Tag: DC Comics

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Writer Mark Russell

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Writer Mark Russell

In this episode of the Pop Culture SquadCast we spoke with writer Mark Russell. It’s been about seven years since Mark burst on the scene with his breakthrough book The Flintstones from DC comics.

Since that time, he has delivered a string of smart, thought provoking stories in the medium including Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Second Coming with Ahoy Comics, Red Sonja from Dynamite Entertainment, Billionaire Island, Not All Robots from AWA Studios, and so much more.

We spent some time in this conversation talking about his two upcoming series which are Superman: Space Age on which he is work with legendary artist Mike Allred. And The Incal: Psychoverse that he is doing with Yanick Paquette.

If you are a fan of Mark Russell’s work at all, you know that we had to touch on some current events and nature of human society. It was a lot of fun.

We transcribed some of the interview below but also listen to the SquadCast to hear the whole conversation. We hope you enjoy it.


PopCultureSquad: You’ve written Superman before in Wonder Twins and One Star Squadron. How does this new story differ for you? Is it the same version of Superman?

Mark Russell: I wanted to write him as like sort of a wise old stoic, you know, sort of like Marcus Aurelius or Suetonius or something, but he doesn’t start out that way. And I think what is different about this story is it tells Superman from his beginnings to becoming that. So, it is much more about trial and error. It is much more about the process of him becoming Superman, about him absorbing the wisdom of the Kents and Lois lane, and synthesizing all of the influences that they have on his life and becoming what you would recognize as my Superman. He is an unflappable, wise character who realizes that he has to be the voice of reason, that he has to be the most generous soul in the room, because anything less than that would be a nightmare for the human race.

PCS: Right. And it’s interesting because the Superman that you have written is very different from Sunstar from Second Coming. Superman that you’ve written has that heavy gravitas to him. And you can tell that everyone who’s talking to him, or stuck talking to him, knows that they are talking to the most powerful person on the planet, and he is not acting like it.

MR: So. Yeah. When I had originally pitched the Second Coming story, I wanted it to be Superman, but, Dan Didio at DC said, “I get death threats when Superman fails to say the Pledge of Allegiance. You are not going to involve me in your blasphemy here.” So, luckily he said no to Superman, but he said, “You can write it as a creator own character, and I’ll approve it.” So, that’s when I created Sunstar. and it really turned out to be a good move, because Sunstar, I think makes a much better paring for Jesus Christ than Superman.

If it was Superman, then you just have two nice guys, two really wise guys bouncing off each other, and no one wants to read that. There is just really nowhere to go with that. Whereas, Sunstar is not that wise. He’s a guy who’s kind of spoiled, someone who’s leaned into his privilege, and Christ has to sort of dial him back a little. Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Writer Mark Russell”

Free Comic Book Day is Tomorrow – Back Where It Belongs

Free Comic Book Day is Tomorrow – Back Where It Belongs

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day. This has traditionally been the biggest day of the year on the comic book retailers’ calendar. The free comics that are available at local comic shops encourage the offering of sales, promotions, parties, signings, and all forms of revelry. Historically, Free Comic Book Day has been the first Saturday in May, but in the past two years it has been moved to later in the year due to the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the cool parts about FCBD for consumers is that not only are there free comic books to get, but there are usually some terrific deals on back issues and also collectibles at the shops. It is also important to remember that while the free comic books are no cost to the consumers, the retailers most definitely have a cost to pay for the comics.

Almost all comic publishers are participating in some form. Some comics are reprint material that is intended to give readers a glimpse of what the comic is about. Some are all new special stories and some are previews to upcoming events or books that the publisher is planning for this year.

Click Here to find a Local Comic Shop in your area.

In the spirit of planning, we offer this post which highlights the comic books that will be available this year on Free Comic Book Day. This will let you know which books are of interest to your sensibilities. Check out the list of seventeen of the announced free comics below:

 

Free Comic Book Day 2022: Avatar The Last Airbender/The Legend Of Korra #1
Dark Horse Comics

Both your favorite avatars return in two all-new stories from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra! Dive into the fun for Free Comic Book Day, and expect excitement, familiar faces, and a hefty helping of shenanigans!

Exclusive Original Material

PCS Notes: This is a welcome release of new material in this property. It is a slightly surprising in the best way.  


