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Interview: Brian Buccellato Discusses Foster from OSSM Comics

foster_coverProlific writer Brian Buccellato sees his creator-owned graphic novel Foster come to print courtesy of OSSM Comics in July. Joined by artist Noel Tuazon, the story follows a war vet who must protect a 6 year-old boy as they’re hunted by brutal creatures.

This is the first time the entirety of the story will be in print, as only the first five, of the planned 6-issue mini-series, were.

In leading up to the launch, we got a chance to talk to Buccellato about the series, and how writing it compares to his other high profile gigs.

Graphic Policy: For folks that don’t know, what’s Foster about?

Brian Buccellato: Here’s the catchy log line… Along the lines of WALKING DEAD meets TAXI DRIVER, FOSTER uses a hard bitten Steve McQueen-style hero and 1970’s politics as touchstones to create a neo-noir world with a frightening Jules Verne twist. The story follows haunted war vet, Eddie Foster, who finds himself the guardian of an 6 year-old boy being hunted by a shadowy race of brutal creatures, rising up from the darkness.

GP: What brought the project to OSSM Comics?

BB: Personal relationships. Omar Spahi and I have been friends for a while and he was looking for additional materials for his catalog. He’d been a huge fan of the issue of Foster that I self published in 2012 and so it was a natural fit to do the trade paperback through OSSM.

GP: I came to know artist Noel Tuazon’s work on Tumor, and I can only describe that work ashaunting. How did Noel come on to the project?

BB: Josh Fialkov (writer of Tumor) is another pal of mine, and he was nice enough to make the introduction after I had seen Noel’s work in Tumor.

GP: The project was initially released as single issues, why that format instead of a graphic novel?

BB: I financed and self-published the single issues and the costs prevented me from doing it all as one graphic novel.

GP: Does that difference in format change the story at all?

BB: Not really. It’s a complete story that I had always planned to collect it as a trade and planned for that as I was writing the individual issues.

GP: The story follows a Vietnam vet and takes place in the 60’s/early 70’s, why set it then as opposed to a veteran of one of today’s wars and in modern times? What is it about that time that makes it the needed setting?

BB: There are two reasons… one is practical and one is selfish. The practical reason is that I couldn’t buy the concept of dwellers in today’s social media/internet information age. But back in the analog early 70’s it felt plausible that dwellers could live among us and not be publicly acknowledged by the government. I felt it was akin to the mafia back then. I remember that people still denied the existence of the Italian mob and common folk accepted that. The other reason is that because I have a deep nostalgic love of that time and place because I was born in 1970 in New York City and grew up there.

GP: You said the story is personal to you, as you wanted to write about fatherhood, and the need to protect a child from the dangers of the world. What of your own experiences did you bring to the story?

BB: It’s mostly from an emotional standpoint. My role as a parent has been (thankfully) mundane and without major drama/trauma or tragedy. One memory that I DID pull from is my own childhood. During Christmas 1976, my eldest brother, Jack, took money from my mother and then convinced me and Steve (our middle brother) to run away from home after Mom threatened to take away all of our Christmas gifts if the culprit didn’t confess. So three kids ages 6, 8, and 11 jumped on the #7 train and ran away… to Manhattan. Being alone and fending for ourselves for about 12 hours in the big bad city inspired what happens to 6-year-old Ben in the story.

GP: I haven’t read the original release, and am really looking forward to reading this, but from what I know there’s a shadowy race of brutal creatures, rising up from the darkness. I can’t help but think there’s a metaphor in there….

BB: There certainly is. This story is about protecting you child from the monsters out there in the world… AND inside of us. The dwellers want to do only three things… eat, kill and fornicate. They are primal. They are all id. They are what we would be like if we had unchecked aggression.

GP: You also wrote The Flash and currently writing The Black Bat, and Detective Comics, among other series, what’s different in the approach writing one of those stories as opposed Foster?

BB: I always find these types of questions difficult to address. Each idea or property that I work on has it’s own world with a set of built-in rules. The differences are tonal and genre related and don’t change HOW I go about writing. My method of writing is the same no matter the subject. The real difference with this project over the others is that Foster is created owned and NOT a work for hire… so I didn’t have to answer to any other authority. When you are paid to write, it is with the understanding that someone else ultimately gets to have their say over your creative choices.

GP: Since this is an indie series, what’s the difference in working on this, as opposed to working on a publisher’s property? Is there a different relationship for you with the artist?

BB: It depends on WHICH publisher. Publishers differ in their approach and their editorial style. Some are more hands on, some are more hands off. In the case of Foster, I didn’t answer to anyone. So for better or worse, the final product is what I intended. As far as my relationship to the artist, I have been mostly fortunate in my career, and have had open dialogues with the artists I collaborate with.

GP: You already have a lot on your plate, any other projects coming up that you can talk about?

BB: I am launching a Kickstarter to crowd source funds for a transmedia project that will exist as a SHORT FILM and a COMIC BOOK. It’s a psychological thriller called Sons of the Devil. My hope is to launch the property in an ongoing fashion as a comic book series AND as a digital series. The Kickstarter will be going on for the month of June and I encourage anyone interested in my work to check it… and contribute mightily! :)

Here’s a brief synopsis for Sons of the Devil:

In 1989, the FBI raid the remote compound of deranged Cult leader DAVID DALY– only to find him comatose among the 93 murdered followers he sacrificed in a devil’s bargain. The only survivors are six infants rescued the night before the bloody massacre. Twenty-five years later we meet one of those infants…

TRAVIS, a troubled father-to-be whose rough childhood was spent in Foster Care. He struggles to cope with fear of abandonment and anger issues until a “chance meeting” leads him to his half sister, JENNIFER… and the realization that he has five brothers and sisters. Travis soon discovers that this meeting was not by chance at all… Not only is his father still alive, but he is determined to finish the devil’s work that he started 25 years ago. So Travis and Jennifer have to race against the clock to find and protect their siblings before David can sacrifice them to the devil in a crazed gambit to bring Hell on earth!

 And here’s an early preview!