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Kidd on Death by Design

We saw a preview of Batman: Death by Design earlier this week and the new graphic novel hits stores next Wednesday. Comic Book Resources talked with Chip Kidd about the upcoming release including what the thought was behind the project.


Batman: Death by DesignCBR: I won't reveal how or why this question appears in "Death by Design" but what are you doing here?


Chip Kidd: [Laughs] I have been using that as the opening line in my lectures recently. Look, it's a basic philosophical question that we could all ask ourselves every single day. It's really about, "What are you accomplishing?" And "What are you going to leave behind?" Basically, "Are you doing something constructive with your life?" I forget why it occurred to me to include it in the book, but like I said, I think it's something that we should constantly be asking ourselves.


CBR: Part of the appeal of this project must have been developing the concepts for the new architecture of 1930s' Gotham City. Highlights for me included the humpback whale inspired railway station and the mini-maximalist nightclub, known as The Ceiling —


Chip Kidd: A lot of that is me just having fun and becoming a fantasy architect. There is no such thing as mini-maximalism or maxi-minimalism, or at least not that I am aware of. Early on, Cyndia Syl praises the Wayne Central Station because it's "the single best example of patri-monumental modernism in America." And that's also gobbledygook, fake architectural speak. It's patri-monumental modernism as in his father built it. But while it was all fun, I consulted with a lot of architects who have built skyscrapers in New York City to find out what it takes to get something built. There is a lot of real stuff here too.


The Ceiling was one of the few ideas that I have been harboring for years. And I really wanted to see it in a Batman story. Again, it is like something you might find in a Busby Berkeley movie that never happened because it's just too literally over the top. The whale station, again, that was Dave pulling one of his miracles. I wrote all that into the script, "Thousands of commuters, each day transformed into Jonah himself, swallowed by the leviathan of mass transitional vortex. Only to emerge again, spat out onto the very sidewalk of their destinations, their faith in a mobile society restored." But Dave's the one that had to figure out what that was going to look like. It was completely up to him.


CBR: Batman is almost as famous for his gadgets as he is for his rogues. In this story, you were able to add a few new devices to the utility belt like the Grapple-Tron and the impact neutralizer. Does it get any better than that?


Chip Kidd: That was an incredible amount of fun. But I also wanted to invent a bunch of characters to put my personal stamp on the story, too. I loved this idea of a designer/villain who is not really a villain but more of a provocateur. He seems to come and go at will and how is he doing that? And why is he doing that? I think the best Batman villains work because you know why they are doing what they are doing. They have a reason for what they are doing.


Originally, my outline and proposal did not have The Joker in it. Chiarello said, "This is fine, but don't you want to use any of the classic villains?" I said, "Am I allowed to?" Because one does not assume. And he said, "Sure." I thought, "I may never get this opportunity again," so I had to go for The Joker. And then I had to figure out a reason for him to be there with the other characters. And then I couldn't resist a cameo of the classic Penguin at the end. Who knows, if I had more pages, I may have had The Riddler in there, too. [Laughs]


For the entire interview, including lots of talk about the art, head over to Comic Book Resources. Batman: Death by Design hits stores next Wednesday, May 30.


Posted by Dustin Fritschel

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