Readers of DC comic books may have noticed the name Ram V popping up on various titles recently, from his story late last year in Batman Secret Files to his recent work on Justice League Dark. And they can on seeing more of him at the publisher in the future, with unnamed DC projects being promised, including a cryptic Tweet that sounds like he’ll soon be writing another story about Batman.
Next up, Ram V is writing two issues of Catwoman, subbing for regular writer Joelle Jones in the midst of her year-old series starring Selina Kyle. Working with artist Mirka Andolfo, V returns to Catwoman after writing a one-issue story on the title earlier this year.
Despite his seemingly sudden foray into the DCU, the India native has been generating buzz in the comic book industry for a few years now, particularly with These Savage Shores and Paradiso.
Newsarama talked to V to find out more about his work in the DCU, his plans for the two-part Catwoman story, and why the writer seems to lean toward the “melancholy” in his DC work so far.
Newsarama: Ram, let’s start with your background. I know you’ve been in comic books a while, but DC fans are only just seeing your name show up in the last few months. Where and why did you begin to pursue a career in writing?
Ram V: I’ve been in comics for a few years now, yes. My first international work was Black Mumba. I self-published that book in 2016.
I’d done a few comics in India before then. I used to be a chemical engineer - with a penchant for writing - until 2013. I’d had a few things published as an amateur, and when I quit the engineering job in 2013, I decided I wanted to do more with writing than a hobby.
I moved to the United Kingdom in 2014 to study writing, self-published Black Mumba in 2016, and wrote my first DC story in Batman Secret Files in 2018.
As for the why? I love telling stories. I used to get into a lot of trouble as a kid for being a fibber, making up tall tales. I’ve just found a way to do it for a living now.
Nrama: How did the folks at DC come into contact with you? Did Black Mumba or another one of your books pop up on their radar? Or did you seek them out?
V: I handed a copy of Black Mumba to my editor Jamie Rich when he was at the Thought Bubble festival in the U.K. I followed up with him shortly after. He got in touch after reading it.
By that time, I’d also published Paradiso at Image, and eventually he invited me to write a short story in the Secret Files anthology.
So, a bit of both, as these things usually tend to go.
Nrama: What’s your history with DC characters? Were DC stories available to you as a younger reader, or did you discover them later?
V: I had some history with them, of course. I grew up in India, and I was familiar with a lot of the DC characters, but my access to comics was limited there.
I had a bit of second childhood after moving to the States when I was 19. I discovered Vertigo at that time and really devoured everything that caught my interest from there. It was my gateway back into reading more DC comics.
Nrama: With your Batman, Catwoman and Justice League Dark stories, you seem to be writing in the “darker” side of DC so far - would you say you’re more comfortable with that area?
V: I think my interest in writing tends to often lean toward the melancholy, tragic or wistful.
I love writing the straight-up superhero stories or the big sprawling sci-fi adventures as much as any other writer does, but there’s always a bitter-sweet, character-focused element to my writing ,and I think that lends itself well to the kind of stories you’ve seen me writing.
Nrama: Let’s talk about one of those stories. How would you describe the story in Catwoman #14 and #15?
V: Selina’s ruffled a few feathers since her arrival in Villa Hermosa and now the crime families in the city are coming after her. Selina must try to steal a prize while she contends with a whole gallery of villains who are all after the same prize and perhaps an even bigger, more deadly reward at the end of it.
But it’s also the story of someone who finds themselves in a new place, trying to establish a new life. As Selina contends with these threats she’ll also come to terms with her personal life and perhaps consider her place in Villa Hermosa, the new city she calls home.
It’s a fun, fast-paced story with a brand of chaos only Catwoman is capable of.
Nrama: What’s it been like working with Mirka Andolfo on these issues?
V: Mirka’s work is amazing. I’d previously seen her work on her creator-owned books, and when Jamie mentioned she’d be doing the art, I knew right away that she’d bring a lot of energy, life and panache to the characters.
It’s always great to be able to script for the artist you’re working with and there are few scenes in the story that were written for Mirka. I think she’s done brilliant work with them.
Nrama: You tweeted recently that you’re writing a scene with a character “brooding on a gargoyle” - that sounds a lot like Batman. I know you wrote a story for Batman Secret Files. Does your tweet indicate that we’ll see you on another Batman-focused story in the coming months?
V: I’m writing more things at DC - thrilled with some of the stories I’ve been invited to tell. As to what they are, and when they’ll be out - you’ll have to wait and see!
Nrama: You’ve also got some type of “top secret” project with Evan Cagle coming. (By the way, the art looks amazing!) Is that project going to be at DC? Or can you say which publisher (or anything else about it)?
V: Evan is an utterly brilliant artist. That book is going to be gorgeous. It is however, is not at DC. And, I think the publishers would be very cross if I end up stealth announcing it, so we’ll wait for the official announcement. But I’d love to talk about it then.
Nrama: Where else can readers see your work besides Catwoman and these secret projects?
V: At DC, I wrote the Justice League Dark Annual #1, co-plotted with James Tynion IV and with art by Guillem March. I’m thrilled with how that’s been received.
Issue #5 of These Savage Shores, my creator-owed series, should be out next month.
I’ve got a couple of creator-owned projects on the way in 2020, and I’ll be telling more stories at DC. And although I’m being ambitious about how productive I can be, I might dabble in a bit of prose next year as well.
So, lots to come. Following me on Twitter (@therightram) is usually a good way to keep track of what I’ve been up to with regards to work.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Ram, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Catwoman #14 and #15?
V: I love writing Selina. She’s such a fun, intelligent and layered character to write. And I really enjoy cutting loose with how much of a badass she is. I’ve gotten to do all those things in this two-part story and I hope the fans will enjoy reading it!