Still Fantastic: Eliopoulos and Sumerak talk "Franklin Richards"

Thu, June 15th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

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You ever meet a child who's so well-behaved, so intelligent, and so honest that you want to take him home with you? Or wonder how a child can be so well-behaved in extraordinary situations?

Franklin Richards is not that child.

He may not have his own monthly series (more on that later), but Franklin Richards has been making quite a name for himself in his "Franklin Richards: Son Of A Genius" specials over the past year. Franklin is the son of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman respectively, and as the prodigal son of the Fantastic Four, he sure has a lot to live up to. But as writer Marc Sumerak and co-writer/artist Chris Eliopoulos have shown readers, Franklin's not much about that responsibility. However, now that Marvel Comics' "Franklin Richards" has been nominated for an Eisner, what's going to be the effect on the little hellion?

"Well, it's made Franklin a lot harder to deal with," lamented Sumerak to CBR News. "Before when we wanted the little guy to clean up his room after a short story it took a bit of coercing, but he eventually caved in. Now he's all like, "the Eisner nominated 'Astonishing X-Men' don't have to clean up their rooms... why should I?"

"But seriously, it's such a complete honor to be considered amongst the year's best publications for a younger audience. It means the world to everyone who has worked on this project and hopefully it will make a few more readers take notice of the book when the new one-shot hits the stands on July 5!"

For Franklin's artist, Chris Eliopoulos -- nominated for hardest name to spell -- he found joy in something else. " I was totally surprised. I can't believe they spelled my name right!" he laughed. "The nom is totally cool, but to me, just as important is the reaction from kids that I've gotten, especially my own. And also, of the parents and teachers of kids who are sharing Franklin with them and using it to teach them to read and enjoy comic books."

Not satisfied with being one-time Eisner nominated creators, the team will be putting out another "Franklin" special this July, in time for fans to read while basking in the comic book movie filmed season. "The special 'Super Summer Spectacular,' so expect it to be chock full of all kinds of summertime fun, with that special 'Son Of Genius' twist, of course! We've got baseball, beaches and blaster rays! Should be another fun ride."

When asked if anything will be different, Eliopoulos says, "It's the same insanity we always have. Why change a good thing? [laughs]. We have a bunch of short stories of Franklin getting in trouble and H.E.R.B.I.E. Tagging along and saving him. Sometimes."

Some fans have wondered if other super powered children might appear in the series, such as the X-Men's Nathan Summers or Rachel Gray. Nathan was the son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Gray, who was infected with a virus, sent to the future to be cured and then cloned, with his clone becoming his nemesis. He now lives in the present and is older than his father. Rachel is the future daughter of Cyclops and Jean, who traveled back in time, along with her lover -- an adult Franklin Richards. C'mon Sumerak, you call that complicated? "It's unlikely that li'l Nate or Rachel are gonna show up, seeing as they were never really young characters in the modern day Marvel Universe to begin with," admits the writer. "Even though we may not be stringent with continuity in the 'Franklin' strips, we still try to be respectful of the surrounding universe. As for Power Pack, we've already seen Katie Power pop up in the previous one-shot and there's always a chance the other kids could pop up down the road. I'll have to talk to the guy who writes that series and see what he thinks."

Eliopoulos adds, "I think we have to be very judicious in introducing characters from the Marvel Universe. I think of this book as an introduction to comic books for young kids and if you start introducing all the continuity, it'll just confuse them. There will be times, if we get to continue to do these, where we will bring in other characters, but it would have to work with the premise of the series."

That said, "Summer Spectacular" will see an all-new character introduced into the Marvel Universe, one whom both creators hope will make an impression on readers. "He's a pretty cool dude that could make a real splash given the chance!" exclaims Sumerak.

Eliopoulos is of the same mind and comments, "And if people really dig him, who knows where else he'll be used. Even though Franklin is a stand-alone title, the character is in the Marvel Universe, so let's see if we can get Bendis to use him."

The most often asked question about "Franklin Richards" is whether it'll evolve into an ongoing series on day, but Sumerak says not to count on one quite yet. Who would have thought that we'd be on our third one-shot (with a fourth one coming down the road)? It's a real testament to the love and support we receive from the folks inside the House of Ideas. I know I would love to see 'Franklin Richards' hitting the stands on a more regular schedule... but that's really more up to the fine folks reading this! The better the one-shots sell, the better chance we have of seeing more 'Franklin' sooner!"

"I doubt we'd have a monthly Franklin book, but I think there is a chance to continue with these one-shots and make the individual stories available as back-ups in other Marvel titles," contends Eliopoulos. "It has been amazing, though, to see the support we've gotten from fans and Marvel alike. Hopefully, that means we're doing something right."

They're also hoping to do something right with their other projects, as both are working towards broadening their horizons with each project. Though Sumerak may be busy with "Avengers & Power Pack Assemble!" he's also reteaming with Mr. E for some more fun. "Chris and I are collaborating on a comic strip for 'Restaurant Business' magazine called 'My Kinda Place.'"

Don't worry: Eliopoulos is keeping himself busy too. "I'm also lettering a bunch of titles at Marvel and Image, still writing and drawing cartoons for the Complete Idiots Guide books, writing a strip for Sports Illustrated and working on some self-published stuff."

And now you can discuss this story on CBR's Marvel Universe Forum.

 
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