The Man Behind The Cat - Exclusive Interview w/ Ed Brubaker

Darwyn Cooke's Catwoman

 

© 2002 DC Comics

 

The New Catwoman sans mask...

 

In November of 2001, the sultry Catwoman traded in her silicone and purple spandex for an Emma Peel-esque look and a new bold direction; all with the help of a guy named Ed. Ed Brubaker to be exact, the current writer, who is responsible for the 'New Cat Woman'! Now a year later, the new CATWOMAN series is still the talk on everyone's lips, as Catty herself has established herself the new protector of the lesser known parts of Gotham City, the East End. Starting in Catwoman #12, a the new storyarc begins, where Brubaker pushes Catwoman over the edge and strips away everything she has worked so hard for, piece by piece. We managed to catch up with Brubaker to talk about the current and future events happening in CATWOMAN.

QUESTION: What made you decide to work on CATWOMAN? What made her so special for you?
ED BRUBAKER: My editor, Matt Idelson, called me up one day and I thought we were just talking, about the various Bat-titles and stuff, and suddenly our talk centered on Catwoman, and I got to saying what they should do with her. Next thing I know, Matt's ulterior motive appears, because he asks me if I want to write the book. I asked if we could give her a newer, more modern look, and if I could keep her free of crossovers, then said yes.
I've always liked the character of Catwoman, seeing her less as a good guy or bad guy (or girl, really) and more of an outsider, which is a pretty good place to tell stories from. Plus, it's Selina Kyle, she's just cool.

QUESTION: How did you get into contact with Darwyn Cooke? Had he also wanted to work on revamping Catwoman?
ED BRUBAKER: When I met Darwyn, in the summer of 2000, I had just seen some advance art for his EGO book, and was totally blown away by it. As it turned out, he was sharing a studio with Cameron Stewart, and since Cameron was inking Deadenders, he knew who I was. I had already talked to Idelson, and told him how much I liked this guy's work, and how great it would be if we could get him on the book, but it seemed like a long shot because he writes his own stuff.
Anyway, I asked Darwyn if he'd be interested, told him the basic direction I'd be going with the book, and my ideas for the costume redesign. He liked what he heard, thought he could fit it in to his schedule if he just did the revamp arc, and so we were off. He also said that Catwoman was always a favorite to all of them on the Batman Animated show, so he already had a connection to Selina, too.
It's incredibly lucky we got Darwyn for that first arc, too, not only because he's one of the best cartoonists in the world (and I learned a lot from working with him), but also because we wouldn't have gotten the new number one without him and I think that full relaunch really helped set us apart from what came before. Darwyn's art for the first issue and the cover designs he did, along with his redesign of the logo, were the key things to getting DC to relaunch the book.

QUESTION: How is this revamp of Catwoman different from her previous incarnations?
ED BRUBAKER: I hope it's not all that different, in some ways, because I don't want people to think I just threw out everything that came before, but I think the main difference is that I've attempted to give Selina more of a mission than just doing whatever she wants, and being a thief. She's still a thief, really, but she's a lot more now, too. And within that, I get to open different character angles for exploration.
Another difference is that I've got a consistent supporting cast, with Holly, Slam Bradley, and Dr. Thompkins, plus the recent addition of Holly's girlfriend, Karon. These characters allow me to show more of Selina, and tell bigger stories within the small world of the East End, I think.

Charles M. Schulz's Catwoman influence

 

© 2002 Peanuts

 

Costume Influences

 

QUESTION: What influenced the way you designed the new Catwoman costume?
ED BRUBAKER: Snoopy and Emma Peel, sort of.
For a few months after I knew I was taking over the book, and before I actually started work on it or met Darwyn, my wife, Melanie and I would bounce ideas back and forth about the redesign. The only idea I had at first was the aviation helmet with the googles, like Snoopy or Enemy Ace wore - I thought, let's put her in something that a person could conceivably wear, something with a buckle under the chin. I figured, aviation helmet with ears on it - feels more modern, like something you could see on TV - like on Buffy or Angel - but I couldn't figure out what else to do. Then one day while driving, Melanie suggested putting her in an Emma Peel cat-suit, and I said, "Catsuit? That thing is called a cat suit? Then we have to."
When I met Darwyn and got him onboard, I told him this initial basic idea (which my editor had liked as well), and he ran with it, taking the rudimentaries and creating what I think is the coolest costume redesign I've ever seen. That whip as a belt is about the sexiest idea I've ever seen, and I love that 70s zipper ring, too.

