Cameron Stewart on "Batman & Robin"

Last week, DC Comics announced via its blog The Source that Canadian artist Cameron Stewart would be illustrating the third arc of Grant Morrison's bestselling "Batman and Robin" series.

Stewart, who has collaborated with the superstar writer in the past on "The Invisibles," "Seaguy," and "Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian," will follow Frank Quitely, who illustrated the first three issues of the title, and Philip Tan, who is scheduled for the next three.

CBR News spoke to Stewart from his studio in Montreal just after the official announcement.

CBR: You've got quite a history working with Grant Morrison but "Batman and Robin" must be very exciting nonetheless.

CAMERON STEWART: Oh yeah, I am thrilled about it. I got the offer a couple weeks before the San Diego Comic-Con. I'd already talked about it with Grant before. And as soon as I found out that he was doing "Batman and Robin" with Quitely, I said, "Well, if you ever need a fill-in artist, I'll do it." And it was kind of up in the air and he said, "I don't know if it will be possible." So I basically just assumed it wasn't going to happen. And then before San Diego, I got an email from Mike Marts, the editor, and he said, "Cameron, do you want to do it?" It was really exciting. And then I went to San Diego and was buzzing about it. That was the killer. I went to San Diego and Toronto Fan Expo and people were saying, "So what are you working on next?" And I wasn't allowed to say anything.

This will be the fourth project you've worked on with Morrison. What makes you click so well?

I think it dates back to when I was working on" The Invisibles," which was pretty early in my career. I've been a huge, huge fan of Grant's since I was like 13, and when I was working on "The Invisibles" I did a couple of pages right near the end for this jam issue with a bunch of other artists. And I remember there was a pivotal sequence in the comic that was drawn by Ashley Wood -- and Ashley Wood is an amazing artist and I think his stuff is really great -- but I think in that particular thing - I don't know if he was already reading "The Invisibles" or it was just an assignment he was going to do - but I felt that he didn't do the sequence, kind of, justice. Back then, it was pretty early in my career and I was kind of stupid and I remember going on a message board because I was a huge fan of "The Invisibles" and I complained about it. And I think what happened was, Grant saw that and understood that first and foremost, I was a really big fan of his stuff, and I wanted it to be done properly. So I think from that point on, he's thought of me as someone who understands him and wants to do his stuff the best that it can be.

That doesn't look like Robin in the teaser art.

No, that's the Squire. The first issue that I'm doing, #7, is set in England and so there's an appearance by the Knight and the Squire.

But we'll see lots of Batman and Robin as well?

Oh, yeah.

A new arc by Philip Tan is starting this week. Will your work roll out from that arc or is it a brand new story?

I don't know. I haven't seen anything from Philip's run. I know it's the Red Hood stuff from the last page of issue #3 and the teaser stuff that we've seen already, but having not seen the scripts, I don't know how it segues in or anything.

What's your history with Batman? Did you grow up with "Super Friends?" Or the old Adam West show?

I'm not that old. [laughs] Batman is a globally known, cultural icon. I don't think you can escape growing up with Batman in some form or another, so I definitely grew up watching "Super Friends" and the old TV show and the Bruce Timm cartoon and the Tim Burton movies. I was 13 or 14 when the Tim Burton "Batman" movie came out, so I've always had a love for the character. It's pretty exciting and pretty surreal to be working on it professionally. The funny thing is that all of my friends who are not into comics at all, who are just my friends, now I can finally tell them I'm working on something that they recognize. I can say, "I'm working on Batman." If I tell them I'm working on Seaguy or Manhattan Guardian, not so much. But if I tell them I'm working on Batman, it's something that everybody knows. It's very exciting.

What are your thoughts as you begin work on "Batman and Robin?"

I'm a huge fan of the series as it's been so far. Frank Quitely is my favorite comic book artist so it's pretty exciting to be drawing stuff that follows his design work. That's what I'm trying to do. It's pretty hard for me not to be influenced by it. Because he is my favorite artist and having already seen the first three issues of this comic book, it's hard not to be influenced by him in some way. What I'm going for is not a direct copy of what he's been doing but I do want it to be consistent. I think my style fits in with that. I think I'm in same vein. I grew up in England and he's from Scotland so we have a lot of the same childhood comic touchstones. I think we have a similar sensibility.

What do you like about the look of the new Batman costume specifically?

Well, again, I'm trying to stay consistent with what Quitely's done. He's designed these things about the costume that are subtly different. But it's not the Bruce Wayne Batman. It's a Dick Grayson Batman. There are different gloves and the cowl is slightly different. And I'm definitely conscience of that as I'm drawing it. It's Batman. But it's not.

After your run is complete, will you and Grant Morrison start working on the next volume of "Seaguy?"

I'm going to finish this and then probably take a short break. But then yeah, probably get back into Seaguy. I also have my webcomic, "Sin Titulo." It's a weekly comic that I write and draw that's been nominated for a couple of awards. When it's complete, I'll publish, but at the moment it's something I put up on the web for free as part of a webcomic collective called TX Comics. It's a semi-autobiographical dark mystery thriller, kind of a neo-noir, suspense thing.

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