This October, DC Comics does it all over again with Batman Eternal. Only this time, there’s another star in the headline.
To celebrate Dick Grayson’s 75th Anniversary, a team of writers led by James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder are launching Batman and Robin Eternal, a 26-issue weekly series starring none other than Dick Grayson, Harper Row, and a re-introduced Cassandra Cain. Taking the lead on artistic duties is penciller Tony Daniel, who sat down with Comicosity to discuss his role in the title’s launch, what fans can expect on Saturday, September 26 (dubbed “Batman Day”), and a little tease about the future of Cassandra Cain.
Matt Santori: Batman and Robin Eternal launches in a month or so, but the contents are still mostly shrouded in mystery. How did you come to join the project?
Tony Daniel: When I found out that they were planning to do Batman and Robin Eternal, I was looking for something fun and exciting that I could do for a little bit while I figured out what my next big project would be. It just sort of fell into my lap and the timing really worked out.
It’s just the perfect situation for me. It’s a nice six month commitment. It’s big and exciting. And all eyes are going to be on it!
I couldn’t be happier to be back in Gotham City, working with Batman and all the Robin characters. And the villians — like Scarecrow!
MSG: This isn’t your first go around with Batman certainly, nor with Dick Grayson. How is this time around different for you than when you were working with Dick as Batman?
TD: It’s a natural progression for Dick as a character, but also for me as an artist. Dick Grayson has always been one of my favorite characters. I always loved him as Nightwing, and I always loved him as Robin, too. It’s a real treat to work on one of your favorite characters.
MSG: Dick’s not the only Robin. The cover to #1 sports Tim Drake and Jason Todd — and Harper Row as well.
TD: This is my first time working with Harper, so I needed lots of reference. I’m trying to make sure I get that helmet just right. I finally think I have enough material so that I can illustrate her correctly. She’s become a lot of fun for me now that I know every angle of her that I need to know.
MSG: So, you’ve tackled multiple Batmans in the past, and now you’re dealing with multiple Robins. How do you distinguish how Tim Drake would move or look, versus Jason Todd or Dick?
TD: It’s a fine line, because you have your style as an artist, but you need to make sure that you get in all the little nuances of what each character is about. Dick’s posture, his demeanor, how he stands — it’s going to be much different than Tim or Jason’s. In this scene that I just drew in issue #1, we’ll see all three characters interacting with each other. You’ll see that my goal was to start showing all the differences between the three.
Jason Todd has a more carefree demeanor. Tim Drake is different from both of them — and is more serious than Dick Grayson, who plays the older brother of the group. That scene really shows the three Robins as three brothers. And the challenge of that is fun for me.
MSG: And that leaves the third lead cast member, who’s not on the cover to issue #1: Cassandra Cain. How much involvement did you have in her new design and introduction?
TD: I was lucky enough to be asked to design Cassandra. One of the things that I had to keep in mind is that she’s not going to look like a Batgirl, the way we last saw her. So, trying to come up with a design that feels unique to her — and fits her personality — is the challenge.
I’m happy with the outcome of the design. In fact, I’m working on that page as we speak! Hopefully people will like the new look, but I’m certain she’s going to be one of the most exciting elements of the whole storyline. And I’m excited for people to see her.
MSG: What can you tell us about the threats you’ll be working on in the book — two different time periods, the villains?
TD: I’m really excited to draw both past and present. A lot of the past takes place in another country, which should be really fun working out of Gotham City. Plus, this is going to be the only Batman comic that month that actually has Bruce Wayne as Batman. So, working with him is always great for me.
MSG: Tell me a little about your process. For Batman and Robin Eternal, are you still working traditionally with pencil on paper? Are you working digitally?
TD: I’ve tried to do digital, but honestly, I never quite took to it. I prefer being a more traditional artist. I basically do everything the old way. I prefer the feel of the paper, with the pencil and eraser.
Sometimes I think, man, I wish I could do this digitally. This page might be easier, etc. But in the end, I think it’s worth it, because when the job is done, I actually have a piece of artwork that I can hold in my hands. It’s a different kind of joy you get than when you finish something on the computer.
One day, I would like to take the time to learn how to do all the digital stuff, to do a hybrid. Maybe do some of the design elements on the computer and maybe trace it onto the actual paper. If it helps me, great. But overall, I’m not really looking forward to going digital unless I’m forced to.
MSG: Is there anything you can tease or are especially excited for fans to see as Batman Day rolls around and we get the preview in our hands?
TD: We’re going to get to see how big a threat this is for Batman, and a little of how the book becomes a globe-trotting affair and a truly epic event. And ultimately, it’s exciting for me because it’s me drawing Batman!
The Batman and Robin Eternal 8-page preview hits comic shops on Saturday, September 26, 2015 — Batman Day — in advance of the weekly series launch in October.
Color images of the black and white pencils, courtesy DC Comics, are below: