Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig Ort! Since we’re all now getting in touch with some Irish Gaelic thanks to Liam Sharp’s The Brave and the Bold, why not wish the blessings of St. Patricks to you all in the saint’s original language? I hope you all did not get so tipsy you started seeing some lights leading you to faerie land.
As June’s full solicitations march our way, it is only natural that the heralds have already arrived. They bring news that, due to the BatCat marriage, the Batcave will be fairly crowded over on the main Batman title, where we will be welcoming Tim Seeley, Rafael Albuquerque, Brad Walker, Drew Hennessy, Travis Moore, Minkyu Jung and Sami Basri. Joining them in the festivities but coming in the name of Detective Comics will be Bryan Hill, joined by Miguel Mendonça.
Tom King, Mikel Janin, Joëlle Jones, Clay Mann, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tim Seeley, Rafael Albuquerque, Brad Walker, Drew Hennessy, Travis Moore, Minkyu Jung, Sami Basri, Javier Fernandez
The wedding is officially scheduled! According to a report by Nerdist, the ceremony will be taking place in issue #50, likely coming out in July. Leading to the official ceremony, DC just announced a collection of one-shots written by Tim Seeley to come out starting May and through all of June. “Prelude to the Wedding” will be comprised of five issues, and each focusing on a member of the core Batfamily – excluding Tim and including Harley Quinn for some reason, and each drawn by a different artist; Brad Walker and Drew Hennessy (Robin vs Ra’s al Ghul), Travis Moore (Nightwing vs Hush), Minkyu Jung (Batgirl vs Riddler), Sami Basri (Harley Quinn vs The Joker), and Javier Fernandez (Red Hood vs Anarky). The issues will have interlocking covers drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, and the first two have already been revealed. And Dick Grayson as best man? I’m all in.
More close to us is Batman #44, though. The issue not only got two covers, one by Mikel Janin and one by Joëlle Jones but apparently, its interiors will also be drawn by both artists. Tom King, while reviewing the letters of the issue, commented that “It was a weird, tricky script and they turned it into one of the most beautiful comic issues I’ve ever read.” King also shared previews by both artists, and they might be pieces of issue #44. JOËLLE JONES’ panel shows Catwoman in traditional Gotham gargoyle-diving.
Also coming up in Batman will be an issue drawn by LEE WEEKS, and the panel shared by King seems to be putting Batman against Mr. Freeze.
And as if the collection of amazing artists were not enough, King also shared a quite revealing panel of the upcoming arc with TONY DANIEL, showing Booster seeing Hal possibly killing himself, possibly in an alternate reality and/or universe.
James Tynion IV, Jesus Merino, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Javier Fernandez, Bryan Hill, Miguel Mendonça
This week we got to welcome to the Batcave the writer who’ll be taking over after James Tynion leaves the title: BRYAN HILL. As reported by Den of Geek, Bryan will be joined by MIGUEL MENDONÇA, who’s been around the Batcave for a while now, on a five-issue run that will bring Black Lightning to Gotham. With covers by EDDY BARROWS, their short run will start with issue #982.
Bryan used his Twitter account to thank his fans for the support, saying “I get the opportunities to write these comics because of the support you show my work. It’s never about me. It’s about readers and stories. I’m grateful for you all. Thank you.” He also thanked James Tynion for “being so supportive of me visiting his Gotham”, which leads us to believe he will be continuing on wherever Tynion leaves the team by the end of his run. Bryan, by the way, is also on the writing team of the Titans series, and, rumor has it, Jason Todd might be featured in of one episode.
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT
Sean Gordon Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth
After giving a new origin to Victor Fries, Murphy commented on how he developed the background story for the Fries family. He says:
“I wrote Freeze’s family history to mirror Baron Von Braun, the father of rocket engineering. I actually had a WW2 backstory scene for Freeze that I cut from White Knight (not enough room). I even pitched it as mini, drawn by Klaus Janson. It’s based around the complex history of Victor and Nora’s family, and how WW2 divided them (Nora is Jewish in BWK). In BWK, Nora and Victor’s fathers were BFF scientists who developed FreezeTech together. But things fell apart when the Nazis came to power, and Nora’s family lost everything.”
