When Kirby, a French Bulldog with a serious Napoleon Complex, moves to a new home in the quaint New England town of Strasburg, Massachusetts, and stumbles upon a forgotten secret laboratory, he realizes that his dreams of Planetary Conquest are finally within paw’s reach. But, suddenly, Kirby realizes he isn’t alone. Seemingly out of nowhere, a strange group of people appear, exhibiting what Kirby can only describe as superpowers! Kirby must rise up against all who stand in his way to emerge victorious in this ultimate quest for world domination.
Atomic Frenchie is the first book in a series from Insight Comics following the adventures of Kirby, professional supervillain and future ruler of Earth, as he schemes and battles his way past evil library robots, supernatural cat ladies, superpowered mail men, and more bizarre characters to achieve his sinister dreams of ruling the world.
Series creators, writer Thomas Sniegoski and illustrator Tom McWeeney, took some time to discuss their new book.
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FOG!: What was the genesis of the project?
TOM SNIEGOSKI: I have this weird habit of liking to include my dogs in my work. Had Labrador Retrievers in my Fallen series, and my Remy Chandler books, wrote a comic and its sequel called Swords of Shar-Pei. . . so yeah, love to work my current pup into my works.
My current furry buddy is Kirby. He’s my seven year old French Bulldog, and boy is he a handful.
I’ve never had such an experience with a dog. He’s super stubborn, pretty aggressive (when challenged) and seems to have some ulterior motives for all his actions. He was a book character just waiting to be born.
FOG!: How did Tom approach you with the project? What were your initial thoughts of the concept?
TOM McWEENEY: Tom did what every professional says you’re not supposed to do, which is, he reached out to me on Facebook. He asked if I was interested in reading a proposal he’d written. I really didn’t know who he was, but I’d seen his name pop up in the comments of other comic guys I followed so he wasn’t a complete stranger. I Googled him and saw he was legit and said sure.
The proposal was just a bare-bones breakdown of the basic idea and main characters, with short, one paragraph, outlines of what the second and third books in the series might be. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it on the initial pass. It seemed like a vanity project; some guy amused by his dog trying to make a story around that.
But, I sat on it before responding and found myself going back to the descriptions of books two and three. In there, he mentioned some other characters that intrigued me and that I thought had potential to make the book something great.
After a few discussions on the tone of the series and how Tom was going to let the story play out, I realized we were on the same page.
FOG!: What do you think Tom McWeeney uniquely brought to the project?
SNIEGOSKI: Tom McWeeney made this project sing. He not only brought an amazing sense of design, and incredible storytelling, but also he really made the idea SO much better than what I originally envisioned.
FOG!: The book features both prose and comic book sequences. Were there certain sequences that were always intended to be in one format or the other and did any of those change while putting the book together?
SNIEGOSKI: When we were plotting out the first book we decided what would be comics—which would be Tom McWeeney’s territory—and what would be prose, which would be mine. There were sequences in the outline that just screamed to be drawn.
McWEENEY: The only sequence that was intended was the final battle scene late in the book, but that was decided upon even before we know what was going to happen. We both just knew there had to be a cool action scene late and that it should be shown rather than written about.
The first comic scene that was actually done for the book, was done for the proposal. Which was a sequence called “The Plan,” and it was written specifically to show Kirby in action and give buyers an idea of where we wanted to go. The other comic sequences just came as the story began to take shape.
FOG!: Your French bulldog, Kirby, to whom you dedicated the book to, is obviously the impetus of the character. What elements of your Kirby did you incorporate into the fictional Kirby?
SNIEGOSKI: The reason I named him Kirby is because he looks like something that Jack Kirby would have come up with if you asked him to design a dog. Kirby also looks like a Skrull.
FOG!: You posted on Facebook that the book was turned down by twelve publishers before finding a home at Insight Comics because it didn’t fit into their vision of kid-lit. Did you and Tom make any changes while shopping it around or were you able to stay loyal to your vision?
McWEENEY: Let me clarify that not all of those twelve rejected it because they didn’t “get it,” but most of them did. The idea behind Atomic Frenchie is such that it can really only work one way, which Tom and I discussed long before the proposal was finished. So, we’d agreed that we would be flexible within reason with buyers but that the core conceit had to remain intact.
That conceit is that Kirby is NOT a good dog. He is, in fact a villain in every sense of the word.
One of the first questions I asked Tom before agreeing to work on Frenchie was “Is Kirby going to pull a Darth Vader and have a change of heart at some point?”
And when Tom said “no”.
Immediately I told him, “OK”, I’m in.”
Insight “got” the idea right off and didn’t ask for a single change.
FOG!: In ten words or less, why should people read Atomic Frenchie?
McWEENEY: Ugh, I can’t say anything in ten words or less…Let’s go with, because it’s like NOTHING you’ve read before.
SNIEGOSKI: You’ve never seen or read a cooler book! BOOM!
FOG!: The end of the book teases the next volume. When should fans expect to see that?
SNIEGOSKI: I would guess next year around this time at the latest.
McWEENEY: Since I’m a little behind on Book Two at the moment, I decline to comment.
FOG!: What are you currently geeking out over?
SNIEGOSKI: Hmmm, let’s see. For movies I thought A Quiet Place was great. I just got back from seeing Rampage and thought that was stupid fun. For TV, really digging the new Lost in Space. For books, currently reading Midnight Front by David Mack. For comics I’m LOVING Marvel’s Thanos book, Tom King’s Batman and Mister Miracle for DC, and Eric Powell’s Hillbilly for Albatross.
McWEENEY: I’m catching up on and loving Michel Fiffe’s Copra. Isle of Dogs was a masterpiece. Totally dug Babylon Berlin and Wild, Wild Country on Netflix.
I never miss an episode of the My Favorite Murder podcast. I listen to a lot of podcasts these days, mostly True Crime or Investigative Journalism types. Dirty John, Heaven’s Gate and In The Dark were all terrific.
Atomic Frenchie: Sit. Stay. Rule. is available now
wherever books and comic books are sold.
Available digitally on Kindle.
….And to celebrate, we’re giving away a copy courtesy of our friends at Insight Comics!
To enter, send an email with the subject header “ATOMIC FRENCHIE” to geekcontest @ gmail dot com and answer the following question:
What mini-series did Tom Sniegoski co-write with Christopher Golden with Bernie Wrightston
illustrating, remains to be the only Marvel Knights story never have been to collected?
Please include your name, and address (U.S. only. You must be 18 years old).
Only one entry per person and a winner will be chosen at random.
Contest ends at 11:59 PM EST on May 6th, 2018.