Issue 16 of Overstreet’s Comic Price Review is out now and not only features a Mr. Miracle cover by us, but also an interview. We’re really happy with how the article turned out, but we thought you might want to read the entire interview before it was written for the article and trimmed for space. (It turns out that the article space was 1200 words and our interview below was over 3400. Oops! If we knew that initially, we wouldn’t have written such long-winded answers!) This interview was conducted via email with Ian Feller. Enjoy!
BRIAN: BRENDON is the oldest, coming in at a whopping 6 minutes older than me.
BRENDON: That’s right. And did you know I’m still 6 minutes older than him?
OCPR: So how did you two get started in comics?
BRENDON: Well, we had been reading comics since the fifth grade and we knew this is what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. Our first work was with an amateur press association comic called GROUND ZERO. They were doing an ashcan style anthology that published our first creator-owned projects. Mine was Devereaux: Ghost Hunter, which was about a medieval exorcist.
BRIAN: My series was The Cross Time Chronicles, which was about a time traveling adventurer. We each got eight pages to tell our stories. GROUND ZERO only lasted for three issues, but by doing this we were able to get connected with Sean McKeever, who at the time was looking for artists for his new creator-owned series, the waiting place. Sean sent us the first four or five pages (if I’m remembering correctly) of the first issue of the waiting place. We completed them, Sean like what we did, and then he asked us to do the first issue. It was picked up by Slave Labor Graphics a few months later. We did the six issue series, which became volume one, and then went our separate ways.
BRENDON: We then bounced around doing other non-comics projects and the like. Eventually, we saw an ad in the classifieds of CBG, which was about a guy in New Jersey looking for artists to draw his comics. We sent him samples and then began a working relationship with him for the next few years. The bloke we’re talking about is Tony DiGerolamo, and we did art for his Jersey Devil series, The Travelers, and The Fix. And through Tony, we were able to link up with Kenzer and Company.
BRIAN: It’s taken a long time, but each step we’ve taken has gotten progressively better for our careers. It’s hard work, but we’re climbing the latter one rung at a time.
BRENDON: And that’s all you can do in this industry. It’s tough.
OCPR: Do you have formal art training? If so, where did you go? If not, how did you learn?
BRENDON: We went to an art college, Tyler School of Art, which is Temple University’s art school. We each have BFA’s in Graphic Design/Illustration.
BRIAN: And what a “pleasure” those four years were.
BRENDON: Tell me about it. Unless you’re Charles Burns or Art Spiegelman, the faculty at Tyler doesn’t want to know about comic books. It seems all we did was fight with the instructors, who didn’t want us to waste our time with such an inferior art form. The head of the design program advised us at one point that we might be better off leaving Tyler.
BRIAN: You could drop names like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, et al. and they would look at you like your speaking Swahili!
BRENDON: We did have one instructor, David Noyes (who coincidentally also instructed Matt Wagner when he was in college), who loved comics, especially Kirby, and was very hard on us to push us in the right direction. Dave was, no doubt, the best instructor we’ve ever had.
BRIAN: We should point out that even though those four years at Tyler were not fun, we did learn a lot about design, drawing, and we gained a level of professionalism that has made us a favorite with our current editors. The biggest thing they hammered into us at Tyler was “Never miss a deadline.” And in the nine years we’ve been professional artists, we never have. Every issue of Knights of the Dinner Table: Illustrated has come out one time, and we’re very proud of that.
OCPR: Have you always worked as a team? Who does what? Does one of you pencil and the other ink? If so, which one does what?
BRIAN: Not only have we worked as a team, we are a team. BRENDON is the penciler, and I’m the inker. BRENDON also does the lettering. We both do computer coloring for covers in Photoshop, but we usually determine who does the coloring based on which one of us has less to do at the time.
BRENDON: With that said, I should point out that I can also ink (but I suck at it), and BRIAN can pencil, but we decided a long time ago to go with our strengths.
OCPR: How did you land the job on Knights of the Dinner Table: Illustrated?