I don’t know about any of you, but I would read this as a mini-series any time of the week, any day of the year.
Remember Larry? Robin’s very own Bat-mite from the Teen Titans show, whose name is Nosyarg Kcid? Well, I’ve got one of my own, and he lives in my mind – as he will, the fifth dimension being imagination. The trickster will often pop up out of nowhere and proceed to pester me asking when I’ll be having the next Dick Grayson enthusiast as a Gothamite. With no other choice but to attend to his wishes lest he wreaks my house, I invited ANTONIA DE PIERI as our Gothamite this week.
After this ridiculous justification for my self-indulging acts, I have to say Antonia’s art is often a bright spot in some dark days because of how precious her depiction of Dick Grayson is. And when I say Dick Grayson, I mean Grayson in all shapes and sizes (oh lord, the urge to make a ridiculous pun). From little Robin being the sweetest boy there ever was as he tries to manipulate Bruce by faking illness, to long-haired Discowing getting on poor Jason’s nerves (or current-time long-haired Dick bothering poor Damian), to Dad-wing, Bat-mom and uncle Damian in what is the most endearing comic ever, or just him having some takeout with his partner.
Her love for those characters shines through every single piece she shares with the world, be them quick sketches or fully finished pieces. I mean, it takes a deep understanding of a character to develop what is the best “How to draw Dick Grayson” tutorial to ever exist (it involves Doritos, a knife, eyeshadow and a fan and it is not what you expect). Not only that, Antonia has a way of depicting the parental relationships in the Batfamily that often goes missing in official Bat media. Her main focus is on Bruce with Dick and Dick with Damian, which is just perfect for little me, standing in the crowd, wearing an “I owe my life to Grant Morrison” shirt. About their relationships, Antonia says that:
“Bruce and Dick have just about every platonic relationship you could have with another person all wrapped up in one. They’re partners, friends, brothers, father and son. It changed with time and with what they needed from the other. While it’s been on ups and downs throughout their many years, it is unbreakable at its core, and I always find it so sweet and wonderful to see evidence of that. […]
This also leads me into why I love Dick and Damian so much. Damian came from a world in which emotional attachments are weaknesses and it was in his best interest to harden his heart against everything. Much like Bruce, it took partnering with Dick to get him to open up (I think Dick might just have a way with Waynes and their unique brand of personality traits).”
She is not averse to the pure brotherly relationships though. In fact, one of her best pieces features a relationship that is often neglected or portrayed as one of pure rivalry: Tim and Damian. It goes back to when Damian was brought back to life and Dick was still believed to be dead, and the fact that the situation was brushed off in the comics. And Tim Drake, most selfless being to ever exist, would never leave his little brother, however reluctant their relationship is, without support. And thus Antonia destroyed our hearts, with a beautiful light and shadow composition and very little words were spoken.
Our short interview went as follows:
What got you into Batman comics? And can you pinpoint when you could definitely say you were becoming a Batman fan?
I actually got into Batman really quickly after watching Lego Batman. I know it’s sort of an odd introduction, but I’d pretty much had zero exposure to him before then, besides a glimpse of the Nolan films when I was a kid. I saw Lego Batman last February and immediately after walking out of the theater said, “No one told me Robin was his kid!” That’s pretty much the moment it happened. My friend told me all about Dick’s backstory and transition into Nightwing, recommended me some Nightwing comics, and I was hooked.
You seem to value a lot of the parental relationships in the Batfam, both of Dick and Damian and of Bruce and little Dickie. What would you say appeals to you in those relationships? Also, how do they differ, in your opinion?
