People might only know artist Guillem March for his work on the controversial Catwoman, but there’s more to March than just the scintillating story of Selina Kyle’s crimes and consorts. In January, American comics readers will be able to experience it for the first time with March’s new art book, Cover Girls. This 80-page volume showcases March’s early European work, showing both his familiar female forms as well as a more humorous side.
Guillem March’s style ranges from cheesecake to European and even manga, which he won an award for in 1998. The artist created a series of graphic novels in Europe that have yet to reach English-speaking audiences, and Cover Girls offers a titillating first glimpse at March’s versatile talents beyond what he’s shown at DC Comics. Newsarama talked with the Majorcan artist about his eye-opening artbook, as well as the controversy surrounding the Catwoman/Batman sex scene in Catwoman #1.
Newsarama: Let’s start with an easy one first, Guillem – what are you working on today?
Guillem March: I´ve just finished penciling and inking the cover for The Huntress #6 mini. Usually my daily work is to pencil and ink a Catwoman page.
Nrama: I came to talk to you today about your upcoming art book Cover Girls, which brings to light just how evocative you are at drawing women. Can you tell me how your approach to drawing women developed?
March: I used to draw slice of life comics that were serialized in a daily newspaper here in Majorca. The girls I drew were quite different from the girls I’m drawing now, since they were supposed to look familiar, or at least real to the reader. It was a suggestion from the newspaper´s editor that the main characters were females because they already had another artist drawing male characters. Years after I worked doing some covers and interior pages for erotic magazines, so I tried to make the girls more explosive and change the poses. The work I’m doing nowadays has more to do with the second kind of girls.Nrama: Although you’re best known here for Catwoman and Gotham City Sirens, this book collects art form your European work – none of which has been released in the U.S. before. Can you tell us what’s inside the book?
March: The book has two parts. The first one contains non-erotic artwork. Several covers and some interior art from my “real” girls. On the second part you’ll find the covers for Eros Comix Spain, panels from the Playboy Spain pages and other hot stuff I’ve draw, most of them containing nudity or explicit poses. There isn’t anything of my work for DC in this book, so you can be sure everything will be brand-new for your eyes!
Nrama: Is this just pin-ups and covers, or will there also be some sequential work in Cover Girls as well?
March: Mainly pinups and covers. There are some interior art displayed, even full pages of comics, but not for reading purposes, just to show the art. Actually, there are no balloons in those panel pages since any of the stories can’t be read at all. Anyway, you’ll mainly find full-page color illustrations, which is what an artbook is intended to be for.
Nrama: Is there any plans to release some of your Spanish comics like Sofia and Gray Days for us in the U.S. at some point?March: No plans, let’s see how this book works. Let’s face it, this is the kind of stuff that is easier to sell. I’d love to see my storytelling books published in English in U.S., because it’s the place were I could reach the biggest audience, but maybe I need to build a bit of that audience beforehand. Also, some of those books have a more amateurish style. I started working on Sofia in 2001. That´s 10 years ago, when I was 21 years old. That said, I´d really love to see those books in English since I was also the writer, so I really consider them “my” books and I’m very proud of them.
That sounds like I have kids!
Nrama: From kids to adults, there’s been along of tongues wagging over your new series Catwoman, both with acclaim and concern about how sexual it is. What do you think about sexuality in comics, especially with two well-known characters like Catwoman and Batman?
March: Catwoman is a book for mature readers. 16 year old people and over, as it is rated on the cover with a T+. I think that there should be a place for the books containing sexuality in the market share, even explicit sexuality, and with that I´m not saying Catwoman is explicit, because it isn´t. Real life is explicit, it doesn’t cast shadows everywhere. I’m not going to argue with anybody about if it’s right or wrong to display sexuality between two well-know characters, or the way it’s done in Catwoman. At the end those characters are a property of DC Comics, and nobody can say “this is not how Catwoman should be” because everybody has a different vision of how every character should be. The only right treatment is the current ongoing comic-book, the place where the character is “living”. I hope people like it and follow the series because there is a lot of work behind to make it a good book, funny and entertaining. Both Judd Winick and I are putting a lot of ourselves in it.
Here in Europe, I think we’re more open minded about displaying sexuality in the media, and maybe showing violence is less acceptable than in the US. All the controversy about the ending of issue #1 surprised me a bit.Nrama: Speaking of Europe, you worked for over ten years in Europe before you decided to do American comics – what brought you to English comics?
March: Spain doesn´t really produce comics and publishing houses here are quite amateurish, so the only way to grow as an artist is to jump outside, mainly to France and United States. I’ve worked for both markets, I still do and I like them both for different reasons. But I never really decided to pursue getting work in American comics. I was lucky to have met editor Mike Marts at a con in Barcelona, which led to my first assignment for American comics, a Poison Ivy special. Before that moment I used to think I wouldn’t be good or fast enough to draw for American comics, so I wasn’t aiming for that. Today I still see myself like I’m just passing through. There are so many talented people out there.
Nrama: One of your early works was satirizing American superhero comics in the Spanish Dolmen Magazine, so what’s it like to come full circle and do serious work on something you humorized years ago?
March: Yes, it’s kind of funny. I wasn’t really satirizing superhero comics, but everything that’s behind that, like the fandom, the cons, the artist’s life, etc. It was very focused on the Spanish scene then, and probably those pages would be hard to understand for a U.S. reader nowadays. Even for a Spanish reader.
Nrama: Flipping through your artwork over the years, I’m surprised that you have a very different style – a more cartoony, humorous and sometimes animal-based style. Can you talk about your other approaches to drawing and the possibility of them showing up in your American comics work at some point?March: I change my drawing style quite often. Lately I’m trying to stick to what I consider an acceptable comic-books style when I’m working for DC, but I could very easily draw with a very manga-esque style, or a cartoony one, or make the page layout more European. Years ago I used to copy the style of any comic I liked. Just as examples, for some years I drew like Akira Toriyama because I loved Dragon Ball, and after reading Sin City I started to imitate Frank Miller´s chiaroscuros, whiteouts and brush strokes. Now I’ve assimilated all massive influences and they don’t show up in my current style, but I know how they work and I can turn back to those “old styles” of mine. I guess this happens to many artists, I don’t know. I hope soon I can work on some kind of special project that allows me to develop a different style, maybe painted, or more realistic.
Nrama: Do you still do European comics, or are all your energies focused on doing American comics at this point?
March: I’m working on a European book, for a Belgium publisher, but I’m focused on Catwoman with 95% of my time. The other book is a long-term project. Of course I’m specially allowed by DC to do that because right now I’m DC exclusive.