Matt Fraction is a pretty cool guy, ask anyone at Metro. None of us have hung out with the guy to get to know him, but we like to think we have through his body of work. One of Marvel's prolific writers at the moment, Matt Fraction has his hands on a variety of scorching hot characters for the House of Ideas, including the X-Men, Punisher and a little someone we like to call Iron Man. Recently, he's been seen traveling to Hollywood to help Jon Favreau with the feel of the next Iron Man movie. 

Catching the store's eye and imagination with the Immortal Iron Fist revamp (co-written with Ed Brubaker), we haven't stopped reading him since and are proud to invite you and Matt Fraction to our humble comic shop.

He was also nice enough to answer a few questions by email for us, presented here in their entirety:

1. Did Marvel come to you to write Invincible Iron Man or did you go to them for a shot at the character?  If the latter, what drew you to the character?

There was interest at last winter's editorial retreat in getting a new IRON MAN book up and launched for the movie's release.  I saw it on the list of Stuff To Be Talked About and kind of made my pitch out of the room to editorial folks like Tom Breevort and Joey Q, and then when it came up in the room, I kind of pitched for it on the fly... it was a really odd way to go about getting a book, especially one as high-profile as IRON MAN but somehow it worked.

What drew me to the character was a life-long (or at least a fan-long) affinity for the character; IRON MAN was one of my first regular Marvel titles that I sought out month in and month out as a kid.  What I was drawn to, both then and now, is how, done well, IRON MAN skirts the line between super hero comic and science fiction comic.  That's what most informs my approach to the character and the work I'm doing on the book, and it's definitely what attracts me most to it: it's a science fiction comic wearing a superhero outfit...

2. From your four year career in comics anniversary post on your blog last year, you seem to have a clear idea as to where you’re going with a particular title while you’re writing it (i.e. when and where you’d like to stop doing WAR JOURNAL, the year you had blocked out for THE ORDER).  Do you think having a destination helps or hinders you?  Possibly both?  Cancellations aside, do you change your mind a lot as the end of a story arc comes near as to when you’re ready to leave?

Oh, always helps, definitely.  The only way it hinders me-- and I'm getting better at this, slowly-- is that I fail to adequately articulate some of the waypoints I'm aiming for in a way that benefits and protects my work at Marvel as part of a larger cosmology.  In other words: if I know I want to turn Iron Man into a fish in December, but I don't articulate that with enough advance warning to editorial, then other December books that Iron Man might be a part of may not reflect his new fishy status-quo, and ultimately that logic hiccup is on me.  Does that make sense?  It seems like a ridiculously heady way to talk about this stuff.  Anyway, for me it's about finding the sweet spot between just completely winging it and outlining in excruciating detail a year's worth of work.  

As to when I'm ready to leave-- I've been lucky, in that, even when it wasn't the ideal situation, I was given the time and space I asked for to resolve my books to a point where I felt like I wasn't abandoning ship.  Those're the two essentials to me: does it feel like an ending, did I say what I wanted to say, and is the book fit for another writer to come in without having to clean up too much of my mess.   

3.  What comics are you reading, if any?  Do you find it easy to keep up with event books like SECRET INVASION or have your editors been lifelines to the ever-changing Marvel Universe?

I'm BUYING a lot, but with the baby I'm woefully behind on a lot of it.  I do my best to read my friends' work first; I read a lot of Marvel stuff to stay abreast of the goings-on, but even then, with the scale of something like SI, I've really only had a chance to dip into the core books.  Being the UNCANNY guy has put me right in the center of all that, too; but I at least know in advance where that stuff is going. Everyone at Marvel tends to be really communicative with one another, especially on the level of editorial.

That said, the must-reads for the last year have been SCALPED and FEAR AGENT; CRIMINAL, POWERS, and most all of Ellis' output-- ANNA MERCURY-- ALL STAR SUPERMAN; anything the Hernandez Brothers touch; the HERBIE archives are as insane as had been promised; I grabbed my X-Collaborator Terry Dodson's CORALINE graphic novel he did with De Filippi from France over the summer... 

4.  You’re co-writing with both Ed Brubaker and Rick Reminder on UNCANNY X-MEN and PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL respectively.  Both writers hardly live next door; how do these collaborations work?  Via phone calls, emails, X-Box Live, trading rough drafts?

Lots of phonecalls and emails back and forth.  It helps that, in both cases, we were pals first, so it's not like we were blindly platooned together.  But basically it's divide and conquer; in the case of IRON FIST Ed always did a last-chance dialogue pass so it had his polish on it-- Ed uses "Dammit" more than me, and ellipses, which I use far less frequently than Ed does.  Took me a few issues to get my "Ed voice" down, but in those first... oh, four issues, you can see Ed's dialogue hand at play.  I took a similar role, then, on PWJ, and did a final dialogue tweak.

