about a young woman who was an addict and hurt the people closest to her, but at its core it’s about someone who wants to be better than they are and that’s pretty universal. Who among us doesn’t wake up every morning and want to be better?
More specifically, though, No Heroine deals with the very heavy topic of addiction and the painful rippling effect it can have on those around the addict. There’s a big gap between our perception of how many people addiction affects and the reality of how many people it affects. Addiction affects more people (first- and second-hand) than most people will ever realize, and it’s something we don’t talk about enough. This book, for me, is one avenue for expanding that conversation. And we’ve seen that, already, in the people we’ve shared the book with early. Nearly all of them have come back to tell us that the book spoke to them because someone in their life struggled with addiction or that they’ve struggled with it in their own lives.
CM: I definitely want to echo everything Frank just said. Addiction is something that affects a lot of people. It’s something that’s affected me. I’ve had my struggles over the years, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bringing a lot of personal experience to this book.
No Heroine is a book about hope, really. I think of it this way: I remember I was in a bad place, but I got through. Drawing was/is a big part of my recovery. And here I am twenty years later talking about these things, drawing these things and if that isn’t a hopeful message I’m not sure what is, ya know? This is a dark book, but it has a lot of hope and I know that that’s going to resonate with people who’ve lived what I lived.
BD: What makes Source Point Press the perfect home for No Heroine?
FG: Source Point Press has been my publisher (and really my family) since I started writing comics. They’ve published everything I’ve put out so far.
As a publisher, horror (and to a smaller extent sci-fi) is their bread and butter. And I keep coming to them with these non-horror (and non-sci-fi) books about these heavy topics and they keep publishing them.
But now, Criss and I have brought them something that still deals with a heavy topic, but is much closer to the Source Point Press brand.
And all of that is to say nothing of how well SPP has taken care of me over the years. Like I just said, they’re my publisher, but they’re also my family.
CM: I never thought of myself as a horror artist, but people seem to think that’s my focus. After looking into the horror comic titles I saw Source Point Press and immediately started following them. I was hooked.
I’ve always liked that they’re not afraid to experiment or take a chance on a title that probably wouldn’t be published anywhere else.
No Heroine is a horror/monster book, but that’s kind of secondary. Our story is about Kayla and her life and her mistakes. It’s character focused in a way that a lot of indie publishers might not appreciate. But Source Point has been enthusiastic and encouraging about our direction for the book since day 1 and because of that we’ve been able to tell the story we want how we envisioned it.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
FG: Right now, there’s not a whole lot I can’t say, but I can say that I’ve got a book coming with a “2” in the title.
CM: A lot of things are, understandably, on hold right now, but I’ve got some covers coming up on some projects that haven’t been announced. I might also be starting to work on some covers for a book with a “2” in the title...
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about No Heroine and your other work?
FG: I’m on all the big social medias (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) but, honestly, the best way to keep up with me and what I have going on is through my newsletter. It only comes out twice a month and it has all of my appearances, info about the books I’m working on, and lots of exclusive material that only the subscribers have access to. I try to make it worth people’s time to share their email addresses with me. Oh, and you get a free digital copy of Dead End Kids #1 when you sign up, which readers can do right here.
CM: People can find me all the usual places -- Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. I’ve also got a website where people can see some of my work.