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Interview: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato talk DETECTIVE COMICS and Gotham City

The two writers are making themselves comfortable in Gotham City.

DETECTIVE COMICS #30 came out this week and it marked the first issue with the new creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. The two are bringing their visual storytelling angle Gotham City and gave us a pretty exciting new direction. With only one Batman issue under their belt, we decided to ask them some questions to see how much we could pry out of them.

COMIC VINE: Was it an easy transition from working on the Flash to Batman since they're different types of characters?

FRANCIS MANAPUL: Yes.

BRIAN BUCCELLATO: Next question. [laughs]

CV: Are you two working on DETECTIVE COMICS the same way you did on THE FLASH? Layouts, brainstorming sessions, etc?

BB: Yes.

FM: Yeah, more or less. Brian and I, our process changes. Most of the time, the way we work, tells us what’s the quickest way to do things.

BB: And how much time we have.

FM: Exactly. Doing the layouts, before we do our scripting, we find is the most effective way for us to write. It’s just one of those things where our visual storytelling has allowed us to be able to break the dialogue in a more succinct way. It’s one of those things that’s allowed us to bypass having to do internal monologue. It’s made our story a lot tighter. It’s made the readability of the book a lot smoother.

CV: DETECTIVE COMICS #30 ties into your Zero Year story in THE FLASH #25. Were you two thinking about this first arc back when you were writing that story or did this come as a result?

BB: No, we definitely had it in mind. We already knew we were going to be jumping over to DETECTIVE. We planned it as sort of our primer or our origin story into the Bat-Universe.

FM: Absolutely. The way we see it, it’s almost as if, in our minds, we never left THE FLASH. Our story just took us to Gotham City. I’m sure if you’re familiar with story structure, everything will come full circle. Who knows where we’ll be at the end of the story.

BB: Maybe with Flash. Maybe we’ll end our story with Flash.

CV: And Doctor Guerrero.

BB: And Doctor Guerrero. We’re going to kill him again. We’re going to bring him back. Then we’re going to kill him again.

CV: Clones! He was working with clones. It’s so easy.

FM: Well, actually, now that we’re in the Bat-Universe, there is this Lazarus pit that Ra’s al Ghul has so you never know. You never know, Tony.

BB: Always making it about you, Tony. You always make it about you.

CV: Of course!

CV: Batman is really taking his fight against crime to the streets. We see him in Gotham's Chinatown fighting some street gangs. Will we see more of this or other areas of Gotham not often seen?

FM: We’re going to see a lot of other areas. In the next issue, we explore the waterfront. Specifically, the shipping yard. It’s one of those things where, in particular with Gotham City, it’s such a rich environment. It’s such a multicultural city that’s heavily populated. You can be damn sure there’s going to be a huge population of immigrants that inhabit the city. It’s one of those things we really want to show—the diversity of Gotham.

CV: Is there any sort of rough map of Gotham artists use or are you allowed to flesh out an area as you chose?

BB: There is a map. It’s definitely used as a guideline. I think there’s always room to put a little wrinkle into what you use. I don’t think there’s a hard and fast map of New York City where every street is accounted for. I think there’s a little bit of wiggle room. But we’re absolutely using this established geography of Gotham.

CV: We're introduced to Elena Aguila and her daughter, who have some dealings with Bruce Wayne. Will we see more of them in this arc?

FM: Well, I don’t want to spoil anything but we’re going to see more of one of them…You’ll definitely see more of one than the other. That’s for sure. There is an annual coming up that will explore certain characters a little more.

CV: Do you plan to introduce other supporting characters?

BB: Yes. There’s one major supporting character that we will introduce that I’m not going to give you any description or clues about.

FM: I will though.

BB: Aww!

[laughs]

FM: We talked a lot about the importance of Harvey Bullock to our story. Even though we don’t see him in issue “one,” we’ve talked about how his involvement in the story has naturally grown. I think it’s one of those things where we let the story take us where it’s going to go. Issue #31 opens up from Harvey’s point of view. Where as issue #30, more or less, we left it pretty open to whether the point of view you’re seeing is from Elena or from Brian and I, as creators. The next one, you’re definitely seeing it from Harvey’s point of view. It’s one of those things where, yes, the title is BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS, the word Detective is a lot bigger than the word Batman. It’s something we’re very very eager to explore, especially that relationship between two detectives.

BB: There’s also, I was going to add, that’s not the person I didn’t want to say. There’s somebody else.