Free Comic Book Day 2022: Avengers / X-Men #1
Marvel Comics

OF DEVIATION AND MUTATION / BLOODLINE / LET’S TALK ABOUT KRAKOA
Written by Kieron Gillen with art by Valerio Schiti, JUDGMENT DAY will see the Avengers try desperately to avert a war between the Eternals and the X-Men. Fans will get their first glimpse at the conflict in FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: AVENGERS/X-MEN with a prelude story by Kieron Gillen and artist Dustin Weaver. Also coming this summer will be the X-Men’s second annual HELLFIRE GALA! Last year, mutantkind terraformed Mars and announced a new team of X-Men… what do they have in store for the Marvel Universe this time around? Find out in a lead-in story by X-MEN scribe Gerry Duggan and artist Matteo Lolli! FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: AVENGERS/X-MEN #1 will also mark the exciting debut of a new hero that Marvel has big plans for this year! Meet BLOODLINE in an introduction story by writer Danny Lore and artist Karen Darboe!

PCS Notes: This is one of those preview comics that we talked about earlier. You probably want to get your hands on this.


Free Comic Book Day 2022: The Bone Orchard Mythos #1
Image Comics

A troubled writer books a secluded cabin on a serene lake in an attempt to get away from his struggling marriage and his impending deadlines. But what he can’t know when he arrives is that he is already in the cabin. In fact he may have always been there.

Face-to-face with his own demons, the writer discovers the first terrifying pieces of The Bone Orchard Mythos a sprawling new horror interconnected universe from the Eisner Award winning team behind Gideon Falls and Primordial, Andrea Sorrentino and Jeff Lemire!

PCS Notes: Yeah. This looks like some good stuff. Continue reading “Free Comic Book Day is Tomorrow – Back Where It Belongs”

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming in May 2022

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming in May 2022

Welcome to May! We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers of some of the cool new comics that are coming out this month. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

This month we spotlight books from the usual suspects: DC Comics, Marvel Comics, AfterShock Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Boom! Studios, IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Vault Comics, Comixology, Milestone Studios, Dark Horse Comics, and Archie Comics.

This month is front loaded with new comics. And you will find some special out of the ordinary books on the list below if you look closely enough.

We will bring you reviews of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 5/4/22
Week of 5/11/22
Week of 5/18/22
Week of 5/25/22


Week of May 4


Archer & Armstrong Forever #1
Valiant Entertainment
Written by Steve Foxe
Art by Marcio Fiorito
Cover Art by Bernard Chang

When Armstrong seemingly loses his immortality, Archer refuses to let his best buddy go gentle into that good night. But when you live for millennia, you rack up plenty of enemies who’ll be thrilled to find out you’re no longer indestructible. Archer & Armstrong’s globetrotting quest for (more) immortality begins here!

Release Date: May 4, 2022

PCS NOTES: We are certainly interested in the latest foray into this buddy series, and Steve Foxe has been cranking out a bunch of good books lately.


Avatar: Adapt or Die #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Corinna Bechko
Art by Beni Lobel & Wes Dzioba
Cover Art by Mark Molchan

Decades into the advent of the Avatar program on Pandora, pressure to bridge the divide between human and Na’vi has hit a peak. As an ally of the Omatikaya clan, Dr. Grace Augustine begins negotiations to open a school for Na’vi children, but her plans for peace, hope, and unity could trigger an unprecedented disaster—one afflicting the most vulnerable and protected of Na’vi.

Untold story starring popular Avatar heroine Grace Augustine!

Release Date: May 4, 2022

PCS NOTES: As the “Avatar 2” movie has been in the news lately, it seems like fortuitous timing for this new release.


Dogs of London #1
AfterShock Comics
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Artecida
Cover Art by Andy Clarke

How deep must you bury a body to make sure it doesn’t haunt you?

Frank and Terry are about to find out. They were once members of The Dogs, a feared gang who ruled much of London’s underworld back in the swinging 60s. They thought they’d escaped their troubled pasts, but the past isn’t dead – it’s just bashed about a bit and very pissed off. Spanning different times and classes, DOGS OF LONDON is a brutal, bloody tale of violence, love, revenge…and sleeping dogs who refuse to roll over and play dead.

