The Batman of Canada and member of Batman Incorporated: An interview with Detective Comics artist Jason Fabok
Jason Fabok is an artist for DC Comics best known for his work on Batman: The Dark Knight with David Finch. Mr. Fabok has been all over the DCU doing variant covers for lots of different books, and is finally getting a mainstay on one of DC’s oldest (now newest) titles Detective Comics. Mr. Fabok was nice enough to speak with us about his latest coup in the comics world.
Tommy Zimmer: To begin, how did you find out you’d be working on Detective Comics?
Jason Fabok: Soon after I had finished the Batman Annual with Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, Mike Marts had asked me if i was up for a “big project”. I replied back, “what does ‘big project’ mean?” Never would I have guessed it would have been Detective Comics.
TZ: What was your reaction to getting this opportunity? I know you’ve expressed interest in working on a Bat title in other interviews…..
JF: I was in shock really. Maybe in my wildest of wild dreams did I ever think I would get to work on such a legendary title. To think that my name will be on the cover of Detective Comics is an great honor for myself. This is something that comes as a surprise and a great blessing. My main goal in my career was to work my way up towards working on a “Batman” title of some sort. I’ve done little fill in’s with David Finch’s The Dark Knight before the New 52 and the Batman Annual but this is a whole new ball-game.
TZ: You are working with writer John Layman…. what does his story allow you to draw?
JF: It’s interesting when you start working with a new writer. You never really know what you are going to get and how you will fit with them. From my perspective, John’s scripts are an artist’s dream. The man writes such clear, easy to understand and translate scripts. He has a very cinematic quality to the way he approaches a story and as I read through the scripts, the images for each page just pour out. This makes the life of a monthly artist much easier! I also love his story telling style. He uses alot of jump cuts in his work so myself as an artist is never bored. Things are happening all through the story that give tiny clues to what’s coming in both the end of the book, and the larger story as a whole. I couldn’t ask for a better writer to work with.
TZ: Batman’s world has always been a dark and crooked place but your cover to issue one almost has a feel of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight…. how do you plan to present Batman?
JF: Personally, I’m just trying to draw Batman and his world as I’ve always liked it to look. I used to stress about how I would draw Gotham and Batman and how it would have to be my own unique take. I’m finding though that by relaxing, and letting my influences flow out of me, I’m getting what I want. Artistically, lots of shadows, blacks, grime and grundge is where I naturally go to so this sort of book really works well.
TZ: What are you influenced by?
JF: Great question! This allows me to gush about my favorite artists! My biggest influence has to be David Finch. Some know the story already, but David has been my mentor and good friend for these past few years. He personally put me through the “David Finch Super Intense Boot-camp of Comics” back in 2010 after I sent a portfolio to him and asked for a few pointers. We both live in the Windsor/Essex County area in Southern Ontario, so I was able to meet with him for 6 months and learn the trade. I can’t sing his praises enough. He helped me make a break into a terribly competative field, helped me to find work and continues to give me great advice on where to take my career. My wife and I are so thankful to him and his wife for their time and sacrifice to help me reach my dreams. Artistically, his work and style is a massive influence on me but I feel like I’m starting to find my own thing now after a few years in the trenches.
My other big influence would be Jim Lee, who’s Batman:Hush artwork was the thing that made me want to even strive for the job of being a comic artist. It was so awesome to meet him a few years back at NYCC. He’s always been and will always be a huge influence to my art.
Artistically others include Steve McNiven, Travis Charest, Mike Mignola, Tim Sale, Gary Frank, Lee Bermejo, Greg Capullo, Ivan Reis, John Cassaday, Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Joe Benitez, Darwyn Cooke, Frank Quitely….the list could go on and on and on.
And a special shout out to a good friend and local Windsor artist Tony Gray who has had a big impact on both my wife and I and our careers. He’s got wisdom beyond his years and is always pushing me to strive for the best.
TZ: With the Penguin, you seem to present him almost as royalty? Why is that?
JF: My wife and I watch a lot of BBC Masterpiece Mystery. I pull a ton of my story telling influence from shows like Sherlock, Wallander and Poirot. I love murder mystery and BBC detective shows so I feed alot off of them. Personally, the Penguin reminds me of an Edwardian Lord or land owner you’d see in one of those shows. Very regal, dressed to the nines, that sort of thing but also greedy and power hungry. I’ve tried to make him resemble a character you’d see in Sherlock Holmes, or Hercule Poirot. I’ve even given him those big sideburns that was in style in that time period. I’m also trying to make him a bit more human than a weird penguin monster. I’m pulling from both the Danny Devito and Burgess Meredeth versions but I’m trying to create something in the middle
TZ: Does it have anything to do with the “Emperor Penguin” stuff in the solicitation?
JF: We’ll have to wait and see now, won’t we?
TZ: How are you going to approach illustrating Poison Ivy?
JF: Poison Ivy is a fun character to draw. She’s sensual, so you have to get that in there, but she’s also confused about where her allegience lies. Issue 14 has alot of Poison Ivy and I’ve had a blast drawing her!
TZ: What do you feel is important to get right about her character visually?
JF: It’s in the face. She can change so quickly just by drawing her face with a changed emotion.
TZ: Clayface has been illustrated a bunch of different ways…. are you going to present him more in his clay form or more as other people (having transformed into them)…?
JF: I’m aiming for a more monsterous form than human. I really love the version of the character when he looks big and angry and wants to break stuff. Clayface has always been one of my favorites ever since Batman: The Animated Series when I first learned of the character. He’s a fun character to draw.
TZ: You have the opportunity to draw the Joker….. are you going to try to set him apart from the other Jokers or will you stay close to what Mr. Capullo has done for the upcoming “Death of the Family” event?
JF: I’m going with Greg’s design on this one. Greg is one of my favorites and I look up to him and his Batman art. The Joker is such an iconic figure going back to the early days of Batman that I really want to get him right. So far I’ve only drawn little glimpses of the character in the pages I’ve done so far, but starting with issue 16 I hope to dive right in with some scary Joker art.
TZ: How long do plan to stay on the title?
JF: For as long as they allow me too. I’d love to stay for a long time, but who knows. I’m just thankful for this opportunity and I hope I’m able to grow with each book, and present something that fans enjoy viewing.
TZ: What do hope fans will take away from your run on the book?
JF: John and I really want to make sure these books are accessible to a large volume of readers. To me, these stories feel a lot like the Batman: The Animated Series episodes I grew up with as a kid and that’s what I’ve always wanted to work on with Batman. The first issue is really just a intro to the story as a whole. It’s a fun, race against time issue featuring some cool gadgets, some great action and introduces some of the characters in the plot. From there, things start to ramp up and lead into some great “Layman-esque” stories starting in 14. Each issue has its own story, it’s own core mystery that Batman must solve, but each part plays into a larger tale. Every issue I get from John really makes me want to ramp things up. I hope that fans will give us a try with issue 13, 14 and 15 because John really has some killer stories brewing in his head.
TZ: What else do you have coming up?
JF: Right now I’m just focused on making these books the best I can make them in the ammount of time I’ve been given. I’m doing a few variant covers here and there, but right now it’s just Detective from morning til night!
Thanks a lot, Mr. Fabok, and check out later this week for another interview with someone from the new Detective Comics team!!
Tommy Zimmer is an upcoming writer of short stories, comic books, journalism/media reviews, screenplays, and anything related to writing. On zimmert101.wordpress.com, you can view his latest work, and see what exciting things he is currently doing!!
Leave a Comment
NOTE: You can continue to post as a guest, or you can log in to post a comment. By registering you can stay logged in next time you visit, update your avatar, and more!