It strikes me that one of the key issues with Batman 66 is finding that balance between the silly and the serious, something the TV show battled with, it seems more of an issue with the infinite special effects budget of a comic. How do you specifically address this issue with the art?
As a kid of the 60s I grew up watching the show, and to me like many others, I took it seriously, I didn’t think the show was campy, I see that now… but Adam West and his portrayal is Batman to me, he was real. Writer Jeff Parker specifically said think of the show as if it was on a big budget. I didn’t hold back, my background in feature animation film making came into play here and I thought of this as a comic book adaptation of the show, as if was real.
I’m a huge fan of Film Noir, any movie from the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s. But have to say artists, Alex Toth, Neal Adams, Jose Garcia Lopez and most all the Silver Age comic book artist are my most biggest influence on my comic art. As for the films I’ve worked on, I was there during the “Renaissance” of Disney Animation, so worked on movies like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. After 20+ yrs., they can’t help but be an influence.
Batman ’66 is a high seller, but outsells other digital comics more than it does print comics. Are digital readers more of a central concern? How do you adapt your work to appeal to a digital audience? Are there any tricks that you’re proud of in that way?
The Batman66 series alternates from an enhanced digital version and regular viewing version. Knowing readers can zoom in to see image larger, I kept that in mind while drawing it. I actually drew larger, knowing the line quality would be seen by the viewer. For The Sandman I did a combination of traditional drawing and inking, while doing the rough layouts and final enhancement digitally. I also tried hard to get as accurate as possible, studying the costumes, the Batmobile, etc. One neat thing I did have an opportunity to do here, by request of editor Jim Chadwick, is to come up with a new look on Sandman. I think fans will find him real fun look and just as dastardly.
Nice, I’ll let the reader decide that one.
Why, in a world that seems to want its Batman darker and darker, in comics, in cartoons, in games and films, how does Batman 66 manage to buck that trend?
Well as Adam West would say, his version is “The Bright Knight”. It’s a break from the dark stuff, it’s fun, light, colorful, something you can share with your kids… I think there is a big fan base out there for the original show, it’s just taken so many years to come to this point, and the fans, who are now adults are happy to see this finally happen. And it’s 99 cents! (Print version out on Nov 20th.)
Cheaper than an espresso for sure…