QUESTION: Why did you choose the East End as Selina's new home?
ED BRUBAKER: Well, Catwoman's got such a convoluted history, that when setting out to really tackle the book, and redefine her character, you have to sift through a lot of it and pick the stuff that you like, and that works well together. For me, there was no way to do a Catwoman that wasn't the same person from Frank Miller's BATMAN YEAR ONE, that was the start of the modern take on Selina, and in that story, she lived in the East End. Besides that, the East End was an important place to Batman, too, that was where he made his first outing as a hero, before the costume.
Another part of it was that I had spent about ten or 12 years not reading mainstream superhero comics at all, and when I started working at DC, I read a lot, to see what was going on in the field, and one of the comics I thought succeeded best - at being captivating, having characters you cared about, and experimenting with the way it told stories - was James Robinson's Starman. And in that book, he made the city as important as any other character. I felt like I needed that kind of backdrop to tell Selina's new stories, too.

QUESTION: What do you like the best about working on CATWOMAN?
ED BRUBAKER: Everything. It's the most fun I've had working in comics, from the time I was writing and drawing my own independant comics, to my creator-owned stuff at Vertigo, Catwoman is without a doubt the thing I look forward to writing most each month. I love all my main characters, and I have the stories all planned out for years to come, so it's just a joy to unravel each story one at a time, knowing what's coming next.
Not to say I don't feel that my other work is up to Catwoman's quality, but writing Catwoman is sort of like what writing Spiderman probably felt like in the 60s, just pure energy.

QUESTION: Catwoman has gone up a shape shifting killer and fought corruption in the form of the East End's cops. Now she's going up against longtime adversary of the Batman, Black Mask. Anything you'd like to comment about this upcoming story arc?
ED BRUBAKER: It's going to change the status quo of the book for a while, and in some ways, forever. This is a character defining story, and it builds off everything we've been doing with the book so far. I think people are going to be astonished by how far we push it, really.

Cameron Stewart's Catwoman

 

© 2002 DC Comics

 

Cat on the Prowl

 

QUESTION: What's coming up for Catwoman, after the Black Mask story arc?
ED BRUBAKER: The next storyline has a few surprises, which I can't go into yet, but it's a lot about the repercussions of the previous storyline, and where it left everyone. It's a lot of soul searching, if you want to be melodramatic. Then after that, Selina gets out of town for a little while, to find something important to her and a friend.

QUESTION: How are you liking the work of new CATWOMAN artist, Cameron Stewart?
ED BRUBAKER: I love it. Cameron is someone I've known for years, as an inker on Deadenders, and some Catwoman issues, too, and I've always thought he could explode if given the chance, and clearly, when you see the next four issues, you'll see that he has. It's a joy to get the pages every month, and see Catwoman jumping around all over Gotham. Plus, his facial expressions are great, too. Like Darwyn (who he credits for a lot of what he knows about comics) Cameron is really old-school. Meaning he can ink himself, can tell a story, knows how to draw facial expressions, and doesn't feel the need to make every page a splash. I mean, just the fact that he knows how to ink with a brush puts him in a rare league these days, but the fact that he's willing to draw so many panels a page, and still knows how to make the page breath is practically a lost art. And when you're writing a complex story that is designed to take a while to read, you need someone like Cameron, who can make 15 panels on a page really sing.

QUESTION: Catwoman has made a couple of appearances on your run on BATMAN. Was it ever difficult to write her outside her own book?
ED BRUBAKER: Not really, I just left out her narrative, because it wasn't her book. Other than that, it was easy.

QUESTION: Any chance we'll see her on your upcoming run of DETECTIVE COMICS?

Jim Lee's Catwoman

 

© 2002 DC Comics

 

Jim Lee's Catwoman

 

ED BRUBAKER: She's in an issue here or there, but nothing too major. I prefer to do most Catwoman stories in her own comic.

QUESTION: How do you feel about Catwoman being such a major character in Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb's new BATMAN run?
ED BRUBAKER: I'm honestly a little conflicted about it. I like both Jeph and Jim a lot, so I'm hesitant to say anything, but I worry a little about what they're doing with her conflicting with what I'm doing in the monthly Catwoman. There's bound to be some of that. But at the same time, there's a lot more people reading a comic with Catwoman running around in it, so I hope I'll get some overflow.
The problem is, I don't want any readers telling me I should be reflecting what happens in Jeph's story in Catwoman. If, simply for example, he's got Batman and Selina making out, or running off to Metropolis, I don't want people to expect to hear about it in Catwoman. I've been working on this book for two years now, and I've got a lot planned out, so I'm just sticking to my course.
The good part is, Jeph's Catwoman in Long Halloween and Dark Victory is, aside from a few minor continuity problems, one of my preferred versions of the character and I think his Batman work is his best stuff, so Selina's probably in good hands there.

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