Original BANE: DC Creators Speak Out on RISES Star Part 2

Click here for part one of this interview!

Our two-part interview with Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan, creators of The Dark Knight Rises villain Bane, concludes today. In our conclusion, Dixon and Nolan discuss the villain’s introduction in Vengeance of Bane, his subsequent appearances, and their hopes for The Dark Knight Rises. We’ve also included some rare original artwork from Nolan and more! 

First Ever

Sketch of BANE

Newsarama: Chuck, Graham – how did the decision to launch Bane in the Vengeance of Bane one-shot come about? The book got a little promotion – I remember it was on the cover of the DC "Direct Currents" and Wizard even promoted it early on – but you had a lot of heavily promoted "future collectible" books at that time and here was a one shot that had no super-enhanced cover (no offense to Glenn Fabry) and made the claim of introducing a new Bat-villain, something that happened a lot.

So what were your feelings at the time as to the launch of and reception to Vengeance of Bane especially considering what would happen with the character just a few months down the road?

Chuck Dixon: That came about because Jeanette Kahn attended the first “Knightfall” summit. She was EIC and publisher of DC Comics at the time so there was no higher authority. We had the luxury of mapping out an ambitious year-long publishing plan and she could authorize anything we came up with. Jeanette had the answers and if she didn’t she could call the printer and get them.

Back then, comics were still selling mostly in newsstands, so casual readers had to be considered. And doing a direct-market-only special that was key to “Knightfall” but would not be seen by most readers who only bought at newsstands or convenience stores took some discussion. But Jeanette liked the idea and approved it.

But, remember, we still didn’t know anything about Bane; only that he’d have a big one-off special to tell his origin.

Graham Nolan: Vengeance of Bane is really unique in the history of comics. Here's a character (a villain yet) that has never appeared before and his introduction to the world is his own one-shot stand alone book! The Martian Manhunter was around for 40 years before he got his one-shot. He must be green with envy! Oh, wait. Maybe he's just normally green, huh? 

 

Nrama: What were some of the biggest challenges in putting "Knightfall" together?

Dixon: Not many, surprisingly. Denny (O’Neil) laid out a very solid framework for the whole stunt. He really did the heavy lifting on it. At the first summit he presented it and then we blocked out, in very broad strokes, how it would break down issue by issue across three books; Batman, Detective Comics and the newly-created Shadow of the Bat, which was almost named “Annals of the Batcave!”

Doug (Moench), Alan Grant and myself would divide the writing. The overall plot of “Knightfall” is very high concept, and the dramatic highpoints were built into it. It seemed daunting at first but very easy to get into once the scripting started. There was a strong dramatic pull to it throughout.

Nolan: From an artistic standpoint, “Knightfall” was a nightmare at certain points. Sometimes I would be working on part of the story arc that came after the story running in Batman, yet, certain locations or characters hadn't been designed yet because I was ahead of the artist on the other titles.

So there were times I would do the designs and send them on so they could follow. Other times, I had to wait and work around those pages until they came in. 

 

Nrama: After "Knightfall," there was Vengeance of Bane II, Bane of the Demon and the "Legacy" storyline. In each of these, Bane evolves a bit further – going off Venom, working with Ra's al Guhl, seeking out his father.

Did you have a long-term plan in place for the character, and are you comfortable sharing any of them here? At times throughout these, he seems destined to become, if not heroic, something of an anti-hero.

Dixon: I saw the mystery of his parentage playing out for a long while. I also thought that, by nature of his innocence and the injustice of his upbringing, that Bane could be reformed but that this redemption would only last so long.

He’d hold a place in the DCU closer to Namor of the Hulk; a character who transcended the hero/villain role. One time he might be kicking ass for niceness and the next for evil. But, in the end, he’d be doing what was good for Bane.

Nrama: Bane of the Demon also introduces four possibilities for Bane's father. Thomas Wayne is later revealed as a red herring, and the ultimate culprit is King Snake. Was this always intended as the case? Given recent revelations in the Bat-books, was there ever serious consideration of Bane and Batman as brothers? 

 

Dixon: I don’t like to write mysteries in which I don’t know the conclusion. I knew from the beginning who Bane’s father was. But I loved dangling that thread that Bruce and Bane were half-brothers. I was really surprised when no one else picked up on it to write about it.

Nrama: How do you feel about more recent depictions of Bane in comics, particularly Gail Simone in Secret Six? What do you feel is the main thing to emphasize about Bane, and what is easiest for other writers to get wrong?

Dixon: Bane’s been fortunate in that regard. After me, only Scott Beatty, Tony Bedard and Gail have written anything extensive about him. And each of them were kind enough to contact me with questions. I can’t see where they got him wrong, and Scott even resolved his quest for his father and did so in a great story.

I guess the easiest thing to get wrong would be to play him as a thug or, God forbid, write dialogue loaded with topical references. Bane knows a lot of things, but he can’t tell you anything about Jersey Shore.

Nolan: I haven't read anybody else's Bane.

Nrama: What was most memorable for you about working on Bane? What does the character mean to you, personally? 

Minions!

Dixon: Getting to collaborate with a pal and add to a mythos that’s fascinated us both since we were kids. There’s a kick in seeing toys, games and even people in costume as Bane. And I’m still getting used to the idea that he’ll be a household name in less than a month.

Nolan: When working on established characters it's very difficult to leave an indelible mark. To be able to add something to the Batman mythos that is lasting is very gratifying. To do it with one of my best friends and an editorial support team like Denny O'Neil, Scott Peterson and Darren Vincenzo was a time of magic that I have not seen since.

Bane is being discovered by new generations of readers and fans. For the first time, I am seeing cosplayers dressing up as Bane. When I was sitting in the theater to watch The Avengers last month there was a group of young men in their 20's sitting behind me. As the trailer for TDKR began they got quiet and when Tom Hardy showed up on screen I could hear them say in unison...BAAAAANE. That was cool.

Nrama: Would you want to do more stories on the character, and if so, do you have anything new planned?

Dixon: Graham and I are currently collaborating on a concept of our own called Joe Frankenstein. DC Comics has shown no interest in any further material from us based on Bane. They are, however, reprinting all the material we worked on. 

 

Nolan: My phone number and e-mail is the same so they know how to get in touch with me. I would love to do more stories of Bane, and I've even expressed an interest in doing some new Bane material to them. DC doesn't seem too interested.

Chuck and I are teamed up again for a couple different projects we have percolating. The first out of the gate will be an all ages horror/adventure graphic novel called: Joe Frankenstein (www.joefrankenstein.com) to be published by the good folks over at IDW.

I also have the ultimate Graham Nolan's Monster Island coming out in a couple months, published by PULP 2.0. It will have over 85 pages of monstrous fun and adventure.

Nrama: What are your hopes for The Dark Knight Rises?

Dixon: It looks like a winner from what I can see in the trailers. And Tom Hardy is a terrific actor who’ll do the character right. It’s also gratifying to learn that Christopher Nolan resisted the urging of Warners to use the Riddler rather than Bane for the third movie. Looks like Bane won again.

Nolan: I think our "baby" is in good hands. My hopes for DKR? I hope everyone on the planet goes to see it, and then I want the entire planet to buy the blu-ray of it. I mentioned we get royalties, right?

The Dark Knight Rises with Bane is poised to break the box office July 20.

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