I recently had the chance to talk to writer Frank J. Barbiere who is the man behind the fascinating series The White Suits that premiered in Dark Horse Presents #11. Let me just tell you that he is one hell of a storyteller. If you’re looking for a mob drama that is soaked in not only blood but mystery as well, this is the story to check out. Read on to see Barbiere talk about his original series.
All Geek To Me: How would you describe “The White Suits” to someone just hearing about the story? Or is it dangerous to ask about the White Suites?
Frank J. Barbiere: “The White Suits” is an action/crime story that plays with the conventions of real history and the visual theme of black & white. The story follows of group of mysterious killers known as, ahem, The White Suits, from their first appearance in Russia during the Cold War to modern times.
It most certainly can be dangerous to ask about The Suits–their true identity/motives drive the whole narrative and a lot of people certainly get into trouble for asking!
AGTM: How did you originally come up with the concept of a group of mysterious killers in white suits that dominate the Russian underground?
Barbiere: When I was working on the original concept I thought the idea of criminals who wear white suits was a striking visual. I wanted a book that looked interesting and thought that this made for a cool visual “hook” as well. As the story took further shape, the idea of working in real history to support the world grew in my head and I just started weaving the fiction with a little bit of reality.
AGTM: Stylistically, color seems to play into “The White Suits” almost like clues or signals since the comic is mainly black and white. Is that something readers should pay attention to as they delve into the mythos of “The White Suits”?
Barbiere: We’re certainly trying to use color and texture in interesting ways. I think using color to indicate mood, theme, and visual information to the reader isn’t done nearly enough in comics, so we’re definitely keen on readers paying close attention to it! I think I’ve been lucky that my collaborators have each embraced this in different ways.
AGTM: In the introduction story “The Way Out” that was featured in Dark Horse Presents #11 you focus on a young girl that gets saved by a member of the White Suits and given a choice on how to escape her current life. The following issues in upcoming DHP’s center on different characters that are in their own ways connected to the mysterious group since the Cold War. Do you plan on telling the story of the White Suits in this style? Or will it eventually lead up to a story that focuses solely on the Suits themselves?
Barbiere: The Dark Horse Presents pieces come together to make a “prologue” to the main Suits narrative. These 8-pages were a great opportunity to do some world building, and the main narrative takes place in the present day. The shorts all have elements that will be revisited and built upon, so they are almost like little puzzle pieces that won’t fully come together until the whole story is told. People seem to be enjoying them, but I think once the “big picture” comes together there are going to be some great “aha!” moments for readers.
AGTM: The main image for “The White Suits” has five stylish outlines; do you happen to have a favorite member of the gang?
Barbiere: I worked to try to make each member fairly unique and have a different appeal, so it’s been fun writing each one and trying to figure out what makes them tick. Each of the Suits is actually from a different country/region, so they are quite literally a diverse group of people. My favorite would probably be Raine, a real evil bastard who is going to cause a lot of trouble for our main characters when the series kicks off.
AGTM: Random and final question but do you happen to own a white suit just to go out and promote this story with? Or possibly to freak out “White Suits” fans?
Barbiere: I tend not to wear suits and certainly don’t own a white one…but maybe one day to wear to shows and mess with people. That shouldn’t stop fans from wearing them as much as possible though! They’re pretty snappy.
If this has interested you (don’t lie, you know it did) pick up issues #11 and #19 of Dark Horse Presents to read about the sinister White Suits. It concludes its run as a prologue in issue #20, which will be released January 23, 2013.
You can check out Frank J. Barbiere’s work on his site Atlas Incognita.