The following is an interview with Eisner Award-nominated comic book writer and artist Ray Fawkes regarding his work on the ComiXology Originals graphic novel, In the Flood. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Fawkes about the inspiration behind the story, the creative process in bringing the story to life with Lee Loughridge and Thomas Mauer, what he hope that readers will take away from the graphic novel, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your ComiXology Originals graphic novel, In the Flood! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the graphic novel’s premise?
Ray Fawkes: In the Flood is a book about a loving married couple, Mike and Clara, who are separated by an extended, possibly apocalyptic rainfall and must fight to return to one another. Endangered by the flooding rains, they begin to learn that the forces that have driven them apart are more unnatural than they seem.
BD: What inspired you to tell this story, and what can you tell us about your approach to bringing the story to life in light of your work as both writer and illustrator?
RF: There are always many inspirations paving the way to my stories, and it’s difficult to pin any one down. In this case, I was thinking of a sense of creeping, looming disaster in both the world at large and in one’s private life – experiences I think many people are familiar with. And I kept thinking of a kind of trick that I always wanted to put into storytelling form: something like a magic trick, which the structure of this entire book is based on. All of these elements came together in my notes and led to the conception of In the Flood.
When I am illustrating my own script, the process is very organic, where one step flows into the next, and I iterate backwards and forwards, if that makes sense. I lay down a very strict structure for the story’s construction, but then the illustration work is all about tapping into emotion and atmosphere within that structure, so I will draw and rearrange pages throughout until I’m happy with the narrative. That was certainly in effect on this project.
BD: The colorists and letterers of the sequential art medium are vital, yet often overlooked, contributors to the lifeblood of a comic. What can you share with us about working with Lee Loughridge and Thomas Mauer and their contributions to the graphic novel?
RF: This book, as it is presented, could not possibly exist without either Lee or Thomas’ contribution. A great part of the narrative depends on Lee’s colours, which he executed perfectly and beautifully, adding an entire non-verbal element to the story’s telling. And Thomas’ design choices and lettering was absolutely essential to deliver some of the subtle cues – and some of my favourite moments – in the narrative. Working with both of them was just wonderful – a case of total “clicking” in the team, where everyone seemed to know how to help put this book together in the most synergetic way.
BD: At a time when our world is facing literal and existential disasters, various forms of media often help us to identify with and make sense of these larger-than-life experiences. Do you feel that In the Flood will offer these opportunities to readers, and what do you hope that they take away from the story?
RF: I would, of course, hope that my book sparks thought about the disasters we face, on any scale, and that people who identify with either of the characters in the story could see some empathy there, the feeling that one is never alone in their distress. But any story that provokes thought is a kind of success, and I always want that. It’s my job to create art, and great art, I think, always encourages us to question and contemplate the deeper parts of the world around us while it entertains.
BD: What makes ComiXology Originals the perfect home for your graphic novel?
RF: ComiXology is one of those strange, difficult to imagine places where an artist will find support for their vision, undiluted, and that it’s a thrilling experience to work with a publisher who is excited about unusual or challenging pieces. Not only that, but they offer a platform that’s unique in several ways, not least of which is the ease and rapidity with which my book could be delivered to readers, all around the world, very quickly after I completed it. From the moment I knew it would be published digitally, I designed it to be read electronically – so ComiXology Originals literally is the perfect home for the book – the book was created for it.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
RF: There are several projects which will be announced very shortly, but, unfortunately, my lips are sealed until then. Look to hear from me soon!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about In the Flood?
RF: That those who know me and my works like Intersect or One Soul will be happy to know that In the Flood continues to build upon my experiments with the medium of comics, and those who are new to my work are in for a ride if they pick it up; there is so much that comics can do with narrative that no other media can accomplish, and In the Flood is a poetic, emotional, mind-bending demonstration of that!