tumblr_n3vk5fLGdD1r0x04do3_1280Some of you may not have heard of Russell Dauterman yet, but that’s likely about to change. Dauterman was the artist on the excellent Supurbia, closed out the last two issues of Kyle Higgins’ Nightwing run with a bang, and is now going to be launching the new Cyclops title for Marvel.

Russell has a unique and beautiful style and such a wonderful love for the material that I knew I had to talk to him and, thankfully, he was gracious enough to give us a bit of his time this past weekend at C2E2. Join me as we discuss character, representation, and working in the industry

 

 

WCBR: I came on to you with Supurbia and I’m really glad I did. Supurbia, kind of by its nature, featured a lot of characters who are maybe not traditional comic book leads, whether it’s spouses of heroes or minority characters, characters who are gay, characters who are children… Did that affect your approach to the book?

Russell Dauterman: That made me really excited about the book. I mean, Grace Randolph, the writer, has talked about this before, that the most interesting characters to her in anything were always Lois Lane and Alfred and the background characters, and her whole idea with the series was, like, what are these people’s lives like because they probably have an interesting perspective and they always seem to get roped into all of the crazy, y’know, superheroics and the drama anyway.

And so when I came onto the book, I grew up on X-Men and I love strong female characters, so to have a book that was, y’know, mostly women, and not only that but a diverse, multi-ethnic, and different sexualities, and you have gay characters, and all sorts of things, that was really appealing to me. And I come from a costume design background and character design, so getting to do, I think there were 13 or 14 main cast members to just design off the bat, so that was really exciting to get to play up the differences and, y’know, racially and everything was a treat for me to get to draw different stuff, so that was definitely what drew me to the book.

 

That’s great. This was not one of the questions I planned on asking, but I have to, now that we’ve had these discussions pop up around us-

Yeah?

Did you and/or Grace know what would happen if the series came back? (SPOILERS FOR SUPURBIA #12)

Y’know we actually haven’t talked about it. I think, well obviously there were some- some things in the last issue that were some cliff-hangers, I mean, the whole thing with Tia being abducted, I think was definitely something that would be followed through on. And then the other big, well, I guess there were two other big developments. That Zari was left with that-

The white streak…

The white on her, we’re not sure what that is. And it, I think Hella said that it was the last bit of good that was in her, so does that mean she has some power now and what’s going to happen with that? And then of course Hella was left- She killed Hector and she’s kind of ruling that evil kingdom now. So it left it off in some really interesting places that it would be fun to pick up.

But yeah, I don’t know. I’d have to ask Grace what she has in mind.

‘Cause that was a great ending but a cruel one.

Well, I think we wanted it to be, especially Grace wanted it to be, something that felt like an ending, that wrapped up, y’know, where we started with, but also we do hope to do more so there are a few things that dangled, and I know for some of the characters there were pretty major things, having your wife abducted. But for most everybody, things wrapped up a little bit. Oh yeah, and Jeremy was left kind of mentally not all there and, there’s a lot of things that could be picked up on, for sure. (END SUPURBIA SPOILERS)

 

Right. Alright, then I’m gonna turn a little bit now to Nightwing.

Okay

I just think issue #29 was a very unique issue, actually there’s- there’s the Court of Owls one right there [on your table]. What was it like to kind of work in this kind of – I mean‘ cause comics you usually have distinct panels and distinct storytelling beats that you’re given and how much of that was left to you to determine these big splashes?

i-dont-want-dick-to-be-a-talon-but-i-can-totally-get-behind-this-costumeY’know, Kyle Higgins, the writer, wrote in all the pages as just panels, so like for this Court of Owls page it was a four-panel page and I had talked to him about, like, oh what if we did all these as kind of collage-style, a little more freeform to have a visual break in the book where it looked more kind of dream-like? And so then, ‘cause I really like to do stuff like that, that’s a fun thing for me to do to break the conventions of things. So then we kind of- I kind of approached them more as almost a whole piece of art as opposed to a composition within a panel. It was more the composition of the whole page to me.

Very cool.

I really love how they turned out.

Yeah. I’ve seen that one in particular all over.

Oh yeah?

Like people love the whole Dick Talon look and the creepiness of it.

Oh awesome! Yeah, that- a lot of that was Kyle, he- in the script he, these little Nightwing throwing stars, he had seen something like that. I think it might’ve been in Batman: The Animated Series

I think so-

And he had the idea for the Talon costume, and all that was him, so I- it really, it was a fun thing to help bring to life and I love that “Court of Owls” storyline so getting to draw those characters was- was a blast.

 

Very cool. So, a little more generally, I’m just curious, do you have time to keep up with comics that are coming out?

