I imagine that Dustin Nguyen’s cute, chibi-style drawings of the Batman cast in Batman: Li’l Gotham will weed out the segment of comics readers who truly don’t care for that kind of art. For those who like the style, though – or those who, like me, don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about it – the first issue of Li’l Gotham kicks off what promises to be a great all-ages series.
There’s a scarcity of DC and Marvel comics that are appropriate for kids, so I’m all for whatever new thing those companies want to try. Nguyen’s character designs for Li’l Gotham are so adorable though that when I first saw them, I expected a super-sweet tone that I wasn’t sure I’d respond to. I want comics that kids can enjoy, but I don’t want them to be slight or to change the characters’ personalities beyond all recognition. If Li’l Gotham was just going to be Batman’s Precious Moments, I wouldn’t be able to stay interested. But that’s not at all what it is.
Despite his shortened body and enlarged head, Li’l Gotham’s Batman is my Batman: overly serious and unswervingly dedicated to fighting crime. But his rogues gallery isn’t as homicidal or destructive as the current, canonized versions of those villains, so Batman’s able to be a little more relaxed about how he takes them down. They’re still lawbreakers, just not especially deadly ones. For example, Nguyen and co-writer Derek Fridolfs are able to get them together at an Italian restaurant for Halloween without murdering each other.
Rather than continue Batman Incorporated following Grant Morrison’s announced departure, DC Comics will end the series with July’s Issue 13.
The news, revealed in IGN.com’s preview of the Batman solicitations, comes as little surprise, as the title was a vehicle for Morrison and artist Chris Burnham to tell the story of Bruce Wayne’s global team of heroes the writer began in 2010. The first arc volume ended in December 2011, following DC’s New 52 relaunch, with the second volume debuting in May 2012.
Everyone should start contributing to my secret island base and henchman pension fund, because as soon as I take over the world we’re getting a Victorian Batman series by Jeremy Bastian, in addition to Cursed Pirate Girl.
While some are pointing to changes to a Batgirl costume in the digital-first Li’l Gotham comic as further evidence of behind-the-scenes hijinks designed to erase Stephanie Brown from DC Comics, the truth may less conspiratorial — if still a little odd.
Bleeding Cool pointed out this morning that a panel from the Dustin Nguyen/Derek Fridolfs story had been altered from the preview released early Wednesday. In the original version, a blonde girl can be seen among the trick-or-treaters dressed in what’s unmistakably a Stephanie Brown-Batgirl costume. However, in a second version posted on the website, the same girl is shown now with dark hair but without the purple stripe familiar to Stephanie fans, leading Bleeding Cool to conclude, “Yup, in the DC Universe, not even little kids are allowed to dress up as Stephanie Brown.”
But in the comic downloaded this morning by Robot 6 (below), the purple stripe remains, clearly marking the costume as Stephanie Brown’s. Still, it’s definitely odd, particularly considering that the ash-colored hair is almost indistinguishable from the mask. Of course, why that figure was the only one on the page changed is a bit of a mystery — as is why there are seemingly two edited versions of the panel floating around.
We’ve reached out DC Comics for clarification, but the offices are closed because of Superstorm Sandy, so it may take a while for a response.
Update (9:25 a.m.): It appears the panel posted at Bleeding Cool is fake. The girl’s hair color was changed from the time of the preview’s release, as Robot 6′s downloaded image shows, but not her costume.
The Halloween-themed debut of the digital-first Li’l Gotham won’t be available on the DC Comics website for another couple of hours yet, but BuzzFeed has the lovely and entertaining first look at the comic by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs. It’s Damian Wayne vs. trick-or-treaters! What more could you want?
As we reported on Tuesday, new installments of the serial — it’s appropriately titled “The Calendar of Small Events” — will be released each month, keyed to specific holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years follow today’s Halloween chapter.
Keep reading for a glimpse of a pint-sized Halloween in Gotham City, and visit BuzzFeed to see more. The full chapter will be available for 99-cent download at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on the DC website.
DC Comics is expanding its digital-first initiative Wednesday with Li’l Gotham, a monthly serial featuring Dustin Nguyen’s popular chibi-esque renditions of Batman’s friends and foes. Nguyen’s frequent collaborate Derek Fridolfs will co-write.
