Relative newcomer Tony Patrick has joined forces with industry stars Scott Snyder and Cully Hamner to tell the adventures of the DC Universe's latest member of the Bat-family Duke Thomas in the pages of Batman and The Signal. And when you consider Patrick's past as a youth mentor in east New York, readers should understand very quickly why he is absolutely the right choice for the job.
An alumnus of DC's Writers Workshop in 2016, Patrick made his big break in comics in 2015 with X'ed for Black Mask Studios. Patrick has now transitioned to one of the Big Two and he told CBR that he didn't want to throw away his shot at writing a young black character finding his way as both a superhero and a man. Beyond his proven track record, Patrick's extensive experience working with teens leaves him well equipped to understand decisions, right and wrong, being made by fictional adolescents whether they are being trained by the World's Greatest Detective or left to their own devices in the newly created Arkham Juvenile Detention Centre.
CBR: It seems strange talking about Batman and The Signal a day after 17 children were killed in their classrooms. As a storyteller, how does this level of violence affect how you portray youth in comics?
Tony Patrick: I think you have to be very aware of violence in any media. I think when we are talking about the writing process, I’m also very mindful of how much violence there is in my narratives, and how much of that violence is essential to good storytelling – that’s the focus. How can I find the most powerful way to tell story and I can do that without weapons? Can I do that with combat? Can I do that with words? It really pushes you towards a better and more powerful form of storytelling. But it’s definitely something to be mindful of, especially when you see all of the violence that is happening all over our news at the moment. It’s our job to tell the best story that we can, as carefully as we can and as powerfully as we can.
And the level of violence that Duke Thomas requires to fight crime is, in fact, lessened because he also has such a high intellect. Does that then become the balancing act, Duke’s brain versus his brawn?