Yeah, I’m a little bit backed up. I’m- I have a whole bunch- I read a lot digitally. I still buy trades, but I have a whole lot on my iPad for the plane ride home to catch up on. I’m absolutely crazy about the new Ms. Marvel series at Marvel. I read that the day it comes out ’cause I’m just so crazy it, but, yeah, I keep up with things. I’m really excited about The Wake at Vertigo and Hawkeye I always read and Saga for sure. Yeah, yeah I make time.

 

So, then I would ask, you’ve kind of just started to really break into the mainstream characters and everything. You’ve now got Cyclops and you’ve done Nightwing. Is there a character who’s kind of, like, at the top, the dream character, DC, Marvel, any of the smaller publishers, not even superheroes, just, is there something that is, like, your dream project?

Y’know, I’m in the right place because it would be the X-Men, like the X-Men proper. To have the team with some of those strong female characters; Storm and Rogue, Jubilee; the Generation X kids, I grew up with all of that. Getting to draw any of them would be at the top of my list.

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I actually was very lucky, I got to hear a little bit of how you broke in at the panel earlier. When you started out – when you interned at Marvel, you already knew you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve kind of always known I wanted to do something in art, but it was kind of ingrained in me that, you can do something in art, but you’re not going to be a starving artist and that wasn’t anything I ever wanted, so I first thought, okay, graphic design or, y’know, like, maybe an ad agency, be art director, something like that where you can do art but still make money off of it.

And then in college I went more for illustration, which has always been my passion, doing comics and doing children’s books. And I also got interested in theatre and costume design and so I went in that direction a bit more. I interned at Marvel. I really liked it. I had the kind of two things going at once where I loved the comics, I was making comics, and I loved doing all of the character design and it just ended up that I could kind of do both in the comics world, so I’ve kind of lumped both things together now, but, yeah, art for sure. And comics, I didn’t ever think it was necessarily a possibility, but I gave it a go and it’s working out so far.

That’s great. Is there anything that, when you kind of made that first, like, maybe I’ll give comics and sequentials a shot, like a real shot as a career, is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known then? Or, or rather, is there-

Everything!

-one thing especially?

I- I would tell myself that it’s not gonna happen overnight. I think I went into that first Marvel portfolio review thinking they were gonna love it and I was gonna start drawing and it was a little disheartening to- I got good feedback and I made a contact and I was really happy, but it took a lot- a few years after that and a lot more reviews and a lot more networking and improvement on my part to make it happen. And I would just kind of want myself to know that, y’know, all these steps you’re taking are great, but it’s gonna take time and give it that time that it needs.

 

Great. Oh, so I’m gonna get a quick visual aid on this one, but it is not limited to just- to just this.

Okay.

I really noticed it on this one panel in Supurbia #12.

Uh huh.

Yeah. This page here. First I just think this page is gorgeous and I love the way things wrapped up with that, but it just kind of occurred to me, like, particularly in these panels we get something that’s a lot maybe grimmer and lot more realistic than what you did- grimmer in content, but also just in how the lines were there’s a lot more detail put into all of that in her face. So far you’ve done- you’ve had a very distinct style in your work, are there like sub-styles and things that you feel you haven’t had a chance to show yet?

Well, I think when Supurbia first started, it definitely looks different than how it ended up. And I was going for more of a cartoony thing then and I wasn’t, y’know, specialized. I know a lot of- it’s cliché for artists to say they weren’t happy with whatever, but- so I kind of developed it more, like with more of the influences that I’ve always had growing up and then the more- the stuff that I liked, and tried to refine the style of it to where it ended up. I think issue #12, y’know, that’s the kind of style I’ve been with going forward and the last arc and a half of Supurbia have felt kind of cohesive like that. But yeah, I like that, that it’s a mix of that kind of that grittier thing but still has some of the cartoony stuff that- Did I answer your question?

Yeah.

Okay.

 

So, actually, so speaking of, I guess that’s a good place to say, just because kind of that cartoonyness and that realism coming together, I thought that through the books I’ve seen you on, you’ve had a real knack for drawing children, I’ve thought. I mean, Zari’s kind of a huge star and I love the designs for- for Batu and Jeremy’s kids-

Aw, thanks.

And then, of course, there was Jen in Nightwing, also, who got like, one of the most badass little moments, like when she kicks in the door.

Yeah. Yeah, I loved- I love that page and I loved that it was a splash page to really, like, show her off.

tumblr_m654cyYjJR1r0x04do1_500So, I was just kind of curious, particularly with Cyclops, who’s kind of in that weird place where he’s on the edge of what we consider a kid, but also kind of getting older, is that an interest of yours. And is that something that you see Cyclops kind of evolving from?