BRENDON: Well, as we said earlier, we got hired to do Knights of the Dinner Table: Illustrated (referred to as K.ILL) through Tony DiGerolamo. At the time, we were inking his creator-owned series, The Travelers, which was being published at Kenzer and Company. The then current artist of K.ILL had decided to leave the book, which left Kenzer in a bit of a bind. Tony suggested we audition for the comic, so we did. We drew a one-page sample and sent it in with the instruction that we can start tomorrow.
BRIAN: And we honestly thought we’d never get the job. We convinced ourselves it wasn’t going to happen. But to our surprise, it did. We started in the late summer of 2000, and have been working on it ever since. The series started on a bi-monthly schedule, but at issue 15, we went monthly.
BRENDON: That came about because we kept bugging our editor to go monthly. We wanted the challenge of doing a monthly book, and we knew we were quick enough to get it done. And now, we’ve been monthly, for over two years. Right up to K.ILL’s cancellation.
BRIAN: Yeah, the last issue is 41, which ships in December.
OCPR: Have you worked on any other projects either together or separate?
BRIAN: We’ve always worked together. That’s the joy of being twins and working as comic book artists. While BRENDON is penciling the end of an issue of K.ILL, I am inking the beginning of that same issue.
BRENDON: People think we’re so fast as artists but don’t realize we can work on the same issue at the same time. I mean, we are actually pretty fast artists, but no one person can do a complete 22-page comic with a full color cover and 20-30 illustrations for a role-playing game in a month by themselves.
OCPR: Any new titles or projects we can expect from the two of you any time soon?
BRIAN: Now that K.ILL has been cancelled, we do have some projects we’re developing. We don’t want to say too much about our idea for the comic series because we don’t have a publisher yet, but we are working with our pal, writer John Petty (yep that John Petty of Heritage Comics fame) and colorist Matt Webb (best known for coloring John Byrne’s Next Men) on a creator-owned project and, while it's a little too early to say too much about it, we can tell you it involves magic jewelry, heroes from throughout history, flying, a fearsome secret society, a balding, overweight accountant, and a dog named Puddles.
BRENDON: If we told you any more, John and our series editor Judy Lloyd would come after us with the dreaded ‘cat-o’-nine-tails. But I will say I haven’t been this excited to work on a series in a long time. As of this writing, I’ve penciled the first 10 pages of the issue #1 and I can’t wait to get back to work on the next twelve!
BRIAN: We also did spot illustrations and logo design for John Petty’s ROBIN HOOD novel that is being looked at by a few publishers, and we did some art for a children’s book on Norse Mythology that we have to find time to finish and find a publisher for.
OCPR: What has been your best artistic experience so far?
BRIAN: Obviously it’s been the Mr. Miracle cover we did for this great magazine!
BRENDON: Nice one, “teacher’s pet.” Seriously though, we don’t think we’ve had our “best artistic experience” yet. We’re still very much students when it comes to the art. We read magazines like Draw from TwoMorrows to try and learn as much as we can so we can become better artists. We’re sponges absorbing all the knowledge we can.
BRIAN: I think that one great experience we’ve had since becoming professional artists is being able to talk on the same level to the people we’ve admired in this industry. For instance, at this past Baltimore Comicon, we had a long conversation with Steve Rude about the industry, how publishers handle creator-owned properties, etc. and it was great! Here’s a guy whose work we both love, and we’re sharing war stories about working in comics! Steve’s a great guy and a phenomenal artist. Go out and buy his series from Dark Horse, Steve Rude’s The Moth, right now. Go!
OCPR: What would be your dream comics job? What title would you most like to draw and why?
BRENDON: Wow, good question. I don’t think we’ve really thought about that. We’ve been too busy just trying to get a steady, monthly gig. In many ways, our dream job would be being able to work full time on the comic books, without having to rely on a part time job in the “real” world for financial help.
BRIAN: We are open to just about anything. I know I’d love to do an Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America series for Marvel someday. You know, a prestige format limited series featuring our three favorite Avengers. That would be loads of fun.
