Today, DC Comics gave readers a first look at the interior art for “Batman: Death by Design,” an original graphic novel by Chip Kidd with art by Dave Taylor. Set during the construction and development of Gotham City and influenced by architectural design of the 1930s, the graphic novel showcases the process of building not only a city, but also a hero and a villain. Now, via its blog, The Source, DC has revealed a first look at the steps of Dave Tayor’s artistic process from sketches to finished artwork.
“This book is the culmination of all my years dreaming of working on a special Batman project, this is the summit,” Taylor told The Source. “Chip’s writing, his total knowledge of the character and his environment, has made this a very special story. It’s full of what I call Batman reality. The tone and feel of this book are as close as anything I’ve read to a real sense of being. Gotham exists. The Batman is real. All these people are as real as you and I.”
Writer Chip Kidd, best known as a designer and editor for countless award-winning books, mentioned the design of Batman while speaking to CBR in October. “I’ve said for many years that Batman himself and especially the way he’s evolved is brilliant design,” Kidd told CBR News at New York Comic-Con. “It’s problem solving. And we get into that in the story. Beyond that, it became about me going ‘What if?’ What do I want that I haven’t seen? And really, the overall Art Direction for the book is ‘What if Fritz Land made a Batman movie in the late 1930s and had a huge budget? Go!’ There’s the visual platform.”
Kidd also explained the origin of the Joker as the main protagonist in “Death by Design.” “It was funny. I really made this up as I went along since I’d never done anything with this kind of scope even though I’ve written two novels,” he said. “So I wrote up an outline and some character sketches. I created some characters. I created a villain. And so I presented all of this to my editor, Mark Chiarello, and we went out to lunch to talk about it, and he said, ‘I like this, and I think it can work, but I’ll just throw this out there: don’t you want any of the classic villains?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know what I’m allowed to do or not do!’ [Laughs] Maybe this isn’t very obvious, but the whole project is very much out of continuity. And as it turns out, thank God! Because at the time we started, the New 52 wasn’t really on the timeline at all. So after Mark said that, I went, ‘Can I have the Joker?’ and they said sure.”
In addition to Batman and the Joker, Kidd and Taylor have created a romantic foil for Bruce Wayne named Cyndia Sill, who Kidd described as “a cross between Jacqueline Kennedy and Grace Kelly.”
“Batman: Death by Design” hits stores on May 2.