FM: Oh right, shoot. I forgot about that guy.

BB: Yeah, that guy, that we’re not talking about. As far as Harvey goes, Tony, anyone who’s read the Zero Year FLASH, knows he had a big part in our Icarus story. He was a natural fit and he has something personal at stake in the storyline.

CV: But you did give us a clue about this new character. So we know it’s a guy.

FM: Aaaaaaw…you got us.

BB: No no, I’m a misogynist [jokes]. I only refer to people in the male sense.

CV: Okay. There seemed to be a lack of character text captions/inner monologues. Is this how you'll be approaching your Batman storytelling or was it just for this issue to allow the action to take center stage?

FM: Yes

BB: It’s not a rule. We’re not saying there’ll be no captions ever. I think we consider it a challenge to try to tell a story cinematically without using captions. We’re not going to say [in a deep Brian Booch voice], “You’ll never see one…ever!”

FM: It’s not a hard and fast rule, but in the same way that Harvey’s involvement came really naturally out of the story we’re telling, it was the exact same thing with the lack of captions. It wasn’t a specific plan to do it, but as we were laying out the issue and plotting out the dialogue, it just didn’t need it. Everything was spelled out either visually or solely told through dialogue. I think going back to the visual storytelling that we do, we opened with the words, “Welcome to Gotham City. And ended with Elena on the ground with a mat that says, “Welcome home.” It was such a perfect blending of…oh man, that made me sound like a total douchebag. “Oh man, it was so perfect, what we did.” We opened with words and ended with “Welcome home.”

BB: I can assure you, he’s not a douchebag.

FM: That’s obviously subjective.

BB: No, I think that’s objective. We could argue whether he’s a douchebag or it’s objective or not, but we’re out of time.

CV: We’re out of time! Alright, I’ll talk to you guys later.

Everyone should be sure to check out DETECTIVE COMICS #30. On sale now.

24 Comments
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

Haha this is a great interview.

This book has me a lot more interested than the other Bat books, I like the idea of having detective stories set in Gothams china town and waterfront also having Bullock is great. Wasn't there a map in Gates of Gotham or am I misremembering?

Online
Edited by Nahuel

The best interview I've read here. This guy's are hilarious and they are really synchronized!

This is gonna be a great Batman book but with less Batman than any other. I think they're going for the right path giving more protagonism to the Detective characters.

Posted by Mapuia_Ralte

Time to pick this up. I love these guys' style.

Edited by TheManInTheShoe

This book went on a slippery slope imo but these two are the best to save it.

Posted by kilowog52

I enjoyed their first issue!

Posted by mak13131313

Great interview! And a great start to what will hopefully be a long run on this series!

Posted by CaptainHoopla

Their first issue was great. I'm excited and have high hopes for this series now. The one thing that worries me are crossovers. If it stays free from those messes, I'll keep reading.

Posted by Saint_Talker

Loved this interview & this issue. Never was much of a Detective fan, but I think these guys might just win me over!

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Posted by Lvenger

Will Doctor Guerro truly be the next great Batman villain for this modern era of comics? That's what Booch and Manapul seem to be implying ;)

Posted by The Stegman

..I JUST dropped this title from my pull before they came on, because Gothopia was ridiculous..sigh, guess I gotta re add it, my LCS is gonna be annoyed.

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Posted by Wilbertus

I love these guys, they are amazing together. I loved their work on the Flash and Detective Comics 30 was great. Besides, you can really tell that they have fun together, for example from this interview!

Posted by fallbrigade

This so far seems to be exactly the kind of Detective Comic I want. Can't wait for the next issue!

Edited by Breadspread

@fallbrigade: I feel the same.

Awesome issue! Detective was the first comic I ever collected. I'm so happy to see in the hands of these guys.

Posted by tupiaz

Francis and Brian seems to be really close about their work and it seems like all three of you had a great time. However I feel the interview is very static in they way it is written with a question and then and answer. I would prefer a more gonzo style since it makes the interview more alive. I think that interviews is one the types of articles that benefits. Tells us what you see and hear. That gives the reader a better understanding on what is going on. Just my two cents.

Posted by Bezza

..Good to see Detective Comics getting some well over-due publicity and dynamic new writing team...

Posted by PopRock123

Cool interview I liked their first issue so I hope the continue to due well.

Posted by sinestro_GL

Francis and Brian are really cool guys! I've listened to a few of the podcasts on CV, and you guys should definitely check them out!

Posted by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

Time to pick this up. I love these guys' style.