Capturing the complicated and conflicted personality of Poison Ivy isn't an easy task, but as DC gives the character her own new mini-series in 2016, they're turning to artist Clay Mann to illustrate a new story by Amy Chu.
Debuting in January, the six-issue Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death series explores the sexy but smart villainess' power to bring things to life, yet also kill. The character will be taking on a job at the Gotham Botanical Gardens, with Mann drawing her interaction with both the plant world as Poison Ivy and with the human world as Pamela Isley.
Mann comes to Poison Ivy after drawing interiors and covers for various Marvel and Valiant titles recently. For the Poison Ivy title, Mann is also doing covers, including an image for issue #1 that Chu has hinted contains several clues about the mystery of the story.
As DC releases Mann's second cover for the series, Newsarama talked to Mann to find out more about his approach to Poison Ivy.
Newsarama: Clay, how would you describe your style?
Clay Mann: I've been asked this question before and I have yet to ever have an answer for it. My friend, Hugh, calls me the "cleaner Jim Lee," which I love the sound of, but I'm no Jim Lee. When can I meet him by the way, now that I work for DC?
Nrama: Somebody needs to arrange that! But seriously — besides your friend's description, is there a description you'd use for your style?
Mann: I'm not sure really. My high school art teacher said I had an "elementary vocabulary" when it came to art, so I’d rather others describe it.
Nrama: Who are some of your influences?
Mann: They go back as far as all the Image guys, then the Cliffhanger guys, and from there I got into a lot of manga and anime artists, and to this day I still follow all of the same guys.
Nrama: Let's talk about your art for Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death. How are you approaching this book and this character visually? Any certain Poison Ivy iteration in your head?
Mann: My visual for Ivy is and will always be from the animated series. Now from there, depending on story and writer, I come away from the series some, but that's who I see and hear in my head.
As for the look, it will evolve I'm sure. Usually I start a few issues and once the pressure and everything dies down and I get more familiar with the character and story, I start incorporating things I wish I would have thought of earlier.
Nrama: We're debuting your cover for the second issue. It looks like you use traditional pencils? What are the tools you used to create this cover?
Mann: Tools? I would tell my art teacher a pencil from Wal-Mart and a black Pitt pen from Hobby Lobby.
Nrama: There's that elementary vocabulary your teacher appreciated so much. Anything you can tell us about the design of the cover?
Mann: I wanted sort of a close shot on the character because we really didn't get that with the first issue. There are cops in the story, so I just wanted something simple and fun. I will credit my brother Seth in telling me to add the blood from the rose so it would come off more like they are under her spell.
Nrama: How has it been working with Amy Chu on this project? How does her writing style work with your art?
Mann: It's still pretty new, but I've known Amy for a little while now so it's nice to be working together on it. She's great with ideas and helping do the leg work. Almost everything she mentions in the script is referenced in a private Pinterest she created for us. That's pretty nice when it comes to saving time.