Gotham Calling: Finch On "The Dark Knight"

Tue, July 13th, 2010 at 10:58am PDT

Comic Books
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer

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Finch's "Dark Knight" is inspired by Adams and O'Neil's '70s Batman stories

Announced today via DC Comics' The Source, starting in November, David Finch will write and illustrate "Batman: The Dark Knight" in November, a new ongoing series that will feature Bruce Wayne as the Caped Crusader in stories that are inspired, primarily, by the Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil run from 1970s.

The new title will get a jump start in October with the release of "Batman: The Return," a one-shot illustrated by Finch and written by Grant Morrison, the man driving the Dark Knight's adventures since 2006 when he took over writing duties on "Batman."

Finch is a long-time fan of the character and he told CBR News that the opportunity to draw and write Batman for DC Comics was a major reason for him signing his exclusive with the publisher earlier this year. He also shared news of which of Batman's rogues Bruce will be up against first and which unlikely DCU superhero will be joining the title's supporting cast.

The Canadian comic creator also confirmed that he would continue his duties as cover artist on DC's top-selling bi-weekly series, "Brightest Day," as well as Paul Cornell and Pete Woods' run on "Action Comics."

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CBR News: Is it safe to say your love of Batman was one of the main reasons you signed with DC Comics along with the hope that this type of project would come to pass?

David Finch: Absolutely. I've always loved Batman. I've been a big fan my whole life, especially since I've been drawing professionally. He's a character that I really gravitate towards. I like drawing the shadows and the darkness. And he's such an angry, physical, street-level character. He's someone who is really enjoyable for me to draw. It's very visceral. So yeah, I was excited to come to DC to do Batman.

Pencils from Finch's first issue of "Batman: The Dark Knight"

With this title launching after the finale of Grant Morrison's "The Return of Bruce Wayne," we're talking Bruce Wayne here, rightm and not Dick Grayson?

Yes. It's in continuity. Grant has a very broad vision with what he is doing, so I did what I could to find a way to pocket what I'm doing in there and accent what he's doing and work along with it. But I'm also taking my own course for where I wanted to go with it.

Dick Grayson has been Batman for nearly a year while Bruce Wayne has been a caveman, a pirate and gunslinger. How has Bruce Wayne changed and do you see his character different than the character of Batman or are they one in the same?

It's one character. I don't think someone else in a Batman costume is Batman. I don't mean to say that I don't like Dick Grayson as a character, that's not true. But he's not Batman for me. Bruce's experiences, like losing his parents, are his motivation and give him a reason for doing what he does. Taking that away isn't Batman. I feel with the Robin character, there's just a fear of pleasing Batman. It's a very different motivation. It's coming more from a place of fear than a place of anger. I just feel that I relate far more to Bruce Wayne.

What is it about drawing Batman that is so satisfying?

There are so many different approaches to Batman. Some characters, there are only so many ways to go about, but Batman has had such a wide range of interpretations. It's very difficult to sit down at the table and say, "OK. Here I am. I'm drawing my Batman. This is my shot." I've drawn Batman on my own time lots of times.

I love the Frank Miller Batman. I love the Kelley Jones Batman. And those are so diametrically opposed. I love Jim Lee's Batman and Kevin Nowlan's and Mike Mignola's. I can go on and on. Neal Adams' version is a classic. It's a mixture of all of those guys.

And I love his cape. It's the coolest part of the character. It gives him so much drama. It can hide him and make him very mysterious. It can make every shot a little bit more driven.

Grant's been working on his monster Batman epic for more than four years. Will you be looking to do a similar story in terms of length and reach, or will you be telling shorter stories and done-in-ones in "Batman: Dark Knight?"

I won't be doing done-in-ones, but I will definitely be doing more intimate, smaller scale stories. I'm really not interested in doing – and I don't know that I would have the ability to do – universe-spanning, globally-driven stories. That's really Grant's department. He's the one driving the entire Batverse. I'm really trying to work with the other titles. I'm already talking to some of the other writers, so we can cross-pollinate a little bit and make it all part of the same story. But I'm trying to keep it fairly contained.

You may not be able to share just yet, but can you reveal any details about the first story you'll be telling?

I want to stay as focused as I can on Batman's detective roots. I'm a big fan of the Neal Adams/Denny O'Neil stuff, and that stuff is a little bit more supernatural and I think it's a really good fit for Batman. I think it brings him out of his comfort zone a little bit. He's such a logic-based character and he's sometimes getting into things that defy logic, so it's a bit of an extra challenge for him. I like that discomfort.

