FAN EXPO: Yanick Paquette on "Batman Inc."

Canadian artist Yanick Paquette returned to Fan Expo in Toronto this year and, as is the case every year he attends, he was a popular choice for autograph seekers and sketch commissions. After working at Marvel for the last four years on various X-titles - including "Ultimate X-Men" and "Young X-Men" -- the Montreal native signed an exclusive deal to return to DC Comics and was almost immediately announced as the artist for "Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne" #3, written by Grant Morrison.

Paquette and Morrison previously enjoyed critical acclaim for their 2006 collaboration on "Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer," and Paquette told CBR News that a reunion with Morrison was the impetus for his return to DC Comics. Next up for the dynamic duo is a team-up on "Batman, Inc.," a new ongoing series which launches November 3.

Paquette discussed the series with CBR News and also revealed that he and Morrison already have another project in the works that has yet to be announced.

CBR: Are you excited to be working with Grant Morrison again on "Batman, Inc.?"

YANNICK PAQUETTE: Oh yeah, totally. In fact, the point of leaving and going back to DC was for Grant. I did the move, from the very start of the discussion between DC and Marvel, so I could work with Grant again. That really mattered.

So your return to DC wasn't connected to working on Batman?

I was willing to do whatever Grant was into at the moment whether it be Batman or something else. There may be plans for other things eventually but he was into the Batman thing and he had these projects to take care of, I guess, finishing what he started with Batman years ago and make it come to some sort of end or something like that. So while I was just glad to be a part of it, it wasn't Batman in particular. Although, I love Batman. He's fun to draw.

What is it about Morrison that makes him such an intoxicating collaborator?

Grant is at point now where he can do pretty much what he wants. And he can feel it somehow. I've worked on projects like big crossovers where the writer is forced into doing stuff that they don't really want to do and they cannot explore things or they have to be very classic in their approach because that was such a big franchise and you don't mess with it. Grant, even though he's tackling big franchises, one of the biggest at DC, he's still doing experimental things which are highly original and almost without compromise, it seems. So, this is a perfect mix.

What does Batman offer in terms of subject matter, and are there elements of his costume and overall look that you find most inspiring?

I really love to play with shadow and draw big settings. And Batman is a perfect opportunity to play with light to create these things. That's not the case with a character like Superman, say. Or if you're using light in a very dramatic fashion, it's against the grain of the character even though lighting and environment can work for Batman. Plus, I love to draw cities and architecture and stuff, so again, Batman is involved in a surrounding environment where this could be exploited.

But I guess the real appeal with Batman is all these crazy foes that he has. Even when Batman is not there, it's still fun. And it's so inspiring and weird to draw. It's either beautiful, dangerous ladies or crazy maniacs, so it's always fun.

Do you have some favorites from Batman's rogues' gallery?

You know, I still have to draw more of those to figure out where my instincts are. For some reason, I never drew him, but Killer Croc seemed to be kind of cool to draw. I've never done it though. And there's Catwoman. When I was at DC years ago, back in the day when Jim Balent left the "Catwoman" book -- remember that time? -- I tried to get the book. It was around my "Wonder Woman" period, I believe. Or I was about to move onto it. I always wanted to draw her because, again, I get the dramatic lighting, I get the city, I get the girl. That's all perfect for me, but my career took another turn and I went to work on another project. But with "Batman Inc.," I get a chance at drawing Selina for the first time, so that's always fun.

The question on everyone's mind is what will happen in the DC Universe with both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson running around Gotham with Batman suits on? Have you had an opportunity yet, or will you get the opportunity in "Batman, Inc.," to draw both of them in the same panel or on the same page - tête-à-tête - wearing their full Batman costumes?

I don't know. Not yet. What I got so far doesn't include this kind of thing. But I don't know, I'm still haven't read that much so far, so it might come to that point.

So you're already drawing the first issues of "Batman, Inc.?"

Oh yeah. I'm not quite that advanced but I'm into it. Everything is under control, let's say that.

As a warm-up to this assignment, you were able to draw a pirate version of Batman for Morrison's "Return of Bruce Wayne." #3. Did that prepare you for what's coming next or was the story just too far out there to be used as a Batman primer?

Actually, after four years at Marvel, I was pretty much disconnected as to what was going on at DC. And when they asked me to do Bruce Wayne's return, I just didn't know that Batman was dead. I was that confused. But still, I approached that story as a pirate story. I knew that Grant would steer the boat in a logical fashion after and my only job was to make it as pirate-y as possible. I wanted it to smell like the sea with fish and stuff like that. It ended being a bunch of pirates walking into a cave but still that was my job to do the atmospheric thing.

Did you go back and read classic back issues of "Batman," "Detective Comics" or "Batman Family" in preparation for this assignment? Or watch some old Adam West and Burt Ward episodes of "Batman?"

Not in particular. I should probably do a little more research now that you mention it. [laughs] But I was pretty familiar with the universe and everything, of course. I know that Grant will probably force me to go back into some obscure, almost forgotten Batman story and I'll have to go back and look at them for reference. You always like to do links with almost forgotten stuff so I'll probably be exploring stuff I just didn't know existed before. But for now, I just listen to my instincts.

You teased that there may be plans for you and Grant Morrison to work on a second project beyond "Batman, Inc." Can you share any more about that or if not?

This is the part where I just can't say what's going on. But just to get the speculation going, when they approached me to get back to DC and be exclusive and work with Grant, the project that really got me going is not announced yet.

So there is definitely something else coming from you and Grant?

Yes. Eventually.

"Batman, Inc." #1, written by Grant Morrison and featuring art by Yanick Paquette, is scheduled to be released on November 3 from DC Comics.

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