5.  As a successful independent creator working with a major company, have you ever come up with an story or concept for the House of Ideas that you’ve ever saved for a personal project, or even vice versa? 

No; I don't tend to parse ideas into those categories.  The book is the thing; when it comes to ideas I don't care who owns it.

6. How are the two projects you mentioned taking notes for, THE AMERICAN and THE EMPRESS OF JAPAN, coming along?  Both are historical in nature, what caught your eye on the two topics?

Frozen in amber, both.  THE AMERICAN will come first but it's research intensive and it's a pretty big story and I've gone and psyched myself out over it.  THE EMPRESS OF JAPAN needs research, too, but mainly in a trip to Japan to study baseball for a while.  

7. Your wife also works in the comics industry and is a successful writer in her own right.  Who is whose muse?  Have you ever thought about collaborating?

Man, she and my boy keep me going, constantly.  I dunno about collaborating; I suspect our working styles are just terminally different, but never say never.

8. Marvel Comics has been cycling through these major events (House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, etc.) nearly twice a year, with banner titles to carry us through the ongoing story.  Do you think you could ever take the reigns of an ‘event’ book, one of the big ideas that reshape the Marvel Universe?

Sure.  If I loved the idea, believed in the story, and thought I could execute?  I'd at least pitch it.  I mean, it seems like one of the greatest all-time suicide missions a writer in the comics mainstream could take on, doesn't it?   And a good way to burn a decade off your life through pure stress.  I've gotten to see what SECRET INVASION has done to Bendis first-hand... but when one of those big events works, man, it really works.  I gotta say, even if just to say "never again," I'd love to try it one day.

9. What did you do before comics?  Any horror stories from past jobs?

I worked in a comics store during the MARVEL VS. DC miniseries.  Dark days.  I got so fed up with conversations about who could beat up whom I didn't talk for like a month.

10.  Have you ever stood in line for someone's autograph?  If so, who and how'd it go?

I did.  Several, in fact, but my favorite story is about meeting Mike Allred.  And I just told him about it in a script I wrote for him. He'll be drawing part of GOD SIZED THOR, and I started off by telling him the story about how we met.  Here it is:

Hi Mike!

So, here’s a funny story.  A long time ago, when I went to my very first comic convention, I brought a small handful of books for one of my favorite writer-artists to sign.  Now, I’ve never been big on autographs, so for me, at a con, getting books signed was really just an excuse to shake someone’s hand and shoot the breeze for a little while, thank ‘em for their work, and pretend, just for a second, that we’re buddies, y’know?  Just a little moment, a slice of time for a tiny human interaction... that’s what I was looking for.

So I find my guy and he’s standing in front of his table, talking to a cluster of fans.  Great!, I think, we’ll just shoot the breeze!  And I waited there for like twenty minutes-- literally, standing there, a foot away, for twenty minutes, clearly waiting to say hello.  And I’m waiting and I’m waiting and then one of the guys turns to me and says, “He’s DONE for the day,” the message being scram, kid.  This was at, like, three in the afternoon. The guy didn’t even work the whole day!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was embarrassed.  I was kind of heartbroken, in that weird way that someone you admire can so easily and thoughtlessly crush someone that admires them. 

I stomped off, stomp stomp stomp, and threw the guy’s books away in the nearest trashcan.  I’d never, ever pay a dime for that guy’s work; I would never, ever again afford that guy any comforts AT ALL.  He had, in one dickish moment, lost me as a fan forever.

That guy? Totally wasn’t you.

But the next year?  I met YOU at HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC.  We talked about Madman, about Kyle MacLachlan, and how great he was in David Lynch movies.  You even did an impression of MacLachlan’s chicken walk from BLUE VELVET.  Your issue of SANDMAN had just come out, so we talked about that a lot, too, and you signed it THHHHHWWWEEEET DWEAMS, MATT.  It was the first time any pro I’d talked to ever personalized anything for me.  And I came away from your table on cloud nine, and you’d made a lifelong fan of me.

As a kid that kinda knew that one day I wanted to be on your side of the table, as it were, you gave me as valuable a lesson in being a stand-up guy in this business as much as Other Guy was a jerk.  Nowadays whenever I do a signing, you’re always the example I hold in the back of my mind; you’re the guy I want to be for whatever people I might meet on that side of the table.

So thank you for being a stand-up guy all those years ago, Mike.  It meant the world to be then and it means the world to me now.  That I’m writing something you’re drawing melts my face off.

Metro is super proud to have Matt Fraction at our store and hope everyone comes down to meet and greet one of Marvel Comics' top writers!  For more information on the event, please see our store flyer.