Comics Vitae: Matt Fraction Part II, Iron Man through Sex Criminals

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The Defenders
Illustrated by Terry Dodson, Others
Published by Marvel from 2011 to 2012

Paste: Why didn’t people buy this comic?
Fraction: I have no idea.

Paste: What the hell do people want from their superhero comics?
Fraction: I worked just as hard on that as I do on Hawkeye. People didn’t buy that comic because it was called Defenders. Retailers ordered the same number of the new Defenders as they did the old Defenders and it didn’t matter what the reviews were. At the time there were some of the best reviews of my career. But it didn’t work.

Paste: It’s not just the name “Defenders”, either — Dr. Strange, Namor, Silver Surfer, none of them can ever really keep a book. Are these characters just tainted?
Fraction: Not at all. I think there’s just a history of bad comics, and when a retailer has to choose… we’re down to less than 2000 retail stores. The industry’s healthy, but we’ve contracted profoundly. You have to choose between a Batman book you know will sell or a Defenders book that probably won’t. It’s just economic reality. We got to a point where… there are a lot of bad factors in play, and a lot of mistakes in play, and look, I think we buried the lead. I think there were ways we could’ve been more commercially appealing, but that’s not the book I wanted to write, or the book I’m good at writing. I had faith that people would show up and they didn’t. The flipside is that’s the same approach I took to Hawkeye and people did show up, so what the fuck do I know. It’s boggling to me. It was a lot of fun while it lasted.

Next: Hawkeye