David Finch is now the latest DC exclusive artist to join the Batman team as a writer, beginning a new ongoing series in November called Batman: The Dark Knight.
Finch, whose DC exclusive contract was announced earlier this year, will be both writing and drawing the new series, which he describes as having a noir feel, with "gothic, supernatural settings." The book will be launched upon the return of Bruce Wayne as Batman, and according to Finch, will co-star The Demon.
In October, Finch's run will get a jump-start with Batman: The Return, a one-shot written by Grant Morrison with Finch providing pencils. The two creators united for a story in Batman #700, which was Finch's first interior work at DC.
As Finch begins writing his own series, the artist joins colleagues like Tony Daniel and J.H. Williams, who also joined DC as exclusive artists but are now writing for the Batman office.
Newsarama talked to Finch to find out more about the new series and how important his writing gig was to his exclusive deal with DC.
Nrama: David, how did this opportunity come about?
Finch: I had a very, very clear idea of what I wanted from my Batman book, so it made sense for me to handle the writing. I've been a fan of the character for a long time, and I was very excited at the prospect of telling my own Batman stories.
When I started with DC, we discussed a lot of possibilities, and this felt like the most natural fit. Mike Marts was very hands on with me, and I had input from writers like Tony Daniel, Gail Simone, Keith Giffen, and Geoff Johns. Everyone at DC has been very supportive, and I don't know that I could have stepped up and written this story without their guidance. Andy Schmidt was also a big help to me. He's been a friend for a long time now...since being my editor on Avengers, and he teaches writing, so he was an obvious choice to go to for help.
Nrama: Was writing one of the things you asked to do when you signed the DC exclusive contract? Was it part of your decision to come to DC?
Finch: Writing was something that was discussed, but it certainly wasn't a pre-requisite. I came to DC for the opportunity to work on these great characters, and I wanted to create the best possible comic books. I absolutely did not want to write if editorial and I felt like my writing wasn't up to an acceptable standard. They pushed me very hard, and I've learned a lot.
Nrama: Why did you want to start your writing career with Batman in particular?
Finch: Batman is a character that I know very well, and I had a strong sense of direction for him. I would be more reluctant to take on a character that I don't feel like I can relate to as well. He's very driven and black and white. I love that in a world of so much grey he can cut through it with so much clarity. Right or wrong, he never has to question. And there's something very engaging about a character that pushes his limits and never surrenders. There are so many variables and possibilities in a story, but you always know what Batman will do.
Nrama: Have you picked a title for the series? Or the first story?
Finch: Yes, the book is called Batman: The Dark Knight. The first story is all written, and it leads into the second, which is in the planning stages right now.
Nrama: What is the style you're hoping to have in this series -- not just visually, but the style of the story? Any influences in mind?
Finch: I would love it if the series looked just like Mike Mignola mixed with Jorge Zaffino, Kevin Nowlan, Jim Lee, Eduardo Rizzo, Kelly Jones, Jordie Bernet and Frank Miller! Obviously that's a tall order....
I've been working closely with Scott Williams and Peter Stiegerwald to develop the look of this book. I'm going to be true to the work that people expect from me, but Batman really affords the opportunity to experiment with shadow and framing more than some other projects. We're going to drop holding lines here and there, and be as noir as possible. I'm also using a lot of gothic, supernatural settings, and I'd like to get a mix of the pulp noir with some mystical elements.
Nrama: Will you be drawing the series as well? Have you started? Anything you can tell us about the way you're drawing it?
Finch: I am drawing the series, and I have started. I'm doing pencils with Scott Williams on inks. I don't think enough can be said about what he brings to a project. He's really pushing me creatively, not only with his interpretation of my work, but talking back and forth about the way we're structuring the visuals.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the story and what makes it unique?
Finch: The first story is about a beautiful society woman who has gone missing. Bruce has known her his whole life, but they haven't been close for a very long time. His search takes him to some very dark places. This will be a Batman detective story first and foremost.
If I could be so bold as to draw a comparison, I would want to associate it with Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil's work from the early '70s. It's a street level book, very hands on, down and dirty. That's just more my style. But Dark Knight will take Batman in a bit of a darker direction. He's going to be dealing with mysticism, dark arts, and demonology. All things that are well outside of his comfort zone. The challenge for Batman will be to pit his brains and grim determination against forces that defy logic and fear. But he's a fast learner, and he'll have help.
Nrama: What characters are involved?
Finch: The Demon plays an ongoing part in the book. Jason Blood is very helpful to Batman when it comes to understanding his enemy. But Jason has his own allegiances to worry about. Helping Batman puts him at direct odds with his masters. Alfred, Gordon and the usual cast are heavily featured, along with characters from other Batman titles. I'm really hoping to see the Birds of Prey make an appearance! This book is in current continuity, so it will deal with all of the issues ongoing in the Bat universe as a whole.
Nrama: Have you introduced and designed any new characters? Can you tell us anything about them?
Finch: I have introduced some new characters. Society girl, Dawn Golden, is a beautiful socialite and philanthropist. Her father, Aliester Golden, has been dead for several years, but he still holds a considerable sway over his daughter. Other characters, I'd like to be a little coy about for now. It was a great thrill to create them though! It's an amazing experience to have the honor of adding in some small way to the Batman mythos.
Nrama: How has the experience been of writing? How different is it for you?
Finch: It's been a very challenging experience, but very rewarding. In a way, I feel like a completely different person when I'm writing. My focus is on plot and character development, sometimes at the expense of what I'd like to do visually. It can be hard to strike a balance.
Nrama: Anything else you can tell us about your Batman series?
Finch: This is an ongoing series, and again, it's in continuity. I hope that longtime fans find it in keeping with Batman's history and traditions...with a few things that are new!