This November, follow your money straight to the comic store where creator Howard Chaykin and DC Comics release the double-sized one-shot “Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money” pitting the Caped Crusader and the feline femme fatale against the most dangerous member of the Gotham rogue’s gallery – the Cavalier?
A longtime veteran of the comic industry, Chaykin has worked on countless comics as a writer, artist or both for almost every major publisher. The creator first broke into the world of the paneled page in the 1970s illustrating an adaptation of “Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser” for the DC series “Sword of Sorcery.” Throughout his near 40 year career, Chaykin has created the character Dominic Fortune, drawn the comic book adaptation of “A New Hope” for Marvel Comics, launched his own title “American Flagg!” and most recently worked on the limited series “Die Hard: Year One” for BOOM! Studios and provided art for “The Rawhide Kid” for Marvel. With the upcoming “Follow the Money,” Chaykin both pens and illustrates a tale that features not only two of the most famous characters in comics, but also one of the lesser known – the Golden Age Batman villain the Cavalier, a sword-swinging thief with a bit of a Musketeer clothing fetish.
“Both Batman and Catwoman find themselves up against Cavalier for various reasons and circumstances and end up joining forces and discover there’s a third problem created by the Cavalier that neither of them anticipated,” Chaykin told CBR News. “I love the character. I was a Golden Age collector when I was a boy and I’ve always loved the character. When I was [younger] I used to love Cavalier cigarettes, which is a brand you no longer remember, and I love the Three Musketeers. It’s my favorite candy bar. So, I love the Cavalier. He’s a great, goofy character and I think he’s underused.”
The writer took some time out of laying a trail of cash for the Bat and the Cat and spoke with CBR about the upcoming one-shot, how he sees the Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy and why he believes Batman and Catwoman should never be together.
“It’s a story that takes place predominantly in the realm of Wayne Industries, the Bruce Wayne Business, and how that impacts directly and indirectly on both on Bruce Wayne in his life as Bruce Wayne and his life as Batman interact and how that plays out for Batman,” explained Chaykin. “I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of how he’s forced to live a double life, but where do things overlap? That’s what the story is about to a great extent and Cavalier is the inciting incident that gets the story going.”
The chase gets underway when the Cavalier manages to frame Catwoman for a string of burglaries and billionaire Bruce Wayne for cleaning out Wayne Enterprises’ vault. Chaykin told CBR he employs the use of the original incarnation of the Cavalier for the story, one Mortimer Drake – a penniless thief masquerading as a multimillionaire. “I like his motivations. I like the fact that in his original inception that the character was a pal of Bruce Wayne’s who supported his jet set lifestyle by theft. The character was just fun to play with, kind of moody and kind of nuts and very entertaining,” said the creator. “He’s a guy who is apparently a multimillionaire but is actually penniless and who lives a life of luxury by maintaining a life as a thief. He’s a serious romantic and he’s very serious with the idea of being a romantic cavalier. He supports an extravagant lifestyle despite what the exterior trapping look like.”
On the side of good, the Dark Knight represents the opposite of the Cavalier – someone with wealth who gives instead of takes. Chaykin grew up with the Batman as interpreted by Dick Sprang, but interpretations on the Caped Crusader and his world have changed over the years. “[With Sprang], it was the comic book equivalent of the Dick Tracy Universe, sort of grotesque and odd. Really, since Neal Adams came along, picking up the ball from where Carmine Infantino started in the early ’60s, Batman has sort of been more streamlined and in a position of realism,” he said. “There’s a bit of Clint Eastwood in the character, there’s a bit of Robert Redford in the character – the brooding adventurer, the self-pitying, self-aware character.
“The Batman I’ve done is a guy who is very serious, he’s got a limited sense of humor, whereas Selina has a sense of humor for the two of them, and Bruce is far from stolid. He’s a debonair, elegant guy and I’m actually feeling very comfortable with the way I’m interpreting Batman this time,” Chaykin continued. “It’s always been a character I’ve found difficult to draw, but I’m pretty happy with it. I think it’s a very recognizable Batman, who is to a certain extent swept up in Selina’s solution to a problem. The two of them impact on each other in that way.”
When it comes to the cat-themed criminal, Chaykin admitted that he finds the Bat and Cat a fascinating mirror reflection of one another. “I think Selina is immoral and amoral, but has, like all great antiheroes, her own set of rules. She is the perfect antihero in the context of the DC Universe. She’s not evil, but she’s capable of making bad choices,” said Chaykin. “I think to a great extent, what Batman sees in her – and this is me pop psychologizing – is a freer spirit than he is allowed to be on his own. I think to a great extent that Selina sees Batman and Bruce as who she might have become had she had the opportunity. They’re sort of the yin and yang in that way.”
The creator also told CBR that he finds them a solid fit romantically – the exact reason, he said, why they don’t belong together. “I think they’re a perfect romantic match, which is why they should be kept apart as much as possible, to maintain tension. It would ruin the characters [if they got together permanently],” he said. “What’s important here is the making of romantic tension as opposed to the satisfaction of that tension. They are utterly platonic in the context of the story, but there is clearly a romantic dynamic that underpins their chat and chatter – unequivocally.”
Chaykin actually first wrote the story for the one-shot a few years ago. Despite this, however, the creator feels the concepts presented dealing with money and wealth remain especially relevant in today’s economic climate. “The story was written just before the collapse of the empire. At the time, we were just beginning to get the first whiff of the shit storm that we were going to be entering into and we’re living in now,” he explained. “It has a certain timeliness because it’s about wealth, it’s about the perception of wealth, and it’s about malfeasance and how slimy people can be about money – and how naive people can sometimes be about money.”
For many, providing both story and art for a double-sized one-shot might provide a bit of a challenge, but Chaykin holds a long history of handling double duties on projects. However, this doesn’t mean he only wants to do solo projects in the future. In fact, the creator admitted that he enjoys changing things up whenever possible – something the comic industry allows him to do quite easily. “Since I write for myself, I write for other people, I draw other people’s stories, there is no such thing as preference. I feel pretty comfortable doing all aspects of the job. There is no real, ‘Gee, I’d rather do this now.’ That doesn’t come into the equation for me,” he said. “I happen to be writing and drawing this. I like working with other people. I like working alone. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I can do all of these things and it’s really gratifying.”
Look out for “Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money” in comics shops on November 3.