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The World's Finest Presents



The World's Finest sits down with Chris Jones one final time to discuss The Batman Strikes. With the series wrapping up, we look at series itself, what it meant to Jones, what could have been, and much more.

The World's Finest: Fans are familiar with you and you work, so let's jump right to it! Tell us about The Batman Strikes #50! What can we expect, and why should fans pick it up?

Christopher Jones:
It's our Halloween issue, and it's our first foray into the supernatural as Etrigan The Demon comes to Gotham! The Demon's Three (Rath, Abnegazar, and Ghast) also figure into the proceedings.

The Batman Strikes lasted fifty issues. Looking back at your tenure on the series as regular artist, are there any issues or moments that particularly stand out for you?

Well the series as a whole is the largest body of work I've done. Out of fifty issues I drew all but six of them. That's 880 pages of Batman art!

As far as moments that stand out, I think I'd have to mention the issue I co-wrote, #35, which was the first appearance of Harley Quinn in the series. I always enjoyed drawing issues with Harley, The Joker, Bane, Mr. Freeze or Solomon Grundy.

It was always exciting whenever I got to draw a character for the first time. When the series started, once I got past the hurdle of trying to get the look of the animation designs down and had familiarized myself with this version of the Batman universe, it was immense fun as the main rogues rotated through with each successive issue. The Joker! Catwoman! The Riddler! I was always excited getting to draw these classic characters.

I'm sorry that the book is ending so soon after entering into the era of guest star appearances, as it's fun getting to draw other DCU characters. I'd drawn many of them before, either in Justice League Adventures or other DCU stuff I've done, but it's always fun having Justice League members show up. The Superman issue (#44) was particularly fun, because we actually got out of Gotham and went to Metropolis. It wasn't just a matter of drawing Superman, it was going to the Daily Planet and meeting Lois, Jimmy, and Perry White. Great fun.

I think from purely an art standpoint, #50 may be my favorite issue of the series. I was really swinging for the bleachers knowing that it was the final issue, and the script included a lot of very visual action and wasn't crowding too much onto each page, so I really had room to open it up and have fun with it.

Now, outside of your work on the page, how did the series effect you and your work?

You can't overstate the impact of doing a regular book month in, month out. It builds up your work discipline, it tends to take your work to the next level, and the paychecks are nice! I've done a lot of animation-based work now between this and Justice League Adventures, and its been nice to be able to really boil the art down to the essentials and focus on composition, storytelling and design.

Do you have a favorite issue of The Batman Strikes! in particular?

For the artwork, #50. Story-wise, it's hard to choose.

As I said, #35 is special to me because I co-wrote it.

#19 was our first Solomon Grundy story and that was fun both because we got out of the urban setting of Gotham and because I was able to go for an EC Comics inspired horror aesthetic.

I really enjoyed #31, our Spellbinder issue, because it really felt like a straightforward Batman story and not a "kids version". I'm all for making comics that are accessible and appealing to kids, but I often think modern comics take the wrong approach. I think of the Batman stories that *I* read as a kid, and I always thought that should be the model for what we're aiming at young or new readers today.

#32 was fun because it had most of the rogues gallery in it together.

#39 was our first Black Mask story and I thought that story was clever and fun, and I found Black Mask surprisingly fun to draw given that he's just a guy in a skull mask and a suit.

The Batman Strikes lasted a solid fifty issues. Why do you think the series managed to sell month after month, and are you upset to see it come to an end?

The honest truth is that The Batman Strikes was a tie-in for The Batman animated TV series, and was only going to have a certain amount of life after that TV series came to an end. Once they announced Batman: Brave and the Bold, the new animated series starting later this year, the writing was on the wall for this book. The only surprise is that they decided to end the book with #50 rather than continue until closer to the time that the inevitable tie-in for Batman: B&B is ready to start up. I suspect it's part of the wave of change happening with all the kid-targeted DC books, as we're seeing Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans Go! cancelled to make room for Tiny Titans, Superfriends, and the new kids Supergirl title. I'm not privy to the thought process on that, so you'd have to ask Jann Jones and the other high-ups at DC Editorial.

What will you miss about The Batman and The Batman Strikes, now that this chapter of the character has effectively closed?

It was unexpectedly sad as I was finishing up the final issue of the comic to realize that not only was this job coming to an and for me, and this comic series coming to an end, but it was closing the book on this whole incarnation of Batman. I think this will always be the incarnation of Batman that had the unenviable task of following up the previous incarnation of Batman, which is arguably one of the greatest animated TV series of all time, and was much more attuned to the center of the strike zone of Batman fandom, where this series was more deliberately aimed at younger kids. I think it will be really interesting to see how Batman: B&B is received.

