“Brightest Day” – DC Comics’ 26-issue, bi-weekly series – is ramping up with a new Aqualad introduced last issue and CBR is tracking the event’s progress with a monthly feature we call DAYBREAK.
Checking in with the writers, artists and editors pulling “Brightest Day” together, DAYBREAK gets beyond the bright and shiny stuff and keeps readers up to speed with the hued happenings not only of the core title, but also the series carrying the “Brightest Day” banner, including “Green Lantern,” “Green Lantern Corps,” “Justice League of America,” “Titans,” “Birds of Prey” and “The Flash.”
If you somehow missed the bestselling “Blackest Night,” the trigger for the events of “Brightest Day,” the hardcover collected edition is on sale next week, but here’s the Cliffs Notes version of what you need to know for “Brightest Day” – a dozen superheroes and villains were resurrected at the conclusion of “Blackest Night” and now must traverse the DCU in effort to find out why they’re back with the living and why some of their friends and foes are not.
Headlined by Deadman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Firestorm, the title would be any artist’s dream to draw its covers as an assignment. But DC Comics didn’t get any artist. They scored superstar artist David Finch (“Ultimatum,” “Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America”).
CBR spoke with Finch about his first foray into DCU and he told us why he loves drawing Deadman and Aquaman and what he finds challenging with Firestorm. As if that wasn’t enough, the fan favorite Canadian artist also teased that he has another big project coming for DC Comics, but unfortunately he’s unable to share any details just yet.
CBR News: When you moved to DC Comics in January, did you know “Brightest Day” would be your first major assignment?
David Finch: I found out about “Brightest Day” not very long before everyone online, actually. They had been planning things for a while before, so when I got involved, I had everything I needed to jump right in.
What was it that intrigued you the most about this particular assignment?
This was my chance to jump directly into the center of the DCU and draw a wide range of characters that were completely new for me. It was an enormous thrill to draw so many great characters for the first time…and all at once.
Time-wise,what is your schedule like producing a cover every two weeks?
Producing a cover every two weeks is fine. The challenge is to balance these covers with the “Action” covers and other projects along the way. I’m full steam ahead on a major project that I’m looking forward to announcing soon.
Can you share what that project is? Will it be interiors? Will you be writing it as well?
I’m going to have to plead the fifth on this one, if I can get away with that being up here in Canada. We’re going to have an announcement soon, though. I just hope I don’t get an ulcer from trying to keep this one bottled up.
OK – I had to try. Let’s get back to your cover work on “Brightest Day.” What is your overall process for creating a cover? And specifically, what techniques and tools do you use?
I use a lead holder, which is just a fancy pencil, 2h lead, a kneaded eraser, a white eraser, because the pink ones can stain the page pink, a sharpener and a ruler.
I start out with a couple of layouts that I turn in to [editors] Eddie [Berganza] and Adam [Schlagman] for the “Brightest Day” covers, and once I get approval, I jump into the actual cover. From there, I start working directly on DC cover paper, which is great stuff, apparently selected with the help of Scott Williams, who is the most influential and important inker in the business and who is bringing a whole different dimension to my pencils.
I always start out holding my pencil loosely and just broadly sketch in the major forms and shapes so I can get the picture placed on the page. Then I start working out anatomy and faces, but still very loosely – nothing more than a scribble. Once I’m feeling happy with my scribble, I rub the whole thing down with my kneaded eraser so it’s just a shadow on the page. Then I start working in my drawing more tightly, but still scribbly, with more of an emphasis on flow and dynamics than concrete detail. Then I do my kneaded eraser trick once again, and now I’m ready to start my tight drawing.
I draw a cartoon at first. The major outlines that best describe the form I’m aiming for. Everything else from here on in is lighting, and I tend to start that by bringing in line weights, and then broader shadows. Once I’m happy with the drawing at that stage, I put in rendering to soften and detail the drawing. After that, I send a scan to editorial, get feedback and make changes based upon it, fire it into a FedEx box and go pass out on the couch.
Having been exclusive to Marvel for so long, were there any DC artists that you admired or researched in advance of moving to DC and taking on this assignment?
Oh yes, absolutely. It would be such a laugh for me to try to claim that Jim Lee isn’t a major influence on what I do. I just hope that I do some justice to it. Kevin Nowlan is huge for me, along with Frank Quitely, Andy Kubert, Tony Daniel, who is such a creative powerhouse on Batman right now, Bill Sienkeiwicz, Tim Sale, Neal Adams, Simon Bisley, Ethan Van Sciver, Ryan Sook, Walt Simonson, Ivan Ries, Glenn Fabry…
Honestly, DC has such an unbelievable artistic lineup right now, and such a great legacy, I just have to stop somewhere.
How do you decide which character or characters to feature each week?
Actually, the characters land right into my inbox in emails from editorial. I always get a very detailed description of what they want for the “Brightest Day” covers. They’ve done so much planning and work on this book behind the scenes, that by the time it gets to me, they’re looking for my best interpretation, but they have a very clear idea of what they need for each book.
Do you have some favorites already that you have found you really like drawing?
I really enjoy drawing Deadman, although I wish I could go even more over the top with him, like Kelly Jones’ iconic interpretation. See, there’s a huge artist for me, huge, that I missed on my list.
And I absolutely love Aquaman. He’s very majestic and he’s the sort of character that looks right at home in the center of a composition.
Are there any heroes that you find particularly tricky or difficult to draw?
Characters that have very structured costumes, as opposed to more anatomical ones are always challenging for me. I always struggle with characters that have energy powers, too. Firestorm is a great character, but I always feel like I’m fighting with my drawings of him.
In addition to your “Brightest Day” gig, you’re also producing covers for “Batman” and “Action Comics.” What do you love most about drawing the Dark Knight? And with Lex the featured character in Action, what’s he like to draw?
I love everything about drawing Batman. He’s dark, which is definitely a comfort zone for me, and he has a wonderfully iconic costume that’s recognizable in any lighting and almost any pose. His cape can cover a multitude of sins and gives him a great sense of drama.
Lex is a very versatile character, actually. He’s very handsome and he can be a great leading man, but he has a dark, even sadistic side which is great to exploit. I think that it’s great to see him get the attention that he’s getting, especially with Paul Cornell and Pete Woods bringing him to life on the page.
I’m really just trying to compliment the great work they’re doing. I think people are going to really be surprised by their run when they get a chance to see it. It’s memorable work. Paul Cornell is bringing things to this book that people are absolutely going to be talking about. Wait and see if I’m wrong.
Are you ready to take your turn on Superman?
I have actually had a chance to draw Superman. I did a splash page for the Free Comic Book Day book. It was a blast. Obviously. I’m hoping to get a chance to do more.
“Brightest Day” #5, written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi with art by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark and Joe Prado and featuring covers by David Finch and Scott Williams, is on sale July 8.