The story, called “The Calendar of Small Events,” is holiday-themed, with the first installment tied to Halloween. Subsequent chapters will center around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
“This has been a passion project of mine for some time now, and for anyone that’s followed my work, I’m sure it’s more of an ‘its about time!’” Nguyen told DC’s The Source. “The look and style is a slight departure from my usual (think the exact opposite of serious), but the idea has always been the same — to take our favorite existing Gotham characters, place them in fun scenarios without having to be tied to just one continuity or look and feel. It’s basically a Batman book for fans, by two huge fans.”
Welcome to the new weekly interview series Conversing On Comics, in which Robot 6′s Chris Arrant talks with notable people in and around the comic industry, focusing on the creative lives of artists, writers, editors and other figures in the industry. Look for new installments every Friday.
Dustin Nguyen isn’t your traditional superhero artist. Sure, he can draw like the best of them — and has done so on Detective Comics and Wildcats 3.0. But Nguyen’s managed to forge his own path without sacrificing his own sense of style, from his early angular work on DC/Wildstorm’s Jet to his maturation as a storyteller in Wildcats 3.0 and onto his entrenchment as a veteran on various Batman titles. And like some of his contemporaries, he’s brought painting into his work, but not in the mold of Alex Ross or Steve Rude; he relies upon a nuanced palette and application using watercolor and acrylic.
For the past five years, Nguyen has devoted himself almost exclusively to the Dark Knight and the denizens of Gotham City with runs on Superman/Batman, Detective Comics, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman & Robin and Batgirl. But now Nguyen is spreading his wings and pushing himself to what seems like the next stage of his career as he begins writing (with longtime inker and friend Derek Fridolfs) the digital-first Batman Beyond while also preparing to go outside of superheroes — and outside of the DC Universe entirely — as he draws a new American Vampire series subtitled Lord of Nightmares. And Dustin’s not finished yet, as the project he wants to do next is a first for him: a creator-owned book of his own.
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.
With my first $15 I’d get the following: The Massive #1 (Dark Horse, $3.50), X-Men #30 (Marvel, $3.99), Spider-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99), and Saucer Country #4 (Vertigo, $2.99). That leaves me roughly 50 cents out of my budget. I dunno if it was planned this way or not, but two of Brian Wood’s latest projects, The Massive and his run on the X-Men (of the un-Ultimate variety), kick off this week. We also have the debut of Spider-Men, the crossover that features Peter Parker of the 616 Marvel U meeting up with Miles Morales from the Ultimate-verse. I’ve enjoyed the Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man stories this far, which is the reason I’m getting it. Finally, Saucer Country is the best of the new Vertigo titles, featuring clever writing by Paul Cornell and great art by Ryan Kelly.
Add another $15 and I’d also get Captain America #13 (Marvel, $3.99), Uncanny X-Force #26 (Marvel, $3.99), Resurrection Man #10 (DC Comics, $2.99), and Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #10 (DC Comics, $2.99). Again, with some change left over for a candy bar or whatever. I laughed out loud at the big reveal at the end of the last issue of Captain America, as we learned who the new guy was behind the Scourge mask. I assume this is a What If? comic, along the lines of “What if (name redacted for spoiler reasons) wasn’t lame?” So I have to see this through. I mentioned this weekend on What Are You Reading? that I’d downloaded a whole bunch of the current run of Uncanny X-Force for 99 cents from comiXology, and since then I’ve completely caught up on the book, so I’ll definitley be getting the current issue. Add to that one of the final times I’ll get to see Abnett and Lanning’s Resurrection Man comic (sniff … well, it was probably a longshot anyway, based on how well his last comic did) and the debut of Matt Kindt on Frankenstein, and that rounds out my week of comics.
I don’t really have anything on my splurge radar this week, so maybe I’ll just hold onto the cash and save it for next time.
To see what Jessica and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
In our first two installments of our spotlight on themed sketchbooks we’ve had classic heroes and classic actresses; in today’s installment, we mix those together and sprinkle a little bit of magic on it. Comics blogger Lan Pitts has traveled to various conventions and collected an all-star assortment of talents in the effort of illustrating DC’s magician, Zatanna.
