Former Batman artist Clay Mann is hard at work on Batman/Catwoman with long-time partner Tom King, but not so much that he doesn't have a little time for Newsarma.
But just a little.
The Florida-based comics artist found a friend in King - the first time he's made friends with a writer, he says - and it's turned into a years-long collaboration with Batman, Heroes in Crisis, several shorts, and now Batman/Catwoman.
The bond between them is so strong that after beginning work on Batman/Catwoman, King and Mann asked DC to push back the planned January 2020 release could draw all 12 issues instead of just some of them (as originally planned, according to King). And DC did.
So with Mann hard at work drawing all 12 issues of Batman/Catwoman, Newsarama squeezed in a few minutes with Mann between panels to catch up.
Newsarama: Clay, to give people a better idea of you, can you tell us what you're working on today - besides this interview?
Clay Mann: Batman/Catwoman!
Nrama: Glad to hear that.
You've worked with numerous writers, but after meeting Tom King while working on Batman in 2017 you've seemed to find a groove with him and exclusively worked on his scripts for the past three years. What's it like to find that kind of collaborator and be able to have some consistency in what you're working from day-in and day-out?
Mann: The consistency is great. Work-wise, it’s just nice to not jump around. It’s nice to build a relationship with a writer. When that happens you understand each other and it just makes for a better book I think.
Nrama: I interviewed you about a decade ago during your X-Men: Legacy run, and I've found your work has become more assured and you are taking more risks in your work. Do you consciously push yourself to try new things when drawing?
Mann: I’m not sure I take risks... or I guess if I have, it’s definitely not consciously.
I think I try to grow and become a better artist each page, that I definitely try to work on but I think it’s organic too. The more you do, the more practice you are bound to do better.
Nrama: As you said, you're now in the midst of a 12-issue run with Batman/Catwoman, and DC has adjusted the schedule to allow you to draw the entire thing without fill-ins. Why is that support so important for you?
Mann: I actually think Tom said that most of the books he read or had a big impact on him or DC/Marvel were always one artist. I tend to agree.
It seems like there is a push to release more than a push to let a creative team create. There are a lot of factors, though. Time, money, business, so it’s not always an easy thing to do but we are trying.
Nrama: Artistically, are there techniques, tools, or storytelling devices you are working to incorporate more in your work?
Mann: I mean if there are, I’m not aware. I’ve never really been able to express art into words. To me it’s organic, whatever I’m doing.
Nrama: When you're not drawing, what kind of art do you look at? Whether it be comics, fine art, illustration.... what inspires you?
Mann: Almost any to be honest. I find art in everything. Real life, movies, books, anything.
Nrama: Last question - You've done major work for Marvel, you have done (and are doing) major work for DC. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What do you want out of comics?
Mann: I don’t know where I’ll be at in five years. More relaxed I’d hope. [Laughs]
In the end, happy. That’s all I’d want.