This series was cancelled rather abruptly, and you were already working on designs and ideas for future issues. Two of the ideas are seen here, Wonder Woman and Bizarro Superman. Can you explain these designs to us, and why you designed them as you did. Are there any other characters you wish you had a chance to tackle in this series?

The decision to end the series at #50 came rather suddenly from on high, with several scripts completed or in various stages of development. I haven't gotten to read any of those, so I don't know what they were about, but I did know that there was a Wonder Woman story and a Bizarro story in there. One of the things I'd really been looking forward to about the series expanding to include guest appearances by other DCU characters was that this was going to include DCU characters BEYOND those that had already appeared in the animated TV series. I really enjoy designing characters, even if it's just my own take on an existing character, so after several years of following model sheets for all the principle characters from the TV show, I was really looking forward to getting to bring a little more of my own design sensibilities to bear on the title.

The three characters I heard about early on that were in the pipeline were Etrigan, Wonder Woman and Bizarro, and I got right to working designing versions of them that I thought fit the style of this animated Batman universe and weren't carbon copies of what had come before, but were still true to the spirit of the classic versions of the characters. The Etrigan design was put into use in #50, but Wonder Woman and Bizarro are going unused.

With Wonder Woman I wanted to find a hybrid of the Amazon Warrior aspect of the character, and her more traditional superhero look. I always like Wonder Woman to look like she can kick ass rather than like a fashion model in a superhero costume. The trick is making her look muscular and strong without loosing the grace and femininity of the character, which I think gets even trickier when trying to do a simplified animation-style design. I'm pretty happy with what I came up with, but might have modified it depending on the specifics of how the character was used in the script.

Bizarro was pretty straightforward. I just wanted him to be awkward and monstrous while still carrying over certain design elements from this series design for Superman.

An extension of the previous question. What do you take into consideration when coming up with your own design on a character, well-established or not?

I want the design to be strong, not generic. I think about the character's silhouette and want there to be strong broad strokes to their design. In this series I tried to keep the flavor or the Jeff Matsuda-driven style, which could be a challenge as it's a style that really is at odds with my own drawing style. I think it's interesting that so many people can look at the art on the comic and only see the character designs from the show, given that my drawing looks nothing like that of Jeff Matsuda, Jose Lopez, or any of the other talented folks who designed those characters. The trick was always to balance staying "on model" enough that it looked like the TV show's specific versions of the characters, but enough in my own style that the drawings had some life to them and weren't just reproductions of model drawings.

Outside of the designs, can you tell us what other plans were in the pipeline for the series, including possible plot outlines and character appearances? Basically, what could have been in The Batman Strikes?

As I said, I didn't get to ready any of the scripts that were either completed or in development past #50. I know there were to have been more guest appearances, but not for every issue. Russell Lissau had a script in development with Vigilante, a character he dearly loves. I'd love really liked to write more on the book, preferably to have had the chance to write an issue on my own. I've done writing for comics, but very little for DC.

Before we wrap this up, any last thoughts on The Batman Strikes #50, or the series in general?

It was always a little frustrating that The Batman Strikes didn't get the on-line reviews or other attention that other Batman and DCU titles typically get. It was purely a side-effect of being one of the "Johnny DC" titles. And when the series WAS written about, much of the talk was usually about factors that were completely determined by the TV show (character designs and the like). But that said, I know that there was a sizable and dedicated following for the book. I met many of you at conventions in the last few years, and always enjoyed signing comics and talking to fans about their thoughts about the series.

I know these are characters people care desperately about. I felt very honored to be one of the keepers of the flame for the run of this series. I never approached the series like I was drawing a "kids' book." I always tried to draw the best Batman book I could, and just made sure it was as accessible to young readers as I could make it. Simple, clear storytelling. But I still wanted it to have style and scale and scope. I always wanted Batman to look cool and badass. I wanted the villains to look weird and scary.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with my work on the book, and I have to take the opportunity to say how much I enjoyed working with all the writers I had a chance to collaborate with on this series, and I especially have to give a shout out to Terry Beatty who inked all but one of the stories I drew on this entire series. He did tremendous work on the whole run, and wait until you see how he stepped up to the plate on #50. Great stuff!

With The Batman Strikes coming to a close, what projects do you have on tap for the future? Please, fill us in on where we can next expect to see you work!

I'm with John Kovalic to bring back our property Dr. Blink Superhero Shrink. The trade paperback of our previous work on that property is available through I'm doing some work for DC's licensing department right now. Beyond that, I'm talking to a bunch of publishers right now and have several pitches and proposals in the works, so we'll see what works out! When I know what's next I'll be sure to get the word out!

The World's Finest would like to thank Christopher Jones for his participation in this Q & A. To check out more of the pages that Christopher Jones provided, check out our Backstage. Past works include Justice League Adventures, Young Heroes In Love, Kolchak, and a host of DC specials.To find out more about Christopher Jones, please visit his official website.

[Back to Backstage]

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