If it wasn't already noticeable, Arkham Unhinged provided me an outlet to do something I've always enjoyed, which is getting inside the heads of the villains. With arguably the greatest rogues gallery in comics, with many of them featured in the Arkham games, it was a chance for each issue or each story to be able to shine the focus on them (many of whom never get much time devoted to them in the regular ongoing comics).
As the title continued, it would be something of contention between myself and the editor. I think I always saw them as interesting slice-of-life character studies while he felt they turned a sort of "villain-of-the-month" and wanted a new direction. I don't think either of us were wrong, which also allows an ongoing series to continually grow and evolve as it pushes forward with different writers and different visions.
|Here now…but not originally|
One point brought up to me on a few occasions, was to not forget the title was named after Batman (understandably) and that I might want to start making him more of a focus or at least try to include him more. I know with my first draft of this issue, I don't think I had Batman in it at all, or even less than what showed up in the issue itself. It was basically a Killer Croc origin issue in the Arkham-verse, so I wanted to show it from his point-of-view, his history, and maybe have readers view him in a more circumstantial or tragic light than the monster we're used to seeing. Plus the character only has a brief cameo in the game, so this was a chance to show what he'd been up to off-camera while all the events were happening in Arkham City.
|Words to live by|
Since the editor had gotten Darick Robertson onboard for his first chance at drawing Batman for DC, if I'm remembering correctly; it was one of the first times I'd actually been encouraged to go back and put some more characters in for him to have fun drawing. That it would be a shame to not have Batman in it at all, which is why we get an opening with Batman dispatching clowns in Arkham City, as well as other montage scenes that also show Robin, Nightwing, and Catwoman…however brief they might be. Plus it's not like they had to twist my arm, as I like to sprinkle that stuff in for artists to draw since I'm as much a fan as I am a writer. And Darick draws one heckuva creepy Joker, who always was in this story from the original draft.
For Killer Croc's origin, I sort of merged what had been established with the character in the comics as well as Batman:TAS. I always liked his appearance in the animated series when Croc escaped captivity and takes refuge with other circus freaks on the episode "Sideshow". And since the Arkham games were borrowing heavily from the comics and cartoons (least of which, because of Dini's involvement), I thought it worked here as well to do a different adaptation of that. That someone of Croc's appearance would end up in some sideshow and actually like it there. But there would be no happy ending for him. And I could even link it to the Abramovichi twins, since they came from the same background. Just a matter of chance how Darick drew the panel that it looked similarly angled like the one in the show.
On a closing note, it was a great surprise having Robertson draw this issue. The thing I've found working in comics are the strange coincidences and fanboy zeal that comes with the job. How you can go from being a fan of comics to actually working shoulder-to-shoulder with the same creators whose work you were buying before breaking in. Going back almost 20 years ago, I remember when Darick came to my town to do a hotel show. We got very few comic professionals of any caliber for anything like this, so for him and a few others to show up was not to be missed. I recall he was drawing Wolverine, and it was roughly around the time that the story called for Logan to lose his trademark hairstyle and mutton-chops. I brought whatever issues I'd gotten for him to sign. A few years later, while trying to break-in as an inker, I had gotten his contact email and asked if he could send some pencil photocopies for me to practice over. It probably came as a cold-call out of nowhere, but he was extremely cordial in dealing with me and sending some my way. I'd run into Darick again about 6 or 7 years ago, when I came as a guest to a DC dinner at San Diego Con. This was before I ever worked at DC. I was sort of in awe at the luau themed gathering far away from the convention center, amidst all the talent that was there. I was a nobody and here I was at an event with Neil Gaiman, Jim Lee, and all sorts of top names. Ate right next to Darick at the table and asked if he remembered doing that hotel show a number of years back. When DC's President, Paul Levitz, stood up and gave this inspirational speech about the industry and all of our places working in it, I knew then and there I wanted to do what I could to work for DC. And I think about a year or two later, I got my opportunity. Now two decades later from that hotel show and Darick would draw this Arkham issue that I wrote. Ah comics…it boggles the mind sometime.
|Which do I miss more…that different hairstyle or the pricing of comics at that time?|