The very busy Cameron Stewart made time to swing by the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego for a lengthy discussion with CBR’s Steve Sunu about the variety of projects on his plate. From teaming with writer/creator Chuck Palahniuk to continue the “Fight Club” story in comics, to co-helming on DC Comics’ “Batgirl” revamp with co-writer Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr to his Fawcett heroes-infused chapter of Grant Morrison‘s pan-dimensional “The Multiversity,” Stewart discusses the various dishes currently on his plate and his different approach to each.
On “Fight Club 2” and how he lobbied hard to get the gig:
I first heard about, that it was a thing, I think last year in San Diego Chuck sort of dropped a hint that he was gonna be working on a comic sequel, and it was a thing that I never ever thought I’d be a part of. I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting.” But then I heard that Dark Horse might possibly be involved. I contacted [Dark Horse editor-in-chief] Scott Allie who I worked with before on “BPRD” and stuff, so I have a relationship with him. I have a relationship with Dark Horse — they published my graphic novel “Sin Titulo.” I was like, “I want to do this book. Don’t give it to anybody else. I want to do it.” It was a really long process because Chuck had to have approval and they were examining all the options, there was a ton of different artists who wanted to do it. I did a couple of pages as a test. I adapted three pages of comics from the original novel from a chapter near the end, and did it full-color, lettered and everything. I submitted it and Chuck loved it, and Scott loved it, and that’s basically what got me the job.
It’s really exciting. I have the entire script for the entire thing. It is a serialized series at first, but it will be collected eventually. Unlike most projects I’ve worked on that are serialized where you get scripts once a month, or every few months, I have the whole thing. So I’ve read it all, it’s amazing, it is one hundred percent not what you would expect it to be. I think everybody has an idea when they hear “Fight Club 2,” they kind of think, “Oh, I know how that’s gonna go,” and you’re wrong. I could promise you you are absolutely wrong. It goes in places there is no way you could see it coming and I think it’s gonna surprise and shock and baffle and maybe anger a lot of people, particularly if you’ve only ever seen the movie. I think that reading the novel or otherwise familiarizing yourself with Chuck Palahniuk as an author is gonna be maybe a good background for reading this.
On novelist and first-time comic book writer Chuck Palahniuk’s unique script:
Chuck has never written a comic script before. He was consulting with Matt Fraction on how to write comic scripts and I think he was looking to Matt’s comics, kind of analyzing them and counting the number of panels per page. “Okay, the average comic has six panels per page,” coming at it from that sort of direction. But the script is interesting because rather than it being, “Page 1, panel 1-2-3-4-5, Page 2, panel 1-2-3-4-5,” he just does all the panels start to finish. So it’s panel 1, panel 2, panel 3, all the way up to, like, panel 400. What that gives me the opportunity to do is I can then go in and determine where the page breaks are gonna be. I get a little bit of creative control over how to adapt it into a comic. And he’s indicated at some points, “The page turn should be here,” and so forth. Some of them I think he’s right, and I leave it, and then other ones I go, “You know what, actually, this would be more effective if we saved it for the next page.” I’m being able to go through it and analyze where the beats are and, you know, how to break into down into comics. Which is great, because it makes me feel like I’m part of the creative process. I’m not just merely executing what he’s done, I’m actually like a co-creative on it.
On receiving the “Batgirl” overhaul offer from DC Comics, and defining the book’s vision:
I got the “Fight Club” job, and literally the next day, or two days later, DC contacted me about “Batgirl.”And I was like, “Ahh — I want to do both!” They offered me “Batgirl” as writer/artist. They said “We would really love for you to come on and do the whole thing on your own and it will be your ‘Batgirl’ vision,” and I was like, “I just committed to this other thing that I really wanna do.” I didn’t reply to them for a couple days — it was in an email, and I was able to sort of think about it for a couple days, and I turned it over in my head and I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do. And I said, “I can’t — I can’t let this go. I really, really want to do this.” So, what I proposed to them was, “How about you let me still sort of oversee it, but I can choose people I want to work with who I think will be able to execute the vision that I have, in a way which is consistent with what I want to do.” So that’s how Brenden and Babs became involved.
On the fan art that has poured in since the new Batgirl design was revealed:
It’s amazing, and [the fans] are so hyped and so excited about it. I mean, there was a thing when — I knew this was gonna be a good response. I was a hundred percent confident that this was the right call, the right design, this was the right time to have this sort of change in direction and tone. I was totally confident in that. I knew it was gonna be a good response, but I thought it would be a golf clap. I thought it would b a polite flutter of, “Oh, that’s very good. Good for you.” I didn’t expect this huge flood of fan art and cosplay photos and everything.
On working with Grant Morrison on “Multiversity” and how long it took the project to come together:
This is a project that has been talked about since… 2006? Grant had sort of talked about it, and he attached my name to this Captain Marvel chapter of it. So for years, people are asking about it and finally, about a year and a half ago, closer to two years ago, I got a script for it. And I barreled through it — I’m kind of a fast artist; it’s how I can do two other projects at the same time… So I barreled through and finished it, and then it’s been kind of sitting, waiting for a year and a half, almost, now. So it’s a thing that — it’s in my distant past, it seems. I’d almost forgotten about it, and then I got the colors from Nathan Fairbairn. He’s an amazing colorist… and so I saw the colors from Nate, and it was so good that it rekindled my excitement for it!
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