July 24, 2019 will mark the debut of Dead End Kids — a limited comics series penned by Comics Experience alum Frank Gogol, with art by Nenad Cviticanin and lettering by Sean Rinehart (also a CE alum). A coming-of-age murder mystery told in three issues, Dead End Kids is published by Source Point Press and available to pre-order from retailers now!
Over the last few years, Frank has established a writing career built on hard work, talent, and a commitment to growth and collaboration — exactly the qualities that Comics Experience strives to support and develop. Currently balancing a busy convention schedule, Frank took time out to answer our questions about Dead End Kids and his development as a comics writer.
Please give us a short overview of how you began making comics, and how that brought you to where you are now.
I’ve known that I wanted to write since I was a kid and that I wanted to write comics since I was 18, so tried to plan my high school and college educations around writing and other topics, like graphic design, that I thought would be helpful in a comics career. But after I finished my second master’s degree, I spent the next 4 years talking a lot about writing comics, but not actually writing any comics. Then, in December of 2015, I told myself I need to either write comics or let the dream die and that’s when I enrolled in my first Comics Experience class.
Your projects seem to address weighty and sometimes dark themes, but with a consistent sense of hope and human connection. Would you say that’s accurate, and if so, how has that affected your relationships with readers?
I would say that very accurately describes my work up to this point. And it’s definitely been a factor in which readers are interested in reading the comics I write. But the upside is that when the work speaks to readers, it really resonates and, to me, that’s more important than a royalty check or movie deal.
What would you like readers to know about Dead End Kids?
I like to talk about the book in two ways–the pitch and the point.
The Pitch: It’s 1999. Ben, Murphy, Tank, and Amanda are four screwed-up kids from broken homes, but they have…had each other. When Ben is murdered, Murphy and his friends set out to find who killed him and find themselves in the cross-hairs! Dead End Kids is a dark coming-of-age murder mystery set in the ’90s, from the creative team behind 2018’s critically acclaimed Grief.
The Point: This story is about the very real traumas of childhood. It’s about four messed up kids with traumatic home lives and the stability they find in their friendships and what happens when that stability is torn away because one of them is murdered.
What was your first comics script, and how has your approach to writing changed since then?
My first comic script was for a story called “Embrace” and it was about a day in the life of an autistic boy and his father and just how hard their relationship can be. I wrote that in the Intro to Comic Book Writing class with Andy. I’d, honestly, say that my approach to writing hasn’t changed all that much since that class. Andy laid out some very strong fundamentals and they’ve served me well. I do, however, write longer, more complex stories now, but those all still based on the fundamentals.
What advice would you give aspiring comics writers?
The one piece of advice I give to every aspiring writer I meet is to stick with it. Comics writing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a monumental task to become a writer, but it’s something that can be worked at a little bit every single day, whether it means writing a page or two or studying a comic book issue that’s got some great craft on display. But you only chip away at that monument task my sticking with it and putting in the work.
Our thanks to Frank for talking with us, and congratulations to the entire creative team! To pre-order Dead End Kids, ask your comics retailer to use Diamond code MAY191908. Issue #1 will be available in stores July 24, 2019!