Introducing the Third Batman and Robin Artist
Grant Morrison will be joined by a new creator this winter. First interview and final cover.
September 11, 2009 - With Batman and Robin continuing to ride high in the industry, even the slightest change in the creative team can have a big impact with fans across the globe. When Grant Morrison mentioned his run would be broken into three-issue "arcs", each with its own artist, readers immediately wanted to know the identities of the two artists that would step in before Frank Quitely returned for Morrison's fourth and (perhaps) final stint on the new series. Earlier this year we learned Philip Tan would step in for issues #4 through #6. Who, then, would be the lucky third? Today IGN is proud to reveal that artist alongside DC's official blog. Better yet, we have the first art by that artist in the form of the final, colored cover for issue #7 – and we have an interview.
Grant Morrison has turned to a name no doubt familiar to fans of his recent projects. Cameron Stewart, perhaps best known for his recent work on Catwoman, Seaguy and the Seven Soldiers project Manhattan Guardian, will join Morrison in December for a three issue run. IGN was able to recently fire a few e-mail questions over to Stewart, getting his first thoughts on joining the best-selling Batman series. Though the artist understandably wasn't able to say much, we still managed to get a few cool details. Read on for more – and check out that first cover!
IGN Comics: Cameron, let's go through the most obvious question – what led to your assignment on Batman and Robin? What appealed to you about the series?
Batman and Robin #7
Well, very shortly after I'd heard Grant and Frank were working on Batman
, I sent Grant an email gently suggesting that if they needed a fill-in artist I would be happy to volunteer. I did a few unsolicited sketches, which I posted up on my blog to see what reader reaction was, and it seemed to be generally positive. I was initially told, however, that the art chores were all booked up and disappointedly resigned myself to a Bat-free life, but then shortly before the San Diego Comic Con this year I got an official offer from B&R editor Mike Marts to draw an arc.
I get everything DC publishes sent to me in a big box every month but Batman & Robin is the only comic I make a point of going to the store to actually buy. Working on a huge high-profile book, featuring one of my all-time favourite comic characters, with my all-time favourite writer, and following designs by my all-time favourite artist, was the very definition of "no-brainer."
IGN Comics: This is, by our count, your fourth project with Grant Morrison, the most recent being Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye. What draws you to working with Grant? How does his style differ from some of the other writers you've worked with?
Grant's work is just endlessly imaginative and exhilarating to read, and he seems to have this uncanny ability to really get to the heart of these characters, understand what makes them work, and draw out these delightfully surprising nuances. I've always thought that in his superhero work in particular he comes up with ideas, character motivations, or plot devices that seem completely familiar and logical and yet also entirely original - they're totally new and fresh and yet it's astonishing that no-one's done them before. It makes this jaded comics artist really excited about these characters again.
Grant's the only writer with whom I've worked whose scripts are "collaborative," in that when I receive the script it's lacking fully written dialogue - generally it's temporary, placeholder dialogue which is solid enough for me to work from, but is often significantly re-written after I've turned in the art. Reading the final comic is still a new experience for me, even after having spent six weeks drawing it, and I can sometimes see where his dialogue has been directly influenced by what I've drawn, which gives me a greater feeling of being involved in the creative process.
IGN Comics: We're speaking pretty early so apologies if this is a bit premature – are you looking at any particular stylistic flourishes, changes or experiments when coming aboard Batman and Robin? What kind of tone are you looking to bring to the project?
As I mentioned before, Frank Quitely is without a doubt my favourite comic artist, and so it's impossible for me not to be influenced by him ( if you're looking carefully, the influence can be seen in my other work also, not just Batman & Robin). I'm still trying to bring something of my own to it, though, so hopefully it won't appear as though I'm merely aping Frank's style. Ideally I want it to look consistent with Frank's work, yet also distinctly my own. My personal work has been getting looser and "cartoonier", for lack of a better word, but I don't think those traits would be received well on this project so I'm trying to draw in a cleaner, tighter style. I'm also seeing influence from some of my other artistic heroes. Mort Drucker, Frank Robbins, and Jack Davis.
IGN Comics: Fans will be looking at your first Batman and Robin cover as they read this – is there anything you can tell them about your arc on the book? You're on board for three issues, correct?
Yes, issues #7 through 9. I don't want to say too much about it other than my first issue is set in England and has some fairly significant ties to the current Blackest Night storyline,
IGN Comics: As a fan, what's your feeling toward the new dynamic duo? How do they rank in your eyes when compared to other iterations? As a creator, how do you view and approach Dick and Damian? How does that play out artistically?
Personally I love the new team - the inversion of the classic character dynamic so that Batman is the lighthearted one and Robin is the dark and brooding one is one of those ideas I mentioned earlier that seems so obvious and yet it's so dazzlingly fresh and exciting. I know there's a certain section of the fanbase that thinks it's sacrilege to have anyone other than Bruce wear the cowl but I think it's given the characters a much needed shot in the arm. After reading the first issue I was talking about it with my studiomate, Wednesday Comics Flash artist/writer Karl Kerschl, and we agreed that we'd be fine with it if Bruce stayed dead for a long while.
IGN Comics: Your work spans a very diverse lineup of genres, creators and concepts, from Seaguy to Hellblazer, from The Other Side to Catwoman. Is the Batman franchise one you could see yourself staying around? Would you ever be interested in a more long-term assignment to a Batman title?
It depends - one of the things I'm very grateful for in my career is the opportunity to work on a wide variety of genres and experiment with many different styles, and I am always careful not to let myself do the same thing for too long lest I cease to be inspired. Having said that, if my work on Batman and Robin is well-received, and Grant wants me to do more with him, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't take much convincing.
I do have other projects in the pipeline, however, including the second volume of my "Apocalipstix" series for Oni Press with Ray Fawkes, my own ongoing webcomic series "Sin Titulo" which can be found at www.sintitulocomic.com, and of course working with Grant again on the third and final volume of Seaguy, "Seaguy Eternal."