Get Outraged! Talking Web Comic Vigilantism With Reilly Brown And Fabian Nicieza
by Hannah Means Shannon
Outrage is a weekly web comic running on the platform Webtoons, created by Fabian Nicieza (co-creator of Deadpool) and Reilly Brown (artist on Deadpool, Lobo, Spider-Man), a team who previously worked together on Deadpool and Cable, and a duo who have vast combined experience in the world of superhero comics. But now they’ve created something very near to their own personal experiences as humans using the internet—with a pretty wild premise and outcomes that have to be seen to be believed. Outrage is a being in a suit whose true identity is unknown, but they can materialize via internet devices and deliver some much deserved payback to internet bullies and trolls.
They take on racism, sexism, and digital stalking, but there’s a catch–they also pretty much hate everyone, and have some choice words for people who make themselves “victims”, too. This is a vigilante with few checks and balances, but the FBI are now getting involved and things are heating up. Appearing in new installments on Wednesday, with a new one dropping on November 7th, 2018 the series has ten chapters currently available to catch up on, with plenty more to come.
Reilly Brown and Fabian Nicieza join us today to take us into the not-so-unfamiliar world of Outrage and what drives them to tackle these real-world issues with their own brand of humorous conflict.
Hannah Means-Shannon: I’m a little late to the party, since 10 whole chapters of Outrage are currently available for free online, but the great thing is that they are all ready to binge and it’s a comic that’s easy to catch up on. Was the availability of the comic to fans over time something that appealed to you about making digital comics with Webtoons?
Reilly Brown: Everything about Webtoons’ format is incredible, not least of which is how easily accessible it is. I feel like they’ve cracked the code on web comics in a way that no one else has, and the amazing readership we’re getting over there is definitely testament to that.
I think more people have already read Outrage than any other comic I’ve ever worked on!
Fabian Nicieza: What Reilly said. Which is probably what I’ll be saying a lot since I’m going second in this interview. But I’d like to add that I might not forgive you for being late to the party. On the other hand, binging a bunch of chapters at once is pretty much how I read stuff on Webtoons, too, so I’m being a hypocrite if I pout for too long.
HMS: In co-creating this project together, Reilly and Fabien, and having previously worked together on Deadpool and Cable, did you feel like this creator-owned allowed you to say things about vigilantism and our times that would be harder to talk about in mainstream comics?
RB: Absolutely. One of the main ideas behind Outrage is that we wanted to be as relevant as possible to what’s going on in the world and on social media. With how fast paced everything is, that’s not easy! There’s no way that Marvel or DC would let us get away with the kind of political commentary that we’re doing. I think if we tried it at one of those places, it would come off feeling very generic. I guess they’d be worried that we’d make someone mad, but outrage is the very concept, name and main character of our book, so without having anyone to slap our wrists for being naughty, we’re free to dive into all of that face-first.
FN: Reilly had worked with Fabian on Cable & Deadpool, not Fabien. Don’t worry. I fixed it for you. Understandable mistake, I’ve only been doing this for 30 years. I will now continue to pout. And perhaps, in keeping with the themes of the book, say something derogatory about you on social media. And then get smacked around by Outrage.
HMS: Since Webtoons presents a scrolling format that’s quite different in its dynamics than a printed or traditional comics page, did you find yourself having to work or think differently for your story crafting or penciling?
RB: Yeah, it was definitely a change from what I’m used to, because the types of panels that work in the vertical scroll are much different than what usually works on the printed page. I’m using a lot more tall panels and vertical shots than I usually do, and more small panels with just one or two elements in them, rather than large panels with multiple characters and background elements. The reading experience just works in a different way, but once you get the hang of it, you can do really cool things with it.
FN: It took us a few chapters to begin to understand it, and a few chapters more to try and find ways to take advantage of the format. We live on a horizontal plane. We move left to right on flat ground. It’s actually kind of counter-intuitive to think vertically, much less, since it’s a scroll down, to have to think top to bottom as a visual flow. But… that being said, the challenge of it all is what makes it fun!
HMS: What are the challenges of working with a main character who is basically “unknown” and who kind of “happens” to other characters? In superhero comics, or even when simply dealing with vigilantes, the reader usually knows the secret identity of the main characters even if other people in the story do not. In this case, is it part of the mystery?
