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NOCC: Artists of the New 52

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2013 Coverage

"When are we going to see Stephanie Brown or Wally West in the New 52?"

If reports from numerous Comic Cons around the country are any indication, it is nearly impossible for anyone from DC to run a panel without one of the two fan-favorite character’s names popping up – so, of course, it was one of the first questions brought up at the "Artists of the New 52" panel. As at past conventions, the panelists were happy to once again dodge the question.

The panel featured Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern, Justice Leauge, and an upcoming run on Batman: The Dark Knight), Jesus Saiz (Birds of Prey, Sword of Sorcery: Beowulf) and Greg Capullo (Batman). All three launched immediately into a question and answer session with fans, saying this sort of interaction is what they enjoy most about coming to these types of panels.

With the formality of the traditional "Wally West/ Stephanie Brown" question out of the way, the three panelists offered a brief overview of their careers. Saiz’s career began 12 years ago in Spain when he met David Macho, who told him that drawing comic books was an actual career he could pursue.

Van Sciver has enjoyed nearly 15 years in the business. He began at Marvel, but since moving to DC he’s decided he wants to stay there for the next 15 years. He wasn’t a fan of the "Marvel Method," and enjoys what is happening at DC. He loves that DC’s characters have some sort of history behind them. Even with massive reboots like the New 52, they always go back to the source material. For example, in every reinterpretation of Batman, intimidation has always been his greatest weapon. The idea that he looks like a giant bat; all of this is source.

Mentioning Batman provided Van Sciver the opportunity to announce he will be taking over on Batman: The Dark Knight. For Van Sciver, the opportunity to draw Batman is something he’s wanted to do "forever," so when he found out David Finch was leaving the book, he jumped at the opportunity.

Greg Capullo – the panel’s most energetic member -- echoed Van Sciver’s sentiments, saying, "I am here for Batman," the only thing he wants to do while at DC. "Once you do Batman, that’s all you want to do." Saiz took the opportunity to mention he was the only panelist who hasn’t drawn Batman, but would also like a shot if it ever came up.

Batman is Capullo’s first gig at DC, which he says was a bit of a surprise considering he’d grown up a "Marvel Guy." Capullo began his career at Marvel with Quasar in 1991. That eventually brought him into contact with Todd MacFarlane, who convinced him to come to Image and work on Spawn. While at Image, he also worked on The Haunt, with The Walking Dead scribe Robert Kirkman. He eventually left Image and entered the world of commercial illustration.

After his wedding, Capullo decided it was time to do something big for his career, so he let both DC and Marvel know he was ready to work. Both companies immediately tossed an offer his way. Marvel mentioned working on the recently wrapped Avengers vs. X-Men series, as well as stints with those teams once the event ended. DC was a little more coy, saying they had a "big project" for him, but it wasn’t until after Capullo signed lots of legal papers that he found out the job was on the New 52 reboot of Batman.

The choice to come to DC was a tough one. Both companies were offering huge books, though Capullo’s inner-child kept screaming, "You NEED to do Batman!" Going back to Van Sciver’s comments about source, Capullo compared Batman to a shark. Even with the chance to rework the character, he didn’t feel the need to change what was working. Like a shark, he’s great the way he is and doesn’t need to evolve.

Since then, Batman has become the New 52’s flagship title based on strong stories like "The Court of Owls" and the recently launched "Death in the Family," which brings the Joker back to the DC universe. Capullo attributed much of the books' success to his relationship with writer Scott Snyder. Van Sciver agreed, saying the chemistry between artists and writers is key to a successful book. It doesn’t always mean sales or fan accolades, but it is very important. Van Sciver said he and Geoff Johns have a similar bond; they "get" each other’s style and know how to "read between the lines" when putting a book together.

Capullo mentioned Savage Sword of Conan artist John Buscema as a major influence. Saiz said Buscema’s work was a big influence on his style as well, saying that his current run on "Beowulf," a back-up story in Sword of Sorcery, was inspired by Buscema’s work. Although he hasn’t read the original epic, "Beowuf" still follows the general plot of the poem, but is set within the continuity of the DC universe. Van Sciver loved the idea, especially since Beowulf is the first literary superhero, so the notion that he comes back after the other heroes are gone is interesting.

The topic then changed to the rise of digital comics. None of the panelists seemed to give the issue much thought, saying that the medium is going to change eventually. Whether it is fans talking about paper books, or fans in the future discussing whatever medium we’re using in 50 years talking about digital books, people will always ask, "Why don’t they do it the way they used to do it?" Fans and artists need to adapt.

Capullo added he doesn’t really think about it when working, but does like that digital issues are ad-free, removing the story "road bumps" he doesn’t like in paper versions. He knows why it is done, but he would like to see ads regaled to the back of the book, since it takes a bit of extra consideration when trying to keep the "reveal on even number pages" pacing in check.

Van Sciver sees comics like TV. He likes having access to them in various forms and that each offers something different to the experience. He likes that he can watch Walking Dead on TV, offering the week-long anticipation, but that he’ll run out and grab the season DVD or digital copy to see it in different ways. When it comes to multiple venues, artists and fans need to be flexible. He, along with the other two panelists, also likes that multiple venues also means multiple revenue streams for artists since they’re paid twice; once for print sales, another for digital.

When asked what they’d like to do in the future, Saiz wants to stay on with "Beowulf" since he’s given a lot of creative control with it. Plus, he enjoys doing something similar to Conan, a book he’d like to do. Capullo said he is here for Batman, and even though he’s been offered other books, he wants to keep working on it. In the future, he’d like to introduce Bane into the New 52. Van Sciver jumped at the mention of Capullo doing Bane – "Your Bane would be so bad ass!" Capullo’s Bane would be a steroid-infused monster, unlike the version seen in The Dark Knight Rises, who, "…wasn’t very intimidating," according to Capullo.

Van Sciver is currently doing a six-issue run with the Mad Hatter, but really wants to do a six-issue study of Mr. Freeze.

As for Stephanie Brown and Wally West? Well, there’s always the possibility, but neither knows anything, or at least aren’t saying if they do.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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