When artist Pat Gleason and writer Peter Tomasi take over Batman & Robin in November, neither duo will need to get used to each other.
Even though Bruce Wayne returns this fall to the DCU, Batman & Robin will continue to star Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne in the lead roles.
And the duo behind the comic's creation is already a familiar team too. After all, they were on Green Lantern Corps together for the last three years.
Readers of the space-based GLC know that Pat Gleason has a knack for filling pages with multi-character action, while still giving attention to the emotions and attitudes of fan-favorites like Guy Gardner and Sinestro.
But Gleason said he's adjusting his style to fit with the new book, which he and Tomasi are inheriting from writer Grant Morrison.
Last week, we spoke with Tomasi about the title, which will feature Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin. As DC Editor Mike Marts detailed for Newsarama, there will be two Batmen after Bruce Wayne returns this fall: Grayson in three comics, Wayne in two.
For Batman & Robin, Tomasi is hoping to continue what Morrison has started with the title, but he and Gleason are sure to bring some of their own unique flavor to the comic, one that is familiar to Green Lantern fans.
Newsarama spoke with Gleason about what he's hoping to do with Batman & Robin and why the job appealed to him as an artist...
Newsarama: Pete said he called you immediately to work with him on this book. What did you think when you heard about it?Pat Gleason: Well, when he first brought it up, I was deeply entrenched in Blackest Night. My first thought was, "Wow! that would be really cool! Let me think about it." I was probably on a string of sleepless nights and up to my eyeballs in zombies and Green Lanterns. The real sad fact for me at the time was that I would have to leave my beloved Corps, and be dropped into unknown territory on Batman & Robin. It took some time to make the decision, but ultimately I felt good that I had left some sort of a mark on Green Lantern Corps, and it was time to move on to a new challenge and a new frontier. After that, I pretty much just geeked out.
Nrama: Do you use a different artistic "muscle" to draw something like Batman when you've been drawing space-based characters for a while? Have you had to change up your style at all?
Gleason: Yeah, whenever I start something new, my style will change a bit. I try to leave it open enough to do that. But I really try to keep the storytelling and emotionally grounding things constant.I've been in space for a long time. And before that, working on Aquaman, my time was spent mostly deep down in the ocean. So now I've got a backlog of those little normal, everyday, Earthy kind of details, backgrounds and people that I've been storing up and putting down in my sketchbooks.
Nrama: Have you looked at the Batman & Robin book and the style of the comic that's been used by artists over the last year?
Gleason: I had been really immersed in the Green Lantern stories and characters earlier on, but I had also kept a peripheral view on what was going on with Batman. Even back through Final Crisis and on into Grant [Morrison]'s work on Batman & Robin. Since then, I've done a lot of reading and soaking in of the style the book has had over the last year or so.
Nrama: Do you draw Dick differently as Batman than you would if it was Bruce in the costume?
Gleason: Definitely. I've always been a Nightwing fan too. I particularly remember enjoying Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel's run. Scott gave Nightwing's movement so much agility and precision. It always made each page interesting to look at. Obviously, I don't think we can go quite that route with Dick as Batman now, but I do see him carrying himself with more style and maneuvering, in riskier ways than Bruce would.Drawing two men playing the same Bat is an interesting opportunity too. I've always tried to direct any of my characters to have their own expressions and body language. It's really important to me not to have a bunch of generic, mass produced heroes and villains running around — all scowling the same, all fighting the same, all jumping, flipping, eating ice-cream the same. Each one has to stand out as an individual. They have to embody a real personality, and that can come out in so many different ways.
So ultimately, my goal is that if you see a Bruce Wayne as Batman and a Dick Grayson as Batman next to each other, eating ice cream, you the reader will be able to tell the difference.
Nrama: Is this your first time drawing Damian? And how are you approaching the character?Gleason: It's my first time drawing Damian, but it's not my first time drawing Robin. I did the covers for Robin back while I was first starting on Green Lantern Corps. Those were actually some of my favorite covers I got to do. I used to call drawing them my vacation.
But now I do realize that these are two different Robins. I'm sure I'm like most people — I kind of hated Damian at first. But the little twerp has really grown on me. And now he's such a cool little twerp!
There are a handful of those great characters that an artist gets to draw that really keep things fun and fresh. Plus I think there's just something interesting to all of us about that guy in the room that struts a little too much or carries himself differently. We all like to keep an eye on them.
So when I think about approaching Damian, I think it could be a lot like my approach to Guy Gardner. I have a longer leash artistically on things like attitude, and facial expressions. There are a lot of similarities that I can see in them. So there's some real fun to be had with Damian.
Nrama: That's such a great comparison, between Guy Gardner and Damian and the attitude they wear on their faces and in their body language.
Gleason: Well, yeah. They both act like they have it all figured out, or at least they think they do. And with Damian it's just this kid! But hey, he can back it up too! Well, most of the time.Nrama: Is there anything you can tell us about the feel of the comic? Or what Gotham's going to be like in the comic?
Gleason: It's going to be Gotham. It's what you're going to be looking for. Gotham isn't a superhero town. It's something much more intimate than that. It's lonely, it's grand, it's heartbreaking. It's noir.
It's going to be my challenge to keep that look up and remind people in visually interesting ways. Because even with Gotham, we can get too familiar with a good thing. It's always been well known that Batman and Gotham are somewhat synonymous. So when dealing with Gotham, it's never just a background. I want to make you guys feel it again. I want you guys to feel uncomfortable by Gotham. Like it's not really a place where you want touch anything, let alone hang out and get lost in there somewhere.Nrama: Pete mentioned he's hoping to introduce some new villains to the comic. That's not something new for you, since you created so many new characters for Green Lantern Corps over the years.
Gleason: Oh yeah. I guess that's been part of my job description. Most artists like having control over how the new super guy or super gal is going to look. You get to play to your strengths and come in with your "A" game.
But then, the funny flip side to that is sometimes when you inherit a character that you didn't design, the previous artist's strengths are your weaknesses. So there you are with a deadline and you have to draw this guy who has, like, a million tiny things, or some costume design you just cant wrap your head around. Then you just spend your time sobbing and erasing pages. Muttering unkind things under your breath. But really, most of the time, it's as much fun as you think it would be.
The other thing is you never know if anyone you create will be around two months or two years or twenty years later. Some of my favorite designs have been lost or left behind or killed off, and other favorites live on. I would have never guessed a few years ago that I'd get to see some of the characters that I designed up on the big screen when [the film] Green Lantern comes out next year. So that has been a really satisfying perk of designing lots of characters.
Nrama: This will also be a bit of a rest, won't it? To have fewer characters? The Corps is so big.Gleason: Yes and no. My other editors, Adam Schlagman and Eddie Berganza, have given me plenty of other things to work on with Brightest Day, and variant covers on Green Lantern Corps. And I have a part in a Tales of the Black Lantern Corps coming up as well. So not much resting going on. But in some ways, you are right: It is a more restful pace when you're not drawing 8 ba-jillion zombies and lanterns fighting each other every month.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Pat, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Batman & Robin?
Gleason: My thanks to everyone new who is going to check us out. And my sincere appreciation and thanks for those who have been along for the ride so far. If you liked what Pete and I have been doing, stick around. We're just getting this show started.