Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
Emertainment Monthly got the opportunity to sit down with James Tynion IV, Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs on their work with Batman: Eternal at this year’s NYCC.
This past week’s issue, we just finished with the villains using Jade to get to Catwoman. What would you guys say is the current mood of the book and where is it heading?
Tynion: Basically, we’re in the midst of the second act of the story. This is one of the most dangerous acts and we’re right on the cusp of going back towards Batman #28. It’s exciting to finally see all the pieces slowly falling into place: Catwoman slowly moving towards her position as the crime lord, Spoiler becoming one of the most wanted people in Gotham City because she knows way more than she should, the police force becoming a weapon against Batman, and Hush rising to the forefront. It’s a very dangerous time in Gotham City.
A bit more of an artist specific question: [Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs] did an amazing job on Li’l Gotham—what’s the difference between doing that distinctive art style versus doing the artwork for Eternal?
Fridolfs: For the art, it’s more of the current style that we’ve worked on before. There’s a little more humor in the Li’l Gotham series and there’s much more on the line in Eternal. The characters are more drastic and it’s a lot darker. I’m using a lot more ink, let’s put it that way.
Nguyen: With Li’l Gotham we wanted to introduce stand-alone fun stories that could stand alone, like playing a fighting game versus playing a real rpg. I think that’s the main difference between our book and any book out in the stands right now. Li’l Gotham is truly all ages, where we make it relevant to everyone—we don’t dumb it down. It’s been amazing.
What’s it been like taking on a titanic character like Hush?
Tynion: When we first started talking about this series, there had only been a handful of major villains who hadn’t appeared yet in the New 52 and the biggest of them was Hush. So we knew Hush had to be a part of this story. And figuring out how to weave the villains into the framework of this story has been one of the most rewarding and challenging aspects. At this point, I’ve gotten the opportunity to work on most of the major Bat-villains, so as daunting as it was, it was more the thrill of checking another one off the list.
Nguyen: We’ve just been so busy working that I don’t have time to think about what it’s like. Honestly, we did the Paul Dini run that follow Jim Lee’s. I’ve done three years’ worth of Hush and so it’s very welcoming to be back in that area with him. When you start comics, you think “Oh, this is such a great opportunity!” but once you’re digging in there, you realize this is a lot to work on!
Fridolfs: It’s fun working on Hush again after working on a few years of the character. He snuck in right at the tail end of our work on Eternal, so it’s fun seeing him again. It’s just inking bandages again—lots of bandages.
How do you adapt in working with such an expansive team?
Tynion: A lot of it is just building the framework of the story we wanted to tell and making sure that we had all the pieces on the table and have everything where it needed to be. It takes a lot of organization and we’ve added a terrific group of editors that have helped shepherded us through. Right now we have Chris Conroy running the show and he’s doing one hell of a job. It’s just been a really really great process. A project like this could be a complete hell, but it hasn’t been. It’s been one of the utmost pleasures working in comics.
Nguyen: Oh, it’s great. It makes working alone less lonely.
Fridolfs: Our issues are so spread out by the time we start working on it. So it’s fun just as a fan to see who’s going to be brought in. I mean, they had Maxie Zeus show up and I hadn’t thought about this guy since the animated series. So its fun seeing the different characters they’re rotating in and out.
What’s been the most challenging thing working on Batman: Eternal?
Tynion: Keeping up the scope. Making series that’s 52 issues long, you need to keep things moving. There needs to be twists and turns and huge bombastic moments. We’ve teased them out over the course of the year and there’s still so many more to come, but it’s just an intricate tapestry of what we need to build. Especially with what we need to make the third act the most bombastic and insane thing you’ve ever seen in Gotham City.
Nguyen: Just switching gears between themes, like horror and futuristic. Just switching gears and making sure everything meshes well.
Fridolfs: Well, I’ve been working for the Bat-Office what seems like six or seven years, and being a part of this celebration of the character is just really fun to be a part of.
What should fans look forward to in the coming issues?
Tynion: Oh boy. Well, there are more dramatic shifts to come; iconic elements of Gotham are going to be changed in ways that people aren’t expecting and ways you won’t see coming, in the same vein of the Jason Bard reveal. That was the beginning; that was the end of the first act. We’re approaching the end of the second and that’s going to set up the second. I can’t wait for you guys to see it.
Nguyen: Wait, so which issues does Red Hood die, again? [Laughter] Oh wait, no! We’re not there yet. It’s just good times, man. Just good times!
Fridolfs: Our section is done now and so we’re like the fans now. We’re just waiting to see what they’re going to do!