Over on the CBR mothership, Batman & Robin artist Frazer Irving stops by The Bat Signal column to talk to Kiel Phegley about, among other things, his work with Bat-maestro Grant Morrison. Naturally, Irving dishes on some of the darker moments he's drawn for the Dark Knight and his associates:
The "Robin" two-parter [that Irving drew a few years back] was less than a pit-stop in Gotham. I didn't really see it as a Gotham story, more a drama about a young dude who has issues with his girlfriend, his butler, and this blue freak that showed up. Adam Beechen's script was light and easy on the art muscle and that's not what I associate with Gotham with all it's madness, horror and dark, dark darkness.
Your "Batman and Robin" art hit a wide spectrum of flavors from some very direct, emotional character and scene work to some pretty surreal and often scary imagery. Obviously a lot of this comes from Grant scripts, but what kind of room have you had to play with some of the signature visual moments from the Damian/Joker fight to Professor Pyg's reverse crucifixion to Gordon's fish-eye awakening on the stage at the Crime Alley theater?
Pyg's crucifixion is pretty much what Grant wrote. It was such a simple image that I didn't have to do anything to change it to suit my visual vocabulary. The fish eye thing with Gordon in the theatre was my idea, I am proud to say. Often the best scripts merely tell the story, such as "Gordon is strapped to a gurney, he's all tripped out on the stage and the crowd are watching from shadows," which gives me the info on character, plot and mood and yet leaves it open to a wide range of possible visual solutions to get the best impact. I have a strong dislike for scripts where a visual style is imposed because it's often someone else's strengths they're playing to, sort of like giving sheet music for a soprano to Mick Jagger and expecting him to do the job the author has in their head. Grant's good like that. He does indeed offer some very specific visual solutions, but the option is always there to modify it if I have an idea that suits what I've been building on already. And hey, comics that don't experiment a bit are dreadfully dull to work on.
Amen to that! Read the whole thing, Bat-fans.