The World’s Finest caught up with artist Luciano Vecchio to discuss his work on the monthly comic book series Beware The Batman, published by DC Comics. Vecchio is part of the rotating art team for the title, the fourth issue of which hits shelves this Wednesday, January 29th, 2014.
Beware The Batman, based on the Cartoon Network animated series of the same name, features stories based on the cartoon’s continuity. Vecchio has worked on a host of different projects over the past decade, including his own original works and comics inspired by popular DC Comics-based animated shows, such as Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series.
To find out more about Vecchio, his work, and Beware The Batman #4, continue on to the interview below…
The World’s Finest: So, off the bat, please tell us a little about yourself and your past work.
Luciano Vecchio: My name is Luciano Vecchio, 31 years old and I’m based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’ve worked as illustrator and comic book artist for almost 12 years now, and most of my past work is comprised of original graphic novels for different publishers. My major works include the independent superhero saga Sentinels (by New York-based publisher Drumfish Productions); Cruel Thing, a trilogy of gothic horror and adventure for mature readers (by Norma Editorial, Spain); and The Interactives, about British fantasy in the Internet Era (by Markosia, UK). After that, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien was my fist assignment for DC Comics, and it was followed by many other animation-based books.
WF: Can you run us through Beware The Batman #4, your third issue on the comic series, and perhaps give us a rundown on the story and what you enjoyed about drawing it.
LV: This was my favorite issue to draw so far. It is very action-packed, fast and fun. Besides Batman and Katana, it features two of my favorite characters in the Bat-Family – Man-Bat and Barbara Gordon. In the story there is a second person turned into a Man-Bat, and that character I got to fully design. I love doing character and costume design, so developing this character in a way that fits the Beware aesthetic, and is unique and different from Kirk Langstrom (the first Man-Bat) at the same time, was what I enjoyed the most.
WF: Now, Beware The Batman isn’t your first “animated title.” You’ve worked on Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice for DC, and worked on a few Marvel Universe titles. How close are these “animated” styles to your own?
LV: Well, I grew up consuming mainly American superhero comics and Japanese anime, and my style developed as an eclectic mix of such divergent influences. I love the aesthetic of anime – the consistent lines, the minimalist details, the cell shading coloring, the expressionism in characterization. At the same time I’m passionate about the superhero genre – its characters, its myths. I think that a merging of both styles has become a trend in animation over the last decade. I remember when I saw the first episode of Young Justice, I was like “this looks exactly like what I aim to achieve with my own style!”. Little did I know then that I would end up drawing two issues of the series, but if I compare those issues to my earlier work like Sentinels or Cruel Thing, the essence was always there and I barely had to adapt my style at all.
WF: As a follow-up to the last question, do you find there’s enough familiarity between all these different “animated styles” that makes your work easier to do? For example, you can jump from Young Justice to Beware The Batman, two shows with very difference styles, with ease. Is this a benefit?
LV: Actually, in the cartoons and their spin-off comics, not only does the general style differ from one license to the other, but each character is uniquely different on its own and has to remain on model. And while that is a challenge, they were specifically designed by animation professionals to be easily interpreted and reproduced by many, many different artists. So while there is some familiarity between the different series, I think it is the quality of the designs and my training to reproduce them and make them “act” that makes the style-jumps natural.
WF: How has your work on the “animated” comics translated to other work? What other titles do you work on? Has there been an increase in demand for your work thanks to working on these books?
LV: I think the traits that could translate from these animated styles to my own style were always already there in essence: minimalism, expressiveness, dynamic narrative and a focus on “acting” and characterization.
Besides being one of the rotating artists on Beware The Batman, I’m working on Ultimate Spider-Man Infinite Comics for Marvel. So yes, so far there has been a constant increase in demand for my work, mostly in such animation-based comics, which I’m enjoying very much at the moment.
WF: When working on these comics, what type of reference materials do you receive? How much of a insight into the given show are you provided to make sure your work matches what’s on screen?
LV: It varies from series to series. I mostly get character model sheets and occasionally props and backgrounds references.
Young Justice was the most ‘close-to-the-show’ experience I had and I thoroughly loved it. The writer was one of the show producers and he made sure every little detail fitted and complemented the show’s continuity. I got references for everything – characters, weapons, technology, etc. Everything that had already been designed for the show and appeared in the comic script was meticulously planned out. It felt like I was part of the TV show and I really enjoyed it, and Young Justice still remains my favorite take on the DC characters.
On other series, artists are given more liberty as long as the characters are drawn in model and the comic reflects the cartoon. But I still like to do my homework, take lots of screen captures from the TV shows, study the tones, aesthetics, body languages and such, to properly translate them to the comics.
WF: Beware The Batman #4 – your next issue – spotlights Man-Bat, who has yet to appear on the series to date. Is there some intimidation knowing that your version of the character will appear under your pencil before the same character hits the cartoon?
LV: When I was drawing this issue, several months in advance, I didn’t know the airing of the episode would be delayed and the release order inverted, so there was not such intimidation involved.
WF: As somewhat of a follow-up, when it came to Beware to Batman and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, was it difficult to translate the CG designs into 2D models? Was there any difficulty in making sure your work still looked like the CG-animated versions?
LV: It was exciting and challenging. It required studying the 3D models and breaking them down to their structure and logic, to then be able to recreate and draw them in my own style. And doing my own translation from CGI images to 2D artwork inevitably led to a more personal take on the characters. The final result reflects the look of the show, but with my own style choices.
WF: To go off-topic for a moment, can you fill us in on where we’ll be seeing your artwork (outside of Beware The Batman) in the coming months?
LV: I just finished drawing issue six of Beware The Batman, which ships in March. Beyond that, Infinite Comics: Ultimate Spider-Man starts serializing on digital devices somewhere in the near future, with a very different and fun reading format, and in this case I get to color my own artwork too. Also, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of my first published work, Sentinels (Drumfish Productions), which will be relaunched in a revised, colorized and digital version.
WF: Lastly, as we wrap this up, can you tell us why we should rush out and pick up Beware The Batman #4 on Wednesday?
LV: On top of the excitement, action, adventure, and Men-Bats, this issue reveals an important development for one of the supporting characters that we didn’t get to see yet on the show, and left me happily surprised as a longtime DC fan. I can’t wait to see what everybody else think about it.
A selection of Vecchio’s artwork can be found below, with more posted at the The World’s Finest Beware The Batman subsite.
Beware The Batman #4 hits comic book stores and hobby shops, in addition to digital outlets, on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014. DC Entertainment confirmed for The World’s Finest last week that Beware The Batman issue #6, drawn by Vecchio, is the final issue of the comic book. A statement from the publisher can be found here.
Stay tuned for further coverage on Beware The Batman right here at The World’s Finest.
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