Frank Barbiere on the "Five Ghosts"
One of the best kept secrets from 2013 is Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham's "Five Ghosts." A fun mix of pulp, mystery, science fiction, and action, Frank talks to us about what it's been like working on the inspiration behind the book and where it's going in 2014.
Frank Barbiere: Five Ghosts is literally our dream project. We work with Image Comics, who as many people know, don’t edit our content. It’s basically like doing the book on our own, but Image handles the physical production and some promotion. That being said, Five Ghosts is ultimately always exactly what we want it to be--no one calls the shots but the small team of me, Chris, and our colorist Lauren Affe.
It’s very liberating to do a book “without a safety net.” We always make sure we are doing something we’re proud of, that keeps us on our toes, and that at the end of the day is FUN
What inspired you to make FIVE GHOSTS?
FB: For me, Five Ghosts is very much a love letter to all the genres and stories I love. I’m a big fan of the idea “Where does story come from?” which is really at the center of Five Ghosts--I love studying mythology and story, and I’m happy I found a way to fit it into this story. At it’s core, Five Ghosts is an action/pulp story so it’s fun to always be able to get a cool fight scene in and explore Fabian’s powers.
I remember when we were initially putting Five Ghosts together that I very much wanted to do a period piece about a thief. I stumbled onto the idea of giving him “literary powers” and the book really took shape from there. My biggest influences would be Indiana Jones and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
How did you get involved with Image Comics?
After self-publishing, someone at Image picked up Five Ghosts #1 at NYCC and gave it to publisher Eric Stephenson. Eric contacted us a few weeks later interested in doing the book, and we’ve hit the ground running from there!
What is Five Ghosts about?
FB: Five Ghosts is the story of Fabian Gray, a treasure hunter who ends up getting “possessed” by the “ghosts” of five literary characters. These ghosts give him special abilities he is able to channel and use to aid him in difficult situations.
The story really is a redemption tale as Fabian has lived a very tough life, having to steal and essentially live on the run. His closest friend is his twin sister, Silvia, who we find out has been incapacitated due to Fabian’s greed. Fabian seeks to find an artifact capable of helping his sister, all the while trying to control the spirits inside of him.
On top of all that, we’ve introduced a cabal of what seem to be villains (all based off of various historical figures/literary characters). With all this going on, Fabian’s a very busy guy, and needs to call on his friends and former accomplices to keep two steps ahead of his opponents!
What do you have planned for the series in the future?
Five Ghosts has been an amazing book to work on because it honestly has so many natural plotlines and ways to approach the story. The book draws from literature and story, and features a lot of characters/ideas from the whole of literature, so there is literally an ENDLESS amount of source material. We’ve also given a lot of time to developing the character of Fabian Gray, making him interesting and with a very rich history, so we look forward to readers finding out more about him.
Right now, we’ve got the series plotted through issue 25. This will take us into four collections (which is crazy to us!) and we’ll get to see a lot of very cool stuff. The idea is that after we wrap our current LOST COASTLINES arc, we’ll jump into a shorter horror focused story, a short story about Fabian’s past, and then into a big arc wrapping our current plot line. It’ll all be pretty amazing when it’s done and we’ll feel like we have VOLUME ONE complete.
We do love the character, so we’ll probably be working on Five Ghosts for a long, long time after as well!