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NOCC: Artist Spotlight: Greg Capullo

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2013 Coverage

Few speakers are as dynamic as current Batman artist Greg Capullo. By his own admission in two separate Wizard World New Orleans Comic-Con 2012 panels, Capullo could have gone on for hours, and I’m sure attendees would have been happy to listen.

Capullo’s panel took the form of a Q&A session where fans were able to ask just about anything – well, anything except for what is happening next in the current "Death in the Family" arc running through the Bat-family titles – from his influences, to which of Batman’s rogues gallery he’d love to try his hand at in future arcs.

Many early questions dealt with Capullo’s career and his working relationship with Batman writer Scott Snyder. Capullo is a self-taught artist and in his early days, drew a lot of influence from Silver Age artist John Buscema, who he said was the master at drawing the human form. After bouncing around smaller indie books, Capullo started his career at Marvel on Quasar, X-Force and a handful of books in the What if…? series. He eventually left Marvel to work with Todd McFarlane on Spawn. While at Image, he also started his own creator-owned series, The Creech.

After his time on Spawn, Capullo set his sights on outside projects, most notably the artwork on the Halo 3 controllers and artwork for the World of Warcraft card game. Both projects were drastically different from his work in comics, though Capullo said the change in canvas didn’t really affect his process. Even while doing advertising work, Capullo said, "Illustration is Illustration." If you can do it on a piece of paper, you can do it on a controller, computer screen or anywhere.

In 2011, both Marvel and DC courted Capullo. Marvel offered Capullo many of its bigger titles, while DC was very secretive. Capullo eventually found out the project was DC’s New 52 re-launch of Batman. With both Marvel and DC’s offers on the table, Capullo eventually gave into his inner child and took the Batman job. The offer from Marvel was great – the chance to work with the Avengers and X-Men – but for Capullo it all came down to the chance to draw Batman.

Working at Marvel, DC and Image offered vastly different approaches. While at Marvel, things were usually done using the "Marvel Method," where artists receive a short 4 to 5-page synopsis of the story. When he began working at DC with Snyder, he was given 40-page scripts per issue. He’d call shots and offer descriptions of every panel… conditions Capullo wasn’t used to, especially after years of working with McFarlane, where he was given a lot of control. McFarlane would give a general idea of what he wanted, ask for a few blank panels and let Capullo do what he wanted.

Though the relationship between Snyder and Capullo got off to a rough start, Capullo said he really just needed to show Snyder that he was able to "take care of his baby." Since then, the two have developed a brotherly bond, to the point where Snyder wants to keep working with Capullo as long as he can, even if it meant jumping to Marvel or into creator-owned comics.

The current work process is much different. Synder will still send detailed scripts, but he trusts Capullo’s instincts and will defend his choices to any doubters. As an example, Capullo mentioned Batman #5, which for me personally is the issue where I really began to believe that the New 52 really was something different. As part of the storyline, a drugged and disoriented Batman was trapped in the Court of Owl’s labyrinth below the streets of Gotham. As readers went through the book, each page required the reader to flip it around. Some were upside-down; others were on their side. It was a perfect visual representation of Batman’s state-of-mind, which is exactly what Capullo intended when he pitched the idea.

The change was a drastic change, and one DC editors weren’t incredibly keen on at first. In short, they believed it would be too drastic a maneuver and would turn readers off of the book. DC editors were intent on changing the layouts until Snyder stepped up in support and Capullo convinced editors if they wanted to convince people the New 52 really was a new direction, they needed to "Stay Foolish," and make brave decisions.

Capullo’s version of Batman is heavily influenced by Frank Miller’s interpretation in The Dark Knight Returns. He loved Miller’s bullet-headed armor concept and wanted to incorporate that, while including the iconic "bat" elements. As part of the armored look, Capullo also wanted a more developed "slab" of muscles, not the ripped, body builder looked other artists had used. He wanted a monolithic knight look.

Looking towards the future, Capullo wants to keep working on Batman as long as possible, but wouldn’t mind possibly bringing back The Creech, though he says he’s really too busy with giving fans the best product available to entertain other opportunities. In the Bat-books, fans will get the chance to see his interpretations of a few Batman villains we haven’t seen in the New 52 yet, including Clayface, who he hopes to make into a true monster. Capullo also has a Riddler-focused story coming up. At some point, he’d love to draw Bane, who he says he’d make into a big, hulk of a man, not the "bug faced" character we saw in the movie.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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