The recent Batman #85 marked the end of Mikel Janin's three-year and 30-issue run on DC's flagship title. That's 614 pages ... but who's counting? (Mikel did.)
So what does he want to do next? More Batman would be fine by him, but he's excited to flex his artistic muscles with a guest issue of Brian Michael Bendis' Legion of Super-Heroes before working on a "big" new project for DC.
How big? Big enough for Janin to renew his 'exclusive' contract with the publisher for three more years.
Newsarama spoke with Janin shortly after he finished drawing the last page of December's Batman #85, just as he begins the next stage of his career. Along with this, Janin has shared his uncolored, unlettered pages from February 5's Legion of Super-Heroes #4.
Newsarama: Mikel, what are you working on today (besides this interview)?
Janin: Thanks for inviting me to this, Chris! Well, yesterday I finished my last issue on Batman, so today it’s quite a special day. Still, not much time to relax. Already have to do a couple covers, one for Hawkman and a variant for Justice League. And immediately I’ll be joining Brian M. Bendis and Ryan Sook on a Legion of Superheroes issue, which is really exciting! So today I hope I’ll have some sketches for those covers, then I’ll read the script for Legion.
Nrama: Your Batman run is over - but it began for you and Tom King back in early 2016 for "Rebirth." By my count you've done 30 issues with King - how do you feel about the experience?
Janin: Saying that Batman has been the higlight of my career in comics would be an understatement. I’ve counted 614 pages, plus 33 covers. That’s about 32 issues, but some of them I’ve done just half the pages, so I think your count is correct.
It has been the biggest opportunity ever for me, and I’m really grateful to DC for that. Former Bat-editor Mark Doyle and Tom King were the ones bringing me the chance, so my hat’s off to them.
Also, sharing art duties with an insanely-talented roster of artists, like David Finch, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, Jöelle Jones, Tony Daniel, Lee Weeks, Jorge Fornés, June Chung or Jordie Bellaire, (just to name a few!), has been so incredible.
I think I’ll need a bit of time to really appreciate what it has meant to me, but for now I can say that I’m really proud and humbly grateful for my work on Batman during those years.
Nrama: So you're done with Batman, have a bit of work with Legion - what is the big project you want to do next? Or do you want to do big projects like Batman anymore?
Janin: I actually would love staying on Batman forever! But I guess a change will be good in many aspects. As I told you, I’m doing a bit of work in Legion, which is great to move other creative muscles. And I’m really excited for working with Bendis! After that, there’s a big project coming, but I can’t speak much about it, mostly because I don’t know much yet! [Laughs]
Nrama: You've been exclusive with DC since 2011 - what do you feel of the work you've been able to do?
Janin: I’m super happy with how things have been so far. DC has given me incredible opportunities that have led to a pretty solid career, in my opinion. Most of my work has been in long runs, starting with #1 issues with a fresh direction, and paired with top notch talent.
If you think on my work, you think on Justice League Dark, with Peter Milligan, Jeff Lemire, and J. M. DeMatteis; Grayson, with Tim Seeley, and Tom King; and Batman, with Tom. In a comic industry with so much talent, having three big titles that define my work is a way to be noticed, which is a good thing.
Also, between those I had the chance to do a bit of Superman with Peter Tomasi, a bit of Justice League with Scott Snyder, or a bit of Batman Eternal with James Tynion. Again, really really happy with how things have been with DC. That’s why I’m delighted of having renewed with them for another three years.
Nrama: You came to comics after quitting architecture in 2010. Being an architect is seemingly a reliable and solid career - what led you to decide to jump to comics?
Janin: [Laughs] Since 2008 being an architect in Spain has become a very different business than before. I love architecture, and I’m glad I did it for years, and thinking that there are buildings out there that I did and there’s people living in them, well, it’s great and all.
But also it’s a huge responsibility.
You can even go to jail if you do your work wrong. That’s something that can’t happen in comics, luckily! And it’s pretty expensive being an architect if you don’t have steady work. Before 2008 all was going great, we had a small company, with other two partners and a bunch of employees, and we did a lot of work. Many apartment buildings.
But in 2008 things changed drastically. We had a lot of work done that we didn’t get paid for, we had to fire our employees and still we had a lot of expenses, insurance, licenses and whatnot, and the future of the industry was quite dark. So I left the studio and started to watch for a different path.
Comics were always my real vocation, and I had a bit of work done, so I assembled a small portfolio and went to Barcelona Comic Con to see if there was a chance for me of working in comics. And it turned out well.
Nrama: Looking back at it now, what advice would you give yourself back in 2010 when you were thinking about jumping into comics?
Janin: Well, I think I did it pretty well. I had an agent at the beginning, Pepe Caldelas, who really helped me a lot. I don’t think I would have changed anything, really.
Nrama: What goals to you have in comics going forward?
Janin: One good thing about change is that it’s the perfect opportunity to try different things artistically. When I started with Batman I was pretty nervous, you know. Not only because it was Batman, which was pretty daunting on its own, but two words: Greg Capullo. What can I add to that?
Greg did an amazing work with Scott Snyder during what, four or five years? And add that a legend like David Finch was going to be the main artist. So I felt really intimidated, and I think my art suffered because of that. With time I’ve become more confident, and I think my best pages are in the last issues.
So my next goal is doing a better work, improve some things and use the things I’ve learned. Maybe I’ll use a very different style in the next project, or maybe just a slightly different thing. But definitely I want to try new things.
Nrama: I noticed you had to cancel your planned appearance at New York Comic Con back in October. Do you have plans for cons in 2020?
Janin: Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend NYCC this year, but I hopefully can go next year. Conventions are not something I’ve done a lot in the past, but this last year I’ve attended Wonder Con Anaheim, Cartoomics in Milan, and Comic Con in Paris, and it has been fantastic, so I plan to attend more conventions this year.
Nrama: Through this conversation we've learned about you as a professional artist, but what about you as a fan? What do you read these days in terms of comics?
Janin: I really don’t have much time for reading other comics, which is a pity because I see so many great comics out there! My last reads are Les ogres-Dieux, from Hubert and Gatignol, and The Magic Order, from Millar and Coipel. Great stuff, highly recommended!
Nrama: Where do you see yourself in five years, professionally?
Janin: I’d love to do something creator-owned, by then. In the last years I have a few ideas that I’d love to develop at any point. But they need time, and that’s not something I usually have, so it could be done in five years, or 10, or maybe never. Anyway I’ll be pretty happy if I’m doing the same that I’m doing now. Great comics with great people for DC.