Written by Peter Milligan and brought to bloody life by Artecida, the Dogs have awoken, and they seek more than mere revenge

Release Date: May 4, 2022

PCS NOTES: If you have ever read anything from Peter Milligan, it is impossible to read this above solicitation and not be excited for this book.  Continue reading “New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming in May 2022”

R.I.P. Comics Legend Neal Adams 1941 – 2022

R.I.P. Comics Legend Neal Adams 1941 – 2022

Photo by Gage Skidmore at 2019 Phoenix Fan Fusion

The comic book industry has lost another giant. Neal Adams passed away yesterday on April 28. 2022. He was 80 years old and passed after complications from sepsis. Adams’s work as a penciller and storyteller left a massive impact on the medium, and his efforts in creator rights advocacy led to policies that have benefited untold numbers of creators that followed him.

Adams worked in commercial advertising art at the beginning of his career and also worked for Archie Comics in the early 1960’s. He later worked for both Marvel and DC Comics, but his work on Batman and Green Lantern / Green Arrow in the 1970’s is where he began to leave his lasting legacy. The work he did with Denny O’Neil on those books was transformative in comic book storytelling. He also published creator-owned independent works with Pacific Comics and Continuity Comics among others.

He was also an activist for creator rights and is credited with helping to push for the credit for creating Superman that Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster were long denied. The practice of returning original art to creators is another innovation that he fought for along with various attempts to create creative community collective bargaining units. In his later years, he lent his art to several projects intended to highlight resistance to Nazi aggression during the Holocaust.

Neal Adams was a legend in his time. He was inducted into every Hall of Fame in the comics industry that you can think of and was responsible for helping to nurture the career of young creators. His legacy is immeasurable, and he will be missed.

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming in April 2022

New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming in April 2022

Welcome to April! We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers of some of the cool new comics that are coming out this month. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

This month we spotlight books from the usual suspects: AfterShock Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics, Marvel Comics, Boom! Studios, AWA/Upshot Studios, IDW Publishing, and Dark Horse Comics.

This month is super front loaded with new comics. The first week has double the number of new series as each other week; so, make sure you go out this week and get your fill of new comics.

We will bring you reviews of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 4/6/22
Week of 4/13/22
Week of 4/20/22
Week of 4/27/22


Week of April 6


Alice Ever After #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Dan Panosian
Art by Giorgio Spalletta & Fabiana Mascolo
Cover Art by Panosian

Return to Wonderland in this twisted sequel by superstar artist and writer Dan Panosian perfect for fans of Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy and Luna.

Alice first visited Wonderland as a child. Now an adult, it’s her only escape from a cold, strange reality she finds herself living in.

But in order to return to her fantasy world, she’ll need something stronger than mushrooms that change her size, and is forced to resort to crime to feed her growing addiction.

Will Alice choose to escape from her uncaring family and childhood trauma in Wonderland, or find the courage to face her demons in the real world?

Release Date: April 6, 2022

PCS NOTES: Dan Panosian’s amazing talent as an artist is unquestioned, but his writing in recent years makes this book required reading.


Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #1
DC Comics
Written by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Art by Max Dunbar & Sebastian Cheng
Cover Art by Dunbar & Cheng

CHAPTER 1: GOTHAM’S SWORD

Neo-Gotham is alive and has killed Bruce Wayne. It’s rejected Terry McGinnis as Batman and offered him the chance to escape. Terry turned it down—he is the city’s protector, and he will uphold the legacy of Batman. Now Neo-Gotham will do everything in its power to destroy Terry, including creating brand-new villains to fight him. Terry’s first year without Bruce Wayne begins…does he have a fighting chance? From the rising-star creative team of Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing and Max Dunbar, a new future for Batman Beyond has begun!

Release Date: April 5, 2022

PCS NOTES: As solicitations go for a new chapter in a existing property go, this is a pretty good one. We are intrigued. Continue reading “New Number Ones: New Comics Series Coming in April 2022”

DC Comics Round Robin Series Tournament Returns for 2022

DC Comics Round Robin Series Tournament Returns for 2022

Last year, DC Comics conducted an online fan voted tournament to pick one proposed series to get published. This year they are back with sixteen new options to vie for the chance to get made. Round One is underway and voting is available on Twitter, Instagram, and DCUniverseInfinite.com.

There contest will have four rounds each lasting a week.

The group of potential titles span the full range of the DCU, and there are some very intriguing options.  There will be some early round disappointments for sure. This campaign is super interesting in that it gives fans a dream to see something that they want make it to print, but in the true reality of comic fandom, some are guaranteed to be disappointed. For example, there are still some of the titles that were proposed last year that I would still love to see get made.

Last years winner, Robins, by Tim Seeley and Baldemar Rivas just recently finished up it’s five-issue run.

