Before FanExpo has its full kick-off on Thursday, September 1st, we had the opportunity to take Greg Capullo away from his drawing board long enough to ask him a few questions. All we can say is that Capullo is an awesome and extremely humble man. He isn’t worried about the past, he’s only focused on what’s in front of him now.
I jumped with a little excitement when my phone went off and it was time. Capullo immediately came off as a relaxed guy who was just truthful and straight-forward. After some introduction we got right into the questions that the DC Comics News team put together.
Q: Are you excited to be going to FanExpo?
Yeah, last time I was there I had a great time and I’m sure it’ll be the same this time. Plus, I just like Toronto, It’s a cool town so I’m looking forward to it.
Q: What can we expect at your Saturday panel for FanExpo?
I have no idea. They never tell me what the panels are about. But being that I’m Italian, I am never without a loss of words. With or without a moderator I usually just talk and talk and talk and talk without prodding. So whatever it’s about, there will be a lot of talking, mostly from me so, I don’t know, we’ll cover all the bases.
Usually, I treat it like a family kind of thing, you know what I mean? I like to just get down with the fans and let them ask whatever they want. A lot of the times they go right down to the crowd. You know what I mean, just make it a family affair. Don’t really worry to much about what the subject is, it’s just kind of, wing it every time.
Q: What or who inspired you to do what you do today? And what continues to inspire you?
Well, since I was a little kid I read Mad Magazine and of course superhero comic books. The big superhero comic guy was John Buscema and he did almost every marvel character and I still have all the Savage Sword of Conans. On the Mad Magazine end of it you had Mort Drucker. He did the movie satires back then. Just incredible you know. From the cartoon end you had Chuck Jones, he was just the ultimate master. Even though it looks cartoony, he really just understands life, motion, figure, and expression, he was just beyond.
Those three were probably the biggest ones, but you know, obviously I had a lot of favourite artists. But those three made me go, “I wanna draw for Mad Magazine or draw superhero comics.”
As far as me today, I don’t really look at other artists, mostly because I don’t wanna start rippin’ people off [chuckle], you know what I mean? You’ll always see something that you like and I don’t want to lift it because then you start to lose sight of yourself a little bit. So, I don’t really do that. I’ll catch other artists in my radar and glance at it and go, “Wow they’re really great,” but I won’t flip through books because it’s just inevitable that I’ll take from them.
So, what inspires me today is to just keep trying to improve on my own work and that’s pretty much it. Because what inspires you is to always go and get better, you know, it should be like that with everybody, no matter what they do. Part of life is growing right? So, that’s what inspires me, that growth.
Q: In an interview with DC Entertainment, you described Batman #40 and some incredible details that you worked into the panels. What’s your creative process before you put pen to paper?
The first thing is to read the script two or three times and really get your head in it. The thing is that you want to try and pull out the essence of whatever the writer you’re working with is trying to say. You wanna try to get their intent, so that’s step one. Capture the essence if you can and that way your more equipped to elevate it. That’s how it should be, like and assembly line, everybody touches it to improve it. When you get the essence it might inspire you to put in things that aren’t in the script.
Now some writers might go crazy, but Scott [Snyder] loves it. I come up with ideas or motifs that I feel accentuate his story and then it in turn, might inspire him. Like, “Well that’s a really cool motif,” and he might start writing that in going forward. That’s how it kind of all works, that’s how I think and contemplate before I put pen to paper but stuff happens on the fly while you’re doing it. All of a sudden, boom, a light goes on and you go, “Oh it might be cool if I did that,” you know, and I’ll just shoot it down.
Q: What inspired your take on Batman?
Well, I guess, I’m the same as anybody else. I’ve been looking at Batman since I was a kid. The last Batman artist I really looked at, shame on me [for how long it has been], is Frank Miller when he did Dark Knight Returns. I didn’t know what a lot of the other guys who followed him had done. It wasn’t any of that, but growing up, the 66’ TV show, The Super Friends, it had Batman in the cartoons and stuff. Basically the Justice League and stuff. You know you had that, the comic books, the view master, and you go to see the movies. Neal Adams was around when I was growing up too. So it all just goes in your blender and we all have our own perception of Batman.
When you draw [Batman], you wouldn’t necessarily say, “This is my take on him,” it would just come out of you, based on all that has gone into you and how you felt about all of it. It just goes into a big blender and comes out of you. That’s the beauty of the individual. We can all look at the same things and if we sat down to interpret it, we would get different interpretation. So I didn’t really give it too much thought.
The only though I gave to it at all was that I liked the Frank Miller flat, bullet nose, helmet that he wore when he was fighting Superman. So I just go, “Man I’d like to get my cowl as featureless as possible,” because I loved that so much. That was the only contemplation I gave to it. Other than that, I did what felt right.
