Panic, Podcasts & The Past – An Interview with FOG LINE Creators Mario Candelaria & Andy Michael
Updated: Jun 24, 2021
The Fog Line Kickstarter campaign runs until Friday, July 9, 2021 at 10:00 p.m. and you can check it out HERE. It is written by Mario Candelaria and illustrated by Andy Michael. Mario and Andy spoke to Jimmy Gaspero from Comic Book Yeti to discuss Fog Line and true crime, as well as their collaboration and process.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Mario and Andy, I’m sure running a Kickstarter campaign is both stressful and time-consuming, so thank you both for taking the time for this interview. Had the two of you ever worked together before and how did your collaboration come about for Fog Line?
MARIO CANDELARIA: Yeah, Andy is a good guy. We worked together last year on my Tales from the Pandemic series and just kept in touch with random ideas. I’d send him concepts and scripts and he’d give some quick feedback. I did the same with Fog Line and we just took off from there.
ANDY MICHAEL: Mario sent me the initial script for some friendly peer review, and I really got into it. I ended up hoping he would ask me to draw it, and he did! I enjoyed working with him on Tales, and I’m glad we get to jam again.
CBY: Matt Krotzer is lettering the comic and it is edited by Hernán Guarderas. Was it challenging to put this creative team together?
MC: Not really, no. It was fairly easy with this story to get the pieces in place. Hernán was already aware of the story through a peer review group he ran, so the transition to an editor role was easier for him than anyone else I could’ve approached.
AM: I’m excited to work with these guys for the first time! So far, I’m digging what Matt contributed on the preview pages.
CBY: What was the inspiration for Fog Line?
MC: That’s a good question that I do not have a good answer for. I was sitting at the table this past Thanksgiving and the idea came to me. There were different elements from what I was consuming around that time that helped refine the story into what it is, but the initial spark may as well have been pixie dust for all I know.
AM: Serendipitously, I think Mario and I were both watching a lot of Coen Bros movies while this was developing. Their work (especially Blood Simple) has really been on my mind a lot lately. I just love this idea that when you’re doing something that is wrong, all of the decisions you make are bad decisions. You can really only get into more trouble.
CBY: Mario, in the 2nd update on Kickstarter you mention having a “deep-rooted fascination with true crime”, when did that fascination begin and where does that stem from?
MC: Growing up in Brooklyn, crime was everywhere if you knew what to look out for and how to avoid it. Corner stores that ran numbers out the back, familiar neighborhood faces always stationed at some table outside on the sidewalk. That type of setting and a sense of what may or may not be less than legit was ingrained into my mind from the start.
AM: If you’ve traveled to a Con with me, you know that there is almost nothing I like more than sitting in an ice-cold hotel room and watching Forensic Files.
CBY: Do either of you have any favorite true crime/crime comics?
MC: Capote in Kansas by Parks and Samnee is a great book. I highly recommend it.
AM: I’ll have to check out Mario’s pick; I love those creators. My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Brubaker and Phillips blew me completely away when it came out. I’ve been trying to read all of their works since. The Criminal series that followed Junkies was great, and its backmatter is what led me to Blood Simple. Any crime comic by Darwyn Cooke is also sublime.
CBY: Fog Line is black & white and in landscape format. What was the reasoning behind those choices?
MC: Part of the reason is to be different, part of it is to try new things (new to us at least). Squat pages have that widescreen feel and some of the shots we set up in Andy’s panels really take advantage of this scope.
AM: As I’m working, I find that I can really make a moment literally stretch and linger with a super-wide panel, and one can really create some panic with a bunch of slender panels in a row. I read The House by Paco Roca last year and I was so taken by his use of the wide format; I’ve been dying to play around with that since.
CBY: Mario, you have had prior success meeting funding goals with a few projects on Kickstarter, was that prior experience helpful for Fog Line? Andy, how has the experience been for you taking a project to Kickstarter rather than pitching to a publisher?