The contestants this year are:

      • Hawkman & Hawkwoman: The Changeling
      • Wildcat: Nine Lives
      • Constantine & The Demon: Vacation from Hell
      • The Questions: Grand Solution
      • Justice League Redacted
      • Suicide Squad: Dark
      • Kid Flash: The Speed of Fear
      • Firestorm: Fourth World Problems
      • Green Lantern: The Light at the End of Forever
      • Black Canary: When Canaries Cry
      • DC Horror Presents: Ghost Tour from Hell
      • Animal Man: The Metamorphosis
      • Green Lantern: The Birth of Conspiracy
      • Captain Carrot & His Best Friend Darkseid
      • Super Boy: The Man of Tomorrow
      • Cyborg: Cyber Gods

New Number Ones: Comics Series Coming in March 2022

New Number Ones: Comics Series Coming in March 2022

For March, we have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers of some of the cool new comics that are coming out this month. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

This month we spotlight books from the usual suspects: AfterShock Comics, DC Comics, Vault Comics, Image Comics, Marvel Comics, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, AWA/Upshot Studios, and Dark Horse Comics.

This month we have five Wednesdays which means five #NCBD celebrations.

We will bring you reviews of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

You will find the books listed below in the order of when they are released.

Week of 3/2/22
Week of 3/9/22
Week of 3/16/22
Week of 3/23/22
Week of 3/30/22


Week of March 2


Batman: Killing Time #1
DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by David Marquez & Alejandro Sanchez
Cover Art by Marquez & Sanchez

Three villains, one Dark Knight, and a deadly heist gone wrong. Catwoman, the Riddler, and the Penguin join forces to pull off the greatest robbery in the history of Gotham City. And their prize? A mysterious and priceless artifact in the secret possession of Bruce Wayne! But, as the events unfold, what fun is a heist without a bloody double cross or two?

Release Date: March 1, 2022

PCS NOTES: Tom King returns to Batman with a limited series and fantastic artist in tow. This looks fun and we expect plenty of “Hmmm” quotes.


Chef’s Kiss TP
Oni Press
Written By Jarrett Melendez
Art by Danica Brine & Hank Jones
Cover art by Kevin Wada

Watch things start to really heat up in the kitchen in this sweet, queer, new adult graphic novel!

Now that college is over, English graduate Ben Cook is on the job hunt looking for something…anything…related to his passion for reading and writing. But interview after interview, hiring committee after hiring committee, Ben soon learns getting the dream job won’t be as easy as he thought. Proofreading? Journalism? Copywriting? Not enough experience. It turns out he doesn’t even have enough experience to be a garbage collector! But when Ben stumbles upon a “Now Hiring—No Experience Necessary” sign outside a restaurant, he jumps at the chance to land his first job. Plus, he can keep looking for a writing job in the meantime. He’s actually not so bad in the kitchen, but he will have to pass a series of cooking tests to prove he’s got the culinary skills to stay on full-time. But it’s only temporary…right?

When Ben begins developing a crush on Liam, one of the other super dreamy chefs at the restaurant, and when he starts ditching his old college friends and his old writing job plans, his career path starts to become much less clear

Release Date: March 2, 2022

PCS NOTES: I have been waiting for this book for a long time. I have had a chance to read it already and it is possibly the best original graphic novel that I have ever read. It is lovely in art, sentiment, and tone. It reaches emotional notes that catch you off guard. We don’t typically include trade paperbacks in this column but this one requires an exception. Don’t miss this book!!


Loaded Bible: Blood of My Blood #1
Image Comics
Written by Tim Seeley & Steve Orlando
Art by Giuseppe Carafo
Cover Art by Mirka Andolfo

Decades after the events of the original cult series, Jesus’ vampire-hunting clone is a bigger outlaw than ever, and now, he has to face a threat like no other. The church has cut a deal with the vampire nations to unite under their cloned savior – Dracula. A 6-part monthly miniseries starting on Ash Wednesday!

Release Date: March 2, 2022

PCS NOTES: Despite not having read the original series of one shots for Loaded Bible, we are totally in on this. The insanity potential with Tim Seeley and Steve Orlando is something that is surely not to be missed.


Radio Spaceman #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Greg Hinkle & Dave Stewart
Cover Art by Mignola

When a ship crashes and lands on a mysterious planet and some of the surviving crew go missing, the mysterious mechanical hero Radio Spaceman is called to investigate. But the planet hides much more than the missing crew, and Radio Spaceman may be stumbling into more than even he can handle.

