PAUL JENKINS 2: Working With David Finch on THE DARK KNIGHT

Last Minute NEW 52 Previews for 11/23

 

One of the most notable outcomes of the New 52 has been the number of books that are shipping on time every month.

Among those books is Batman: The Dark Knight, which had suffered from delays during its initial launch by fan-favorite artist David Finch last year.

As David Finch revealed to Newsarama in May, writing was a challenge for him that took a lot longer than he expected. For awhile, he brought artist Jay Fabok on board just to help him keep up with the schedule of both writing and drawing the book.

But ever since September, the book has been coming out monthly. Part of the reason for that appears to be the addition of co-writer Paul Jenkins.

For part 2 of our discussion with Jenkins (the first being about his addition to the Stormwatch creative team), we talked to the writer about coming on board with Batman: The Dark Knight and what he's bringing to the title going forward.

Newsarama: Paul, how would you describe the situation when you came on board Batman: The Dark Knight?

Paul Jenkins: What happened to Dave, and what was happening around him, was that doing the nuts and bolts of the editorial work was taking time. It was taking two weeks for him just to write a story. And then there were only so many pages he could draw. So the math didn't add up.

I think the fans looked at David and said, "This guy can't draw a monthly book," but that's just not true. It's a real shame because when Dave worked with [Brian Michael] Bendis [at Marvel], he did dozens of issues in a row. He was prolific.

He was aware of the fact that the rap on him was that he couldn't finish a story, and it wasn't fair, really, because he was working so harder. He was working harder than he'd ever worked.

So I came in and talked to him about story, and we really hit it off, and we decided I would come in to outline. At first, we worked on something he'd already plotted out, but I helped to bring in a couple of themes.

Nrama: What themes are we seeing so far in your run with David?

Jenkins: One of them you've seen so far is: "What is fear, and how do you overcome it?" We've pointed the story that way a bit so far, but once we get a few more issues into the book, with issue #8, I'll be taking over the story and Dave will do artwork, which is fine with Dave because he wants to make sure he stays on there as artist on the book.

 

But I still discuss the story with Dave. I call him up and say, "What do you think of this?" So he and I are still doing the book together that way.

The biggest thing that Dave wants is that fans will see issue #9 still being drawn by Dave Finch, and then they can stop talking about him being late. I know how far ahead he is. He's really ahead.

In fact, he's so far ahead that he's further ahead than the other people I'm working with on other books.

Overnight, Dave was suddenly labeled as a late artist, and that shouldn't be the case. He's actually very prolific. And he'll still be drawing on issue #9. He's not taking a break.

Nrama: Is this collaboration with David working well for you?

Jenkins: It's marvelous. I think he really likes working with me, and I certainly really like working with him. And we're both incredibly engaged.

I've always had great experiences when I've had collaborative artists. And working with Dave on Batman: The Dark Knight has been one of those great experiences.

Nrama: Getting back to the theme, is the current theme of fear going to continue through your run, or are you wrapping that up with issue #7?

Jenkins: Well, it runs its course by virtue of what happens in the story as we end this story arc. We investigate the concept of fear by asking, what is Batman afraid of? And if he is afraid, what is he doing in his life to overcome that fear?

Basically, we've got the Scarecrow in the book that's coming up, and he's just shocking. But then it takes a turn, and when people see it they'll say, "Well, there you go. That is Batman's fear." And I think people will say, "Oh, that makes sense."

And I'll tell you this: It's not the Scarecrow.

So you'll see that reveal in issue #6 and #7. I think people would have a lot of answers to that question: What is Batman afraid of? We provide one answer and say, this makes sense.

And the theme is actually delivered as the last line of the book in issue #7, so I can't spoil it.

Nrama: What's coming up in the book going forward?

Jenkins: The next story arc will be about Jim Gordon and Batman, and their respective places in Gotham. Jim Gordon is a very loyal guy who works hard. He has put his neck on the line to work with Batman, but he's getting a lot of heat for it. There are a lot of eyes watching him now.

 

And in our next storyline, Jim gets involved in a very personal case that dredges up bad memories from his past. And he goes to Batman and asks for help.

The story highlights the difference between the two men.

Nrama: When you're working with an artist like David Finch, do you tend to play to his strengths?

Jenkins: Definitely. This book is very much driven by David's skills. He's a guy that I think is really in his element with a character like Batman. It looks very cool. There are big moments.

The first seven-issue arc is very bombastic. We have these issues coming up with Bane that are very big and very much driven by David's artwork.

And we introduced this White Rabbit character, who's very sexy, and David has drawn her so well. That's not to say she's sexist, which Dave and I did discuss and think about and make sure we're aware of. But I don't think she is. I just think there's a place for this kind of cool, strong, sexy character.

And as we develop White Rabbit, and as she appears throughout the next year of the book, because we plan to have her in there for some time, we will begin to learn that this whole facade of being provocative is of interest to Batman. She has an interesting background and past, and she has a very interesting power. Her power is that she can't be caught, like how Alice couldn't catch the white rabbit.

So we have a long-term plan for her. He'll be trying to catch her, but she has this power, so she just kind of winks at him and runs off. She kind of digs him, and he's obviously interested in her.

Nrama: Besides Jim Gordon playing a major part in the upcoming story arc and the ongoing presence of White Rabbit, are there any other characters you want to highlight and talk about?

Jenkins: We've got this character named Forbes who has made an appearance already. And he works for Internal Affairs. And based upon other things that are happening in the mythology, Forbes is going after Bruce Wayne and he's going after Jim Gordon. He's making it official that Gotham City's Police Department cannot be on the same side as Batman.

We'll make more of Forbes as time goes on. And he's treacherous. He's ambitious. And he's not a nice person. He's kind of like Jim Gordon's Moriarty. He sabotages him and then makes it look bad on Gordon.

 

I love Alfred. I think he's one of the best characters in comics. And I just adore writing Alfred and Batman/Bruce Wayne because Alfred's such a sardonic British bastard. We have this whole scene of Alfred making fun of baseball because it's not cricket. And so Batman can spar a little bit, because he says, "Yes, but baseball doesn't last for five days and people can understand the rules, Alfred."

Alfred is really Bruce's father in many ways, and they love each other. And I think Alfred is very brave because he's an old man, but he still does the work for Bruce because he loves him. So there's a lot of Alfred coming up.

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Batman: The Dark Knight?

Jenkins: Just that it's going to be a fun time. I'm really looking forward to people reading the issues we have coming up.

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