MC: It helped prepare me a bit, but I’m still nervous. I am not one of those creators who can launch something and it hits ten times the goal in the first two weeks. It’s a grind and a hustle until the end until we can build that base.
AM: I’m very grateful that Mario is doing the vast majority of legwork and hustle for our book. I’m learning a ton from him. I’ve pitched in on some Kickstarters before, but this is the first one that I have access to under the hood. It’s daunting but exciting.
CBY: Andy, can you describe your approach for the artwork and character design for Fog Line? And what excited you about the project after reading the script?
AM: I feel at home in quiet/internal moments, so I was drawn to the script very strongly. I was able to knock out all of the design elements pretty quickly because I understand these characters and this setting so clearly. Mario’s scripts are great; his intentions and needs from a scene are always very clear and I get to play with the best routes to get to these beats he sets up.
The flashbacks in our story are in stark black and white with present-day stuff in much more even grey tones. Obviously, this just helps with clarity, but we also get to show contrasting intensity using this visual language, and we get to show how clearly our character saw his choices in the past and how uncertain and murky his choices feel now.
CBY: Mario, how do you approach creating characters in your stories, like Henry in Fog Line?
MC: I spend a lot of time just observing people and their mannerisms. I watch a lot of television and take in acting styles, making note of performances that feel true to the character. All of that gets blended together when I write someone. I tend to go method for better or worse with my mains, putting myself in their mental state so I can better capture what they’d say or do or [how they'd] react.
CBY: Mario, you were one of the winners of the Mad Cave Studios Talent Search in 2020, what was that experience like?
MC: It was great! I cannot say much on what we’re doing, but it’s been a blast working with my editor Brian Hawkins.
CBY: You both are part of Brentt Harshman’s upcoming Off Into The Sunset anthology, which was successfully funded through Kickstarter recently. What other projects are you working on or will be out soon that CBY readers can check out?
MC: I am very excited about my involvement in the Hero Initiative charity anthology Help on Kickstarter. It is a series of one-page stories with big names in the industry and I am grateful for editor Hannah Means-Shannon thinking of me when helping put this book together.
AM: Brentt and I have also been cooking a Los Angeles-based horror story called sLAsher. It’s about rideshare users unknowingly opting into a game of death. If someone gets an alert on their phone that they need to kill a stranger, who are the people that ignore that as spam, who are the people that try and report the message to authorities because it could be a real danger, and who are the people that comply? It’s about everything we love and hate about our phones and about LA.
CBY: If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included?
MC: The Alcoholic, Parker: Martini Edition, and Batman: Under the Red Hood
AM: Short Answer: All-Star Superman, Wednesday Comics, Shaolin Cowboy. The stuff I just want to see on a wall and stare at.
Long answer: Let me curate an exhibit about all of the amazing comics creators that hit Daredevil early in their careers and then a look at their art and careers since. Explore why DD is this crazy breeding ground for comics talent (Miller, Mazzucchelli, Romita JR, Oeming, Nord, Maleev, Samnee, so many).
CBY: Mario, seeing as you’re in Philadelphia and I’m from Delco (Delaware County, PA) I feel I’m expected to ask a typical Philly question like, what’s your favorite cheesesteak place, but instead, what’s something Philly isn’t traditionally known for but should be?
MC: More people need to know about the Citywide Special, a can of PBR and a shot of Jim Beam. It’s a wild concept. But on the cheesesteaks front, I’d like to shout out Pudge’s up near Blue Bell on 202. Massive steaks that need to be seen to be believed.
CBY: Andy, you’re in Los Angeles, what’s your favorite cheesesteak place?
AM: LA might be the world’s best food city but I don’t think I’ve had a cheesesteak out here yet...
CBY: Thank you both very much and good luck with the remainder of the Fog Line campaign.
MC: Thanks for having us.
AM: Thank you and thanks so much for your time!