I'll also be introducing some new characters that accentuate that. And while I will be creating some new characters, I will also be using Batman's regular rogues' gallery – all my favorites. Like any artist ever coming onto Batman, it's a scratch that I couldn't possibly resist, so there will be a lot of familiar faces and some new ones too. I wanted to bring in The Demon, whom I've always loved. He's a great character.

So we'll see Robin, Alfred and Commissioner Gordon too?

Absolutely. All the usual characters that you would associate with Batman are there. I've talked to Gail Simone about having a little interplay with "Birds of Prey." It's a phenomenal book. I wanted to connect with the rest of the Bat-universe, as much as I possibly can.

You mentioned Batman's rogues gallery. Can you tell us who Bats will be up against first?

Finch's cover for "Batman" #700, which included interior art from the artist as well

Killer Croc, right away. Killer Croc actually appears very early in Jim Lee's initial run on "Hush," and I think he was the first villain that appeared in Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's run. I didn't want to copy what they were doing, but I loved that and I loved the character, so it's a bit of a nod to some of my favorite Batman stories.

I love [Croc's] look. He's a scary, scary character and he's such a physical character. Right away, he puts Batman up on his heels. You don't need a lot of lead-in for Killer Croc.

Since you arrived on the scene, you've grown into one of the preeminent artists in the industry. As a writer, though, we hardly know ye. Does writing "Dark Knight" as well as drawing it make you nervous, or is it something you've wanted to do for so long you're just excited about the opportunity?

Both. I have a pretty clear idea of the sort of comic that I want to do, and I can be a little bit difficult to work with for a writer, at times. I have such strong ideas, I can be a little tough to please. So now as a writer, I'm trying to please me, the writer, and I'm finding I'm having a hard time doing that anyways.

It's almost like wearing two different hats. When I'm writing, I'm really writing a story that resonates from me, and it's not necessarily coming from an artistic perspective. I have to find a way to satisfy the artist side of me.

But yeah, it's also something that I'm pretty nervous about. I don't really have a lot writing out there, so I've really tried to approach it as well as I could. I had read a lot of Batman anyway, but I have read a lot [more] Batman [recently] just to make sure that I had a really good grasp of everything that's going on in the universe and the history behind the character. I feel like the actual story is important, but I think you have to have a respect for who the character is in context of his experiences. That's very, very important. I wanted to respect that as much as I could.

So yes, I'm thrilled, but I'm also scared out of my mind. I'm really want this to be as strong as it possibly can be. I made this clear to DC early on - I want this to be successful, strong book, and well-written. I don't want [editor] Mike Marts or anyone else to pull any punches. I want everyone to push me into creating the best stories that I possibly can create. Everyone at DC has been a major help. I couldn't do this without them. It's a learning experience. Tony Daniel has been very helpful for me. I talked to Andy Schmidt. He was my editor on "Avengers" and he was very, very helpful. So I really tried to reach out to people that I felt they knew what they were doing. Geoff Johns has been a big help for me. This is going to be as strong as it possibly can be because it is a huge character and it's a book that I think that will get a lot of attention.

Does writing and drawing the title give you ultimate freedom to tell the story you want to tell?

What I gain from this, more than anything else, is the ability to present the story in the most dramatic way that I can. I can choreograph fight scenes without a writer's filter. Some writers I've worked with, like Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, are just geniuses. They are just incredible. It was such a great experience. Some other writers have been great and they are always in my head. But this really allows me a chance to tell the story I want to tell visually, and, hopefully, it will have a little more of a dramatic punch.

Like I said, I've really plugged in to Tony Daniel. He's really come along and is doing some of the best work of his career. You can see, as he gets more of a comfort level, how much more is coming out of his stories. I hope I can have the same type of success that he has.

How will you juggle both writing and drawing "Dark Knight?" Will you write yourself complete scripts?

I wrote several full synopses – very tight - and then I got it pared sown to something that I was very happy with. I started writing full scripts from there. Actually writing the scripts really changed the synopses, and now that I'm drawing them, I try to be as tight as I can with the scripts so it's fairly close, but there are always new approaches when you get to another stage. I'm trying as much as I possibly can to give myself a very tight script. I think it just makes for a better product.

Will you be continuing on with your cover work on "Brightest Day" and "Action Comics?"

Oh, yeah. It all has been great. "Action Comics" was a big surprise for me, though. I went on to that book with not knowing what to expect and they're doing such great stuff with that book. I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I got that job.

TAGS:  dc comics, batman, david finch, grant morrison, the dark knight

 
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