Fan-fave artist Dustin Nguyen and DC Collectibles honcho Jim Fletcher take you into the Gotham City Garage for this week’s BATMAN’S HOT LINE.
When I was at Toy Fair over the winter, I saw a lot of awesome stuff, but as soon as I saw this statue, I stopped dead in my tracks:
And so I was eager as all heck to get the story behind this epically cool collectible, which comes out in October at the if-you’ve-got-the-means-I-highly-recommend-picking-one-up price of $350. Time pressures being what they are, I was unable to actually conduct the interview with Jim Fletcher, DC Collectibles’ design director, and Dustin Nguyen, one of the artists on Batman Eternal, but our ol’ pal Clay N. Ferno pinch hit for me for this week’s regular GOTHAM TRIBUNE column! (Below you’ll still find my pick for the Batbook of the Week!)
Oh, and check out the fancy concept art by none other than Mr. Nguyen himself!
Clay N. Ferno: Where did the idea for ‘Motorcycle Catwoman’ (Gotham City Garage Catwoman) come from? We’ve seen sketches going back to 2009 with the design. How is this coming to statue form?
Dustin Nguyen: I’ve always had an obsession with a character and their vehicle. You have Batman and the Batmobile … Luke and his Landspeeder. It’s cool to have a weapon or vehicle that always leads back to them, kind of like their companion. Even in SilverHawks they had birds that turned into their cars. I always thought that would be cool to have a bird that could turn into a bike and ride it through space, but I was 10, so that was cool back then for me.
Jim Fletcher: Now you’re 11! (Laughs)
DN: I just always thought it would be cool if each character can have a vehicle I could identify with them. This is also just fun to draw, I love machines, motors, things with big tires.
JF: Dustin gave me a poster of this before we moved out to California, maybe 6 years or so ago. I thought at the time these were really cool and we should do something with these. We just kept waiting for a space where we could actually do them and get them out. We pitched them in a yearly meeting of cool things we wanted to do and this finally got greenlit. I presented these a number of times and Geoff Johns saw them and said, “Oh my God, these are really cool.” Luckily, Dustin had done a lot of preliminary work on it. We were able to jump right in.
DN: Once you guys moved out there, it seemed easier to get things going.
JF: I know we had changed the designs a lot too, this is slightly different than what Dustin first presented. We have a couple of other designs in the wings we can’t discuss yet, but a lot of DC women have been associated with bikes which is another thing that’s really cool about this program. Huntress has a bike, Batgirl’s been on a bike, Harley … a lot of them have been riding motorcycles.
DN: Originally they were bicycles! Just kidding, that would have been cool though.
JF: Tricycles! (Laughs)
Dustin, have your other drawings become statues, or is this your first one?
DN: We’ve done the Batman Black and White line, we have the Li’l Gotham line coming out. This one is one of the biggest projects we’ve worked on, I think this is the biggest.
JF: This is a really big statue, and of all of the work Dustin has done, including action figures, this is definitely the largest. Actually, this is the largest project of the whole year!
DN: “Oh man, this is heavy!” This thing is huge, it’s the size of an encyclopedia, lengthwise. I don’t know if we have encyclopedias to compare any more.
When drawing for a 3D statue, are you taking a different approach than to how you approach the page? Or are you taking the 2D thing and completely giving that over to DC?
DN: Initially, I did a few turns and stuff, but I found out they had a few bike models in mind already. As much as I like drawing stuff, I don’t like to explain how they work. To have someone explain, that’s how the big engines work, I like that a lot. I have done engineering drawings before but they are pretty painstaking. It’s great to have someone on board that knows their bikes.
JF: With the design of the bike we had to be careful it wasn’t something that was a pre-existing bike or something we’d have to license out. We want it to be unique to the character so it isn’t any bike that’s out there.
DN: That’s the thing with designing machines for an imaginary world. You want to make it where it’s cool and looks like it could work, but you don’t want to make it where someone can prove that it doesn’t work.
JF: Because everything really works in comics—just like in the real world!
DN: We can’t prove how Superman flies, can we?
JF: I can’t, no. That’s another phone call.
A much longer phone call!
DN: This is way cooler than anything that I would have made myself. When it came out, I was blown away. It is totally different when you see it done. They did an amazing job.
JF: The thing about this too is that the skin tone isn’t painted, it is a resin that’s cast in a skin tone color. It gives it more of a hyper-realism. It keeps the figures much more alive than painting it with a flesh tone.
Is this technically an offshoot of the Bombshells line or is this a project on it’s own trajectory?
JF: This is actually it’s own project. We talked about switching this over to the Bombshells line but we wanted this to be a standalone piece. We’re looking at doing one of these a year because they are expensive and they are hard to produce. It’s not the same era or feel for the Bombshell and we wanted Dustin to have fun playing around with the design.
DN: Ours is probably just in its own timeline. The Bombshells exists in a kind of a Rockabilly style or retro. Ours I think started five years ago or so. Or it feels like it!
JF: I think we went through some designs on the bike and the costume.
Are these a limited edition?
JF: … We’re now back into numbering but this is not a limited run.
BATBOOK OF THE WEEK: Light week in Gotham, except for the Allred Batman ’66 covers I’m obsessed with. I’ll go with the default: Batman Eternal #6 (are we already at #6??).