We were very fortunate to catch up with Frank Gogol and have the opportunity to speak with him about his upcoming comic book titled Dead End Kids! We’re excited to catch a glimpse of his upcoming works as it hits on topics close to our heart – in this day and age: The Kids Are Definitely NOT Alright.
Tell us a little bit about Dead End Kids.
Dead End Kids is a three-issue miniseries about three kids in the late 90s trying to solve their friend’s murder. Think Stand by Me meets The Hardy Boys, but more violent.
At its core, though, it’s a book about four kids from messed up homes who find one another and find stability in one another and what happens to them when that stability is ripped away because one of them is murdered.
I’ve got kind of a love hate relationship with coming-of-age stories. I love the idea of a found family and themes that deal with troubled children–these are things I can very much relate to. But I never liked how, almost formulaically, the kids always grow up and grow apart at the end. You see that in Stand by Me. You see it in the Sandlot. You see it in IT.
Like the kids in the book, I had a pretty troubled childhood. Both of my parents struggled with drug addiction and home never really felt like a safe or welcoming place. And the same was true, if for different reasons, for the kids I grew up with. So we took care of one another, just like in the classic coming-of-age story, but the difference for us is that, to this day, we’re all still friends.
So, the classic coming of age stories have never quite rung true for me and Dead End Kids is my take these kinds of stories.
Looking back would you take a different route than college or in the end was it still good experience gained?
I don’t think so.
I’m a pretty big believer that everything that comes before something was part of the journey that led you to it. I also think that while a lot of a college education doesn’t necessarily seem transferable to comics, a lot of it does help. That’s my take, at least.
You favorite authors to read?
For comics, I will read anything Rick Remender or Jonathan Hickman put out. Rick is doing some of the most complex character-driven storytelling in comics and Jon has one of the greatest talents in the industry for creating stories with epic scale. If I do my job right as a creator, I’ll be telling stories that do both of those things in my career.
For novels and literature, I’m embarrassed to say I don’t read much anymore. But I do love Pat Conroy, Michael Crighton, and Stephen King books when I am reading.
What would you say to those who consider comic books to be an invalid medium for “serious” topics?
I think there are a lot of people in the world who feel the need to belittle anything someone else loves to make themselves feel better and I would direct those same people to books like Watchmen, Maus, Sandman, and many, many others.
And that’s not to say that all comics have to be serious or topical. Some books are just really fun, and that’s okay, too.
We’re glad to see more gritty tales come out about how hard growing up can really be. If you have one take away for readers what would it be – one central message you hope they get?
Let me answer that question without answering it. When I wrote Dead End Kids, I set out to explore the question of whether or not the things that happen to us, especially as children, define who we become later. I think Dead End Kids, by the end, takes a definitive stance on that and if readers want to know what I think, they should check out the book.
Tell us about your process – How do you start a story? Is it generally with a character first and then details and timeline or do you tend to have an idea of plot and work characters into the scenes?
I always start with character first. Usually with some kind of change I want to see a character make, and then I work backwards and build the plot and the supporting cast to support telling a story about that character change.
The change and the character experiencing it (or not experiencing it) is the most important thing. Everything else is set dressing.
Some writers swear by it: Do you find value in the use of tried and true character development methods like the ‘5 man band’ archetypes?
Nah. I generally stay away from structures of any kind, if I can help it. I had one of my biggest breakthroughs in learning to write when I stopped trying to fit my stories into the 3-Act structure. For me, trying to tell my stories someone else’s way just didn’t work, and when I started telling them my way, something clicked.
What’s your go-to muse thing when you’re writing? The post-script writing cigarette ala Misery? Black coffee fanatic? Do you have an indulgence that helps fuel your creativity?
You know, I’m not really very romantic about writing. It’s work. It’s a job. And it’s something that has to be done with discipline.
Usually, when I get an idea, I live with it for a while and let it build. And at some point, I feel ready to start writing and I sit down and work through my plotting process and then my scripting process.
Not wanting spoilers per se, but with the way time changes truth are there any plans to have the characters look back after they’re older?
I can’t answer any questions about that until September 25th when the last issue comes out. And I’d really like to talk about that…
How can people learn more about DEK, how can they order it, how can they find info online, also any upcoming conventions fans can find you at?
If anyone wants to know more about the book (or me), they should definitely give me a follow on Instagram or Twitter or even my personal Facebook page. I know that sounds really self-promotional, but the truth is I enjoy engaging with readers and fans and it’s something I wish more creators did. There’s definitely something to that grassroots approach to making comics, and I’m all about it.
Dead End Kids #1 drops on July 24th. Initial preorders just closed on issue one (and the orders were really, really strong), but I spoke with the publisher and the print run will exceed those order number by a bit, so anyone who’s interested in the book can get a first print copy through reorders still.
The Diamond order code for Dead End Kids #1 is MAY191908 and the code for #2 is JUN191908.
Dead End Kids #3 is currently in Previews and can be ordered with the Diamond order code JUL192188. Issue two is something special and is definitely my favorite thing that I’ve ever written, so I hope people will check it out.
In terms of conventions, I’ve got San Diego Comic Con in July. For those readers who are heading to SDCC and who are collectors, we’ll have a very cool SDCC-exclusive cover for Dead End Kids #1 by Tomb Raider artist Phil Sevy ahead of the book’s release. So definitely swing by and check that out!
Watch the Dead End Kids trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMKfDhrO_wY
For information about how to secure copies of the Dead End Kids comic book series, please contact your local
comic shop or visit www.comicshoplocator.com to find a store near you.