"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
There’s a nice, if too-short, video interview with graphic designer, author and comics writer Chip Kidd conducted last month at AGI Open London and which he discusses book-jacket design — he’s behind those for Jurassic Park, The Secret History and Black Hole, among countless others — and, yes, his lifelong obsession with Batman (first documented in 1996’s Batman Collected).
Of course, Kidd isn’t merely a fan of the Dark Knight: He teamed with artist Dave Taylor on the 2012 graphic novel Batman: Death by Design.
“I’ve written a Batman graphic novel. That’s a completely different thing,” Kidd says in the video. “That’s the most fun, because you’re adding to the legacy of the character, and it’s challenging because after 75 years, it’s like, what do you do that hasn’t been done, or that you feel you haven’t seen.”
He might have a common name, but he’s got an uncommon talent. British artist Dave Taylor is working on his childhood hero Judge Dredd for 2000AD, and on his blog he recently revealed a great unpublished cover he had in mind for Batman: Death by Design, the 2012 graphic novel he collaborated on with Chip Kidd called Batman: Death by Design. The piece, which Taylor calls a “feel sample,” designed to convey how the book might look.
The final cover featured a more marketing-friendly headshot of Batman, but this unpublished gem deserves to be seen.
Last Wednesday saw the release of Batman: Death by Design, a new graphic novel by Chip Kidd, writer and publication designer for the project, and artist Dave Taylor. Kidd has a rich background in designing book jackets and graphic novel projects, including Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Schulz and Peanuts, Jurassic Park, the Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again collection and many more. He also is a novelist and a musician, and even helped write an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Taylor, meanwhile, has been drawing comics for a few decades now, having worked on Force Works, World’s Finest, The Shadow of the Bat, Tongue*Lash and Judge Dredd, among many others
Here’s a description of the plot, as written by CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud in an introduction to an interview with Kidd:
Set in the 1930s, Death by Design explores Gotham as it undergoes one of the most expansive construction booms in the city’s history. Inspired by two real world events — the demolition of the original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 and the fatal construction crane collapses in midtown Manhattan of 2008 — Kidd asks what if, despite the years separating the incidents, they were somehow connected? And what if they happened in Gotham City, during a glorious golden age when a caped crusader protected its streets?
So what did folks think about it? Here are a few opinions from around the ‘net:
Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader: “Before picking this up, I had only seen one preview page, and I was really intrigued by the style and story – it looked gloomy and atmospheric, which are two things I’ve always associated with Batman. As it turns out, my initial impressions were right on the money, and I’m really glad I bought this – this is a great detective/investigative story, rendered in some truly wonderful artwork. Very impressive.”
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start things out with Wolverine and the X-Men #11 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series’ intersection with Avengers Vs. X-Men might put this book in a tailspin, but from the preview it looks copacetic. Aaron has real amazing grips on these characters despite being less than a dozen issues in, and Nick Bradshaw has quickly come from being a surprising follow-up to Chris Bachalo to arguably being more in line with the book than Bachalo himself. Next up for me would be Walking Dead #98 (Image, $2.99), the low march toward #100. After that I’d get FF #18 (Marvel, $2.99) for something arguably better than its parent book Fantastic Four. I hope this title lives on past Hickman’s run on the book, because it’s succeeded in being more than the stereotypical kids team book. After that, I’d snap up Supercrooks #3 (Marvel/Icon, $3.99). Leinil Yu is on a real high here, doing art that goes up against his great High Roads and Silent Dragon era work. Mark Millar’s story is really optimum Millar-style work, but Yu’s storytelling and rendering here are the best in some time.
If I had $30, I’d buy one additional thing: Empowered, Vol. 7 (Dark Horse, $16.99). Adam Warren has really blossomed since his days doing Dirty Pair, and Empowered is a great second act showing the seedy side of superheroes. Adding to that, Adam Warren keeps up a great online presence over on DeviantArt and releases all sorts of magnificent process sketches to go along with the book.
If I could splurge, I’d spend my grocery money this week on Batman: Death By Design (DC, $24.99). Like some sort of Mister X meets Dark Knight crossover, this book is an interesting work especially in contrast with the day-to-day of DC with New 52. I still think of Chip Kidd more as a designer than a writer despite reading his first novel, but I hope this breaks that in my mind and allows me to see him for both his creative avenues.
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald reports that the organizers of San Diego Comic Con are tightening up on badges with measures that include matching the name on the badge to the user’s ID to prevent counterfeiting and illegal resale. Amusingly, you don’t have to go too far down the comment thread to see someone blaming Twilight fans. [The Beat]
Legal | Canadian artist Craig Wilson didn’t make it to this weekend’s Phoenix Comicon because U.S. Customs and Border Protection turned him away, saying he needed a work permit to sell comics at his Artist Alley table. Not only that, Wilson was also thumb printed and his car was searched. He said the customs agents even sent a notice to the other border crossings in case he tried to enter the country somewhere else. “I’m paying my own table at the con, hotel, meals, drinks …” Wilson said. “I was going to inject close to $2000.00 dollars into the very economy I was supposedly threatening.” [boardguy]
Conventions | Phoenix Comicon kicks off today, drawing an anticipated 35,000 to 40,000 attendees to the Phoenix (Arizona) Convention Center. Comics guests include Brett Booth, Jim Cheung, Garth Ennis, David Finch, Kathryn Immonen, Stuart Immonen, Andy Kuhn, Francis Manapul, David Lapham, Bob Layton, Dan Parent, George Perez, Billy Tucci and Ethan Van Sciver. [Modern Times Magazine, Fox 10 News]
Publishing | What does it mean to be an imprint of a larger publisher? For those who are interested in how the sausages are made, Gina Gagliano explains the relationship between First Second Books and parent company Macmillan. [First Second Books]
The sci-fi site io9.com has a sneak peek at Chip Kidd’s new graphic novel Batman: Death by Design, which focuses on Batman’s relationship to the physical structures of Gotham City. 2000AD artist Dave Taylor illustrates the story, which involves a series of construction-site mishaps that occur during Gotham City’s building boom. Says Kidd:
I started thinking about living and working in New York, and one of the great tragedies was the destruction of the original Pennsylvania Station in 1963, because it was a beautiful building needlessly torn down. As somebody who has to use the modern Penn Station, it’s a horrible, stifling thing, after they threw it in the basement of Madison Square Garden. And there were these Manhattan crane collapses in the spring of 2008. I thought, “How could these two things possibly be related?” Batman is very much about architecture, as he uses the buildings as transportation and defense. Great Batman stories always incorporate architecture in some way, but I hadn’t seen a story that particularly dealt with that.
I can’t agree more about Penn Station, and it’s interesting that Kidd picks up on something we are all aware of and makes it explicit. Check out one of the pages below, and more at i09. The book is due out May 30.
Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52’s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.
Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Ahem. Away we go…!
One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)