CHAYKIN Talks BATMAN & CATWOMAN and the Influence of Money

HOWARD CHAYKIN Pits CAVALIER vs. BATMAN

In November, Howard Chaykin brings Batman and Catwoman together for a story about the influence of money featuring the sword-fighting villain, The Cavalier.

The 44-page one-shot, titled Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money, was written and drawn by Chaykin several years ago but is just now seeing print.

The Cavalier, the villainous identity of Mortimer Drake, is a character who was created by Don Cameron and Bob Kane in the Golden Age. He's gone through more than one incarnation over the years, including a more recent, different character picking up the mantle.

But Chaykin is bringing back the Golden Age version of the villain, as the story sees The Cavalier cleaning out the Wayne Enterprises pension fund and framing Bruce Wayne for the deed.

Newsarama talked with Chaykin to find out more about the issue and what inspired it.

Newsarama: Howard, what's the idea behind this one-shot?

Howard Chaykin: It's about money. One of the problems, in describing this, is that this job is three-and-a-half or four years old. And it was inspired by events that were happening four or five years ago, before the empire collapsed.

It's about how money impacts on the lives of Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Selina Kyle and Catwoman. And ultimately, how their lives are brought to an intersection in this regard by an action taken by the Cavalier.

It's a fun romp. It takes place in a Gotham of my creation. And it features Bruce and Selina almost as much as it features Batman and Catwoman.

Nrama: What's your version of The Cavalier like?

Chaykin: He's very much the old-school Cavalier -- a guy who is part of Bruce Wayne's social set, who supports his presence in that social set through a life of crime.

Nrama: What is it about The Cavalier that attracted you to him?

Chaykin: I loved the character when I was a kid. I was a Golden Age collector in my boyhood, back in the day when you could actually afford to be a Golden Age collector. And I loved the character.

As I recall, the character was inspired by a brand of cigarettes called Cavaliers, which were one of the sponsors of a number of quiz shows back in the 1950s, which I remember watching as a little boy. And I love the character. I'm a huge fan of the Pandro S. Berman/Gene Kelly Three Musketeers. And I loved the idea of a guy who basically supports his jetset lifestyle through criminal behavior.

He doesn't know Bruce Wayne's identity or Selina's identity, but his identity's an open book, yet he insists on maintaining this guise.

Nrama: Where did the idea come from? Did you just want to do a Cavalier story because you were such a fan?

Chaykin: No, the Cavalier was the villain I opted for after-the-fact, because I needed a villain who was motivated by theft and larceny as opposed to psychopathia. Many of Batman's villains are obviously psychopaths, going from the Joker to the Riddler -- these guys are crazy as a shithouse rat.

But the Cavalier's motivation, as criminal as it may be, isn't psychotic. It's more sociopathic. So he was an addition to the original premise.

What got us started was the question, how does Bruce Wayne's money impact on his alternate life as Batman. That's what it's about to a profound extent. It's the way he can afford to fight crime. You or I could not afford the lifestyle that Bruce Wayne has, which makes Batman possible.

Nrama: How does Catwoman fit into that? Does she call him on it?

Chaykin: No, it's a bit more complicated than that. You know, I'm a great fan of the screwball comedies of the 1930s and '40s. And what I find more appealing about those stories is the relationship that exists between men and women in those stories. And I tried to find the narrative equivalent of that in the relationship that exists between Bruce and Selina, and Batman and Catwoman. That attitude of the material starts with the cover and continues through it. But it's a reasonably complex story. And it addresses these issues.

Nrama: How does the Cavalier fit into the story? Does he mess with Bruce Wayne's monetary security?

Chaykin: Enormously. And that messing is what ultimately is the inciting incident that creates the problem for Batman. My interpretation of what I wrote is, it's Selina's life as a criminal that makes it possible for her to articulate what it is that could ultimately be the end result if Batman does not interfere with the royal screwing that Cavalier is giving to Bruce Wayne's life.

Nrama: How did you approach this artistically?

Chaykin: I've never been particularly happy with my interpretation of Batman. I've always found him to be a difficult character to draw because I'm hampered by a strong boyhood memory of my favorite Batman stuff, which is always Dick Sprang's stuff. I love the grotesquery of that stuff enormously. I grew up with Batman in the '50s and '60s, and when I became a Golden Age collector, I really loved the Jerry Robinson material from that era. He was my favorite.

There's a great resonance between what Batman looked like in the '40s and '50s and what Chester Gould was doing with Dick Tracy at the time. There's a huge influence with that. The grotesquery of the villainy. There was a lot of German expressionism built into the material. It was just a crazy looking book.

I've never felt comfortable in trying to find the realistic language equivalent of that, in the post-Carmine Infantino/Neal Adams universe of the reinvention of Batman. And I like that work a great deal, but it's taken me years to be comfortable in finding my own accent of that language.

Nrama: Are you happy with the way this interpretation turned out?

Chaykin: I am actually. Among the only people who've seen it, actually, was Glen Gold, the novelist, who was a neighbor of mine at the time, and he saw it and said he was pretty impressed with the Batman interpretation. And he's a serious fan. So I take his praise seriously.

Nrama: You mentioned that the story is three or four years old. Did you draw the story that long ago?

Chaykin: Absolutely. I think it was originally supposed to be for The Brave and the Bold. It's two 22-page issues combined into one issue. I'm glad to see it coming out, finally. People who have known about its existence have been wondering where the hell it was, and I couldn't answer that question because I didn't have a clue. But now it's finally coming out, and I couldn't be more thrilled about it.

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