Interview - Shawn Gabborin and Chad Cicconi

There are surely times when Superman wakes up and hates the fact that he has to go to work at the Daily Planet. Or when Bruce Wayne just wants to enjoy a drink instead of fighting for vengeance.

Superheroes are tasked with being just that, both super and heroes. It's usually a choice, accompanied by some ominous line like Uncle Ben's "with great power comes great responsibility." Some superheroes though don't realize they're being heroes or villains. It's more that they can't remember.

Fracture Volume 1 follows Jeff, a man with multiple personalities ranging on the do-gooder scale. Writer Shawn Gabborin and artist Chad Cicconi are hard at work on the second volume, but took some time out to answer a few questions about Jeff, Kyle, hero colors and an array of other topics.

Omnicomic: Where did you come up with the idea for Fracture?

Shawn Gabborin: It started simple enough… just a single scene really. One night, half asleep in bed (when most of my stories hit), the thought popped into my head of a man waking up to find himself dressed as a superhero flying over the city, with no idea how he was doing it… and therefore crashing to the ground. The idea of a normal guy being thrust into this situation was very interesting to me, so I got out of bed and started writing. By the time I was done writing down that one scene, I had already decided to add a villainous personality to ramp up the crazy our “normal guy” would have to deal with.

Something I decided early was I wanted tell the story different than most superhero books. I didn’t want to do your standard “we watch guy, guy turns into hero, we watch hero” storytelling. So the majority of volume 1 is told from Jeff’s point-of-view. We don’t see much of Virtue and Malice as characters, just the aftermath Jeff wakes up to. I think that gives the book a different tone than most superhero fare. It pulls you into these situations just as jarringly as Jeff is pulled into them.

Chad Cicconi: Well, I'm not the writer, so I can't speak to the idea for the book itself. I have done the character designs, so I can speak to that.

The idea for Virtue's design was that it had to be a classic, almost stereotypical superhero trope. The letter on the cowl, the red and blue colors, and the cape all played into this notion. If you notice in the original superheroes we all grew up on, reds and blues were "hero" colors, while greens and purples were villain colors.

Spider-man, Superman, Wonder Woman all follow this model, which can also be seen in villains like the Vulture, Lex Luthor, and others. So we followed the model to give an almost subconscious clue about what these characters were all about. Remember, "Virtue" is a creation of Jeff's subconscious, so I figured these tropes would be what he was drawn to, almost involuntarily. So the designs were simple and stereo-typical, by intention.

As for the look and feel of the art, I think Shawn felt my style would work for this book because on the surface he wanted the book to look like a classic, Bronze Age superhero comic while underneath being this psychological study of Jeff's mind. My style tends towards that Bronze Age ideal, with clean lines, not too heavy on the spotted blacks, and simple story-telling.

Omnicomic: A lot of superhero comics rely on the dual identity aspect of it to tell two sort of simultaneous stories. That is, the secret identity and the hero grow in their own ways. How do you see someone like Jeff with split personalities being both the hero and the villain coming to terms with that idea? Do they grow in tandem with one another?

Gabborin: I’d say Jeff does more growing than the fractures, but all his growing stems from the situations they get him into (at least at first). At the beginning of the story, Jeff is the ideal lay-about. But when he becomes aware of the fractures, he’s suddenly thrust into the world of capes and tights, on both sides of the fence! It’s hard not to grow in that situation.

That’s not to say that Virute and Malice don’t do some growing of their own. But since Volume 1 is primarily viewed through Jeff’s eyes, Virtue and Malice are peripheral for 90% of the story. I don’t want to give anything away, but there is a lot more growth for the fractures as characters in Volume 2.

Cicconi: In my view Jeff's story is the central one, with Virtue (and other "fracture" personalities) circling around his core. In Volume 2 (or at least what I've been drawing so far) both Jeff and his "Virtue" fracture Brian are growing -- and in distinctly different directions, which will lead to some interesting and potentially dangerous results.

And the story becomes even more complex in volume 2 with the emergence of even more "fractures" Jeff has to identify and try to deal with. As we saw in Volume I, with Jeff, Virtue, and Malice all co-existing in Jeff's mind, there are more than two identities at play. We learn this time around that it's even more crowded in there that either we or Jeff realized.

Omnicomic: How do you balance the page time among Jeff, Malice and Virtue (and Brian)?

Gabborin: Well, Virtue and Malice don’t have much page time as themselves. Most of what we learn about them is from the reaction of other characters and the situations they leave Jeff in. In a way that made the balancing flow more naturally for me. I could focus on Jeff’s story, but the situations still gave you a feel for both Virtue and Malice, without having to worry about counting pages.

Cicconi: When I'm drawing the pages, I try to treat each as a separate character, and give each one his own focus, action moments, dialogue beats, etc.

Omnicomic: What's the deal with Kyle? Does he play a bigger role in the next volume?

Cicconi: I don't want to give away too much, but the story in Volume 2 so far is evolving in a different direction than following Kyle's story for the time being. I think Shawn has plans to eventually see Kyle again, but I think the plan is to let that mystery build a while before we get a payoff on that storyline.

Gabborin: I love Kyle!

