Clarke Suits Up for "Batman & Robin"

Not unlike his collaborator on "Batman and Robin" - superstar writer Grant Morrison - British artist Andy Clarke ("R.E.B.E.L.S.") first made a name for himself in the U.K. working on titles like "Sinister Dexter" and "Judge Dredd" for 2000 AD.

And yet, the two had never worked together until "Batman" Group Editor Mike Marts reached out to Clarke and asked him if he'd be game for drawing a three issue arc of the best-selling series.

Clarke admitted to being a tad intimidated to be working with Morrison on the high-profile DC Comics project, but having already worked with the Dark Knight on projects ranging from "Detective Comics" with Stuart Moore to "Batman Confidential" with Peter Milligan, the artist was eager to get back to the cowl and see if he couldn't kick up the action to another level.

And with an arc featuring a knockdown dust-up between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, that shouldn't be difficult. Clarke's three-issue run - featured in "Batman and Robin" #10-12 - dovetails directly into the launch of Morrison's forthcoming "Return of Bruce Wayne" miniseries, which begins in May, but the artist wouldn't say if he would be illustrating any panels featuring the iconic industrialist.

He did however talk about his love for the Batsuit, as well as the work of both Morrison and Frank Quitely. He also shared some thumbnail sketches of a variant cover for "Batman and Robin" #10 that never came to fruition.

CBR News: You're certainly no stranger to Batman, as you've illustrated such books as "Batman Confidential" and "Detective Comics," but this time around, Dick Grayson is under the cowl. Are there any major differences when drawing Dick as opposed to Bruce Wayne?

Andy Clarke: I think the differences are quite subtle, visually. I think that maybe Dick isn't quite so physically powerful as Bruce, so that helps get across that, despite the similarity of the suit, there's a younger, less experienced guy inside it.

What is it about the Batsuit that is the biggest challenge as an artist, and what are the elements of Batman's look and feel that you most enjoy?

On the surface, it's a reasonably straight-forward design. It's not fussy, which gives it that iconic look. It's just a damn cool costume. I try to make it look as threatening as possible - particularly the cowl. I like putting in the furrows above the eyes - that constant frown - it gives it a bit more texture. But to begin with, the first few times I got to draw Bats, it took a while to get what I wanted. The costume is quite simple, but within that there are elements that can take a while to come to grips with. That's why it's great to be drawing him again - it gives me another chance to build on what I've done before in past stories where things weren't quite as successful as I would've hoped.

What about Robin? How can you best describe Damian Wayne's presence as the new Robin patrolling Gotham City?

He scares me. There's just something about Damian, this young kid that you just wouldn't wanna mess with. Attitude is the key, I think, and trying to draw him with as much of that as possible. That's it for me anyways.

Did you go back and look at any past interpretations of the dynamic duo before tackling this assignment?

I took a look at some of Grant's other recent "Batman" work, just to familiarize myself with certain things, particularly "Batman and Son," for how to interpret Damian.

Also, the first issues of "Batman and Robin" that were available when I started. which [Editor] Mike Marts was kind enough to send through to me. I'm reasonably familiar with Bats on the whole, but there's always stuff to learn or check up on before starting any job.

What do you consider the most iconic look of Batman as he's been portrayed in comics?

There are so many different looks to Bats within the confines of the costume. That's what I find interesting, everyone has a different take. But I can't really think of a definitive that I'd pick over any other - there are so many great takes on the character.

What about in other media? Are you an Adam West guy, or maybe a fan of the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton films?

I liked the first couple Burton films. I thought those were pretty good. And I liked the new ones too, but I've never seen the TV show.

Did you get a chance to speak with Frank Quitely about his particular vision of the characters?

No, I think it was enough to go through those first three issues to get the idea - just incredible work.

I don't believe you've worked with Grant Morrison before. How did you two hook up for this run?

Mike Marts asked if I'd be interested in doing a run on "Batman and Robin." It was as simple as that, really.

What's Grant Morrison like as a collaborator? I know that he has forwarded thumbnail sketches to artists in the past.

It's been good - really intimidating, as well [laughs]. But I've just tried to turn in the best I can and it seems to be working okay.

In your arc, you get draw Batman vs. Robin - a fanboy matchup if ever there was one. Did you pull any punches, or did you really let loose with those panels?

That remains to be seen, as I'm just about to get to those parts - but I don't think it'll be pretty...well, I hope it won't be pretty.

"Batman and Robin" #10 by Grant Morrison, featuring art by Andy Clarke, arrives in stores this Wednesday.

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