Sandbox Spotlight: FRANK GOGOL, Comic Creator / Writer


THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight Frank ! How did you get into comics and why did you want to become a writer?

Frank Gogol: I knew pretty early — maybe around 8th grade — that I wanted to be a writer of some kind, but it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I knew I wanted to write comics. 

A lot of my college education was built around the idea of being a comics writer. I was a double-major in Creative Writing and Communications and studied Graphic Design. I ran my college’s student newspaper for two years so that I could learn about print production, deadlines, and collaborating.

I then went on to earned two Master’s Degrees in creative writing, too, before graduating in 2011, but I didn’t write my first comics script until 2016. It’s not easy to get started. It takes a lot of discipline and confidence.  

TCC: What genre do you like writing the most?

Frank: That’s a tough one. I’m so early in my career that I’m still trying new genres and getting a feel for them. I’d say that, if i had to pick, drama would be my core genre. I’ve written some sci-fi with the upcoming Unborn and Power Rangers Unlimited: Edge of Darkness. I got some horror reps in on No Heroine. Both volumes of Dead End Kids are crime stories. But my focus on all of those stories was the characters and what they’re going through — the drama of it all. 

TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?

Frank: The first comic script I ever wrote, back in 2016, was for a short story called Embrace. I remember getting the final lettered pages for that story back in April of that year. And seeing them, looking at my first comic, I literally thought to myself, “I’m not half-bad at this and it is literally the only thing I want to do with the rest of my life.”

TCC: Which writers inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…

Frank: Oh man, there are a lot. Off the top of my head, in no particular order, and for various reasons: Jeff Lemire, Rick Remender, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction, Aaron Sorkin, Jane Espenson, Christopher Priest, Stephen King, and Pat Conroy.

TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?

Frank: You know, I don’t get too star struck, but I will admit to getting a little overwhelmed when Stan Lee signed my copy of Tales of Suspense #57. That issue is the first appearance of Hawkeye, who is my favorite character. I just love the idea of a regular guy who’s out there fighting alongside gods and super soldiers by sheer force of will and hard work. And to get that book signed by Stan meant a lot to me. 

TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?

Frank: Either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Power Rangers, but probably the latter just because I’m more enmeshed in it. Both are my two favorite series/franchises of all time, though.

TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?

Frank: I’m pretty practical and disciplined in my approach to writing. I still work a full-time day job 10-6, M-F, so I have to be. I’m very much a morning person and am usually up by 6:30. I sit down to write by 7:00 and will work on a script or whatever comics-related to-dos I have for the day until 9:30 every morning. I also work at night for a couple of hours after my day job wraps for the day. On the weekends, I’ll be writing/working by 7 and try to be finished by 2pm so I can enjoy some of my “days off”. 

TCC: When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some creators use music or podcasts, some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?

Frank: I am so particular about my writing conditions. Part of the reason I work early in the morning is because it’s quiet. I like to work in silence. I also have a home office that’s decorated really nicely with some original art from my books and some books shelves. But my desk is immaculate and minimalist and the wall in front of me is blank. I try to create writing conditions for myself that are as distraction-free as possible.

TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?

Frank: I want to say my first was NYCC in 2007 or 2008. One of the very first NYCC’s, but I can’t remember for sure. The last was C2E2 in 2020, for obvious reasons…

TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?

Frank: It’s changed for me over the years. When I was on the other side of the table as a fan, I loved meeting my favorite creators and digging through longboxes for back issues of Fantastic Four (which I completed my run of last year!). These days, I love getting to see my peers/collaborators/friends and engaging with fans. But I still occasionally go longbox diving.

TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in?

Frank: Artist Alley. I love indie comics and I always love finding new creators’ work to check out and new folks to collaborate with. 

TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?

Frank: I think it’s great. Comics, as an industry, has democratized some so much in the last 10 years because of things like on-demand printing, crowdfunding, and other technologies. Not that long ago, a comics career wasn’t something most creators could make a living from, and they had to work a full time job and make comics. But the opportunities for creators to make comics their full time job and make a decent living off it is incredible to me. It gives me hope that someday comics will be my full time gig.  

TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about? 

Frank: Dead End Kids: The Suburban Job just wrapped in single issues, so the collected edition is soliciting right now alongside Power Rangers Unlimited: Edge of Darkness, both of which drop on 6/30. Then there’s the recently announced sci-fi / horror miniseries that was just announced for the fall — Unborn. Beyond that, No Heroine 2 is being drawn right now for release sometime next year and there’s another series that’ll be announced in the fall for a winter release. 

TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media? Where can people find out more about you and reach out to you? 

Frank: Engaging with fans is something that I’ve really made a point to do as a creator. I remember being a fan and how much it meant to me when a creator I admired took the time to answer a tweet or talk to me for a couple of minutes at a con. I want to be doing as much of that as I can for fans. 

In terms of where I’m doing it, I’m on Twitter and Instagram and I have a twice-a-month newsletter called Caption Boxes.

TCC: Thanks Frank, for your time! 

Frank: Thanks for having me! 

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