Release Date: March 2, 2022

PCS NOTES: We are really looking forward to this new effort from Mike Mignola and Greg Hinkle. 


Red Room: Trigger Warnings #1
Fantagraphics Books
Written by Ed Piskor
Art by Piskor
Cover Art by Piskor

The best selling, most talked about series of 2020 kicks off its second four-issue “season” with another self-contained mini-masterpiece of monthly comics storytelling. In this issue, the Decimator presents… The Rat Queens! And unfortunately for them, they are front and center in his most horrific red room broadcast yet! As seen on the YouTube channel sensation, Cartoonist Kayfabe, from the creator of X-Men: Grand Design and Hip Hop Family Tree!

Release Date: March 2, 2022

PCS NOTES: The first series was remarkable and this has the same potential. 


Rouge Son #1
Image Comics
Written by Ryan Parrott
Art by Abel & Chris O’Halloran
Cover Art by Declan Shalvey & O’Halloran

Yesterday: New Orleans’ greatest hero, ROGUE SUN, was murdered.

Today: rebellious teenager DYLAN SIEGEL discovers that Rogue Sun was his estranged father, Marcus — and that he’s inherited his father’s mantle. Tasked with protecting our world from the forces of the supernatural — and solving his father’s murder — Dylan will be forced to come to terms with the man he’s spent the majority of his life hating.

From acclaimed writer RYAN PARROTT and rising star artist ABEL comes A SUPERNATURAL MURDER MYSTERY that explores the complicated bond between father and son and cements itself squarely in a corner of the IMAGE COMICS’ SUPERHERO UNIVERSE!

Release Date: March 2, 2022


Strange #1
Marvel Comics
Written by Jed McKay
Art by Marcelo Ferreira
Cover Art by Bjorn Barends

A NEW SORCERER SUPREME RISES! Doctor Strange is dead! And a new Sorcerer Supreme has taken the title, or should we say Sorceress? Haunted by her recently returned memories, Clea longs to bring Stephen Strange back from the dead! But when a mysterious group attacks the magical realm, Clea must rise to the duties of Sorcerer Supreme. For she is now the sole protector of Earth against magical threats. Don’t miss the twists and turns as Jed MacKay continues the story from THE DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE with artist Marcelo Ferreira!

Release Date: March 2, 2022

PCS NOTES: Yep. More Clea is something I am on board with.  Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Series Coming in March 2022”

With Further Ado #185: True Love and Discounted Comics

With Further Ado #185: True Love and Discounted Comics

I tested positive for Covid-19 last week, and it clobbered our plans for St. Valentine’s Day. I am relieved that I was vaxxed and boostered; my symptoms weren’t that bad. But my isolation period overlapped our Valentine plans, and that was a bummer.

My wife, Kathe, is always a very thoughtful gift-giver, and one of the St. Valentine’s gifts she gave me this year was a pack of 10 DC Comics from discount retailer Ollie’s. This pack collected ten recent comics and sold them at a discount. The promotional packaging proclaims it is up to a $49.90 value.

Do you know Ollie’s? This is a discount/close-out retailer. They famously had a bunch of hardcover comic collections from DC and Marvel on sale at absurdly low prices a few years ago.  It turns out the DC sales force had been trying to sell these books to comic shops for years, and finally just unloaded the inventory.  As we don’t have a comic shop in our town, it’s an easy stop for casual and hard-core comic fans.

As anyone who’s tried to gift comics to a comic book fan knows, it’s always hard to figure out what they already have and what they haven’t yet purchased/read.  Kathe was surprised that there were many comics in this 10-pack that I hadn’t read.

And it’s an odd collection. It’s like a time capsule, but not an ancient one. In fact, it’s like a time capsule that was just put together a year or two ago, and then you were impatient and wanted to open it right then. This stack of DC Comics had a bit of “stale anticipation” of all the stuff that seemed exciting but has since gone in another direction.  That’s understandable; the company has been through so many changes lately.

Of note:

Action Comics #1000 (June 2018) is a fun comic with short stories by top creators.  The last story in this one was a tease for Brain Bendis’ then upcoming stint of the Superman titles.  I really enjoyed that run, but it’s astonishing at how quickly it all went by.

