Interview: J.H. Williams III on Batwoman and More

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Are there things about the new Batwoman series that will be different visually from the Detective run?

I think so. The design stuff all stems from what’s coming out of the story itself, so with the first one being more of a horror story, that’s certainly going to impact more of the visuals. The main villain we’re dealing with for the first arc involves water, so there’s going to be a lot more fluidity to some of the layouts in places. But at the same time, we’re interjecting a lot of additional characters that didn’t appear in the first issues that Greg and I did. So all that’s going to have an impact.

As an example, the first issue Greg and I did, when you read it, has the sense of revving up momentum, whereas this issue has more of a sense of lots of intersecting characters and their stories. Batwoman‘s going to have more of a layered effect, I think, particularly when people get into the second arc–there’s a lot of layers going on, and all these pieces will fit together and dovetail into a singular sort of sensibility. For lack of a better comparison, it’s almost like–did you see the Dark Knight film? That had that same kind of feeling to it, where there’s lots of intercut, intersecting pieces that built up to a greater, more substantial whole.

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Are you still working with [colorist] Dave Stewart on the new series?

Yeah. Pretty much everybody is carrying over–it’s me, Dave and Todd [Klein] carrying over from the first run. Mike Siglain was carrying over as editor, but then he’s leaving DC, so it looks like we’re now going to be in the hands of Mike Marts, at least for a while. It’s a little bit feeling like a rock band that’s slowly losing its original members.

But you’ve got the new bass player too, Haden Blackman…

He’s just a consummate storyteller. He and I have really interesting differences of sensibilty that blend in interesting ways–he’ll come at some stuff from ways I wouldn’t have thought of, and I do the same for him. I’ve known him for a long time. We first collaborated together on a short story for Hellboy: Weird Tales that we co-wrote and I did the art for, and we enjoyed that so much that we’ve actually kept working together ever since, developing creator-owned concepts, which we have quite a few of now–hopefully they’ll see the light of day at some point. I think we’re coming up with some pretty interesting stuff.

I really enjoyed the little Seven Soldiers story you drew in DC Universe Legacies a few weeks ago, too.

I wasn’t sure about that one! When I got to see the printed version, it looked a little busy to me. It’s very dense.

It seemed like a condensed version of your work on the Seven Soldiers project a few years ago, which was pretty densely packed itself.

Yeah! The way the plot was written for the short story was that each character was being highlighted in their own little segment, and I thought it’d be really beneficial to approach each one with its own stylistic approach, to give some personality to each of those characters, but then use a unifying layout structure that ties things together. It was an interesting experiment. I was surprised it came out as well as it did, because I’m usually not too fond of working on team books. I enjoy reading team books, and I’m amazed at other artists who can handle them effectively–I just find I don’t handle those as effectively as I’d like to.

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I also hear you have another Jonah Hex issue in the hopper.

Yeah, I’m trying to! (laughs) The script is here, and I got the first page started, and then had to set it down because all the Batwoman stuff came up, and DC’s on fire for it–it’s coming out much sooner than I would normally like, so all my energy has had to be focused on that. I’ve got to figure out some more disciplined schedule so I can at least, maybe, draw at least a panel or something a day on it so I can get it going, because that’s one of my favorite titles being done right now. Jonah Hex is amazing stuff–I love the character and I love what Jimmy and Justin do with that character, I think it’s a book unlike any other. Too bad the movie’s not so good.

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