Friday, November 9, 2012


Just like I've done with Arkham Unhinged and Justice League Beyond, I'll provide some commentary on each issue of Batman: Li'l Gotham that comes out, to give a peek behind the curtain how Dustin and I put each story together.

As it goes with a lot of these projects, it's been awhile since we pitched the idea. Memory can be fuzzy. But I think once Dustin and I decided to format the pitch, we sort of agreed on the theme being related to holidays. I think it came out of the idea that Dustin thought it might be fun to have a calendar of all the story images, so why not allow ourselves at least 12 stories to pitch this thing. Some holidays would allow us to cram in as many characters and cameos as we could fit, while other stories might only feature a few characters or even just one villain. And then with that in mind, the real fun was trying to figure out all the stories.

Hush meets the Mummy
I'm not sure how other two-man writing teams work, but for us it's a lot of back and forth. We started making a list of all the months and holidays to pick from. Then what characters might best represent those holidays. Some were easier than others and write themselves. While others, you sort of have a rough idea or even a "place holder" that you're not married to and can switch out later if you come up with a better idea. And once all the story ideas are in place with a general idea of what it's about, we decided to split things down the middle. Each of us pick half of the stories we wanted to write. It's still a collaboration, with the idea that one of us gets a first pass on writing up the first draft of a particular month, while the other gets to make suggestions or changes to the other's script. And it's kind of a fun way to riff on each other. Sometimes Dustin will add a fun line of dialogue or draw some ideas into the background of my story. Other times I'll do the same with his scripts and add in specific exchanges between characters or recommend certain cameos that we can throw into the scenes he's written. It's a bit of give and take as we both work right up to the last minute to fine tune each story, with the help of lettering and editorial.
Colin almost dressed up as his hero, Captain Marvel, in our first Li'l Gotham story
For our very first story in October, I had actually written up an entirely different script than what was used. It was still trick-or-treat based as Damian went out on his own and then met up with his friend Colin (from our run on Dini's Streets Of Gotham). Colin was to be dressed up as Captain Marvel, since he was a fan of a lot of superheroes that he'd pin up on his walls growing up. And after going door-to-door, they'd discover the kids in the neighborhood were affected by fear induced candy, that just happened to be given out by a house at the end of the block by none other than Scarecrow. And the two friends would team up to give him his own just desserts. While it was fun and definitely would cater to the whole Damian/Colin fan base that's built up online, it had very little Batman or any other characters in it. And for our first issue, we kind of wanted to at least have the Batman & Robin dynamic. So I scrapped the entire thing, wrote a new draft of Damian learning what Halloween was all about (including his amusing take on the holiday with his mom & grandpa), and then Dustin recommended it would be fun to have all the villains show up at the end at some dinner gathering. That it would be the one night out of the year that they could blend in with everyone else. And just like that, we had our story.

"Zombie Family Holiday"...possibly my favorite goofy idea that Dustin brought to life (or death)
As with most writers, the joy for me is seeing the art as it comes in. These stories are steered very much by Dustin's fun playful designs. And a lot of times, the first drafts to our stories are very loose in order to allow him room to create. On that same token, once I see the art come in, it gets me excited to add dialogue to the scene to play off of what he's drawn. The scene with all the villains in the Italian restaurant was originally silent. Because I knew I could wait until after Dustin drew it up, before I would go back over it and add in the the harmony of words and sound. To see what he'd draw and where he'd position everyone, and then I could compliment that and have the characters come alive.

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