BRENDON: Yeah! And they can do battle with the Masters of Evil! Or Ultron! Or better yet, Dr. Doom!
BRIAN: Cool! We’re here Marvel, and ready whenever you are!
BRENDON: What about DC? We can’t forget them!
BRIAN: Hmmm… How about a New Gods series? Or better yet, the original Captain Marvel!
BRENDON: Oh man, we’d be perfect for Captain Marvel! Maybe when Jeff Smith is done with his SHAZAM series we can take a crack at the Big Red Cheese. And don’t forget we came up with that JLA Elseworlds story idea a couple of years ago…
OCPR: Do you have a desire to create your own series?
BRIAN: I don’t think there is an artist working in comics today who doesn’t. As we mentioned above, we are working on a series with John Petty and Matt Webb, so as soon as we find a publisher, that will be our new gig.
BRENDON: We’ll keep you posted.
OCPR: Aside from comics, do you do any other illustration work?
BRENDON: Through Kenzer and Co., we were introduced to the world of role-playing game illustration. Kenzer created a RPG called HackMaster, which we became the lead artists for. We’re proud to say we’ve done more art for HackMaster than all the other K & C freelance artists combined.
BRIAN: Yeah, we’ve got a stack of bristol boards about five inches thick of just HackMaster art.
BRENDON: We’ve also done art for other RPG companies, storyboards for commercials and features, and spot illustrations for magazines. You can see more of our non-comics work on our website: www.brosfraim.com.
OCPR: Do you get out to meet your fans at conventions much? If so, do you have any funny or interesting stories you want to share?
BRENDON: We do go to conventions, mostly on the east coast, which are a reasonable driving distance from where we live. We enjoy doing the shows and meeting the fans, but we do have to admit we love going through the dealer’s room just as much!
BRIAN: We don’t have too many funny stories. Though at one Mid-Ohio-Con, we did almost see a fight between a Klingon and a Stormtrooper.
BRENDON: I remember that. Man, was that weird. Apparently the Klingon had taken the Stormtrooper’s helmet. I guess that’s a big no-no.
BRIAN: The thing that strikes us the most about doing cons are the fans that think we’ll have a long line or that we’re all booked up for doing sketches or ask us what we charge to autograph a comic. Our usual response is “We’re not that famous!”
OCPR: I hear you guys are big comics collectors. What title or titles do you collect? (Tales of Suspense?) Do you each collect something different or do you share your collection?
BRIAN: Right now, we’re working on a high-grade CGC run of Tales of Suspense #59 to 99. Since I’m the big Iron Man fan, and BRENDON is the big Captain America fan, this seemed like the perfect series for us to collect. And yes, we do share it. (It’s another one of those “twin” things.)
BRENDON: As of this writing, we only need eight more. We have one 8.5, number 60, but the rest are all 9.0, 9.2, and 9.4 graded copies. We can’t afford anything higher in grade, but some of the 9.4 copies we have are sweet!
BRIAN: We also collect our monthly reading comics. In the past, we were more into buying back issues, but we’ve completed that. I have my complete run of Iron Man, Nexus, Grendel, etc. so I don’t need to collect any back issues anymore.
BRENDON: Same with me. I have my Captain America complete run, along with James Robinson’s Starman, Hellboy, Concrete and too many more to mention. I’m totally into the new Dark Horse Conan series.
BRIAN: At some point, we’ll start collecting high-grade CGC copies of early Iron Man and Captain America issues (like the first 25 maybe), but we want to finish Tales of Suspense first.
BRENDON: Don’t forget we’re collecting The Spirit Archives and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Archives from DC. We also buy the complete Neal Adams Batman books, the Fantastic Four Masterworks, and The Jack Kirby Collector. And that’s just our short list! We’d also like to get into collecting original art, but can’t afford it.
OCPR: How did you get started collecting?
BRIAN: I think we started the same way anyone else does. You buy some comics or baseball cards and decide to keep them rather than throw them away. Then BOOM! You have a collection.
BRENDON: I remember a childhood friend of ours was already into comics and introduced us to them. It was during the time of Secret Wars, when Spider-Man had the black costume that was alive. That just blew us away!
