Comicpalooza 2014 – Greg Capullo Interview

Comicpalooza takes place in Houston, TX.  This year, Hush Comics was given the honor of going as press, our first time for doing so.  Read all of the accounts of what happened on our site! 

While we were here at ComicPalooza, Batman artist Greg Capullo was been nice enough to sit down and chat with us a bit. For those who don’t know Greg, he has been a workhorse in the industry for over twenty years. The panel he had was as fun and engaging as it was informative. We’ll give you a full break-down when we do a “Respect My Craft” article on him, but for now, just know that he is pretty much a legend to Spawn fans, where he drew nearly 150 consecutive issues. In 2011, he was brought onto DC for a secret “Batman-related” project – which ended up turning into the New52 relaunch Batman title book, where he and writer Scott Synder have changed the game. This was our first interview, but we had such a fun time with Greg that our nerves quickly went away; here’s what he had to say:

 

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza 2014 articles

 

Hush Comics: “It’s great to see creators who are in love with Batman as we are. What really got you into the Dark Knight as a kid?”

Greg Capullo: “It’s tough to say; I mean, I didn’t realize at the time that the TV show was so campy. I took it very seriously. When Batman whipped out his Bat-alphabet soup container to collect a bowl of alphabet soup because he realized that certain letters were missing, and that it contained a message, and then he brought it back to his Bat-cave where he had an actual alphabet soup message-analyzer there to where he poured the soup in there and the message came out on a conveyor belt… I thought that was the coolest. So my love affair began that way, with Batman, with all that corny stuff, man.

HC: So this is a question I like to fantasize as a fanboy is, if you could redraw any classic Batman story, what would you do?

GC: Uh, its tough man because, you know, the classic ones are the ones that you don’t want to touch.  Right?  So, I would say nothing man because if they are a classic that means they are already done the right way.  So I never really like it when they come in and redo Psycho.  You don’t need to redo Psycho.  Alfred Hitchcock had that locked down perfectly.  What do you need to do.  So, I mean, I love Dark Knight Returns.  So, you go “Well maybe you want to redo that?”  No!  It’s perfect.  Ah no, I’m interested in doing new stuff and making those become classics.

HC: We’ve have met Todd MacFarlane before and he was probably the first celebrity…

GC: I’m sorry.  I’m sorry about that so…

HC: He is really one of the coolest guys in terms of like expressing individuality and not saying, “Oh, its too big, you can’t do it.”  So what’s it like to work with him as opposed to working for DC who kind of has guidelines of what you can do?

GC: When you are doing something for a publicly owned company, I mean, you have to answer to shareholders and there are certain guidelines you have to adhere to, right? So, I understand why Marvel who is owned by Disney has their way and why DC who is owned by Warner Bros. has their way, but Image Comics, you own it, so no one can tell you what to do.   You don’t have anybody saying it’s wrong.  If you write it that way and you draw it that way, it’s the way you wanted it, so it’s right, and you don’t have to worry about the companies that have shareholders to answer to, so everybody loves that freedom.  But, you don’t have characters cool like Batman, so if you want to live your childhood dream and touch that character, you have to take the rules and come with it.

HC: How about Todd as a person?  What is he like to work with?

GC: Terrible, terrible.  Todd is one of the worst people I have ever had the displeasure of working with.  The man never showers.  Never nearly as often as I feel that he should, and socks, Todd.  That’s what I would say to you.  One word is: socks.  Wear them.  Use them.  Socks.  In the winter, use socks.

No, no, I’m just kidding, man.  Todd’s like my brother man, you know, he came to our wedding (referring to his wife, Jamie) and his son filmed our wedding while we were there.  Todd is a good friend.  We got along well because we think a lot alike and we have a lot of the same sensibilities, so my time with Todd was a pleasure.  The hardest thing about working with Todd was because he has the name that he does and the stature that he has, you can become overshadowed by that a lot.  So I had to think of it as, I’m working for Walt Disney because sometimes his name would warrant stuff and I did it entirely, but his name has got to be on it because it’s a brand.  He became so big, it’s a brand.  But Todd as a person, I like a lot.

HC: So speaking of that, the New52 isn’t the first time you worked on Batman, right.  You guys did a crossover with Spawn and Batman.

GC: Well, Todd did that. with Frank Miller.  I only contributed the pin-up.  So I didn’t touch that. It was funny because, I forgot what convention we were at, maybe it was Phoenix, and he announced, made the big announcement, (in his best McFarlane voice) “we’re gonna make the big announcement”, the new Batman/Spawn team up sequel to that, and it never happened.  So I was geared up to do that and I did another pin-up, or mock cover, with Spawn and Batman but that is the extent of it.

HC: So DC Collectibles just dropped the first series of designer series…

GC: Yeah, the broke all over the place. They had to go back to the factory and make all new ones.

HC: Really?! (like an idiot, I said this)

GC: Cuz they dropped ’em!

HC: Ohhhh….

GC: You just said, they dropped.  The figures, they just dropped them.  They dropped and shattered and now they are being redone.  Yeah, no, the dropped.  They came out.  And they look cool.

HC: So, it’s really the first designer series that DC has done, except for Jim Lee.  But in terms of a new set of characters designed specifically by an artist.  So did working with Todd help you with that because I know you did some stuff with MacFarlane Toys, right?

GC: Right, well I did nothing to contribute to this process.  They wanted me to, but I’m too busy drawing Batman, and they offered me money and I said, “Oh, it’s not enough money because I’m very busy drawing Batman.”  So, they actually, they just took existing images that I contributed to the book and turned those into toys.  I had nothing to do with it.  Other than taking all the credit.

HC: The Court of Owls, just the concept of them, is probably one of my favorite things that has come out of the relaunch.  How well was it received when you first brought the idea to the table?

