io9 recently had the opportunity to catch up with Marvel Comics megascribe Matt Fraction (Fear Itself, Invincible Iron Man) and pick his brain about some of his latest projects, such as Casanova: Avaritia (his gonzo espionage series with twin brothers Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon) and his upcoming run on Defenders (which features a brand new team that includes Iron Fist and Red She-Hulk).
Fraction also filled us in on the joys of executing fictional versions of himself and hinted at the unfathomable danger in store for the Marvel heroes.
First off, Casanova Quinn is such a fantastic, idiosyncratic character. He's suave, mystical, transdimensional, all that jazz. Was he born from some sort of vision quest?
Not really. Casanova was the first time I had been asked to write a comic book with staples in it. I had written graphic novels and short stories before, but I had never written a monthly periodical. I was kind of convinced that I would never be asked to again, so I thought, "I don't want to write the world's seven-thousandth shitty Batman rip-off. I want to read a book that I'd want to read." That was the start of it, my motivation every time I write — "What would I want to read?" I love superheroes, but even as a kid, I loved super-spy movies. Other kids would put on capes, but I'd be wearing suits.
In the second issue of Casanova: Avaritia, we see that one of the parallel universe versions of Luther Desmond Diamond — a.k.a. the alter ego of arch-villain Newman Xeno — is a comic book writer who strongly resembles you. What are the implications of killing your fictional doppelgänger?
That was just the twins being funny. It actually wasn't in the script. My concern is that the scene takes place at a comic convention, and I didn't want the sequence to be mocking cons in any way. So, the only person that they mocked was me! It was an honor, and I took that universe out with me!
Casanova took a few years off between the second volume (Gula) and the third (Avaritia). To what extent did you have Avaritia planned out during this period?
I knew what the story was, but figuring out how to tell it took a long time. I worked on the script on and off for a year. I knew what needed to happen but just had to put it on the page. I had some time to write more comics and come back to Casanova, but it's a work in progress, and I'll have to figure out how to reinvent it for Volume 4 in a couple months.
Speaking of the fourth volume, word is that you have Casanova planned out for seven volumes — how's that process?
I know what the last word on the last page is, but it would be like if you and I drove to Los Angeles from New York. We'd know roughly how to get there. We know where the Mississippi River is and that we'll have to cross it. If we end up in Boston or Orlando and not Chicago, we're probably going in the wrong direction. So yeah, I know the rough geography.
Is there a Matt Fraction script bible keeping track of all your projects?
I have a lot of notebooks and sometimes I use index cards. It's a very sloppy, very organic process, and my mission is "Don't get bored." I do about a book a week, that's my goal.
Can you give us any hints about the super-secret 2012 Marvel Architects project that was announced at New York Comic Con?
I'll say this — there's a reason that Fear Itself, X-Men: Schism, and Children's Crusade are all ending around the same time. All of these moments are going to converge into this one giant epic.
Another one of your big projects coming up is the new Defenders series in December. What sort of tack are you taking with that?
When I began pitching the book, editor Tom Brevoort at Marvel began shorthanding it as the "Casanova Avengers." By the time Defenders is done, you're going to know why everything that has happened in the Marvel Universe has happened, why everything that is going to happen will happen, who's behind it all, and who benefits. It's this very, big, creepy, sprawling cosmic threat that they're defending us from, quite literally. It tells the story of "Why?" I can't believe all the crazy shit I'm getting away with.
Casanova: Avaritia #3 hits stands December 21; Defenders #1 is out December 7.