OCPR: When did the collection begin?
BRIAN: When we realized we didn’t have any more room in our tiny bedroom at our parents house.
OCPR: How extensive is the collection?
BRIAN: We each have 10 long boxes full of comics, I think.
BRENDON: That sounds about right. And we’re in dire need of some more of those boxes right now. Our condo is full of comics!
OCPR: How do you decide what issue to purchase next?
BRENDON: Well, for the Tales of Suspense run, that depends on what is available. We check eBay frequently. We also are on Heritage Comics Auctions site every two weeks to see what’s new.
BRIAN: The majority of the CGC Tales of Suspense copies we’ve bought has been through Heritage. Since we are down to the final eight that we need, we’re getting into slim pickin’s!
BRENDON: We also are relatively new to eBay, so we’ve probably missed a lot of key issues we need.
OCPR: Where do you keep your collection?
BRENDON: We have a walk-in closet. Most of the comics are in there. All our other stuff is decorated around our condo.
OCPR: How do you store the collection?
BRENDON: In those pre-made, long cardboard long boxes. And yes, we do bag and board.
BRIAN: The older comics we bag and board, the newer ones we usually put two or three in a single bag. Our statues, action figures and such are either in glass cases, hanging on the wall, or in a bookcase.
OCPR: Do you collect ancillary items to the comics or just the comics themselves?
BRENDON: Oh my, yes. We love the statues, busts, action figures, and all that neat stuff. Most of the stuff we collect involves Cap and Iron Man. I have many of the Cap statues and busts, action figures, and even the Cap shield replica from Factory X.
BRIAN: I also have many Iron Man statues, action figures, and the Iron Man helmet replica also from Factory X. We also have items not related to our two favorite Marvel heroes, like the Green Lantern Power Battery prop and the Bat Signal prop.
BRENDON: We loved Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so we have many collectibles from that. Having only been vaguely aware of the books, we were blown away by the Fellowship of the Ring when we saw it in theaters. We collect all the action figures, many of the busts and statues from Sideshow Weta, and a pair of sword replicas: The Shards of Narsil and Anduril, the Sword of King Elessar. Oh, we have the books too!
BRIAN: We also have a big table full of The Simpsons action figures and playsets from Playmates. We love The Simpsons and have all the figures from this line except two, the exclusive Radioactive Homer and the Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con exclusive Comic Book Guy.
BRENDON: We also collect other action figures like the Marvel Legends series, many of the DC Direct figures, and some of the McFarlane Movie Maniacs and The Matrix figures. We used to buy up the new Star Wars figures like gangbusters, but the prequels kind of cooled us on Star Wars.
BRIAN: But that’s a whole other topic that we don’t need to get into here.
OCPR: After you complete this collection, do you have something else in mind to collect? If so, what?
BRIAN: As we said earlier, we’d like to get early issues of Iron Man and Captain America in CGC high-grade.
BRENDON: It also depends on what new cool stuff will be coming out. Comics or movie related memorabilia, you never can tell. That’s what makes it fun!
OCPR: If there’s anything additional you’d like to add or questions you’d like to answer that aren’t on here, please go right ahead.
BRENDON: The only thing we’d like to add is this, our Stan Lee quote!
"When it comes to artwork, The Brothers Fraim are in a class by
themselves, mixing style, enthusiasm and humor, my three favorite things.
BRENDON: And for all you trivia buffs out there, we have the same birthday as Alex Toth. Our Dad has the same birthday as Stan Lee.
BRIAN: See? It was fate that we were going to be comic book artists!
Knights of the Dinner Table: Illustrated is going monthly beginning with #15, released in October.
Also shipping in October, the Knights of the Dinner Table: Illustrated Trade Paperback which will be of the first 5 issues of K.ILL and sport a new cover by us.
This interview was conducted via email with Brent Frankenhoff, Managing Editor of the Comics Buyer's Guide and appeared in its edited version in CBG #1459, dated November 2, 2001.
1 - How did you acquire the KoDT Illustrated