Likewise, Superman #21 (May 2020) was published right at the tail end of Bendis’ run. One of the things it focused on was Superman abandoning his Clark Kent identity. The idea was that we’d get “so many” stories exploring that new development.  That didn’t really seem to happen either.

This packet included two copies of Batman #93 (June 2020), one with the regular cover and one with the retailer variant.  This issue features the character Punchline and the writer James Tynion IV, both of whom seemed to be so important to the Batman franchise at the time. I’m unconvinced that Punchline became the breakout character she was meant to be. Writer Tynion recently left Gotham City for the greener pastures of Substack, and the Batman title has the feel of re-starting with a “bold, new era” with new creators yet again. Continue reading “With Further Ado #185: True Love and Discounted Comics”

With Further Ado #176: Getting Chatty (and Catty) with Cliff Chiang

With Further Ado #176: Getting Chatty (and Catty) with Cliff Chiang

Cliff Chiang is a gifted artist, a boundary pushing creator and a helluva nice guy. He’s smart, upbeat and laser-focused on producing the best work possible. I’ve always enjoyed time his work and our conversations.  With all that in mind, I found myself enjoying the first issue of his latest, Catwoman: Lonely City, more than I thought I would.  I should note this oversized, four-issue comic series is from the DC Black Label imprint. There’s been a lot of Batman stories published lately (as Mike Gold pointed out here), and I worried I had had my fill of the character for a while.

Chiang has pleasantly surprised me yet again. I was so impressed with this book. I had to reach out to the artist, now writer-artist, to find out more. Here are the highlights from our conversation:


Ed Catto: I feel like right now, there’s a lot of Batman product out there. There’s a bunch of different projects coming out and part of me was like, “I think I’m reading too much Batman.” But somehow you broke through that clutter and really delivered something fresh with Catwoman: Lonely City.

Cliff Chiang: I wasn’t going to spend all this time on a throw-away story. I think you might be able to tell by the first issue, certainly by the second, that I’m trying to pay homage to those classic Batman stories, The Dark Knight Returns and Year One. You know, I almost hesitate to say “my take” take on it.  But I’m just looking to show the parts of Gotham and that don’t necessarily get shown.

Catwoman is such a perfect vehicle for that. She’s really a great character, but she’s also kind of not necessarily as rigidly defined as Batman . Certainly not the Batman that is popular today. I thought there was a lot of gray area to her that would be interesting, especially in the context of a more “crime story” showcase.

EC: Somehow it all seems very fresh. Visually I feel you tagged all the bases for fans, with all the old costumes and whatnot, and then you kind of faked us all out, with “here’s something new”.

CC: And that’s deliberate. Part of me wants to acknowledge all the publishing history that’s come before. That’s part of the mystery of the character. That’s part of what makes you feel her age as well. Because you’re like, “Oh wow she’s done this, and she’s done that. And this is the costume that she wore that time when she did this.

There’s a way in which all the publishing history, our character can be leveraged to make it feel the weight of the years.  And to celebrate that stuff to you know. A big part of this story is about is about getting older. Gotham gotten rid of superheroes, and sort of grown-up in the process.

And to take a look at how city like Gotham might function in the modern world. I wanted to play with that stuff as well.

So, you’ve got you the older stuff that we’re all fans of on one hand, and on the other hand, you can bring in new ideas. I didn’t want to throw away the old stuff.  I wanted to keep it and kind of look at different eyes and make you appreciate it again. And then bring in these other concepts to so that the whole thing is richer.

EC: This your first big venture as both writer and artist, Cliff. How was it working with a new writer (you) for “Cliff the artist”? How did that process change for you?

CC: You know, it’s funny. I started this two years ago, and the interesting thing about it is that, in order to get a handle on it all, because it’s such a big story and it’s a big job, I had to compartmentalize.  The writing –  it was a year of writing – included an outline and the full script.

I wrote in full script because I know how much information is there on the page. I’ve read so many scripts from other people, too. It allows me to kind of evaluate the story on an abstract level.

Whereas, by thumbnailing stuff (and not developing a full script- EC) ,you kind of get seduced by it because it’s a drawing.  It’s a comic all of sudden.  I wrote it all, and then I thumbnailed it and lettered it so it could be read by myself and the editors.

A lot of the writing was done, super focused, at the beginning.  Now as I’m drawing, I am thinking “Oh yeah, I knew this part was going to be a bear to draw.”

