@@@@ What the #$%! is AICN COMICS: Q&@? @@@@
AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!
Q’s by Elston Gunn!
@’s by James Patrick Writer of BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #49 & DEATH COMES TO DILLINGER!!!
Elston Gunn here. James Patrick is a comic writer to watch. After working on successful web comics, Silent Devil released Patrick’s gritty Old West mini DEATH COMES TO DILLINGER, which garnered great reviews and prompted industry giant Warren Ellis to call it “absolutely marvelous,” followed by its sequel, DEATH AND THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT DIE. DC took note. They hired Patrick to script HARLEY QUINN, a JOKER’S ASYLUM one shot, released in April – of which CBR’s Timothy Callahan said, “[they] made me enjoy Harley Quinn for, possibly, the first time ever” – as well as BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #49, which hits shelves yesterday.
JAMES PATRICK (JP): I got the gig after performing some fellatio, large deposits into unmarked bank accounts, and painting Dan Didio’s house. You know, I wish I could say I got “the call,” but initially it was more a series of MySpace comments and messages. I know, how 2006, right? I guess Dan Didio had picked up the first issue of DEATH AND THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT DIE in a shop, he knew a mutual friend that worked at DEATH’s publisher Silent Devil, MySpaced her and asked her about me. That person put in a good word and Dan asked to meet me at Chicago Con. So, I went up, met him, and after a little more of the process I ended up writing a script, which eventually ended up being the BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL issue. It was the first script I wrote for DC, though I actually had JOKER’S ASYLUM: HARLEY QUINN jump it and come out earlier this year.
Patrick took time to answer some questions for AICN.
ELSTON GUNN (EG): How did the Batman assignment present itself and what were the parameters? Did you immediately start brainstorming story ideas?
There really weren’t a lot of parameters other than the obvious. Like, don’t kill Batman. Don’t put him in nipple clamps and a ball gag. Don’t retroactively change his origin. But I wasn’t dumb enough to try any of that, so I don’t think I ran into any problems. There was a note or two, one was “Batman wouldn’t do that,” and he (Ian Sattler) was right. I mean, if I hadn’t gotten Batman’s “voice” right or anything like that, I’d have been told. But as a professional, I know what most of the obvious parameters are going in.
I did start brainstorming immediately. But I had a lot of LSD that night, so I kept seeing Batman in marmalade skies with kaleidoscope eyes and saying “Don‘t eat the cheese.” After that wore off, I really just tried to pitch stories I could put my stamp on, so to speak, and when I wrote it, same thing. Do what you do, and the rest will just work itself out. Or end up with the internet hating you.
EG: It sounds like you were able to write a classic grounded (relatively speaking) kind of Batman tale where we see him in detective mode.JP: Yeah. Again, that springs out of what I like to do, where I think my strengths are. I’m a fan of that Batman. I mean, the character is awesome because there are so many representations of him: campy Adam West Batman, adventure hairy-chested Denny O‘Neil and Neal Adams Batman, Miller’s street-level Batman. And I tend to gravitate toward the latter. For the most part, I think that’s just my generation, though. But that’s the beauty of that character. He’s more flexible than Sasha Grey. I mean, her career, of course.
But I also have to say that Ian Sattler, who overlooked the process at that stage, really gave great feedback. Then, I locked in and, I think, this really interesting story and execution came out of it. I can’t say this enough, but creating comics is a wonderful process, and when everyone is so professional it has the potential to be so rewarding and so collaborative at every stage -- and that‘s how it’s been on the books I’ve worked on at DC so far. Everyone from Mike Marts to Steve Scott – who absolutely embraced the story and put so much into it – make it so fun. It really does come from loving what you’re doing and wanting to do the best job possible.
EG: Did you refer to earlier favorite Batman writers and stories? Where did you find inspiration for this story?JP: Not specifically in terms of continuity or anything like that. I knew this was a one-and-done and it didn’t fit into current continuity, nor did it have to fit into some past story. So, my goal was just to make a good Batman story. Like I said earlier, though, it definitely was inspired in terms of style by earlier writers like Miller. But most of my work is. There was nothing specific, just an overall feel and flavors for what I think Batman is that had come from many writers and artists over the years. Specifically, there’s a dash of CSI in there to give the execution (not the tone) some flavor. But don’t worry, you won’t see Gordon looking at a dead guy in a meat cooler, put on his sunglasses, and say something like, “It’s time we put this case on ice.”
EG: What was the hardest aspect of writing BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL? What was the biggest lesson?JP: The hardest part is it’s effin’ Batman. Don’t fuck it up. If it’s the only time I ever get to do Batman, I don’t want my only Batman story to suck. I mean, in terms of characters, Batman is arguably the top of the totem pole – or shares the top of the totem pole – in terms of characters to write in comics. When I introduce myself to people, I now put “Batman writer” in front of my name. Okay, I don‘t do that, but you know what I mean. It’s also my first DC work. So, again, don’t fuck it up. I mean, I’ve written enough comics and properties and worked with enough editors to know what I‘m doing, so just take what you learned, and know what you do, and do it.
And I really didn’t take any lessons from BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL other than the DC process as opposed to, say, the IDW process. I did take some things away from HARLEY QUINN, but I‘m keeping those to myself!