He’s had a simple life, like most of us… so (in Volume 1) when he finds a way he thinks he can make it better, he latches on. I can’t say when you’ll see him again, but I’m not through with Kyle. He needs to marinate for a bit.

Omnicomic: What can readers find in Fraction Volume 1? Will there be any extras, like artwork, storyboards, etc.?

Cicconi: The initial trade paperback volume of FRACTURE contains all the story pages of issues 1-3, at "digest" size. Depending on the sales and reaction to this volume, there may be plans for a later release of a full size/deluxe trade paperback with all the extras and even some bonus material, but I'm not sure of the timing of that at this time.

Gabborin: Chad hit this answer right on the head.

Omnicomic: In Volume 2, will Jeff attempt to reconcile the personalities? Is that something even possible within the context of the Fracture universe?

Cicconi: Again, Shawn will have to let you know what his long term plans are for Jeff, but in Volume 2, Jeff is trying his best to identify and isolate his various "Fractures" so they don't overwhelm him. He seeks the help of a new supporting character, who is an ex-supervillain/mad scientist who is able to identify Jeff's fractures, and attempts to help Jeff control them -- not always successfully.

Gabborin: It’s certainly something he’s going to try. We introduce some new fractures (as well as supporting cast) in volume 2. Part of the difficulty Jeff faces is trying to contain the fractures before they can cause too much trouble.

Omnicomic: Will it be revealed in Volume 2 how Jeff gained his powers?

Gabborin: It depends on how close you look. I think if you read between the lines, you may have an “idea” of how it happened by the end of Volume 2… but the actual origin won’t be revealed just yet.

Cicconi: I don't believe Jeff's origin is revealed "on page" in Volume 2, but we do gain additional clues into Jeff's legacy, and some tantalizing tidbits that suggest this phenomenon may not have begun with Jeff.

Omnicomic: Anything else you're working on?

Gabborin: Being editor-in-chief of Action Lab keeps me pretty busy. We have a lot of great stuff coming down the line that I’m working with various creators on… editing scripts and such.

I also run a small comic company with my wife Stephanie called Angry Gnome Comics ( I’ve always loved horror as a genre, and Angry Gnome is my outlet to write horror stories (with my wife drawing them). We also publish a comic called Short Stack, which is a horror anthology I write, that has allowed me to publish artwork from nearly 80 artists from around the world!

Cicconi: In addition to working on FRACTURE, I recently also pencilled an issue of GLOBWORLD, an all ages book with an anti-bullying message, released as a digital exclusive from Action Lab. It is available through, My Digital Comics, Drive Thru Comics, as a direct purchase from Action Lab's website ( and soon via Comics+ on the iPad.

Also, besides my comic book work, I'm also a sketch card artist, and I've worked on a number of pro sketch card sets from 5Finity, Versicolor Productions, and Cryptozoic in the past couple of years. I'm working on two sets right now -- Kitty Ditties and Pretty Ladies from 5Finity, and DC's New 52 from Cryptozoic. I'm quite excited about the DC New 52 project, as this is the first time I'll be working professionally on characters from the "Big 2."

Omnicomic: Where do you see the digital trend in comics taking the industry? Is digital a good thing for comics?

Gabborin: Sure, I think digital is a good thing for the comics industry. It’s got a broader reach, which certainly can’t hurt. But I personally will always prefer hard copies. There’s something to sitting down with an actual comic in my hands that I just love. Honestly, when I write I still do a good bit of my plotting by hand in composition notebooks before ever touching a keyboard.

Cicconi: I have high hopes that digital comics will open up comic books to a much wider audience than those of us who visit "Brick and Mortar" comic shops every week. With the ease of purchases and the expanding growth of tablet devices like the Ipad, the conditions seem open to actually GROW the comic book audience for the first time in years. With the dwindling audience, I don't think the comics industry has a choice but to try to embrace new technologies and try to expand its readership base.

I'm an iPad user, and I love the ipad as a comic viewing platform. I still love holding a book in my hands, but I think the larger tablets are getting pretty darn close to being a full and complete comic book reading experience, and since I don't have room in my home to store longboxes, I am purchasing more and more comics digitally. At present, I don't really buy any single issues in hard copy form any more. I do still buy trade paperbacks and plan to continue that, but most of my single issue purchases are now digital.

Omnicomic: What conventions do you plan on making appearances at this year?

Gabborin: I’m in talks to do an appearance for Free Comic Book Day at a local store and will be at the Pittsburgh Indy Expo. Unfortunately, that’s all for me this year.

Cicconi: I will be making a Free Comic Book Day appearance at Pittsburgh Comics in McMurray, PA. Also in 2012, I'll be representing Action Lab at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC, the Baltimore Comic Con, Mid-Ohio Con in Columbus, Ohio, the WV POP show in Morgantown, WV, and the Pittsburgh Indy Expo.

Omnicomic: Anything you want to plug while you have the floor?

Cicconi: Just to encourage all your readers to go pick up FRACTURE volume 1, and if their store does not have it, ask them to place an order for it from Diamond, reorder code JAN120783.

Gabborin: Chad’s got this answer covered! And keep your eyes out for Fracture volume 2! The story is just getting started.