Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Amy Reeder Inteview

I am always interested in hearing what the creative members of the Supergirl team have to say about the character. So I was happy to see Newsarama interview new cover artist Amy Reeder and pick her brain about both Supergirl and Batwoman. Here is the link:

As always, I would recommend reading the whole interview but here are some blurbs that I think were worth picking over a bit.

Reeder will provide interior art for the second arc of the new Batwoman ongoing series that was announced last month, providing pencils for writer J.H. Williams. (Since DC will only confirm the Batwoman series will start "later this year," Reeder's arc would presumably start sometime early next year.)

Then earlier this month, DC announced that Reeder would be providing covers for Supergirl beginning in August.

So I have really enjoyed Reeder's work on Madame Xanadu, so I was thrilled when she was announced as the Supergirl cover artist.

Then I found out that she will also be drawing the ongoing Batwoman title. Talk about having huge shoes to fill. J.H. Williams work on the Batwoman run of Detective was one of the more lauded art runs on comics in recent history. I think Williams not only defined the character but also a 'look' for the book. I didn't have major interest in the Batwoman character but the creative team of Rucka/Williams grabbed me and I am glad I got those issues. They were absolutely lush. So I was interested in reading Reeder's thoughts about taking over such a spectacular and recognized art run.

Nrama: How did you find out about the opportunity to work on Batwoman with J.H. Williams? And what did you think of the offer?
Reeder: I told Dan Didio I was interested in getting an exclusive contract, and it was his idea that I work on Batwoman alongside J.H. I was honestly pretty floored that he would offer something so high profile!

At first, I felt a little wary of it, because I was such a big fan of what J.H. had done with the character, and I just didn't feel like my art could compare. But, seeing as I entered comics through a contest, I love being challenged, and I can't think of anything that could light more of a fire under me than this. At the time, J.H. was to draw Batwoman, Rucka to write. And now J.H. is writing — I think I'm going to learn so much from him.

I really liked this answer. I think you need to be pushed in life to continue to achieve greater things. Reeder talks about this book as being a challenge. I am no artist, but that is probably how I would approach such a daunting task.

I wonder if Cam Stewart had a similar feeling when he drew Batwoman in the Batman & Robin book.

Nrama: Now that you're getting to work on Batwoman, what do you hope to bring to the character? And what are your thoughts on how you'll approach this comic visually?
Reeder: I think one of my strengths is that I'm good at really capturing a character and what they're all about. Batwoman hasn't been drawn or written by many and here is the perfect opportunity to make her someone specific and undeniably recognizable...untainted by years of straying interpretations. So I hope that when people read my issues, they feel like this IS Batwoman, it looks like her and anything we haven't seen yet is a new, not different, element of her. My goal visually is to find that balance between showing what I have to offer to the book, but still keeping with what J.H. has started. We've already talked over some ways we'd like to keep some visual continuity between our respective issues, for instance keeping the Batwoman pages visually distinct from the Kate pages.

This really intrigues me.

The Williams' issues of Detective are such a wonderful melange of visual styles. There are dark, red powerful Batwoman pages, stuffed with inset intricately-shaped panels. There are the brighter, thicker lined Kate pages. There were the trippy water-colored Alice pages. And then we got the Mazzucelli-esque flashback pages. And all those styles were done by Williams. In this instance, the differing styles were part of the flow of the book. Instead of distracting from the story, they added to it.

So I do like that the 'differing arts for different story aspects' stylistic approach is going to be maintained. I am interested to see how Reeder changes her styles to achieve that.

Nrama: Since you're also doing Supergirl covers, what are the main visual differences between the two characters of Supergirl and Batwoman?
Reeder: Haha, they're like day and night! You know, a lot of this is very subconscious for me. The biggest difference would obviously just be the mood they put across, with their expressions, their gestures, level of rendering and lighting. Supergirl can be whimsical, even cartoony to a certain degree. The goal would be to have people identify with her. Batwoman, on the other hand, has to feel real, like you can smell the dirt on her heel. And she needs to be dealt with in a way that takes her very seriously. To a certain degree, she should scare you.

Something else I pay a great deal of attention to is just plain age. Supergirl is supposed to be 16 or 17. That's a tough age to get just right, and you also have to be concerned with not making her too sexy because of that.

Hmmm ... I don't know if I want Supergirl to be whimsical or cartoony. I wonder if the idea there is that she still has a sense of wonder about the universe, some youthful exuberance and innocence. That I can understand.

Nrama: How difficult is it to switch from being a sequential storyteller to just doing a cover?
Reeder: I think I'm probably better at interiors than covers, so I approach covers in much the same light, like I'm more likely to follow a Norman Rockwell philosophy and try to tell an intricate story with one illustration as opposed to thinking iconically, or with a high design sense. But if I think about it simply, a cover needs to be intriguing, while interiors make you work, and then reward you. Covers should visually sum up an idea or feeling that the book presents as a theme. Because of this, I'm high on visual metaphors. It's the easiest way to present the real conflict without spoiling the story.

Nrama: Do you enjoy the process of doing covers?
Reeder: Most definitely! It's a break from what I normally do and it also gives me a chance to take a little more time on the details, to make it just how I want it. I actually wish I had more time to illustrate solitary pieces. The drawback to covers is just the designs that you loved that don't get used. And if you come up with three designs per cover like you're supposed to, and actually put work into all three like you're supposed to, that's a big graveyard of missed opportunities.

Now this is good news.

I always want my covers to not only convey what is happening in the story. I want it to add something to the story. I don't necessarily need some static pose that doesn't have much to do with the interior. So to hear that Reeder's approach is to boil down the essence of the issue into one image makes me elated. I can't wait to see what's coming up.

And as a fan interested in the background of the creative process, I hope that Reeder will occasionally post her thumbnail designs for covers that weren't chosen. I can remember that Josh Middleton did it a couple of times (specifically I remember the thumbnails for proposed Supergirl #47 covers being on his blog). I really enjoy seeing the different ideas that could have happened.

Nrama: I know you haven't started working on Batwoman yet, so can you describe your approach to Supergirl? What qualities of the character are you hoping to portray and how do you convey her character in a cover image?
Reeder: I try to internalize the character; take what artists and writers have done and figure out what that means in reality, and from that, draw it in my own style. To me she is down to earth (no pun intended), very human (again...), full of energy, incapable of hiding her feelings, and very inquisitive. I try to present her in the light of learning and discovery, as she tries to achieve her goal of becoming emotionally strong and autonomous. As I said earlier, I try to approach these covers in such a way that we can empathize with her.

Wow ...

That description of Supergirl is just about as close to my idea of Supergirl as you can get. It is uncanny ... uncanny!

So suffice it to say I am thrilled that Reeder is bringing that sort of understanding of the character to the page, to her cover designs. Welcome aboard Amy Reeder!

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