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The World's Finest Interviews Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures artist Jon Sommariva
Q & A Conducted by James Harvey

The World's Finest caught up with artist Jon Sommariva to discuss his work on the highly successful Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures six-issue mini-series. The series, co-published by IDW and DC Comics, features the Dark Knight from Batman: The Animated Series and the Heroes in a Half-Shell from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, thrust together to deal with a threat that could destroy both their worlds. On the eve of the mini-series' finale, Sommariva was able to answer a few questions about what about the mini-series itself, his work on the book, and how much this series has meant to him. Continue on to read more from Sommariva.

Preview images from Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) Adventures #6 can be found at the end of the Q & A.

The World's Finest: Alright, before we get started, can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background, your previous works, and so on?

Jon Sommariva: I was born in Australia where I have lived most of my life. I always loved to draw and started making my own comics at a very young age. At 15 I discovered American superhero comics when a friend gave me a couple of Jim Lee X-Men cards. I went home and copied them in my sketch book. I remember deciding there and then that I wanted to draw comics for a living.

I "broke in" professionally in 2002 - nine years later! - with Jay Faerber's Image book, Noble Causes. Jay asked me to do a ten-page back up, which I was very excited to draw. That led to a short story in Star Wars Tales for Dark Horse, which then led to me getting my own series there, titled Go Boy 7. I then co-created Gemini with Jay which was a 5 issue series published through Image. Other comics I have worked on since include Free Realms for Wildstorm/DC, Rexodus for Dark Horse, Boo Bunny Plague for DC and lots of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for IDW.

WF: What were your thoughts when you took the Batman/TMNT Adventures assignment? A childhood dream come true, perhaps? Or just a fun way to spend six months? Were you a fan of both properties before tackling this assignment and the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated comic title?

JS: Definitely a dream assignment! I think most comic book artists would love a chance at getting to draw Batman at some point in their career. The Bruce Timm animated version of Batman has always been my favorite version of the character too. As far as the Turtles go, I've always been a huge fan since discovering the 80s cartoon. I would say I was an even biggerTturtle fan going in than Batman, but I love both properties and especially drawing those characters.

WF: Why do you think this pairing of Batman and the Ninja Turtles have worked so well, both in this Adventures series and the previous crossover mini-series?

JS: Well, there's definitely a lot of common ground - Batman and the Turtles usually do their work at night (on the backdrop of an impossibly huge full moon), they both have secret lairs, the Turtles have Splinter and Batman has Alfred, they both have an extensive rogues gallery and they are all highly skilled martial artists! Perhaps most importantly, Batman has no super-powers. He's just a dude with cool gadgets and bad ass skills, similar to the Turtles. All of this makes for a very easy fit.

The contrast between them also makes for many fun and cool scenes. Batman is older, more serious and wiser where the Turtles are younger, and don't take things as seriously.

WF: You were already an established artist on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Animated Adventures comic series for IDW, so continuing that work must have been a breeze for you, but what about having to tackle Batman: The Animated Series Was it difficult to find a happy medium between your style and the established look of BTAS? What was your process to basically learn how to draw these characters?

JS: It was surprisingly much easier than I would have expected. Honestly, I just dived in and went for it and drew everything in a way that was very natural and comfortable for me. The only character I struggled with a little at first was Robin. My natural style lent more towards the younger Tim Drake design of Robin and it took me a couple of issues to get the right look for Dick.

As far as how I went about it all, I just made sure I did my homework. I really immersed myself in the animated Batman world. I bought a few trades that Bruce Timm had worked on, including the Batman Adventures: Mad Love Deluxe Edition hardcover. I also looked at the Batman: Animatedart book and watched a few key episodes of the show. There is lots of great reference online including some detailed notes on Batman's finer details that I found very handy.

WF: And as a semi-follow-up, the final issue of the mini-series features the more angular designs from the The New Batman Adventures-era of Batman: The Animated Series. Was that easier to learn and adapt, or was it just as challenging? Do you have a preference between the two B:TAS designs?

JS: Pretty much the same thing. The designs definitely become more streamlined and simplified which I adopt for the sixth issue. I did make an effort to keep Batman and Batgirl looking pretty much the same as they did in the first five issues, but using the new outfits. I think going in I would have lent towards the more cartoony and angular look of The New Batman Adventures, but that original classic look and designs also really grew on me. Hard to say which I prefer now.

WF: With the final issue here, are there any easter eggs or homages from the entire six-issue series that you'd like to point out to fans?

JS: Oh, I dunno... easter eggs are more fun when you have to hunt for them, right? So, I'll give you guys some clues. I hid a certain blue bomber in every issue of the series, so keep an eye out for him. There is also a scene where the entire creative team makes a cameo. I'm also a big Curb Your Enthusiasm fan, so Curb fans should keep an eye out. Also, there is an easter egg that is common to this series and Gemini - all I'll say is Aloe Vera juice!

WF: Are there any moments from the Batman/TMNT Adventures series that stick out as your favorite, be it character beats, plot twists, or perhaps just your favorite things to draw?

JS: The whole thing really was just a pure joy to draw from beginning to end. Drawing Harley was a real highlight though. I love that character and her original design, and the interaction between her and Joker was a lot of fun. I loved drawing that Arkham Asylum establishing shot in issue #1 and then the Batman title sequence recreation in issue #5. Pretty much any scene with Michelangelo was great too. He just glides off the pencil for me.

WF: Now, you do a fair amount of work outside the animated realm of Batman and the Ninja Turtles. Care to fill us in on some of those projects? Are they more personal in nature? Do they give you a chance to flex some article muscle?

JS: Well, one thing I would like to avoid is getting type cast as a particular artist that can only work in one style, so I do like to show some range when I can while staying true to myself. The "Bruce Timm" look was a challenge for me and my goal was to achieve a look that would be familiar to fans of the show and also something that was natural to me. I think people who like my work will definitely detect my flavor in there. I do a fair bit of commission work at shows which does allow me to play around within my style and also draw many characters I wouldn't usually think to draw. I tend to get a great range of requests from comics to TV shows to video game characters. I love that about my followers.

WF: With Batman/TMNT Adventures wrapping up, can you drop a tease or two on the final issue? Why should we run out and snatch it up?

JS: It's a real bonus episode! I get to draw my favorite Bat-vehicle, and Matt (Manning) tries to kill me by writing a 50+ character panel but most importantly we get to find out where the Donnie and Batgirl romance goes. Hubba hubba!

WF: Lastly, where will we be able to find you next? Feel free to fill us in on what projects you have in the works!

JS: Right now I'm taking a little "time off" enjoying a vacation in Spain with my family. I've been doing some signings and a con appearance here. Aside from that, I hope to keep working with the fine folk over at IDW and definitely more comic work. That's the plan. Lots more comics!

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #6 - the final issue of the acclaimed mini-series - arrives on shelves May 10th, 2017 from IDW Publishing and DC Comics. Thanks to Jon Sommariva for participating in this Q & A! If you want to see lots more of Sommariva's work (and you should), check him out online on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, DeviantArt and at his online store!

Click on the above images for a closer look at 'Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures' #6!

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