Jay Faerber has been a constant presence in the comic community since the late 90’s, with work ranging from a run on Generation X for Marvel, to his Noble Causes universe of superhero titles from Image, to his more recent sci-fi and fantasy works including Copperhead and Elsewhere.
Faerber’s made a mark with fun, character-driven stories in a variety of genres. This week, he’s launching Glacier City through Panel Syndicate as a “pay what you want” pilot one-shot, with art by Michael Montenat, color art by Simon Gough, and letters by Thomas Mauer. We sat down with Jay and talked with him about the pilot issue, where the story may be going from here, and about why Panel Syndicate was the right choice for this project.
Tony Thornley: Good afternoon Jay, thanks for taking the time to chat! For readers who haven’t heard about it—what is Glacier City?
Jay Faerber: Glacier City is a digital comic available on the Panel Syndicate platform. It’s the first issue in what will hopefully be a series. But that depends on reader response to this first installment. The story concerns Wes Cutter, the chief of police — and only cop, for that matter — in the remote town of Glaser, Alaska. It’s a crime story about a man charged with upholding the law in a town where everyone’s got a secret and backup is hours away.
TT: How did you create your protagonist, Wes Cutter?
JF: One of my favorite genre tropes is the “big city cop moves to a small town and encounters darkness there.” I wanted to play with that trope. I’d been wanting to do a story set in Alaska for a long time, and tried a few different variations before finding Wes and his story. They say there are two kinds of people who live in Alaska. Those who are born there, and those that are running away from something. And Wes wasn’t born in Alaska.
TT: Why was it as a “pilot” issue through Panel Syndicate that you released this issue?
JF: There’s a lot of risk in an endeavor like this. There’s no advance, no guarantee of payment at all. Michael (the artist), Simon (the colorist), and Thomas (the letterer) all invested a lot of time in this project. So we poured our heart into this first installment in the hopes that people will like it and want to see more. And if we think there’s an audience that will make it financially viable for us to continue, we’ll all be excited to do more.
TT: You mentioned in the story’s initial announcement that Alaska was a setting you’ve wanted to use for some time. What is about Alaska that made you want to revisit it in a story?
JF: I spent Christmas in Alaska a few years ago with my wife and I just fell in love with the place. We took a day trip to a town called Whittier, which is only accessible via a 2-mile long tunnel. It really spoke to me — it was such an incredible place to set a story. It’s so isolated and cut off. There was so much potential, so I played around with a few variations until I decided to build a whole story there.
TT: If the response is good, how will you be revisiting this story?
JF: I don’t know exactly how many issues the story will be, but we’ll be continuing and ultimately finishing it. I know where the story’s going and how it wraps up. I just don’t know how I’ll segment it up, exactly, in terms of installments.
TT: You’re an experienced writer in the entertainment industry at this point in your career. Why is experimenting with formats, releases, etc. important to you?
JF: The comic book medium will always be my first love. It’s the language I’m most fluent in, and I love both the collaboration and creative freedom it offers. And Brian and Marcos at Panel Syndicate made a compelling offer. They don’t own any rights to the project, and they also allowed us to keep full creative control. It’s like the digital version of Image Comics in a lot of ways. Ultimate creative freedom and ownership.
The pilot issue of Glacier City is available now at Panel Syndicate.