Fresh off 'The Joker War' crossover event, Batman returns to his classic 'dark detective' style roots thanks to artist Nicola Scott with this week's Detective Comics #1028.
Scott joins Detective Comics writer Peter J. Tomasi for a special one-off story this week with Batman investigating a crime - and the artist getting to draw, as she puts it to us, "lots of shadow and a lot of the grit."
Scott spoke with Newsarama as Detective Comics #1028 hit stands this week. We discussed her active collaboration with Tomasi about what the story would be about, what excited her about drawing Batman again, and if she would like to work on Detective Comics or any Batman flagship title again in the future.
Newsarama: Nicola, what made you want to work on Detective Comics?
Nicola Scott: Well, I was asked to and who wouldn't want to work for the flagship book? I've drawn Batman loads over the last 15 or so years, but I don't think I've ever drawn a Detective story. Apart from my Detective Comics #1000 cover, I don't think I've done anything for Detective before. So, being asked to participate was very exciting.
Nrama: What stood out to you from Peter's script?
Scott: Well, Peter just sort of asked me "What do you want to draw? You're going to have a hot second - what kind of Batman story do you want to draw?" I said "If I'm doing a Detective story and it's a one-shot, can we make it a real classic Batman being a detective dark, noir story?" He said "Great!" and so off he went.
I had advance knowledge that I was on the schedule for this a couple of months before Peter actually got to writing the script. He got to politely ask me what I felt like drawing. So, I got to throw my very vague idea in the ring, and he went for it. It was very exciting to get that opportunity.
Nrama: Why do you think this is a good follow up from the monumental Detective Comics #1027?
Scott: I don't know how much it folds up on that.
Certainly, to me and my particular contribution, I did a cover that showed Batman through the decades. It was just nice to do a Batman story that was a little bit timeless in that we weren't really connected to any outside continuity and we weren't really beholden to any time. It got to be just a timeless Batman story with a timeless Batman design. Rather than try to fit into any one particular space, and that was very exciting and is always a gift when you get that kind of freedom.
Nrama: So, this won't be connected to 'The Joker War' at all?
Scott: 'Joker War' is finding its way into so many other different stories. This is an opportunity to do just a classic one-shot. I think it has the faintest of ties into something that's happening in the greater Gotham space, but the story doesn't hinge at all on anything that's happening around it.
Nrama: What was your favorite part about drawing this issue?
Scott: I find whenever I'm drawing a new story it's an opportunity to re-evaluate how I want to approach the finish of the art. I feel like from story to story, title to title, you can tell it's my art. You can see the flavor of my art translate, but I do like to mix it up from story to story, depending on the character, the tone, and the audience that we're going for - the specifics of the story and the context.
When Peter asked "What do you want to draw?" I said "Look, I really want to draw a lot of shadow and I want to do a lot of texture."
That's something that I haven't had an opportunity to do for a couple of stories because of the choices that I've made for those stories, and I wanted to revisit that because it's been a while. Peter wrote quite a gritty Gotham City underworld story, and so I got to draw lots of shadow and a lot of the grit.
Nrama: I also hear you had a fun time drawing Batman's cape for this one. Tell us a bit about that.
Scott: Generally, I have quite a lot of fun drawing hair catching the breeze. As Batman is wearing a cowl you get to do that with his cape. Doing classic Batman, this is how I want to see his cape - very voluminous and catching upward drafts.
Nrama: With a big Batman event in full force and as someone who is also currently working on a noir styled book like Black Magick, what was it like to slow things down and take a deep dive into the detective side of Detective Comics?
Scott: Essentially Batman is following the clues. There are quite a lot of characters in the book that are specific to this story and we spend quite a lot of time with them. Batman has his moments, but it's not until the last third of the issue that he's really present and in their faces. For the most part, he's a step or two behind as he catches up by following the clues.
He gets to use a little bit of funky bat tech, and his old school detective skills. It's a conspiracy that involves a bunch of people and he's slowly but surely finding a bunch of people.
Nrama: Lastly, you've worked on Batman before. You now have this issue of Detective Comics under your belt. Would you like to work on more Detective Comics or Batman in the future?
Scott: Of course. He's the premiere character, I suppose, in terms of status and he's such a fun character to delve into. I've not often thought that I have specifically a lot of original thought or visual ideas to bring to the table because he's one of the most written and drawn characters. You have to really be doing something fascinatingly different to stand out from the crowd.
I think it's always worked in my favor that he has appeared in different contexts, in different guises, in the different books that I've worked on. It's meant that he has had his specific identity within the books that I've been drawing him in. So, to actually draw him in his own book I feel like I would really have to find something original to bring to the table.
But at the same time, I do actually quite like the opportunity to play with these classic characters, but in their classic form because there's always so much variety that sometimes just going back to a sort of classic zero point where it's not too overly connected, tied into multiple things, or affected by the greater DC universe context too much. It does allow you to do these simple old school timeless Batman stories.
And if I were to spend more time on Detective, which of course I would love to do because anytime you get to really spend some time with a character is when I start to really get to know them in a more personal way, getting to inhabit who they are and feel like I have a proper understanding of their choices and their motivations.
And obviously Batman's character, that's been well outlined that way, but being able to get the opportunity to get into that headspace for yourself I think is really a great honor to have that opportunity. But it's also just fascinating when you feel like you know these characters really well to really get some time to spend with them with the one incarnation of them is always a treat. Never say never.
Check out our list of the best Batman stories of all time.