RB: I think it’s fun to let the reader guess. With characters like Spider-Man and Superman, the mystery of their secret identity is given away at the very start, and I want to give the readers a bit of a taste of what it’s like to be part of the supporting cast, and not actually know what’s going on.
Rest assured, WE know who’s doing what, so all the connections between the character’s identities that we’d normally put in are there, we’re just hiding it from the reader for now.
Will they be able to crack the case before the FBI can?
FN: I purposefully wanted to structure the story as a “Who is it?” mystery as much because it leads to the real meat of the story: “Why is it?” And that means we wanted Outrage to be a reflection of all of us. At one point or another, we’ve all felt anger and frustration at something said on social media, just as we’ve likely said things that have made others mad at us. The “Why is it?” which permeates the second half of the story leads us to the broader themes which we’d hope to explore in a Season 2, and that’s “Why are we like this?” Collectively, not just the digital construct called Outrage in the story, but the nature of our outrage in the real world.
HMS: Related to the previous question, what’s good or useful about having a main character who seems to be driven by pure determination and whose appearance isn’t even human? Does that make action more direct and the ideas in the comic more direct, too?
RB: I wanted him to look a little bit alien, a little bit robotic, a little bit inhuman, but still very animated. I wanted him to have a face that looks like a giant emoji, so you see an expression, but it’s still not REALLY his face, and he’s very cryptic.
Kind of the opposite of Deadpool, where he has the shape of a human face, but no expression on it.
Although they both talk a lot.
That’s probably Fabian’s fault.
FN: It honestly took me a few chapters to hone the voice for Outrage so that it wasn’t the same part of my brain that spewed out Deadpool. It’s a narrow line to walk, but Outrage is the Superego to Deadpool’s Id. Arrogance from a place of superiority as opposed to anger from a place of insecurity. But… because of something we’ve yet to reveal in the story, you’ll see Outrage’s voice might come from more than one source.
HMS: I love the fact that Outrage isn’t soft and cuddly toward the “victims” they are helping out, but rather is someone who’s a little dangerous toward them, too. For instance, Outrage is taking down and punishing internet trolls, bullies, and abusers, but then also freezing phones and telling people to stop being victims. This rings true—that anyone who feels they know how people should behave is going to lash out at abusers, but possibly at others in a judgy way, too. Is that important to the comic?
RB: I don’t think Outrage is there to throw anyone a pity party. I think he reacts more to the negativity that the more vicious trolls put out there on social media than out of sympathy for anyone. It’s all tough love.
FN: I’ve tried to make it clear that Outrage hates everyone equally.
HMS: This feels like a comic where anything can happen, and the topics that could come up could be even more and more relevant in this digital media age. Any teases about the weirdness that you and Fabian have in store for us?
RB: The FBI interrogations will be fun.
FN: I hope to have an entire chapter soon devoted to interviewers who misspell my name and then I have to correct them. That should be fun. Also, Outrage might be getting his very own archnemesisisis real soon!
HMS: Can you tell us a little bit about the other team members and what you feel they bring to this zany project?
RB: Jay Liesten is one of the best inkers in the business, and I always feel so lucky to be able to work with him! He gives my lines a slickness that I can never achieve on my own, and makes it look like I know what I’m doing!
Matt Herms is equally awesome, and really helps give our comic a signature look. When I was looking for a colorist, I read the credits of every single comic than came out for two months, because I was really looking for something specific, and every time I saw Matt’s name, it was on a comic that looked awesome, and had colors that really grabbed me and made me say “I want to make a comic that looks like this!”
I LOVE the logo that Pat Brosseau came up with for the series. He did a bunch of different designs, and it’s a shame we can’t use all of them, but this one really captures the emotion and energy of the series. It’s the first thing people see in each chapter, and I think it sets the right mood every time.
And Fabian, of course, brings such a great sense of humor and personality to all the characters. I keep adding in extra panels so that he has to come up with more dialog, because I just want to read more of it!
FN: I think we have a very distinctive feel and look to the book and that’s a testament to the experience and skill of the guys who came aboard to work with us. I love them all and want them all to do their work faster. Except for Pat. I want him to work slower.
Thanks so much to Reilly and Fabien for taking us into the world of Outrage! Just joking, Fabian;)
Make sure to go read previous installments of Outrage for free on Webtoons, and check out the newest chapter when it arrives on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018!