David Finch has been earning his reputation as an amazing comic book artist over the last few years. After signing an exclusive contract with DC Comics, we've been enjoying his covers for Brightest Day and Action Comics while wondering if he would take on a regular series.
Eventually it was announced that he would not only be drawing the new Batman: The Dark Knight ongoing series, but would be writing it as well. We had the opportunity to ask David a few questions about what it's like to take on Batman in a slightly different setting.
Comic Vine: Congrats on Batman: The Dark Knight. How long have you been working on it so far?
David Finch: In terms of the story, I've been working on it for quite a while, for the better part of a year. I've been working on the artwork for five months or so.
CV: The series is supposed to dip into the supernatural areas of Gotham, can you give us any examples besides the fact that Etrigan the Demon will appear?
DF: Etrigan is my best example. It's Etrigan that really made me want to go in a more supernatural direction. I really want the book to be very grounded. It's a traditional Gotham City-Bruce Wayne-Batman. So in the sense that it's more supernatural, I think the closest thing it would relate to is the Neal Adams' stuff from the early 70s. It's Batman. It's Batman's traditional villains just with a flavor of more supernatural. Something shows up in Gotham City and is possessing an existing hero. It's causing all kinds of havoc. Etrigan shows up and eventually Batman is brought into it and everything starts to relate to everything else. I really wanted the story to encompass not just the supernatural elements but really bring in James Gordon, Alfred and all the traditional things about Gotham that people would expect.
CV: How did the project come about? Did you approach DC and say, "Hey, I wanna do a supernatural Batman book," or did they ask you?
DF: When I was initially talking to DC about coming in and doing Batman, the supernatural angle really came from me. I had a few things I really wanted to get across visually…and not just visually. Sometimes it's difficult for me to separate the visuals from the story because visually there are sequences I really want to get across. That stuff just really lends itself to a more supernatural direction. And I really wanted to use Etrigan and that being an essential part of what I wanted to do, it kind of angled things that way.
CV: Is Batman, Inc going to have any crossover affects or will this stand on its own as a Batman book?
DF: Batman, Inc. is a reality that every Batman book is existing in now. Grant Morrison is really the driving force of what's happening creatively with Batman. There's certainly no way I could say this book is completely separate from that and I wouldn't want it to be. I think he's really bringing some interesting things to what everyone's doing. At the same time, I'm drawing Bruce Wayne in Gotham City fighting crime so it really fits in the margins of what Grant is doing while Bruce Wayne is all over the world. He has a lot of responsibilities in Gotham City that he can't really easily shake. I think his traditional villains in Gotham don't really take highly to the idea that he's looking past them now. He's looking at a much broader picture of being able to help humanity all around the world. All his traditional villains want to say, "Look, you belong to us buddy." I think they're not going to let him go so easily.
CV: Do you have to attend big Bat-summit meetings to make sure all the creators are on the same page and don't contradict each other?
DF: I haven't done something quite as formal. We are in constant contact. We have an e-mail chain going on right now. We're making sure to include any characters that were referenced, members of the police force, that sort of thing so there could be that sort of crossover. I sat down with David Hine, Tony Daniel, Gail Simone and Scott Snyder. We've all batted some ideas back and forth. We've talked about the overall direction of what we'd like to do.
CV: You're going to be introducing a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, is this your creation or is she based off of an existing character?
DF: It's a character I came up with on my own. I'm sure it has some roots in other things that I've read though, but not so much as existing in the Batman Universe. It's a new character.
CV: This is a friend from before Bruce's parents were killed?
DF: Right, a friend from before his parents were killed that really drifted away once that happened and when Bruce himself would've been really cut off from the social scene. For a long time he wouldn't have had the connection of his parents going to these parties and inviting these people over to the house. Some of his friends from very early on were cut off. But this is a friend that really resonated with him. He remembered her for his whole life and now that she's missing it's brought it to the surface. It's really becoming an obsession for him.
CV: You've written books like Ascension before, what's it like being the writer and artist? Is it easier? Is it harder since it's all on you?
DF: It's certainly not easier. On any level I don't think it's easier but I really had a tone I wanted to get across with this book. It was very important to me that it became the book I wanted it to be. The only way for me to really do that was to write it. It's been a big challenge. I feel like I've been learning as I go along. I'm finding that the tone I initially wanted for the book has changed as I've learned. It's very difficult to not lose yourself in the story and to not lose what I wanted the focus to be. I'm really trying to keep that in the forefront of my mind because that was my real reason for me writing it in the first place. It's a real challenge.
CV: What's it like working with Scott Williams (on inks)?
DF: We've done some Brightest Day covers and he inked the Batman story I did earlier this year. We've been talking, I talked to him years ago about doing something. Just having him on the project really means a lot. I think his name brings a lot. I feel we're still kind of early in our working relationship but I've already learned quite a bit. Danny Miki, who I worked with early on, taught me a lot. And Batt…they all bring something different to the artwork and it really changes the way that I draw. I think that Scott is such a…he puts so much thought into each page. He really completes artwork in a way I'm not used to so I've already learned a lot from him. I think over the course of the next…however long I can convince him to work with me, I'm going to learn a lot and grow from it.
CV: Are you still going to have time to do other covers for DC?
DF: I'm doing the Brightest Day and that's continuing for the short term anyway. Between Action Comics covers and Batman, I don't have any other cover commitments. I think I might cut back as this book goes along. It's definitely a real time commitment. When I'm not drawing, I'm thinking about the story and I'm thinking about the story while I'm drawing. I forget half of what I'm thinking about when I sit in front of the computer. I'm still going to be doing covers but I'm going to concentrate on this book as much as I can.
CV: How far are you story-wise? Do you have the next arc planned out?
DF: I have the first six issues well planned. I've found that as much as I say that and sit down to draw a scene, things change. It's always a bit of an evolving process and it can be a little frustrating thinking I have everything completely mapped. I had it completely mapped six months ago and I've watched things change quite a bit. I don't think it's something I can resist. For the most part, I have the first six issues and I have the six issues after mapped out. I'm introducing elements that will lead into the next arc already. Even in issue 1, it's something that I'm trying to do and think ahead to connect things as well as I can. It always has a wild card factor to it. I'm sure that if I had the kind of experience that Bendis has it'd be a bit of a smoother process.
CV: I know we're going to see the Penguin, can you give us any hints of other villains we might possibly see?
DF: Penguin is going to play a pretty major role in the story. I love Penguin. Visually he's great and I love everything that he's about. I've got a lot of Croc ongoing and I have my own villain, obviously, that I'm introducing. I'm keeping him a bit mysterious right now. Aside from that, Batman has allies that have their own loyalties that they can't really ignore. Etrigan the Demon for example has his own masters that he can't ignore. There comes a point when that really directly conflicts with Batman. It turns into a pretty major battle. Even Batman's friends are enemies sometimes.
CV: Thank you so much for your time, we're super-excited and can't wait for this. We wish you lots of success with this.
DF: Well, thank you. Thanks a lot.
Here's a review for issue #1.