Artist Brett Booth has been one of DC Comics‘ most valuable players in 2013, wrapping up his “Teen Titans” run early in the year and following it up with time on “Nightwing,” “Justice League of America” and covers for books like “Earth 2” and “Superboy.”
DC has revealed exclusively to CBR News that his next stop is “Batman/Superman,” the team-up title between the publisher’s two biggest icons that launched this past June with the creative team of writer Greg Pak and artist Jae Lee. Pak and Booth will be continuing their partnership that starts this September in the “Doomsday” Villains Month one-shot, and Lee is planned to alternate arcs with Booth on the series.
Booth’s first issue is November’s “Batman/Superman” #5, which brings the book to the present and features appearances from Nightwing and Metallo. To make the artist’s debut all-the-more special, the issue will be presented entirely in a horizontally oriented format, akin to the Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld-illustrated sideways issues of “Spider-Man” and “X-Force” in 1991.
CBR has the first interview with Booth about his new role on the series, who discussed collaborating with Pak, adjusting to drawing ‘sideways,’ how he found out about the in-development Batman/Superman live-action movie and the benefits of working on a wide range of characters. Plus, an exclusive first look at Booth’s sideways cover, which features Nightwing attacking his former mentor, indicating a possible connection to the story unfolding in DC’s “Forever Evil” event.
CBR News: Brett, after your stint on “Teen Titans,” you’ve been something of a go-to guy at DC, working on multiple books recently: “Nightwing,” “Justice League of America” and multiple covers in between. How did “Batman/Superman” come about for you?
Brett Booth: After “Justice League of America” and “Nightwing” they said, “Hey, these are the projects we have available, what are you interested in?” One of them was an arc on “Batman/Superman.” Originally it was going to be different artists for each of the arcs, but I guess now they’re going to be switching back-and-forth between me and Jae.
So this is more of a long-term prospect for you?
It’s a semi-permanent thing. It just depends on scheduling. [Lee] will do an arc, and I’m sure Greg will cater certain arcs to whoever is drawing the book. That way we’ll keep everything on track and coming out properly.
It’s an interesting situation — you’re both artists with very specific visual identities, but very different ones.
Oh, yeah, I know. Anybody who doesn’t like me, hopefully they like Jae, and if they don’t like Jae, then hopefully they like me. [Laughs] Hopefully we’ll get most of the people happy.
I’m a huge Jae fan, just loving what he’s been doing on it.
Do you think, given that the plan is to do alternating arcs, that the contrast between your art styles might be a deliberate choice — something designed to be a meaningful part of the book?
That might be part of it, yeah. And I think Jae might not want to draw certain types of stories. And there are certain types of stories that I’m not as interested in drawing; maybe Jae likes to do those, I don’t know. Maybe one story arc that will suit Jae and have him do that, one that would fit me.
Let’s talk a bit about some of the specifics in your first arc — which starts with a horizontally-formatted issue?
Yeah! I was just about to start the cover for solicitations, and I got an email, “Have you started the cover yet?” “I’m finishing this other cover right now…” “Hold off on that right now, and let me get back to you.” About four hours later I got an email back, “This is what we’re going to do — we want you to draw it sideways.” “OK!”
I did some quick layouts just to get an idea. Apparently something like that had already been done, so [DC Comics assistant editor] Anthony Marques was like, “No, we can’t do that! This has been done, we need something else.” So we came up with another idea for the horizontal format. That’s being tweaked right now.
I remember Marvel doing some annuals in a horizontal format about 12 years ago; “MarvelScope.”
The ones I remember are the Todd McFarlane “Spider-Man” where it crossed over with “X-Force,” and a “Fantastic Four” [#252] that John Byrne did a long time ago.
Drawing a horizontal issue must be a learning curve, but is it an enjoyable challenge?
Oh, yeah. I’m assuming it’ll be a lot of double-page spreads with a lot of panels on them. But that’s just me assuming. [Laughs]
Is the arc you’re drawing also set in the early days of Batman and Superman’s crimefighting careers, like the first few issues?
It’s back to the modern times. Batman and Superman are basically drawn into this big fighting thing, and so they’ll be fighting a bunch of people you know, and some you don’t know — most of them that you know, some that you might not have seen yet. Metallo’s in it, Nightwing’s in it. There are a couple of other characters that I don’t want to mention. I’m looking forward to it.
You’ve been working on some rather high-profile DC material, but this is not only a book starring their two biggest characters, it’s also got the momentum following the announcement at Comic-Con International last month that Superman and Batman are going to be starring in a movie together in a couple years. Psychologically, that has to make this an especially cool book to be taking on at this time.
I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to do “Batman/Superman” originally when they asked me about it, because, I didn’t want to follow Jae! [Laughs] I talked to Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse, my inker and colorist, and they were like, “No, do ‘Batman/Superman’!” This was right before [“Man of Steel”] came out. The movie came out, and I really liked the movie a lot, so I was like, “OK, cool, I definitely want to do this now.” And then the announcement a couple weeks ago — which none of us knew about. I got a call, “They’re going to be announcing a Batman/Superman movie!” I’m like, “No, they’re not!” Twenty minutes later, they announced it.
It’s early still, but have you gotten far at all into your collaboration on the book with writer Greg Pak?
A little bit, because we worked on the Villains Month “Doomsday” issue. That was a great story, and I really enjoyed drawing it. I love drawing Doomsday — especially the new version, he’s really cool. There are three stories that kind of weave into one story. It’s “Batman/Superman” #3.1, so I’ve already worked on “Batman/Superman”!
As noted, you’ve done a lot of different stuff for DC this year, shorter runs and plenty of covers — do you enjoy getting to do a little of everything, or do you prefer the longer runs?
I like both. I do like drawing new things a lot. And you don’t know who you’re going to like to draw. I like drawing Nightwing a lot, he’s really fun. I like drawing the Titans. I like Superman. But then every now and then you get a curveball. I was not a big Green Arrow fan, but he’s actually really fun to draw. So is Hawkman. Katana, I really like to draw Katana. You don’t know.
Given the various projects you’ve been working on recently, how much do you like to change your approach up with each project?
I lucked out with “Teen Titans” at the end, because we went to Gotham. I changed the art up a little bit, it got a little darker. And so I carried it over into “Nightwing,” and that was cool. I didn’t want to change my stuff up for Justice League of America, because I was just coming on for an issue originally, and David Finch has a pretty dark style, so I thought, “Oh, maybe just keeping it a slightly more dark style might work.” But there really just wasn’t time. Those needed to be done so fast, I didn’t have time to really adjust, and had to basically just draw.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share at this point on your upcoming run on “Batman/Superman”?
I’m super-excited. I asked [Pak], before I got the Doomsday plot, “Can you send me over a plot so I can see how you space stuff out?” He sent me over “Batman/Superman” #1. I just loved it. It was great. It was unexpected, and I liked the Earth 2 stuff, and I was so looking forward to it. The first few issues have been great.
I actually read the plot for “Darkseid” [Villains Month one-shot also written by Pak], and that’s really cool. Oh man, I really want to draw that one, too.