Everyone’s heard about “Catwoman,” the critically acclaimed DC Comics series by writer Ed Brubaker and a variety of fantastic artists- from Darwyn Cooke to Cameron Stewart- but it always seemed ignored by much of the comic buying base. With the addition of artist Paul Gulacy as of issue #25, the series saw a sharp upswing in sales. CBR News spoke with Gulacy about all things feline.
The artist has quite an act to follow, with Cooke and Stewart’s imprints heavy on the book, but Gulacy has proven himself to be popular with fans after they’ve had some time to experience his unique take on the “Catwoman” cast. While it’d take some time for Gulacy to explain all the inspirations behind his take on Selina Kyle, he does have time to explain how he approaches the supporting cast and Selina, saying, “Well, let’s start with Slam Bradley. He immediately reminded me of Robert Mitchum, so at the beginning it was a lot of studying Mitchum films to get a better feel for his look and mannerisms. My 15 year old daughter and her female homies provide much body language, gestures and so on for Holly even though Holly is in her mid twenties- I can work around that. When it came to a hot, fiery brunette with a great figure there was only one person I had in mind and that would be my former wife who was an actress and model. It’s not really deliberate but I recall expressions because she was very dramatic.
“Speaking of Selina, my motto has always been ‘an artist is as only as good as his reference,’ so, my studio is stacked high with everything I need to try to make the stories convincing. For Catwoman herself, I’ve used three different women to pose as her. All friends of mine- the hair, eyes and the face resemble my ex. Believe me when I tell you that I don’t do it deliberately, it just comes out that way.[laughter] What can I say? She would have made a great Selina even though she was too tall at 5’11”.”
Though many fans may be most familiar with Gulacy for his work at rival Marvel Comics, it was his work for one of DC’s imprints that got him the position on “Catwoman.” “Dan DiDio wanted the team from the mini series I did with Jimmy Palmiotti called ‘Reload.’ Jimmy ran into Dan at DC and Dan wanted to know if he and I were interested in the monthly Catwoman. Jimmy called, laid the news on me and I said yes right away. Catwoman would be one of the very few characters I would have been interested in.
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“I didn’t follow the series, but I was aware of Darwyn Cooke’s work and on top of that, I’m quite familiar with that character thru other Batman titles I’ve worked on and always loved her. Before I started, DC sent a pile of the books to me so I could get a feel for the series and I was immediately struck by the superb writing skills of Ed. The whole flavor of the thing was terrific. I liked the urban feel and backdrop in contrast to other books I generally work on that involve armies of people, weapons, gadgets and machinery. This series was a good break from that!”
Despite some positive fan response, and increased sales, Gulacy wouldn’t say he’s made his mark on the series… yet. “I’m just having fun. I don’t even feel I’ve hit my stride with ‘Catwoman’ yet. It still feels very new. Also, let me mention that I have a great team surrounding this book with Matt Idelson, Natchie Castro, Jimmy, Ed, Clem Robins and our killer colorist, Laurie Kronenberg. It’s all teamwork.”
It isn’t all flowers and smiles though- Gulacy readily admits his work wasn’t positively received when he debuted on the series. “The Web sites were moaning and groaning about the change. The loyalists didn’t want me in there at all. I don’t know what the hell they thought I was going to do to the book! [laughs] I think most of the old school crowd hung around long enough to give it a chance and now they’re hanging with us. Reviews have been positive and people got the buzz that it’s the book to pick up.”
One of the complaints was that the cast in “Catwoman” seemed too sexy and the poses unnatural, a topic he is more than happy to address. “At first Ed was on me about making her appear too sexed up,” says Gulacy. “I always drew her really sexy, maybe even too over the top, but that’s what people expected. She was this kind of slutty cat burglar. Who are we kidding? [laughter] Every artist wanted to take a crack at her.
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“We all know that this new Catwoman is different. Ed pointed out that the outfit is like something a biker chick would wear. Not so form fitting. I disagree to some extent. I feel she should reveal her body form a little more in the outfit. I know what my readers expect of me and I wasn’t born yesterday that the rise in sales you mentioned just might have a little something to do with the fact that the readers want to know what Gulacy is doing with that woman’s body month to month.
“What’s considered tastefully done is subjective. In our society, we’re bombarded with sexual imagery day and night because advertisers know what people want. Princess Leia didn’t become a babe until Lucas had her clothes ripped off and chained to Jabba the Hut. Catwoman is no exception. To portray Catwoman as this morally virtuous person in a baggy outfit with ears and a whip is the other side of the spectrum of absurdity.”
Gulacy has accumulated quite a fan base in his time and it continues to grow, but in that same time he says he hasn’t been so influenced by the comic art around him. “I get more inspired by musicians than artists. I can’t say that I have any one particular artist or title that I favor over others. I happen to admire quite a bit of what’s being done- there’s a lot of good stuff out there. I like the work being done on the Superman books right now.”
Gulacy definitely has his own vision of Catwoman, but trusts his partner in crime, Ed Brubaker, to take the book in interesting directions. “We spoke at the beginning but I haven’t talked with him in some time. That could actually be taken as a good sign. In other words, the ship is running smoothly.
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“He’s a great guy. He’s real easy going. I have tremendous respect for him. As far as the book, I never have any qualms in regards to his scripts. He knows what he’s doing and it shows- he’s got it all mapped out. It’s his baby.”
While Gulacy would love for you to pick up his previous work on “Catwoman,” he urges you not to miss the events coming soon. “This summer DC launches its ‘War Games’ storyline with Catwoman, Batman and a host of others battling for their lives as Gotham explodes into a holocaustic wasteland of bloodthirsty gang warfare.
“Don’t miss out on this whatever you do.”