PopCultHQ had the pleasure of interviewing comic creator Ray Fawkes, who currently has his book JACKPOT! four issues deep with AfterShock Comics, a publisher who has sent tremors throughout the comic book community from their hit titles in 2016. Earlier this year on April 19th, the week of its debut, I gave Jackpot! #1 a review and was blown away by this explosive premiere issue. In prepping for that review, I do the typical research and background check: list of credits, ways to follow on social media, connections, tax records for the last five years, bank accounts, full medical records…wait, I might be starting to think like the con artists found in Fawkes’ book.
The writer/artist (and I hear he’s a poet, though I didn’t even know it) has been in the industry for some time spanning numerous titles across a number of top publishers, including Marvel (Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy, Wolverines), DC Comics/Vertigo (Batman: Eternal, Contantine, Gotham by Midnight), Image Comics (Intersect, upcoming 2017 project – see below), Oni Press (Possession), and not to mention his creator-owned graphic novels like The Spectral Engine, One Soul, and The People Inside. So you might just say this cat knows how to tell a story.
In Spring 2016, Fawkes was able to put his con artist/heist caper on newsstands thanks to AfterShock and what we got was a slick, high-paced, thrilling caper of a series with sharp and brilliant writing. Now, with issue five arriving in early 2017 and the stakes never higher in Jackpot!, we were fortunate (actually, I know a guy who knows a guy who we don’t talk about) to get this interview with the writer. So sit back, relax, and find out more about Jackpot!, AfterShock Comics, and award-winning creator Ray Fawkes.
PopCultHQ Interviews Comic Creator:
PopCultHQ: Thanks for taking the time to chat with PopCultHQ. I’ve reviewed all four issues of Jackpot! for our site and it’s the first title to ever receive four, 5-star ratings, let alone in a row! So kudos to you and your team!
Ray Fawkes: Thank you very much for that! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book!
PopCultHQ: Let’s talk about Jackpot! How long did it take for Jackpot! to develop from a concept to published material?
Fawkes: Jackpot! is a concept that took shape in my notebooks over a number of years – it’s one of those concepts that I kept returning to in idle moments, tooling around with. Sort of an “always wanted to” – as in, I’ve always wanted to write a book about con artists and mathematics, and Gods or “gods”, heh.
PopCultHQ: We love every issue that has dropped. You’ve put together an amazing crew of talent for this series. How did each other member of your creative team get on board with this project?
PopCultHQ: Excited for issue five; Brian Stelfreeze‘s cover is sick! Great choice for your cover artist and the perfect con man/heist feel ever. How did you pair up with Brian? Did you seek him out? Was he offered by AfterShock? Did he find you?
Fawkes: AfterShock mentioned him to me, and I fairly remember calmly saying “Oh, that’d be great” while actually screaming YES PLEASE MY GOD in my head. Every piece he does for this book is absolutely mind-blowing.
PopCultHQ: Issue five is right around the corner. What else do you have planned for Jackpot (that you can tell us)? Is the series just beginning or do you foresee this caper wrapping up shortly? When can we expect the first tpb?
Fawkes: The first story for Jackpot! wraps up with the sixth issue. I expect we’ll see at trade collection in 2017, and as for what follows – we’ll see! At the very least, we’ll be taking a bit of a break while I make sure that any “second season” is as good as the first.
PopCultHQ: You’re an accomplished writer with quite the list of titles spanning across a sea of publishers. Now your story is with AfterShock, a publisher at the time of you signing on would’ve been only about a year in the business. Granted, in hindsight, we see the explosive impact they’ve made in that short of time (hence their name?). Knowing you’ve worked with DC, Marvel, Image, and others, many would consider you choosing a relatively fresh publisher a bit of a gamble (glad you did, by the way 😉 ). So I guess I’m wondering, what was it about AfterShock that made you say, “Yeah, this is it” or “The Force is strong with this one” or “Boom-shakka-lakka” or whatever?
Fawkes: I sat down with the AfterShock team at the San Diego comic con when they were just putting their first line of books together and spoke to them then. Honestly, as soon as we started talking, I was won over by their enthusiasm and their outlook – and the experience of working with the team there has been every bit as rewarding and enjoyable as I knew it would be. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
PopCultHQ: What else do you have lined up for 2017? Any new projects? Signing appearances you’d like to mention?
Fawkes: I do have several projects lined up for 2017. Image comics is announcing a series that I’ll be writing and painting any day now – it’s a horror book. I’m also doing work for Dynamite and DC Comics – stay tuned, you’ll hear about it all very soon!
A huge thanks to Ray for taking the time to chat with us and reveal more about himself and his series Jackpot! To see more of Ray’s work, to follow him on social media, or to access his passwords and encrypted data, check out the different ways you can keep tabs on him.
Writer/Artist – Ray Fawkes
And a very special thanks to superstar Stephan Nilson and awesome Aaron Marion for all their help and assistance with this interview!