DC's June line-up reflects a diversity in both genres and characters, but there's also a new batch of artists working for the company that add an extra level of diversity.
Case in point: female artist Corin (pronounced "Corinne," but "Rin" for short) Howell. Her new six-issue comic Bat-Mite will be one of the first comics out of the door for DC in June, featuring a story by Dan Jurgens.
Bat-Mite, who Jurgens told Newsarama is "a certain kind of out-there crazy," hails from the fifth dimension and travels to the DCU to "fix" the other broken heroes who surround his idol, Batman.
Central to the new book's launch is the expressive artwork by DC newcomer Howell. A graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, she was one of the first students in the Murphy Apprenticeship with Sean Murphy, after which she wrote and drew comics for both Viz and Oni, as well as self-publishing.
At a time when many online fans are demanding more gender diversity in comics, Howell's recruitment by DC not only brings a fresh face to the ranks at the publisher, but adds an animated style that's uncommon in the world of superheroes.
With a preview from Bat-Mite running this week in DC's Convergence: Supergirl Matrix, Newsarama talked to Howell about her work.
Newsarama: Corin, what's your background? Are you self-trained or schooled in art? And what got you interested in this type of art in particular?
Corin Howell: It’s actually a little bit of both! When I was younger, I always enjoyed telling stories, and comics really fit my criteria because I was also more of an artist then anything else.
So around when I was in high school, I was self-taught, but of course there was still a lot of developing to do. My style really didn’t come into form until I went to college at Savannah College of Art and Design.
There I learned more and was able to advance in comics. Then after I graduated I was accepted into an apprenticeship with Sean Murphy, where there was even more to learn.
Nrama: After all that development, how would describe your style, and what were your influences?
Howell: Very animated. Even though artists like Sean Murphy, Becky Cloonan, and Bernie Wrightson are a few of my comic influences as far as inking and storytelling goes, I actually have a lot of influence from Glen Keane and Don Bluth.
I really love the movement, the squash and stretch technique, and the expressions in animation, and so I put that into my work.
Nrama: When we interviewed Dan, he specifically mentioned the expressiveness of your work. Can you describe techniques you use to create the art for Bat-Mite? How much is digital? And do you use references?
Howell: I am completely digital. I usually add an extra step to the process — I add in “tight roughs," which are basically cleaner layouts. But with the tight roughs, it gives me a chance to really work on the storytelling and to see what works and what doesn't.
Of course I use reference, especially when it comes to landscapes, cars, etcetera.
But sometimes I’ll look back at all my animation and comic books to see how I can make the character expressions better or the landscapes more interesting, like Keane's Disney art books and Sergio Toppi's textures in his landscapes.
Nrama: As you've discussed the series with the folks at DC and the writer, what are your goals for the artistic feel of both this character and the book? What general tone are you hoping to achieve with the Bat-Mite series for both the lead character and the book overall?
Howell: I want to make this as expressive and as fun as possible. Bat-Mite isn’t a super serious character — he views things in a whole different way and proceeds to act in his own goofy manner.
Nrama: That must be a lot of fun to draw.
Howell: I love drawing Bat-Mite. He’s like that little annoying ray of sunshine beaming on your face when you all you want to do is sleep in your dark, brooding bat cave.
Where we do have serious tones in the series, Bat-Mite brings out the fun and weird moments and that's what I hope to really bring out more as the series goes on. I have a lot of fun drawing Bat-Mite, so I hope you guys have a lot of fun reading it!