Batman: The Dark Knight #16 will be the start of a brand new story arc featuring the Mad Hatter by writer Gregg Hurwitz , as well the debut of artist Ethan Van Sciver on the title. Newsarama recently had a chance to talk to both Gregg Hurwitz & Ethan Van Sciver on what we can expect from the Mad Hatter in this new story arc.
Newsarama: Gregg, you mentioned that you think Ethan was particularly right for your take on The Mad Hatter. Can you tell us what this villain is about?
Gregg Hurwitz: One of the things I noticed with Hatter in a lot of the stories is he's sort of obsessed with finding his Alice. You know? That's sort of the motif. He's got a thing with girls or women who look like or resemble Alice. And he's always sort of off-kilter and getting himself into trouble and slurping tea. But I never really read the story that, for me, everything clicked into place with what the overarching theme was for why that's the case. Like, why is this is predominant archetypal narrative? That he's in the pursuit, that he has this obsession.
And so I wanted to explain where he gets that compulsion, and where that obsession arose from. And I wanted to reach back and find, what are the events that made him, that gave him this incredibly violent and menacing fixation? What are the stages that brought him to that, and then also sustained that unwavering fixation on finding his Alice and recreating this fantastical wonderland.
Ethan Van Sciver: From the Mad Hatter's perspective, it's about trying to reclaim a perfect moment from your youth, now that your adulthood has forced your life to go awry. There was a time in his life, you'll see, where things were good. But it's not the clichéd supervillain origin. Mad Hatter's very different from that. His story is unique.
Newsrama: Ethan, what were your thoughts behind the Mad Hatter character as you designed him?
Ethan Van Sciver: You know, I'm getting to know him, because I didn't know much about Mad Hatter when I took the job. I'd given him zero thought. Obviously, it's an opportunity to create a character that I don't think many fans have given much thought to. Gregg and I talked about this early on. What is the best Mad Hatter story? What's the singular Mad Hatter story? And there are one or two — you know, in the animated series and I think there's been a couple of comic stories. But really, there's no Killing Joke, you know? There's no definitive Mad Hatter story. So we felt free to rethink him. Or not even "re"-think him. Just "think" him.
And to start with, I thought about Timothy Leary, the LSD guru from the 1960s, and Charles Manson, and all these kind of strange '60s radical cult leaders. And I put a lot of that into the kind of classic Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter that existed in the old storybook artwork. So we landed on that classic appearance of Mad Hatter, but with something Charles Manson about him. And we came up with a new take on him, where he's cute but also bizarre and scary and dangerous. So he's scary and disturbing, but there's something likable about him, hopefully. As I draw him, I chuckle. So I hope he's amusing.
But it was important that we make him, even though he's a small guy — he's only about four and a half feet tall — it was important at the same time that we make him physically menacing. He's a frightening guy when he gets eye to eye with you. And sometimes he needs a little help to get to that eye level.
Gregg Hurwitz: There's an incredibly perverse sequence in the first issue that involves a step-ladder. [Laughs.]
You can check out the full interview over at Newsarama. Batman: The Dark Knight #16 will hit stores in February.
Posted by Dane Haji