Catwoman will prowl the streets of Gotham again in December, as artist Inaki Miranda gives the book a new look, emphasizing the city lights and the warrior inside Selina Kyle.
Miranda and writer Frank Tieri will take over the book with December's Catwoman #47, which promises that the character will go after the "biggest score of her life," putting her back in the role of high-end thief after several months of Selina being a crime kingpin.
Miranda, an Argentina-born artist who spent part of his childhood in California but now lives in Spain, has been active in indie comic books in recent years, and he's honed his skills at DC as an artist on Vertigo titles like Fairest and the recent Coffin Hill.
Newsarama talked to Miranda to find out more about the influences on his design of Catwoman and what readers can expect from his portrayal of the character.
Newsarama: Inaki, we've seen your initial design for Catwoman's look as you begin your run. What were you hoping to do with Catwoman in the costume?
Inaki Miranda: I was more focused on how I was going to approach her body proportions and, specially, how I was going to render the shadows and lights affecting her costume.
I didn’t want to go the shiny latex path for her costume, but still I wanted Selina to look slick and have a “superhero” feel. So it was really more about deciding the right way for me to work the inking.
At the end, I decided I was going to focus on the shadows affecting her body as a whole rather than playing with reflections on her costume. I’ve been looking at photos of black cats and I like the way their surface looks like dark blue velvet, and there are areas where their fur is completely black. I’m hoping to achieve that with Catwoman.
And as for her body, I don’t want her to look sexualized, but I want her to be sexy. So she definitely has curves, but in a fit kind of way, I want her to have strong shoulders for example but still look delicate like a cat; shaped as a wasp. Find the right balance. Maybe a bit like Pris, the replicant in Blade Runner.
Nrama: How would you describe the look and style you're hoping to achieve overall?
Miranda: I hope to make it be very cinematic and action-fun, and try to create some powerful shots along the way. Play around with a hidden touch from Ghost in the Shell or Akira or Tekkonkinkreet, or James Bond’s Skyfall. There are scenes with a very cool sense of night-lights, city-breathing in those films that I’d love to bring to the pages of Catwoman.
And of course I aspire to do this because I have the huge luck of working very closely with colorist Eva de la Cruz, who is beyond incredible and my professional partner in comics crime. And I hope to get at least a little close to how the masters like Jim Lee and Frank Miller portray superheroic dynamism. Hey, dreaming is free!
Nrama: What tools do you use in your artwork on Catwoman? How much is digital? Do you paint at all? Any techniques you utilize that you can point out for fans of your work?
Miranda: I actually work completely, from breakdowns to inks, in digital format. My only tools are my Wacom Cintiq and my cup of coffee. I don’t think I do anything special as far as technique. I go through all the stages I’d go if I would work on paper. I do the breakdowns, then the pencils and finally the inks.
I do paint myself (digitally and on canvas), but as part of a very different personal art project that I’m working on, on the side of comics. And only in some few occasions do I put my own colors to my comics work, I totally rely on Eva’s amazing art for that.
Nrama: What's been the most fun about getting to portray Catwoman?
Miranda: She’s one of the most iconic characters of pop culture that happens to live in the most iconic fictional city of all time. It’s magical. It's a dream come true. And it certainly feels like a huge honor to be able to draw this! On Gotham, for example, I feel like I am going to be able to explore, through the eyes of Catwoman, places that I still haven’t seen, but that have always been there. Like a child getting to explore a place he has only seen on TV/film screen or pictures.
Nrama: Let's talk about that. How are you approaching Gotham City? Does the locale play much of a role in your visual portrayal of Catwoman, or are you coming at it from another angle?
Miranda: As I hinted at, I want Gotham to have a very special night-city-lights breathing. I want neon signs and animated billboards to play as much part as possible in the scenery. I’d like to put a subtle Blade Runner spin as well, but not too depressing.
I imagine Gotham City as a metaphor of what we’re living in today’s society. A big city can be depressing and suffocating and apocalyptic, but with a technological presence of animated light that is able to bring a weird sense of color, movement and subtle optimistic life to the streets, like saying “We’re going somewhere new, we are not dying yet, there’s hope.”
So I’m planning to use this kind of city life in the pages, like playing with the trail lights of cars in the streets (as when captured by a camera on slow shutter speed), and have Catwoman move through Gotham with that same almost liquid effect, for example.
Nrama: We talked a little about the challenges of Selina's costume. But what's been the most challenging about drawing Catwoman as a character? What's difficult about portraying her?
Miranda: I always thought of Selina very much like John Silver from Treasure Island. John Silver can hit all the notes of the emotional scale and you’re never quite sure when he’s being completely sincere. The same happens with Catwoman; she’s a trickster that will do everything to fool you, but you will still feel there’s something so human inside of her that you will end up falling for, and loving her. Like the best female character from a Raymond Chandler novel. So on the visual side, I find it very challenging to be able to show this.
Nrama: What are you hoping to do with her character visually?
Miranda: I want to give her a high-fashion edge… go a bit radical. With her eye make-up for example… make her look a bit like a warrior, even when she’s not wearing the Catwoman costume. Make people want to own a “Selina in street clothes” action figure.
Nrama: Anything else you want to share with readers about Catwoman?
I am very aware of how much love and respect fans all over the world have for this character (me too!), so I just want to do my best and tell them that our plan for this run is to make people very very proud of it. My enthusiasm level is higher than way-up-high!