There’s so much stuff going on in every panel. Even for the city itself.  One of my goals is to make it feel really like New York City, and you can’t do that in a minimal way. Unfortunately. I wish I found shortcuts for this stuff, but at the same time, it’s what the story is. There were times when I cursed “the writer” a little bit. But it’s all going more or less “on plan”. It is taking longer than I ever expected.

EC: Do you think you would like to continue to create in this Black Label oversized the format for a while?

CC:  I do enjoy it. I think it needs the right kind of project. And I think you have to adjust your pacing for that.  That being said, I do enjoy the storytelling opportunities you get with the Black Label line.  It wasn’t until I held the thing in my and I realized the physical size of the page does have an impact.

EC: I was speaking with a local comic owner (Ash Gray from Comics for Collectors in Ithaca, NY) as I was preparing for our talk. It seems he under-ordered your series. He said that the orders were low initially on the first issue. Then there was a big buzz and it immediately sold out. Now he’s having trouble getting more copies to sell.

CC:  I was at the Baltimore Comic-Con. I met a lot of people there who are excited to read it. I met a lot of shop owners. Some of them knew to order heavy on it. [They had the opportunity] to read previews of it. They had two issues to read if they checked it out.  Some knew that, based on their store, based on their readers, that they could order “Batman numbers” on it.

Things do get lost in the shuffle.  Hopefully the buzz on it is that it sold out, and people bought it and that people came around asking for it.  Hopefully for the second issue people won’t be caught without it.

I just wanted to tell a story. I just want people to read it, and I think there’s a big audience for it. I think that’s the kind of book that you can, when all is said and done, hand it to somebody how might not be at the stores every week.  It could be someone who’s last Batman movie they watched was Batman Returns in 1992. What you need is just a basic pop culture knowledge of Batman and Catwoman. Everything else just falls into place.

It is a blank slate situation: Her name’s Catwoman.  She’s a cat burglar and she wears a cat costume. And sometimes she’s involved with Batman. And that’s all you need going into it.

EC: Upon reflection, of course, Catwoman is oftentimes portrayed as a sexy, young woman in a skintight suit. In Catwoman: Lonely City she’s not a young woman. I think it may have been a brave decision for you to have an older protagonist in this book.

CC:  Yes, I thought it immediately makes you reassess her. It puts both the reader and the character in a different place. It’s a pendulum. There’s a history of her as the sexy ingenue and then her involved in more hard-boiled crime.

For me, I felt making her older and having her grapple with ageism and sexism would force you to see her differently.  And in some ways, to tone that down, so you could see her as a person. Much of the story depends on you relating to her and to her losses and indignities and how she suffers. And you can’t do that with someone slinking around and purring and all that stuff.

I think that’s all part of her history. You see that in a couple of issues, too, but she’s not that person anymore. It’s a little bit of playing a part at one point in your life and moving past it.

EC: Working with your editors, was there every a point where you were told “watch out someone else is doing something similar?” Doing something with characters like Catwoman or Killer Croc?  Or was this separate enough from everything else.

CC: A little of both. My editors were worried about something being similar to what just happened. But then, once we squared that away, everybody was really happy with the story. I think the realization was that: there’s an audience for this book is separate from the audience for other books.

And that’s okay. It’s a bigger project and it’s kind of more evergreen than whatever it is happening in the monthly book. There are things I wish, maybe, that had more novelty to them.  But we’ve seen that happen.  When I wrote this story – I came up with this story two years ago – there were elements that hadn’t appeared yet. That’s just the nature of the beast.

You think you are ahead of the curve. But you are not. You are just part of the Zeitgeist like everyone else. You can think you’re clever doing a book about adolescents in 1988 and then, two months later, after your book, Stranger Things comes out.

EC: This is more of a technical question.  You are a very thoughtful artist and you’ve been doing this for a long time. Do you feel as if you deal with editors differently now than you would have years ago?

CC: Probably. I’m on the same wavelength as the editors. And Black Label is open to creators taking changes and thinking about things differently.  So, it’s a pleasure. All the interactions and all the notes and suggestions from the editors make the story better. As an artist I can appreciate that end of it. It’s so great that I can’t complain about it.

EC:  Well, Cliff this has been fantastic.  Good chatting with you, I hope to see you in person real soon. Good luck with everything and best your family during this Yuletide Season.

CC: Okay, all right. Hey, thanks a lot and take care now.


Issue #2 of Cliff Chiang’s Catwoman: Lonely City, a DC Black Label book, is on sale December 22nd.