I should start by saying that you could give me a month and I still wouldn’t be able to summarize all the reasons why I love Bruce and Dick. I think what initially drew me to them was seeing this closed-off man, hurt and hardened by everything the world threw at him, allowing himself to open up and love again because his heart ached to help a child grieving the same loss as him. He found purpose and love in Dick, and Dick found something that Bruce didn’t have at 8 years old: someone who understood exactly what he was going through on a personal level. They’re two kindred spirits that somehow found each other in a hurricane and held on for dear life, and before either of them really knew it, they became everything to each other. Bruce and Dick have just about every platonic relationship you could have with another person all wrapped up in one. They’re partners, friends, brothers, father, and son. It changed with time and with what they needed from the other. While it’s been on ups and downs throughout their many years, it is unbreakable at its core, and I always find it so sweet and wonderful to see evidence of that. Two of my favorite moments have to be in JLA when Dick is told that Bruce said “The only time I ever feel pride is when I look at Nightwing. Sometimes I think he’s the only thing I ever did right,” and Dick’s letter to Bruce in Gotham Knights #14 (that he doesn’t send) telling him that he wouldn’t bring his parents back if it meant giving up the life he has with Bruce. The entire letter is so bittersweet and shows how much Dick loves his partner/friend/brother/father.
This also leads me to why I love Dick and Damian so much. Damian came from a world in which emotional attachments are weaknesses and it was in his best interest to harden his heart against everything. Much like Bruce, it took partnering with Dick to get him to open up (I think Dick might just have a way with Waynes and their unique brand of personality traits). If they love something, they love it wholly and deeply, and it’s not hard at all to love Dick Grayson. This might sound a bit obvious, but I like the role reversal that they bring to Batman and Robin. Dick and Damian have a similar dynamic to Bruce and Dick in that Dick is the one with a much more flexible and obvious emotional range, bringing out the personality from behind Damian’s hard exterior, but this time we get a smiling Batman and a grumpy Robin. Dick also got to save someone just like Bruce saved him, and be saved in turn. Damian, like a true Robin, kept Dick from being consumed by the cowl and his own darkness while they both grieved the loss of Bruce. They got to start the first new cycle, Batman and Robin, eternally protecting Gotham until Gotham doesn’t need them anymore. It’s a beautiful repeat of Bruce and Dick’s themes with its own charm of Damian actively not wanting to let Dick in and Dick chipping away at his defenses. It’s wonderful to see the slow evolution of their relationship into something strong both as civilians and as vigilantes when Dick uncovers the golden heart that Damian has hidden away, and Damian can’t deny that he loves his brother who has also become a sort of parental figure to him.
And about your art style. I feel like you go more for expressive and cartoony than the old big n’ buff of traditional superhero comics. Is animation your main influence? And, apart from that, is there any specific comic artist you’d say influences you?
Yes, animation was always a big part of my upbringing and I love it to bits! I’ve said this before in answer to a question on my blog, but one of the most fun things about drawing for me is being able to feel the life in it, to make whoever is looking at it believe that there’s an entire world happening there with its own emotion and heart. Classic animated Disney movies are a huge influence for me, which is probably why, after Lego Batman, Batman The Animated Series was the next thing I watched (which has the most top-tier Bruce characterization and, quite honestly, defined his character to me). The great thing about Bruce Timm’s style is that it’s so heavily based on shape design, and his lines of action are consistently strong and bold. It really inspired me to push the shapes in my own art. So much of the way that I draw Bruce and Dick, in particular, takes cues from his designs. As for comic artists, I absolutely adore the way Jorge Jimenez draws Damian and Jon. The amount of expression and liveliness that makes it into his work is astounding. Babs Tarr is another amazing inspiration (especially the way she draws Dick) and I immediately fell in love with her art after seeing her work with Batgirl. Everything it about it just makes me sigh happily. Dustin Nguyen’s art always makes me smile, too. His style is so unique, and his coloring especially is appealing to me. I have definitely seen a distinct and positive change in my own art just from taking in the work of so many talented people over at DC, applying what I like about their styles to my own. That’s the great thing about art; you’re always learning and developing further.