Artist DON KRAMER on WONDER WOMAN's New Direction with JMS
Don Kramer Joins JMS on WONDER WOMAN
Wonder Woman gets a new creative team beginning in July, along with a new direction for the series that promise to "smash" expectations – as well as Paradise Island.
DC announced last week that the artist depicting all the destruction will be Don Kramer, working with writer J. Michael Straczynski to launch their new direction for the character with a reportedly explosive story within the oversized Wonder Woman #600 in June. (The issue also includes stories by Gail Simone and Geoff Johns, with art by George Perez, Phil Jimenez and Joe Madureira.)
Wonder Woman, which had been renumbered since it underwent a relaunch in 2006 by Allan Heinberg and Terry Dodson, returns to its new numbering for its new direction as Straczynski and Kramer take over as the regular creative team on Wonder Woman #601 in July.
The DC exclusive artist most recently worked on JSA vs. Kobra, and won critical praise for his pencils on the stand-alone Blackest Night story Power of Shazam #48. Kramer began his career at Marvel in 2003 after getting noticed at a convention by John Cassaday, and the artist soon began defining his style at DC during runs on JSA with Geoff Johns, Batman with James Robinson, and Detective Comics with Paul Dini.
Newsarama talked to the artist to find out more about his take on the character and what we can expect from Kramer's collaboration with JMS on Wonder Woman.
Newsarama: Don, how did you hear you got the Wonder Woman gig, and what was your response to the news you'd be working with JMS?
Don Kramer: He was always high on my list of writers I wanted to work with. At the time I found out, I was just starting an issue of War of the Supermen for editor Matt Idelson, that Sterling Gates and James Robinson were writing. I was literally getting ready to work on that when I got a call from Brian Cunningham, who's the editor on this book, and he told me he was getting ready to put together this run on Wonder Woman with Straczynski, and that Straczynski wanted me on the book.
I was thrilled, obviously. And surprised. And I gave them an immediate yes, because I'm a big fan of Straczynski's work, and any opportunity I'm given to work with him, I'm going to be all over it.
And with Wonder Woman, I really wanted to get another crack at drawing her. I honestly had never thought of myself as a Wonder Woman artist, but I think I can do a good job with her, and I wanted the chance to draw something with her in it.
Nrama: When was the last time you drew Wonder Woman?
Kramer: It was really early in my JSA run with Geoff Johns. It was a "JLA/JSA" story. It was very early in my career, and I was still a little rough as an artist. It was just a couple panels, but I was working with Keith Champagne as an inker and we were still feeling each other out. I think I did a decent job, but it's not the type of job I can do now. Artistically, I feel I've gotten much better. I think I'm a lot more refined. And I have an art team around me that I'm very comfortable with. We work really well together.
Nrama: You're working with Mike Babinski on inks now?
Kramer: Yeah, I've been working with Mike on JSA vs. Kobra, and a couple of issues of Outsiders and the Power of Shazam issue. And we work right next to each other in the same studio. It's been really nice to be able to see what he's doing, and I get to have a little more control over the finished art, in a way I've always wanted to see it. But yeah, artistically, I feel like I've gotten a lot better, and with him now, it just adds to the mix.
Nrama: Are you getting to redesign some things for Wonder Woman? Or coming up with some new designs? Because I know you got to do a lot of that with the Batman universe, establishing the new Ventriloquist and the new Riddler. Are you getting to do any of that with Wonder Woman's world?
Kramer: Not a lot. At least not yet. There are a few things that I'm getting to play around with. There are some new characters that I'm getting to establish their look. No other redesigns that I can officially say anything about.
Nrama: Can you say anything about the story you're drawing? We were told her world gets turned upside down and Paradise Island gets destroyed.
Kramer: That's true. I can confirm that. I've talked to Straczynski about what we're doing, but I haven't actually started drawing an issue yet. I've seen one script, but it's just a little 10-page script that I think is going to be in Issue #600 of Wonder Woman.
In those 10 pages, there is... well, I'll just have to let people see it. I don't really think I can talk about it right now. I'll have to leave it at that. The only thing I've drawn so far is the one teaser panel of Wonder Woman standing within the destruction of Paradise Island.
I guess I could say that JMS is definitely going to shake things up. And that's not just metaphorical. Obviously, things get shaken up on Paradise Island, but there are some really big things happening right away. That's about all I can add right now.
Nrama: Most people are familiar with your work on Detective Comics and JSA, but you're not particularly known as someone who specifically draws gorgeous women, like one would think about being a Wonder Woman artist. Did JMS tell you anything about why he chose you? I think DC released a quote where he mentioned your ability to convey emotions.
Kramer: When we talked, he did confirm he wanted me for the book, but I didn't ask him why. [laughs] I assume he saw my work and liked what he saw. I'd like to think it's my storytelling abilities, because I am very dedicated to the script and the story. I don't like to go off on tangents or focus on big, splashy images like some other artists do. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's just not the way I approach the work.
As for drawing emotions really well, maybe that had something to do with it, if that's what he said. We never really discussed why he asked for me. But I'm thankful that he did. I feel honored to be part of this, and I'm honored to be chosen to work with a great writer like Straczynski.
Nrama: How would you describe your Wonder Woman? Any influences?
Kramer: I really like what the Dodsons have done, what Adam Hughes has done, and I you can pretty much name all the recent artists on Wonder Woman, and I think they've done a great job on her.
But I tend to lean toward a more athletic looking Wonder Woman. She's someone who should look like she can take care of herself, although she's still very beautiful. I'm not modeling her on a certain actress, but I think Wonder Woman has a pretty distinct look of her own.
I only got the job about two weeks ago, so I may develop more of a look for her by the time we get going. We're still getting things ready for this run and waiting for approvals and different things so I can get started on the book.
Nrama: Then just to finish, Don, is there anything you want to tell your fans about your upcoming work on Wonder Woman?
Kramer: Just that I'm really looking forward to getting to draw her. I apologize that I have to keep somewhat mum about what I know about the story. But I am truly honored to be part of the team on this comic, and to be the next artist to get to draw this great character. I consider her one of DC's most important and iconic characters, and I think I can do a really great job with her. I'm certainly working with a great writer. So I'm really looking forward to it.