Mark Russell Discusses The Flintstones

Editor's note: This interview was conducted before the release of Booster Gold/The Flintstones Annual #1.

Critical Writ: Were you ever concerned about the potential for public backlash based on the more politically-inclined tone of the new Flintstones comic?

Mark Russell: No, because you simply can't write looking in the rear-view mirror like that. I assume there will be backlash regardless of what I write. That liberates me to say what I really want to. I've written books and I've written comics and the big difference is that when you write a book, people will wait to read it before deciding they hate it. Most of the backlash from The Flintstones came immediately after the project was announced, before I'd even written a page of it. Some people imagined that their childhoods were being tampered with. Others thought a Flintstones reboot just sounded like the worst idea anyone had ever had. The irony is that I've written a book about the Bible and people weren't half as upset about that as me messing with The Flintstones.

Critical Writ: If you had the opportunity to go further with the series, what would you have liked to introduce in future issues?

Mark Russell: One storyline that I kept cutting out of the final draft was Bamm-Bamm falling in love and having his heart broken. Most people spend years preparing themselves to have the sex-talk with their children, but nobody ever speaks to their kids about dealing with heartbreak and it's far more traumatizing. If your kid is having sex, that at least they're doing okay socially. Feeling unwanted and rejected and not having lived long enough to put it into context is a really painful reality most of us have had to deal with. And deal with alone, for the most part.

Critical Writ: Do you have a favorite cut joke or deleted idea from the comic?

Mark Russell: I had written a scene with a cocaine-addicted rat at the Science Cave, but they made me cut it.

Critical Writ: Next week, the Booster Gold/The Flintstones Annual #1 special will arrive. What was it like to mix the goofy tone of a Booster Gold story with the more socially-aware Flintstones cast? Did you have trouble combining the two or did it come naturally?

Mark Russell: It felt surprisingly natural. I still wrote about the same sort of subjects, but from the perspective of Booster Gold, who is over-confident despite being largely inept and for whom things just sort of seem to work out anyway. I relate to him a lot, actually.

Critical Writ: Steve Pugh's work on the series has been consistently fantastic, especially with including small background jokes, such as the standard Flintstones parodies of modern-day stores and restaurants. How close was the collaboration on that? Did you think of some of the jokes or did Steve just let his imagination run wild, so to speak?

Mark Russell: I come up with a lot of the puns and background jokes and then Steve adds even more, trying to top me. It's weird when there is references I don't get in my own comic.

Critical Writ: On that same note, The Flintstones has been praised for having a sense of social justice in a similar vein as Prez, one of your previous projects. Did working on Prez help to prepare you for this?

Mark Russell: To me, this is the fundamental mission of comic books. To identify what is wrong with the world and create characters who can set it right. This is what the really good superhero comics do. They're about the power needed to address the deficit between the world as it is and what it should be. I know that, in reality, superhero comics often end up being more like professional wrestling. Good guys matching up against colorful villains they haven't fought for a while occasionally forming tag-teams with other heroes. But at their heart, I feel like superhero comics are meditations on power. The Flintstones tries to do that, too, albeit without people in capes who can fly.

Critical Writ: Finally, the last issue of The Flintstones is scheduled to arrive in June. Can you offer any kind of hints as to how the series will end?

Mark Russell: The Great Gazoo has to make his final report to the gambling authorities on his home planet of Las Vega. He struggles over how to set the odds on the survival of the human race. Oh, and there's a bowling tournament!

The Flintstones Vol. 1 is now available for purchase. You can find it online or at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.