CCI XTRA: Paul Pope Spotlight

Paul Pope has high hopes for the "Iron Man" film, explained how to build a better Batman, wrestled with technology and entertained his fans with a short presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego this past Saturday.

After a brief technical difficulty, Pope connected his laptop to a convention center projector and showed a 15-minute version of an hour-long presentation he has been giving at design conferences around the world. When he considered all the high-end concepts to teach computers how to make art revealed at such a conference in Amsterdam, he wondered why he was invited. He was told, "You're the analog guy."

Of his "Batman: Year 100" editor Bob Schreck, who also moderated the panel, Pope said "he [communicates with talent] in a very flattering and encouraging way rather than a doomsday way."

Schreck explains his process: "I send flowers with a note: 'the ending sucks.'"

While on a trip to San Francisco, Pope saw the two-minute pitch special effects group the Orphanage had put together for the "Iron Man" film. He said it was "two minutes of pure CGI that's really amazing; really fantastic." Pope looks forward to that film.

During the presentation, which outlined building Batman for the "Year 100" project, he spoke of influences such as his father's record collection, classic comics, and the more recent inspiration he found in silent film. For Pope, the iconography of album art strongly influences the design aesthetic he brings to comics. He highlighted the work of Tadanori Yoko, a Japanese artist who took clichéd visual elements of Japanese culture and utilized them in the '50s and '60s in an energetic manner that Pope strives to develop in a new way. One slide contained a Yoko image Pope quoted on the cover of "Giant THB Parade." He joked, "It skirts the line between quoting and ripping off."

When taking that background into Batman, Pope read not only the great Batman stories, but also DC Comics' entire output over a two-to-three year period. For Pope, the outline of Batman with cape outstretched and the Bat symbol is a powerful visual symbol, and it became his starting point. The image informed the logo design, the first of which Schreck rejected because he could read it. Pope agreed, saying, "it was a little too much noise; too much stuff that wasn't important."

Schreck then mentioned the first issue of "Year 100" was the first time DC had to go back to press on a prestige format book since "Batman: the Killing Joke." Scheck called it "a good feeling."

Showing a brief clip from F. W. Murnau's "Nosferatu," Pope said, "This is what Batman should feel like."

When the floor was opened to questions, Pope was asked about the focus on eroticism in his recently released "PULPHOPE" from AdHouse Books. He said he thinks erotica is completely different from comics and found it a challenge to overcome "that Catholic sense of guilt" and discover the limits of good taste. He also said publishing that material was a concern because the book would be available in comic book stores.

The announcement of the "THB" collection from First Second Books struck Schreck by surprise. Pope apologized for not telling him about it before that moment during the panel. Schreck told the audience, "He did it here because he's safe. I can't kill him in front of all these witnesses."

When asked if he would return to Batman, Pope said the door is open, but feels "burned out" on the character. He did say, "We talked about Joker: Year 100." When that received applause, Pope joked, "Don't encourage me."

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