The Boy Wonder no more, DC has put young Tim Drake through his paces these past few months, as he has traveled the world in search of his fallen mentor in the pages of Red Robin.
With all this globe-trotting to Paris, Madrid, and the Czech Republic, it's perhaps fitting that the man who will be bringing Tim Drake's adventures to life starting this November comes from Aspen -- the comics publisher, that is.
Newsarama sat down with upcoming series penciler Marcus To, as he discussed ninjas, drawing locations around the world, and most importantly, the man behind Red Robin's mask.
Newsarama: Marcus, thanks so much for speaking with us. So the news has hit that you're taking on Red Robin -- can you tell us how that jump from Aspen to DC happened? Was Red Robin a series you had been particularly interested in?
Marcus To: Thank you for the interest in my new project. I have to say I was ecstatic when I was asked to draw Red Robin. I've known [series editor] Mike Marts for a few years now since being introduced to him by colorist Christina Strain. I've been emailing him samples since then and when something came up he luckily had me in mind for it. Robin has always been a favorite for me ever since I was a kid, so when Mike asked me if I was interested in penciling this book I jumped at it without hesitation.
NRAMA: For you, what's your take on Tim Drake as a character? How has his life to this point affected him, and how do "find" that boy/man balance in your art?
To: I think that Tim is the type of guy who is optimistic and always tries to see the good in most situations. But with all the bad things that has happened to him lately has really tested him and is now acting out and doing things you never thought he would do. He needs to find himself, along with Batman, through this "trip" he's taking. I've read how a lot of people were not happy with his brooding and angry side but what teenager do you know who isn't emotionally high strung? And he has reason, with all the things in his life turned upside down.
NRAMA: Something else that's really helped define Red Robin as a series is its globetrotting elements -- moving from Gotham to Madrid to Paris to the Czech Republic. Do you like the idea of getting to draw multiple expansive landscapes and backgrounds?
To: Drawing different places that need a lot of reference is not always an artist's favorite thing to do, but to me I take it as a challenge, and to draw these places is a great learning experience.
NRAMA: I know things are fairly early in your collaboration with Chris Yost, but how do you guys play off each other? Is adapting to specific writers a unique challenge each time?
To: Chris is great to work with, I haven't spoken much with him about what he's writing, but it's really easy to interpret his scripts into sequentials. I don't really know how we play off of each other but what I try to do is to stay on par with what Chris has written while injecting my own style of storytelling with it. My goal when working with different writers is to try to interpret the mood of the scene and draw them with that kind of emotion.
NRAMA: So what we've seen so far is Tim Drake versus Ra's Al Ghul and the League of Assassins. Based on the number of ninjas in your preview images, is it safe to say they're they still playing a role when you hop aboard?
To: Yes sir, I have to say there will be many more ninjas to come!
NRAMA: Additionally, in the preview image we saw today, it looks like Tim is teaming up with a woman wielding a gun -- traditionally a big no-no in the Bat family. Is there anything you can say about her?
To: Well, she was introduced in the first issue and let's just say that she, as well as many ninjas, will play an important role in Tim's trek around the world.
NRAMA: For you, how would you describe how this book fits into this all-new, all-different Batman franchise? We've seen there's going to be some brotherly conflict with Dick Grayson coming up... any word on possible fall-out?
To: First of all, I haven't had the chance to read a lot of the other books lately, but I think that with Dick being Batman and Damian being Robin and with all the turmoil in Gotham, Tim being away and doing his own thing fits well with all the changes in the Bat-family. It kind of reminds me of when Dick became Nightwing and left to find himself. It only makes sense to have Tim have his own book and be off on his own. And about Dick and Tim falling out, I don't know what's going to happen with those two, I'm eager to find out myself.
NRAMA: Without giving too much away, what's one specific moment coming up that you're particularly excited about, that fans should be looking forward to?
To: I have to say when Ra's Al Ghul starts making a more serious appearance, it will get crazy!