Philip Tan - On Illustrating Final Crisis: Revelations
by Vaneta Rogers
Date: 13 August 2008 Time: 04:55 PM ET
Greg Rucka: Final Crisis: Revelations
With this week's first issue of Final Crisis: Revelations, readers are getting their first good look at Philip Tan's work on the miniseries.Considering the other Final Crisis pencilers are names like J.G. Jones, George Perez and Scott Kolins, drawing one of the main tie-in mini-series for the publisher's big summer event is quite a high profile gig for a DC newcomer like Tan. But talking with the artist makes it obvious that he's downright giddy with excitement over the opportunity to work on the series with writer Greg Rucka. "I couldn't ask for more. Greg has been awesome and is always surprising me with what happens in each script, and I just can't wait for the next script to show up every time I finish reading the last one. I'm drawing the book, but I'm almost like a fanboy reading the first draft of the scripts," Tan said. "The whole project has been a new experience for me. I'm working with a writer who helps me out so much with how I can make my work be its best. It's been wonderful. It's been such a blast working with Greg so far. We're more than halfway through it, so I think I'll be sad when we're near the end."
As previewed earlier this week on Newsarama, Final Crisis: Revelations focuses on the Spectre, the green-caped spirit of vengeance who works for the DCU version of God, as he enacts revenge upon the villains behind Martian Manhunter's murder. "We start the comic with the much anticipated Spectre confrontation with Dr. Light on the first few pages," Tan said, referring to a villain who has been particularly despised by fans since it was revealed he's not just a murderer, but a rapist as well. "I'm getting to draw a lot of villains. There are tons of villains, even in the first issue alone. I can't really tell everyone who is coming up in the series, but there will be a fight between Killer Croc and Batwoman. There are a bunch of villains though. And a lot of villains are dying." The dark mood of the mini-series and the grand scale of the Spectre's caped figure fit well with Tan's style, which he honed during the last three years drawing gloomy scenes and life-filled capes for the Spawn titles at Image Comics. The artist, who started his career with Wildstorm and then Marvel, was recently signed to a DC exclusive contract when his work on Spawn caught the eye of DC's Dan DiDio. "When they told me I would be drawing the Spectre, I went through a lot of research of the different versions of the character. I looked at the Spectre drawn by Alex Ross, because I love the way he drew him in Kingdom Come, and the Tom Mandrake Spectre, back when he was drawing The Spectre book," Tan said. "Drawing the mood and the cape is a lot of fun. You know, I was on Spawn for a long time, so I have a lot of experience drawing capes and darker characters. But this was a different experience for me because I was trying to combine all these elements that I like from the different versions of the character, but also, I went in and added my own spin to it." Now that the Spectre's previous host, Hal Jordan, has been resurrected and returned to his status as a Green Lantern, the Spectre's spirit has possessed a new host, the recently deceased Crispus Allen, a character that Rucka created as a Gotham City cop. So Tan said the mini-series establishes how Allen reacts to his new job as God's spirit of vengeance. "We're looking at how he's fitting into being the Spectre," Tan said, adding that the character evolves as the mini-series continues. "We want to bring the Spectre to a much grander scale." As the character is ordered by God to track down the people behind Martian Manhunter's murder, the Spectre comes face-to-face with his former police partner Renee Montoya in her role as the new Question. "Greg really puts a lot of heart in writing how the Question goes through all these things that challenge her in this story. He really makes her into a very distinctive character," Tan said. "With the Question, it wasn't really about how she was drawn, but how her movements are drawn or her posture or position. She's more like a martial arts character. I really had to do a lot of work on different kinds of looks for this athletic, more muscular female character. She's definitely different from your typical superhero ladies or all these supermodel looking women who are very skinny and move in a more feminine way. Renee Montoya is different. Drawing the female Question, she has to have a lot of weight added to her movements, with an athletic finesse to it. That's how I approach this new Question character. She's very athletic and she's a great cop." Tan contrasted that with Batwoman, who's much more feminine, fighting in heels with her flowing, long red hair. Yet he said Batwoman presented a challenge to him because of her costume. "I went through some trouble getting used to drawing her mask and the way her costume looks. I had to work to get better at it. She's a lot different from the traditional Batgirl or how the different bat-characters are portrayed," Tan said. "With Batman and Nightwing, they wear darker costumes. They're supposed to be very scary during the nighttime. And even when Robin has the lighter color scheme on his costume, there's still a theme of darkness on the costume. But Batwoman has that bright red against black on her costume. And the mask is different. I had to be careful not to draw her with a Hawkgirl mask. It can almost go very similar looking. Even the gloves are a little different. It's really unlike the other bat-characters that I've drawn." Because the book has a new Spectre, and a new Question, and a new Batwoman, Tan said he's had to work in conjunction with Rucka to define the look and feel of these characters, which fits with the story of their evolution in this mini-series. "The whole book, I'm dealing with iconic characters, but with a new version. All these new versions of iconic characters," he said. "And all these characters, I have to do my own research and give them a new kind of approach that I believe would best represent them. "I hope I've done them justice," he said. "I feel like this is some of the best and most important work I've ever done." Related: Greg Rucka on Final Crisis: Revelations Further Revelations with Rucka