Kyle Higgins returns to CBR TV, helping break in our new Speakeasy set with a discussion on how his background in film helped him break into comics while reminiscing on making TMNT fan films as a kid. The DC Comics writer also addresses the premature eulogies for “Nightwing,” the benefits of settling the former Bat-sidekick in the real-world city of Chicago and his upcoming foray into creator-owned comics.
On his love of film and production: I’ve been making movies since I was 7 or 8 years old. I haven’t shot anything in the last couple years, actually. That’s something that I’m actively looking to change. I have a couple projects coming up, some music videos — even just spec commercials. Just stuff to get me shooting again and get me back into that frame of mind. It’s like any muscle. If you don’t use it enough, it starts to atrophy and there’s rust and that sort of thing. I’ve been making stuff since I was 7 or 8. I made some fan films with my dad and my sister — I was 7 and she was 3 — of Superman and Ninja Turtles. … I could [put them up online]. I was just back at my parents’ house in Chicago and my dad brought them up. We didn’t watch them, but we have them. I should digitize them at some point.
On addressing the rumor of Nightwing dying: There’s an issue in September [for Villains Month] — Nightwing doesn’t have a book that month, but we’re back after September. We’re back with October. Actually, the finale of the first arc in Chicago with the Prankster and Tony Zucco, that culminates in October with issue #24. We’re still around, we’re doing our thing.
On his knowledge of Chicago and grounding Nightwing: It’s not anything that I’m actively playing up or playing towards, but I think any time you know a location really well and you know its ins and outs, that comes out in the writing without you having to play it up. Gotham, Bludhaven, Metropolis — these are cities that aren’t real. They’ve always been tough for me because, I want to set this scene somewhere. Where can I set it? Do I pick someplace that’s been in previous comics, but everyone’s building their own areas of Gotham. With “Gates of Gotham,” we had a map and so I got to get inside the city and the different neighborhoods and the areas of town. That helped me a lot as a writer and building set placement and that kind of thing — but that’s unique to a place like Gotham. I don’t know if there’s a map to Coast City or Central City. Setting it in a place like Chicago, and the fact that I know it well — I think it does, I think it helps me ground it.
On how his college film helped him break in to comics: Essentially, what happened was that after I finished my college film “The League,” which was four years ago now, I put it online. Eric White, who had designed all the characters for it, is a big illustrator and had done work for Marvel and DC in the past. He sent out this big email to everyone he knew saying this was a really cool film he had been involved in, designed the characters and they should definitely check it out and send any feedback or whatnot my way if they dug it. One of the first emails I got was from Joe Quesada, and he just happened to watch the whole thing. It was like a 27 minute film, so the fact that he sat through the whole thing was pretty cool. He said if there was anything he could ever do to help me out to let him know. I said, “Well, if you’re ever looking for new writers, I would love to throw my hat in the ring.” That started a dialogue, and I pitched to editors at Marvel — Tom Brevoort and Lauren Sankovitch — for like 10 months, and ultimately landed on a Cap one-shot that I co-wrote with my writing partner at the time Alex Seagle. From there, you do one thing and it turns into a second, meeting writers and editors at other companies and it just kind of spirals.
On creator-owned projects: I’m working on two right now. I have one that I can talk about, which is “The League,” which we’re finally doing as a creator-owned book. It’s myself, it’s Alec and Rod Reis, who is primarily known as a colorist. He colored the first 16 issues of “Nightwing.” What a lot of people don’t know is he’s an amazing painter. … Rod calls his style a cross between Bill Sienkiewicz and Phil Noto. The book is going to be called “C.O.W.L.,” which is going to stand for Chicago Organized Workers League. We’re writing the first two issues now, which are one one-shot story. We’re looking to have the first 22 pages, so the first issue done by November. We haven’t decided whether we’re going to take it to a publisher or put it out ourselves or what. Rod is going to be launching the equivalent of a Kickstarter in Brazil to raise funding for him to continue on the art and for the printing in Brazil. It’s cool. Alec and I have had this story mapped and planned for a long time, so it’s cool to see it take shape. The other project I’m working on is something that I’m very excited about. It’s completely out of my normal wheelhouse. It’s not like something I’ve ever done before, which is both really exciting and absolutely terrifying!