Francis Manapul making surprise appearance in 'Batwoman' #27

Readers of DC's Batwoman have had their fair share of surprises, but this month's Batwoman #27 has another -- but it's a good one.

Former Flash co-writer/artist Francis Manapul is making a surprise appearance in this month's issue, and it's no simple fill-in. It all began as some last-minute help during the holidays but turned into something unique for everyone involved.

"Just before the holidays I got a call from one of my editors asking me for a favor," Manapul writes on his website. "Now usually that’s followed up by a last-minute cover request with a quick turn-around time. Instead, she opened by telling me her request was rather unconventional. With the holiday season shortening many of the deadlines, regular Batwoman artist Jeremy Haun came up with a neat solution to that problem."

Haun's solution would be for he and Manapul to collaborate on a series of double-page spreads, depicting Kate Kane's descent into her subconscious. Haun supplied the art of Kane falling, while Manapul was tasked with illustrating the dream sequences that will fit with Haun's art like puzzle pieces. Manapul has been experimenting with creating more of his art digitally, and used the tight deadline to try skip what would traditional be the penciling step. After that, Manapul printed out these "pencils" and inked and watercolored them in the traditional manner.

"I love new challenges and always welcome an opportunity to learn and improve," he writes. "Deadline aside, Batwoman was a pleasurable experience. Much thanks to the Batwoman team for allowing me to be a small part of it."

Here is one of the full double-page spreads Manapul and Haun created jointly; Haun's work is the red-line falling figures, while Manapul illustrated the remainder. You can see Manapul's preliminary versions of the finished design at his website. Batwoman #27, by Marc Andreyko, Haun and Manapul, arrives Jan. 22.

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