Q: Your iteration of Batman seems to be heavily influenced by the original Bob Kane design. In Zero Year Batman had purple gloves like back in the original comics, which worked well with the 75th anniversary re-release and publication of Detective Comics #27. Seeing the two designs side-by-side looked really cool and brought it full circle. How much of that character design was suggested by DC for that anniversary, if any? Who would you say, other than Kane, influenced your character designs throughout your run?
On my end of it, I had no idea about those gloves, that was Scott [Snyder], he knows all this itty bity stuff about Batman, inside and out, he’s scary. He’s the one who made the purple gloves. He wanted the overall costume to be young, fresh, rock n’ rolly, kinds of things. He’s going, “We can give him racing stripes, whatever we want.” That’s why you got such a crazy, footloose, kind of version for his outfit.
Like a Mad Max Batman?
Yeah, pretty much, and we actually brought it there when he gets all stripped down with his crossbow and everything.
Q: What can you want to tell us about this mysterious Snyder/Capullo project that you’ve mentioned in other interviews?
I’ll tell you what, I can’t say too much because Scott and I were on a panel one night and I opened my mouth and I think I scared him a little bit. I didn’t know what I was supposed to say too much. All I can tell you, or am going to tell you, is that Scott approached me with the idea and it was after I started this project with Mark Millar. He was almost like, “Oh yeah, I’ll show you. I’m gonna up the ante. I’m gonna make it better than that stuff,” you know, I’m just setting up pages all the time going, “Hey, what you working on?”
Image courtesy of Denofgeek.us
He came up with some pretty wild ideas that sounded amazing and he kinda said to me, “You know I wanna custom tailor it to you. I thought what is Greg? Greg is rock and roll, Greg is bad-ass, Greg is…,” he’s pulling all the adjectives you know. That is what inspired him to pen what he’s working on right now. I mean, if that’s your perception of me [chuckling], that’s what we’re gonna be working on. Rock and roll, bad-ass kinda stuff and we’re gonna have big players. I don’t know what title it will be, Batman, Justice League, I don’t know. The title might be a stand alone new book with a new title, I can’t even tell you that much. What I can tell you is that what Scott has told me is going to one hell of a thrill ride and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a wild, off the hook fun ride.
Q: With your 5-year run on Batman concluded, what did you take away from your run in terms of creativity or artistic ability? How has it challenged you and matured your already considerable abilities?
It’s really strange, you know what I mean? You’re so busy working every single day. It’s really like an assembly line. All the time people ask me questions like this [chuckling], “How does it feel knowing you did this historic run?” Is it historic? I have no idea, I’m still working on pages every single day. You don’t really have the time to stand back and look at it and think about it. So, when you ask me about artistic growth, you don’t really see it until you take a minute, sit back and take a look at your old magazines that you did right?
Now when I go back and look at Spawn, I can look at it so objectively because it doesn’t even seem like it’s me, you know what I mean? Just a short while back I took some time and was looking at the stuff I did on Court of Owls. I went, “Hey, that’s pretty good,” because it’s not an ego thing, you really are so distant from it that you really are objectively looking at it as if someone else did it because you’re just grinding day in and day out, so you’re not thinking about any of that stuff. Kinda like at the end of the road you look back and just think, “Hey, what happened?” So, I don’t know, I haven’t assessed what I’ve learned or picked up or anything that’s happened along the way. It’s just been one blur of pages.
Q: The end of season 2 of Gotham, and now season 3, they are having the Court of Owls in it. How do you feel about them taking the characters that you drew and made an amazing world out of it? How do you feel about how they are representing it?
You know what, it’s just extremely flattering and that’s all you can really say about it. I wanted to draw comic books since I was 8 years old, 8 years old I knew, that’s what I wanted to do. You don’t factor into it money, fans, people wanting you to sign their books, or make toys out of your stuff, or for something you did to end up on a television show. I mean, you empty your mind. It didn’t enter my mind, so when you ask me that, all I can tell you is that it is ultimately flattering. To me, I don’t care how you treat it. The fact that you thought it deserved, and had enough merit that you wanted to put it on a TV show is the ultimate flattery. I’m just grateful for it really!
Q: Is there anything last minute that you want your fans to know about what’s coming up for you.
Yeah, I’d just like to say, to the people on Twitter (@GregCapullo) that are missing my books on the stand since I stepped off Batman. Listen, I miss them, seeing their reaction to the book. All I can tell them is that coming October, I have a visual feast for them like they’ve never seen before. I have more room and time and the subject matter is stuff that I’ve been lovin’ since I was a little kid drawing just for fun. Now I get to do it and get paid too. I’d like to say thanks for sticking with me, I hope the Capullo army will stay strong and pick up the title and make it a popular book. I’m really proud of it.
Having the opportunity to interview Capullo was amazing. Being able to talk with one of comics’ biggest artists and hear about what’s to come was very exciting. We look forward to reading Capullo’s current project with Millar and are even more excited for the upcoming Snyder/Capullo project. If you want to talk with him yourself, make your way to FanExpo between September 1 -4. You can have him sign your books, he loves the fans and we keep him motivated!