WINICK Returns to Gotham for Sexy, Violent DCnU CATWOMAN

JUDD WINICK Talks DCnU CATWOMAN

 

Judd Winick is no stranger to the Batman universe, having written Bruce Wayne as Batman and introduced Jason Todd as the Red Hood.

But in September, he'll explore a little different corner of Gotham when he relaunches Catwoman as part of DC's new 52 titles.

Winick is returning to the Batman universe in the fall with both Catwoman and a new title for the new African Bat-family member, Batwing.

The long-time DC writer is coming off his run on another solo female title, Power Girl. And he just finished up the bi-weekly mini-series Justice League: Generation Lost a couple months ago.

The writer also spent time in the last year in the Batman universe, with stints on Batman and Robin and Superman/Batman, as well as a mini-series exploring the Red Hood character he created. And earlier this year, he helped DC release an animated DVD about his Red Hood origin story.

As he switches his attention this fall to Selina Kyle and her sexy new role as Catwoman, Newsarama talked to Winick about the title and how it fits in the DCnU.

Newsarama: Judd, wow, two new series? I guess you can easily keep up with them since you just came off a bi-weekly, huh?

Judd Winick: Yeah, you'd think so! But this launch is so important to DC that everyone's working really, really hard to make sure it goes well, including me. They're just trying to do everything exactly correct, moreso than ever before. We want this to be A) Fantastic, B) Memorable, and C) On time. And not in that order. It just simply has to be the best that DC has ever done.

Nrama: But Judd, DC has also announced titles for the Red Hood and the Justice League International, but you're not writing them! Were those just two concepts you felt like you had explored enough for now?

Winick: Yeah, exactly. I've already played with those toys. With JLI, I wrote about two years worth of comics in one year. I wrote 24 issues of Justice League International and felt very, very satisfied. And starting over with the JLI wasn't as interesting to me as starting over with some of these other books. But don't take that to mean we're starting them all over, because as DC has said, it's not a reboot. But what I mean is the "fresh start," as we're calling it. I wasn't as interested in giving those concepts a fresh start as I was these other concepts. I've already done a "start" with the Red Hood and the JLI characters.

Everything was on the table, and everything was open to discussion. But doing Catwoman and doing Batwing were simply more compelling to me than doing what I'd done before. And I can't play with all the toys. I've got to let other people in the toy store. I'm really not that possessive about stories and characters.

Plus I've done really, really long runs on books in the past. But lately, I've been trying to do stronger, shorter runs on books.

So with all that in mind, these comics just seemed like the best fit for me right now and interested me the most.

Nrama: Let's start with Catwoman. Do you feel like there's already a basic knowledge of the character out in the world, making this an ideal character to introduce to new readers?

Winick: Yeah, that's part of what interested me. Our general marching orders are to try to appeal to new readers as well as existing readers.

With Catwoman, we're very lucky in that respect. All the books are trying to hit the ground running. There's not going to be a lot of origin stories floating around. We're not having #1's where, you know, Superman is crashing from Krypton. That's not what this is about.

And equally, we're not going to start out telling the story of how Selina became Catwoman. She's Catwoman, and we take off right from there.

I'm very lucky in the respect that she's very well known. I think if you grabbed 100 people on the street and asked them about Catwoman, they'd not only have heard of her, but they could probably tell you a lot about her. They'll get all the basics right. And these are things that I find to be advantageous in creating this title for both new readers and older readers.

Nrama: The cover certainly indicates she's sexy in this title.

Winick: Yes! It's a very sexy title! It's a very violent title. For lack of a better word, it's one of the edgier titles coming out of the DCU. This is a tough, sexy, violent, somewhat over-the-top book, which is everything Catwoman should be.

And I will tell you right from the jump: This is not Wonder Woman. This is not Supergirl.

But I don't think we're doing anything inappropriate because, this is Catwoman! If there's any character who leads with her sexuality, who leads with her sense of self, it's Catwoman. We're not rewriting the book on her. We're just telling the story as it should be told about her in 2011. And it's a little bit sexy.

Think sexy. Think feline, with the whip, the costume. You know? She has a tremendous amount of sex appeal, and none of us want to shy away from that.

But also think intelligent. That's part of why she's sexy.

We'll explore more of Selina's intelligence by showing her disguises, and her casing a joint, and her getting Intel.

