Kylar Merrell (co-editor)Derrick Crow (co-editor) – 20+ other creators including Ben Humeniuk, Tiffany McLeod, Johnny Cassidy, Phillip Butehorn, Nick Bryan, and Luc Nakashoji
Foreign Press Comics, 2022
Hopping from one place to another, multidimensional being the kind of travel we are talking about, proves to be quite a difficult task for the eponymous hero Fletcher. Whether he actually is a hero or simply a dimension-traveller is left to the reader not simply to decide, but rather to decipher, once the ending is reached and a moral is to be derived from the long, wonderful and creatively crazy journey he went through.
Displace yourself from a dimension to another, and a different setting, a different (although, not always) language or even a different race might pop up, leaving you wondering how many more different combinations might there be in a multiverse so vast that crosses the boundaries of any kind of constraints and overflows into the realm of infinity. Possibilities are virtually endless, then.
The idea behind this collection of stories, a scientist who manages to move through universes, is such that grants its contributors that kind of artistic freedom that succeed in making the reader want to keep on reading not just for the sake of saying “I’ve reached the end”. Rather, there is the curiosity that is born out of the impossibility of knowing exactly both which the direction the story is going, and the kind of surprise is about to explode on the next page.
What could have been a mess, such a high number of creators, turns out to be the main pillar the book stands on, therefore reaching those peaks of inventiveness that only creative freedom can attain.
Such freedom, of course, is limited by a set of rules that must not be forgotten : Fletcher is the main protagonist, Fletcher must find himself in a new dimension at the beginning of the story and exit it as the adventure moves to its end, thus leaving space for the next creator(s) to do whatever they like (as long as the aforementioned rules are followed).
Fletcher himself has little characterization per se, as he is simply defined by the fact that he is a scientist and a man. Yet, this all turns out to be perfectly attuned to what the main story is about, the underlying principle of there being more than one side of Fletcher’s character throughout the journey. The explanation, closing the book, manages to leave us satisfied and, at the same time, marveling at how it subverts what our expectations might be. Surprises abound, then.
Some readers might feel disappointed. There is not a straightforward story to follow. The different styles of the writers and the artists can be jarring. The overall result could seem a little too flimsy if what they are looking for is a solid story.
Yet, there actually is what we might call a character arc, and the result of this collaboration succeeds in presenting an explosion of creativity without sacrificing the overall structure. An experiment regarding the creation of a comic book, Fletcher Cross is worthy of praise for its will to try a new approach. Even if the idea of a multiverse is nothing new, this book shows us that the possibilities it leads to are infinite. Let’s keep hopping from one dimension to another.
WCBR : How did you come up with the idea of multi-dimensions as a way to let different artists and writers tell their own story?
Foreign Press Comics : The original concept of the book was as an homage to Golden Age comics of the 50s and 60s, with those wacky scifi roots. We went through several ideas and eventually settled on the multiverse, since it allows the creators to tell any story they want to, virtually without limits.
WCBR : The structure of the book is such that, apart from the beginning and the ending, its reading order can change without any problems. Would you say that it gave the writers more freedom, or were they a bit confused, at first?
FPC : There were definitely some questions and some confusion, just because I’ve never seen a book with this structure before, and I don’t think many others have either. But once we started there was pretty much complete freedom. After the comics were done, my co-editor, Derrick Crow, and I went through the submissions and out them in an order that we felt fit with the character’s arc, just based on how the different writers wrote him. We’ve altered that a little as time went on, but the creators had almost complete freedom. And then Derrick and I felt we needed a little bit more cohesion, so we added some short chapters to make it feel more connected, and we added a few pieced of dialogue to stories here and there to help with that as well.
WCBR : The book seems to draw inspiration from the idea of the mad scientist, an idea we are quite familiar to, from Shelley’s Frankenstein to Lang’s Metropolis. Why did you choose to have such a protagonist? How important is the role science has in your story?
FPC : I’m not sure that a “mad scientist” was the actual idea we had, but again, we were going for a retro sci-fi vibe, and a lot of those old characters were scientists, or had some sort of background like that. I’m not sure that science actually plays a role either. Again, we let the creators have a lot of freedom, so we didn’t have parameters set for them to keep it scientific. In fact, a lot of the times we needed to establish something about the Dimensionalizer or the multiverse, we purposefully made quasi-scientific words to fit our purposes, like the quantum compass that a lot of the story hinges upon.
WCBR : Were there any ideas from your collaborators you thought could not find a place in the overall structure? Was something left out, changed, reworked, or was it a situation where everything could be accepted?
FPC : We had closed submissions, so there was only one idea we had to reject. We knew we were getting writers we liked and more importantly, people we trusted, but one writer had an idea that was too similar to another story that we already had, and the writer decided he couldn’t make the story work and stepped down, so a bit of a mutual decision. As far as I can remember, no one else was rejected. We had a great pool of talent, and I think the book shows that!