“My first job was as a magician’s assistant,” Pitts tells Robot 6. “I’ve always been fascinated by magic and it’s history. I had a few Zatanna sketches in my other sketchbooks and realized I loved to see what an artist would do for her than any other character. So she became my “totem” character, if you will, and I just wanted her to have her own sketchbook.”
Pitts has accumulated over fifteen renditions of Zatanns in his themed sketchbook, but has plenty of room for more. He collected a few new additions at DragonCon earlier this year, and hopes to attend New York ComicCon in October for more.
Whether you’re an artist who wants to sketch in this unique book or just a fan who wants to see more, visit Pitt’s blog for more information.
Batman: Streets of Gotham artist Dustin Nguyen is moving down the street to another Bat title in November. On DC’s The Source blog today, Alex Segura announced Nguyen is taking over the art duties on Batgirl from Lee Garbett, who is moving on to a new project.
“This is definitely going to be an exciting venture for me, besides the outline Bryan has for us, i’m just plain excited to be drawing Batgirl,” Nguyen said. “This latest incarnation of her has lots of the aesthetics of the original Babs that i love and some new ones. It’ll take me some getting used to drawing a female in horns, but i’m looking forward to putting away the “mean and moody” for a while and kick in the ‘fun and sexy.’”
Nguyen will work with writer Bryan Q. Miller on the book.
“Dustin’s joining the team at JUST the right time, as BATGIRL: THE LESSON begins. Steph’s world is going to get a smidge more gritty, a skosh more chaotic, and LOADS more dangerous – Dustin’s the perfect man to help tell this tale! And, as an added bonus, Dustin’s on the ground floor for the creation of Steph’s very own gallery of rogues (So, there’s that to look forward to, too!) Consider his cover to Batgirl #15 one of the last truly quiet moments our Batgirl is going to have for quite a while. But she’s ready for it – you can tell from the look on her face. That’s Steph for you — always smiling!” Miller said.
- Wildstorm will bring Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen’s WildCATS 3.0 back into print in September.
- Wildstorm also adds another video game franchise to its publishing line, in the form of Kane & Lynch.
- Dark Horse had a few items I was unaware of in their latest round of solicitations. There’s another Grandville book coming out by Bryan Talbot called Grandville Mon Amour, and Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother books are being collected into one huge “deluxe” edition. Also, the out-of-print Hellboy/Starman/Batman stories by James Robinson, Mike Mignola and many others are being released as a part of the Hellboy trade paperback line. There’s lots more, of course, coming from Dark Horse in August, but those jumped out at me as stuff I hadn’t heard about or missed when they were announced.
- NBM will collect Gerard Jones and Mark Badger’s Networked: Carabella on the Run in July. This is a webcomic that runs on privacyactivism.org.
- Artist David Hahn is working with comedian John Roy on a new book for Image Comics.
- Tyler James, creator of the webcomic Over, is working with Matt Zolman on a new comic called Epic.
- Sports club bars in a South Auckland, New Zealand will give away an anti “drink-driving” comic by Hicksville creator Dylan Horrocks. “An advantage with the comic medium is that people are more relaxed when they start reading one and you can reach all kinds of people and tell a story of characters making the right choice,” the creator said. Via
Artist Dustin Nguyen shares a few things “on his desk,” including two more Lil’ Gotham characters … Lil’ future Gotham, anyway. He doesn’t mention them appearing in his Lil’ Gotham stories that are set for the Batman and Detective annuals, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a cameo.
Dustin Nguyen walks readers of his blog through the process he used to create the cover to Batman: Streets of Gotham #4. Nguyen says he usually works with the writer and editor to come up with a cover design; but for this cover, writer Paul Dini had something specific in mind:
This time around, Paul actually sent in a picture he took of himself holding a knife included with a video clip of an old b&w movie to give the perfect feeling of the characters mood and gestures. it was dead on what we wanted to get across i felt. but still, keeping things open, i tried a few other layouts. none was as effective as paul’s, and i knew it. so i went with #1.
The final cover can be seen here.