Yeah. I love stories about teenage characters and Runaways is, if not my all-time favorite book, top two, y’know. I grew up on Generation X. Basically, if there’s a teenage superhero story – like I told you, the new Ms. Marvel – I’m crazy about that stuff so I just love that. I think it’s such an interesting time for your development and you have all these feels – in Tumblr speak – and so I like stories about those characters and I’ve drawn a lot of those characters growing up in that kind of age range. And then I also, before I had published or self-published comic stuff, I was doing children’s books, so it’s definitely a main thing I’ve done a lot of and, I mean I like drawing all ages for sure, it’s just it’s something easier to convey a lot of character with a younger person because, y’know, expressions can be a bit more…expressive.

 

Definitely. So turning now to Cyclops, we were kind of discussing it, y’know, comics continuity is famously confusing and, while I think Marvel’s done a really great job lately, I don’t think that, at least on paper, it sounds any clearer to say, “Oh, well, it’s an X-Man from the past who came forward.”

Yeah.

tumblr_n41c0wneTU1r0x04do3_r1_500People have known Cyclops for a long time. What’s the difference in writing this version of Cyclops from writing the older incarnation?

Well, I mean, at this point, I just think they’re almost completely different characters. I mean, look at the kind of militarized, like, he feels like he’s the last hope for his people, like wants to be the leader of the mutant race, adult Cyclops and the new, younger version who hasn’t had all of that baggage yet. Imagine Cyclops without all the Jean Grey stuff, without all those emotional scars and he hasn’t gone through all of that development. I think they’re coming from entirely different perspectives right now and I love what Brian Bendis has been doing with the younger X-Men to contrast them with their older counterparts. I mean, you look at, like, the two Ice-Mans, Ice-Men, and they’re pretty similar, like, it doesn’t-

Well, ’cause Bobby never quite grew up!

Exactly. But Scott definitely did. And so in this new series, it’s quite a thing that when Corsair met the adult Cyclops he was an adult, he had missed out on his whole childhood, so now he’s actually getting a chance to be a father with the young Cyclops and that’s just an entirely different dynamic and something he- he did for maybe 8 years of Scott’s life and feels like he probably doesn’t know how to do it now. So it’s- he’s meeting a different person than y’know, back in the day.

 

tumblr_n41c0wneTU1r0x04do1_r6_500Interesting. Okay, so particularly for the underprivileged people of the modern world who don’t have X-Men: The Animated Series– Both for them and for people who want to know your take on it, who is Corsair?

Corsair is sort of the Han Solo of the X-Men universe. He’s a space pirate. Y’know, he has a lot of swagger and he’s cool and he’s- he’s like the cool dad, like, “That’s my dad? Like, this awesome pirate guy with a sword and a gun and, like, the women love him and he’s funny and cool.” Like he’s Han Solo, y’know? And that really couldn’t be farther from the buttoned-up, too serious Scott.

 

Very cool. So, I had one question, this is a little bit of the fan in me, but the last time that this Scott saw his father was on the plane when it went down. He thought that everyone he loved was dead.

Yeah.

I mean, I remember when there was an All-New X-Men where he realized his brother’s alive. Is it- Do you think it’s weird for Scott to go kind of straight from one to the other, where it was like, “Well, we’re on a family vacation” to “Oh, my dad is a space pirate with a hot cat girl lover?”

That- Basically what you’re saying is part of Scott’s dialogue in the first few pages of the issue.

Oh wow.

I mean he’s like “This is my dad? This is where I am right now? Like, can you believe that?” So I think in the “Trial of Jean Grey” cross-over when they actually met each other again for the first time, you see more of the kind of shock and, y’know, Scott got really emotional and had to step away and now a little bit of time has passed, not a whole lot, but he’s had a little more time to process that aspect of it and more time to start thinking more about, like, okay, like, this might actually be kind of cool.

 

So, the obvious question now is what is it like working with Greg Rucka, who is kind of a big-

Huge, awesome-

Yeah.

Comics celebrity?

Especially if you’re a fan of having badass female characters…

Yeah. Which I am for sure. It’s fantastic and the new scripts are all phenomenal and he’s- he’s been really supportive of my work and I- I loved working with him. I mean, he’s a fantastic writer. And Gotham Central’s one of my favorite things. Yeah, I was thrilled to hear that he was- that I was going to be working with him and I couldn’t believe it. My mind- my mind was blown for a while about it. It’s all been- It’s been fantastic.

 

So, I guess the last real questions are what are you most excited about going forward right now?

Well, I’m- I mean in the immediate future it’s the release of the book so I’d probably have to say that. It’s like less than two weeks away and I’m just really excited to, y’know, get a copy of it with- to see my name on the front next to a Marvel logo. It’s- It’s really exciting and I really- I’m excited to see what people think of it and I really hope everybody likes it.

 

Is there anything else that you can say- that you can talk about that’s coming up or is it pretty focused on this for the moment?

I can’t really say anything else, but I’m definitely focused on, y’know, Cyclops for now.

 

Alright. Well, thank you so much.

Yeah. Thank you.

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