It’s Saturday evening. Do you know where your DC Superstars are? They’re at the DC Master Class panel at New York Comic Con at the Javits Center, of course!
Hosted by Dan DiDio to an incredibly packed room that had ran out of seats but still had people wanting to come in, the panel consisted of Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, Tony Daniel, John Romita Jr. and Frank Miller.
Working much like the same panel at San Diego Comic-Con, it runs through each of the artists careers, from early days to present.
Capullo talked about wanting to make Batman his own, but also reigning some things in, like the cape, to avoid the ’90s art hate. How much more difficult is Metal to his other work over the years? Capullo admits it’s easily the most ambitious. You have to infuse each character with life of their own. Years ago he’d sworn off ever doing another team book, but then they “tricked” him with Metal. It’s time consuming, but also really a lot of fun.
Moving to Jim Lee, DiDio talks about how important Lee was to him when he started at DC Comics, praising Jim Lee’s Batman. Lee talks about coming over to DC in 1998, but didn’t do Hush until 2002, and they all worked on it in secret. Only three people knew about the project, until they ready to solicit it to keep the project on time, as they wanted the story to be part of the regular book — not its own series.
Lee talks about wanting to channel the giants in comic art who came before him. It’s homage or love letter to Miller and Neal Adams and the like.
Jumping over to Kubert: on the move from Marvel to DC, Kubert says the main reason he just really wanted to draw Batman. His new project being Challengers of the Unknown with Scott Snyder, the project is very near and dear to him due to the familial connection with his father. Also, he’d been doing superhero stuff for a long time, so the chance to work on less superhero-type stuff has been a blast. He mentions the scripts he’s getting from Snyder are nice and loose giving him the chance to play more. Capullo jokes, “Give it time.”
Moving to Romita Jr., whom DiDio described as like the great white whale for DC. They wanted him, but he had such close family ties to Marvel. Romita Jr. says that the reason for his moving from Marvel to DC was not a classy one, but a simple one: DC was great and Marvel wasn’t. He thought Spider-Man was a great character, but he says now he knows Superman and Batman are the greatest characters.
On Kick-Ass, he talks about Mark Millar having to tell him to open up more with the gratuitous violence and gore, because for so long he’d dealt with more discretionary violence in Marvel books.
Moving to discuss The Silencer, which DiDio says in follows on nicely what with the violence elements, Romita Jr. describes the level of violence as between the extreme violence of Kick-Ass and the non-graphic violence of mainstream books.
On to Daniel: he talks about falling in love with comics again reading Geoff Johns and Mike McKone’s Teen Titans run, which then became his first work at DC. He mentioned about when working at Marvel, Fabian Nicieza had suggested to keep working to make his work look more like Rob Liefeld, and make everything look like a pin-up. He joked that kind of messed him up.
Re: Damage, Daniel talks about loving the energy of drawing big monsters with all the collateral damage that entails. He says it’s the closest thing he’s done to a creator-owned project since the creator-owned stuff he’s done.
Moving onto Miller: on the sound advice Neal Adams gave him, never trust a publisher. Always get your art back. But DiDio was actually referring to advice given to him to get out of comics ASAP, as it was a dying medium. What was it like to take a book one step away from cancellation and turn it into a stellar book? Miller: “It was a hoot.” He then advised anyone looking to break into comics to not look to write a Batman story — look for a loser.
On the feeling some had that he didn’t like Superman given his representation in The Dark Knight Returns? Miller says he loves Superman, but The Dark Knight Returns was Batman’s book. He says if you read it, Superman’s opinions are not unreasonable, and he wrote it with the idea that both of them have to exist.
On Superman: Year One, his project with Romita Jr., Miller wants the book to be a single volume once it’s put together. One that you could give to anyone and they understand who Superman is and what he does, and also that he’s the coolest character he is. Also, he wants people to see him as the sexiest character in comics.
When he’s the writer on the project, he doesn’t write as if it’s something he is going to draw — he writes it for the person he is working with. The writing process is coloured by his relationship with the artist, and it’s the most exciting thing about collaboration.
Each panelist talks about their experiences getting discouraged from breaking into comics, ending with Capullo saying it even went so far as a pastor telling him, “I don’t think it’s God’s will.” And Capullo answered, “It may not be God’s will, but it’s my will.” Years later, the pastor seeing the success he’s had, the pastor told him he was really glad that Capullo didn’t take any of his advice.
On the pressure of years of success, Capullo talks about not getting into comics looking to make loads of money. He thinks this is something that applies to any job, because that kind of desire is shallow and hollow and not the path to happiness. His philosophy on life is when you’re standing still, that’s stagnant, and that is tantamount to death. So you keep improving and staying hungry to build better comics and better illustration. You can never, ever, in any endeavour, reach the end.
Lee thinks it gives you a platform to do your very best work, so it opens to door to work with the people you want to work with. So for him, he wants to be working with the best writers possible.
For Miller, has he ever felt that he’s reached the peak and there’s no need to work further? Miller says no, it’s never come to him. There’s just too much good material out there.
Romita Jr. says the negativity of the internet doesn’t inspire him, but it does keep his ego in check.