I was talking to someone about Oceans Eleven, and I said it plays out like a detective story. And they said, "How's that?" But if you look at the structure of the story, they're doing all this work and investigating. And it's exciting to see them putting it together and experiencing the results of all that.

Being a thief is hard work when you do it right. You've got to plan it out. You have to know where you're going. And Selina's smart. To do it right, to do the job well, you have to put your hours in, so we'll see some of that too.

And it'll be in a low-tech, believable, realistic way. I think we've gotten a little bit too high-tech sometimes with these street-level characters. You won't see Selina pull something off her belt and scan an entire building and know in an instant how to get there. It's a little more real than that, even though she's in a very unreal world.

Nrama: So summarize that. How would you describe this in just a couple words?

Winick: Dark fun.

Horrible things are going to happen, but also, her tone and tenor is very fun.

Nrama: And it's all about her life as a thief? No trips to college or day jobs or extensive supporting cast?

Winick: She'll have a supporting cast, but it's not going to be a cast of thousands. She's a thief. She lives a sort of migrant, nomadic existence throughout Gotham City. Sometimes she has to go where things take her. She's hand-to-mouth in the sense that she'll steal a bunch of stuff, the blow through the money and have to find more. It isn't about getting stuff and putting together a pile of money so she can retire to a tropical island. It's more about the thrill of the hunt.

Nrama: You've really done a wide variety of types of comics. From straight-up humor in Barry Ween, to the adventure-oriented superhero humor of Justice League: Generation Lost, to the violent, gritty stuff you've done in the Batman universe, to the team books you've done with Outsiders, to a fun female solo hero book like Power Girl and your stuff on other solo heroes. Are you pulling from any of those experiences for these new titles?

Winick: Not really. At least not consciously. I mean, this feels really new to me, and that's one of the things that appealed to me. I've never written Catwoman before. I mean, I think I haven't. I'm trying to think really hard, but I think I have never, ever written the words, "and then Catwoman came through the window." I could be wrong, and someone will jump down my throat. I don't remember ever writing her, though.

And that's one of the reasons it was just so appealing to me to write her.

Also, being told to return to the things people love and loathe about my writing, which is some of the edginess. I wouldn't say this is a dark book. It's dark at times, but it isn't overall. But it is a violent book. And I guess I'm pulling from some of Power Girl to write this, because it's got that same tone and tenor. It's pretty close to what the tone and tenor of Power Girl is, in a way. Selina's probably a little less self-deprecating. But she's very self-aware, and a strong, strong character.

Nrama: Who is your Catwoman?

She is a character who is addicted to danger. That's the key to her character. She's not stealing because she needs the money, and when she steals something, she blows through it really quickly. She enjoys the rush.

She also enjoys Batman. And if you think about it, that's probably the dumbest thing one could do if they're a thief, is be involved with Batman.

Nrama: But does she still flirt with the little bit of good in herself?

Yeah. She's a bit of an antihero. She doesn't chase down bad guys. She's a thief and she steals things. But is she hunting down people and killing them? Will she murder people? No. That's not who she is. She's someone who has deep, deep problems. She runs around in a catsuit, feels the need to steal for the thrill of doing that, and getting mixed up in situations that almost get her killed. She's got big problems. And this is how she's dealing with them.

She's really fun to write. She doesn't have a rulebook. The engine of the story is, now she's going to go steal something else. It's got nothing to do with hunting down criminals. She's just focused on going out and robbing somebody. And that's kind of fun.

Nrama: And your artist is Guillem March? What does he bring to the title?

Winick: Just the best work of his career. Simply that. It looks stunningly beautiful. He draws both beautiful and gritty people. He has this really interesting, clean, noir sense.

They're just really gorgeous looking characters. Everybody. Selina looks just right. We had several manifestations where we were trying to figure out a new look for her, or parts of the old look for her. And it kept coming back to, as you can see from the cover, she's one of the few who looks pretty much as she was. You can't mess with what works, so that's what we came back to. We decided the costume's fine the way it is. And Guillem draws her so beautifully, and gets her right. When she looks dangerous, she looks very dangerous. And he gets that sleek, acrobatic nature of her. Just great faces. Terrific acting. Nice, clean panels. It's just a great looking book.

We're actually ahead of schedule a little bit, so the first issue is fully drawn. And it looks phenomenal. So I can speak to actually the whole first issue, and we're on to our second. And it just looks great.

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