GC: Well Scott, was the first guy to bring it to the table.  He is the writer and it’s his idea.  Apparently they like it because they committed to doing eleven issues of it.  DC loves Scott and I.  I won’t say that they will let us do absolutely anything, but it seems so far that way, they will let us do absolutely anything.  So, we are going to do, the next big thing, and you heard it here first, it’s a Batman/Barbie team up.  Yeah, yeah.  It’s going to be filled up with elicit sex and, nah, I’m just kidding!  They like it and they like what Scott is doing and listen, we are making them money.  They listen to us a little more now.

HC: I see you guys working as a modern day Marv Wolfman and George Pérez.  Is there some type of bond there that you want to take after Batman?

GC: Well Scott says all the time that he wants to work with me forever, and I go “Well, you realize I’m much older and I’ll die before you.”  We got plans on doing other stuff afterwards.  It’s sorta like if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  In the same breath, I’m sure he has the opportunity to work with other artists, because writers can produce so much more than an artist, and there are other author’s I’d like to work with, too.  I am sure that that we will do projects away from each other, but we have big plans to stay with each other as well.  But like Robert Kirkman’s always said, “Let’s work on something in the future.”  That would be fun; I would like to do that.

HC: The use of panel space in issue #5 of Batman where he was trapped in the maze, that particular set of panels is what I use to brainwash all my friends to read comics.  Was that Scott’s direction, or was that just you kicking in the door saying “I’m gonna do something crazy.”

GC:  Are you talking about the rotation of the book?  That was my idea because when I read a story I try to accentuate what the writer is trying to do.  Now, the reason that that idea was born, it would have never happened if Scott hadn’t written the page, the last page, where Damien was on the rooftop with Gordon, because that to me was the return to normalcy.  Because if that page hadn’t happened, I couldn’t have done the full rotation and it was only going to be partial.  To me, I would have never had tried to get that done.  By reading that story though, it would be perfect because you’ll be twisted around the maze like Batman and then the reader will be brought back to reality along with Damien, and so that was one of the ones I had to kick and scream about, but they listened to me and it was a great success and I throw it in their face every chance I get.

HC: How about the homage to the original Bill Finger from the original Detective Comic #27 that you had on a huge panel on Batman #24, even down to the purple gloves? What that also you?

GC: No, no. That’s Scott. I’ll be honest with you, Scott knows a lot more about the whole Batman mythos than I do. He’s read a lot more Batman comics than I have. A lot, lot, lot more, so those throwbacks and hollerbacks – those are usually his ideas. I didn’t even know about the purple gloves. I go “What, is this an homage to Michael Jackson? Wouldn’t that be glitter? I don’t know, what does the purple mean?” So that’s all Scott, man. He knows all that’s happened and that’s him going, “Here’s what we need to do” and he sent me the cover and that’s how that happened.

HC: Zero Year, it’s been crazy. It’s been so long, it feels like we’ve been since zero year [of the launch].

GC: Tell me about it! I can’t wait to finish!

HC: The transition from Bruce Wayne into where Year One takes place has been one of the most interesting times, but one that hasn’t really been explored; how does it feel to be creating Batman canon?

GC: We’re both happy. That’s where the nerves come from of wanting to be so good. We want it to stand for a long time. At this point, I’d like to say we’re too tired to worry about it. We’re doing it, and we’re doing our best, but of course it’s cool! I’m just so involved in actually making it that I don’t even take the time to even consider what you just asked me. That’ll be a year from now, or two years, or ten years, that I look book and say, “Wow! I contributed to that; that’s cool!” But when you’re doing it, you’re just too close to see that kind of picture.

HC: We saw you on Ink Master last year during the DC-themed episode

GC: Heavily edited. I kicked that one kid’s ass up and down and they cut it all out. But they had to give the big lines to Ollie [regular judge, Oliver Peck], ya know “Get your ass to Garfield!” Yeah, okay, well I said cool stuff, too.

HC: [Laughs] Do you have any nerd tattoos?

GC: I don’t think I like anything enough to want it tattooed on me because eventually I’ll hate it. Even when I was in bands, my singer goes, “you should get a guitar!” Maybe one day I’ll hate the guitar. My wife’s off-screen looking at me going, “What about [my name]?” Well, then my next girlfriend’s name would have to be Jamie, so that really cuts down on my playing field.

HC: You do a lot of side projects. You were a guitarist?

GC: I was. I don’t pick it up anymore because I realize how much I suck now, but I used to practice like four hours every day.

HC: Are there any other side stuff you’ve gotten into? I know you’ve done some CD art, and a Halo 3 controller.

GC: Yeah, the most recent was Five Finger Death Punch, but I don’t have a lot of time for extra stuff, and as I told you about with the toys. Contractually, I can’t do anything comic booky. The only stuff I’ve done outside [recently] is: Season 3 of The Walking Dead poster, the Five Finger Death Punch album and REVOLVER cover with Slayer vs. Slipknot. Apart from that, it’s just mostly being locked down doing Batman.

HC: After fifty issues (the number of issues he has signed on to do Batman for), are you just going to kick your feet up and see what else is out there?

GC: Well, they pay me so much I can kick my feet up now (in his fanciest accent). Just kidding about that. I don’t plan stuff too far in advance. There was a near mid-air collision at this airport I’m flying out of (Seriously). So I can make all these plans and then the planes collide, I’m dead, and then there’s nothing after Batman #33. I don’t usually plan that far; life usually takes you in an unexpected direction anyway. I’ll still do some comic stuff, but maybe I’ll slow down the pace a little bit so I can have some family time. I don’t have anything concrete. There’s no tablets etched out saying “here’s what Greg’s gonna do next.” What happens, happens and we’ll see what life tells me to do.

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