Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Robin Annual #7

Tomorrow, the long awaited (by me, at least) Robin Annual #7 arrives at local comic shops across the country.

I still haven't received my comps so I don't know what the book looks like in color yet but, based on the black and white Jpegs Jason Pearson and Derec Donovan sent along while they were working, I'm pretty confident in saying it's one freakin' beautiful looking comic book. It's always a treat to see Jason Pearson do interior work. Everyone knows how great he is and I feel very lucky that I got to see one of my scripts filtered through his imagination.

The real revelation to me on this book, though, was Derec Donovan. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed his work for years but I didn't appreciate how good he was until I got a chance to work with him. His black and white pages are STUNNING and I guarantee this won't be the last time I work with him. At least I hope not!

As I mentioned previously (in the interview with Jen Contino), the solicitation info for this issue, which listed three separate stories, was wrong. There are only two, one featuring Damian (Batman's biological son) and the other an adventure starring Tim Drake (Batman's now-adopted son).

The Tim Drake story was originally intended to be my first issue as the regular writer of the monthly Robin comic. Unfortunately, when Tomasi left staff at DC, those plans changed and the book moved to a different writer. That's comics and DC (and Mike Siglain) have taken good care of me, keeping me writing other work. But I had big plans for Robin and hopefully, I'll get another crack at the title at some point or other, or at the least a chance to do another annual to conclude the grim little tale this one started.

I listened to some mood music while writing this annual so, if you want to get in the same frame of mind as I was, I recommend 'Comfortably Numb' by Pink Floyd for the Damian story and 'Gimme Shelter' by the mighty Stones for the Tim Drake tale. I tried to channel the mood of each song for each story.

This Robin Annual is my first writing work released since WORLD WAR III, so I'm glad the wait is over. ARENA is up next, which is basically going to own the month of December, followed by The Atom in January, The ***** in February, and then a much larger project shortly thereafter.

Can you tell I'm bored tonight? I keep writing and writing.

Enjoy the annual, I hope everyone likes it. And Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Can't stop talking...

...about Countdown: Arena, this time with Jeff Renaud over at Comic Book Resources. Jeff has an interesting approach to the way he edits an interview together. Some points I make are edited together to give a slightly different context, others answers are quoted verbatim. I like what he does.

Here's the linkage:


Monday, October 22, 2007

Halloween Sneak Preview

The second year in a row I've done this so I think it qualifies as a blogging tradition.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Robin annual interview

An interview I did to promote the upcoming ROBIN annual that I wrote is up at The Pulse. Because I can't link directly to the interview (for whatever reason, one can only link to the main Pulse page), I thought I'd just cut and paste it here.

Thanks to Jen Contino for the interview and for about half of the Quintas family for appearing as characters in the annual. Always fun to work my friends in when I can. The annual ships on Halloween, BTW.


October is horror, so it's the perfect time to add a little scares to the world of Robin. Keith Champagne gave us a treat by telling THE PULSE what it was like writing a handful of tales featuring Tim Drake, Dick Grayson and Damian.

THE PULSE: In the old days, we used to have Christmas and Halloween stories almost every year, but those seem few and far between lately. Whose idea was it to make this Robin Annual with a horror tinge?

KEITH CHAMPAGNE: The blame goes to Pete Tomasi, who originally assigned this issue to me. He told me to come up with a Robin story for the Halloween issue. After he left staff, Mike Marts picked up the pumpkin and now...here we are.

THE PULSE: The Robin Annual seems to be of an October theme with a handful of scary tales featuring Tim Drake, Dick Grayson and Damian. How did you come up with those types of stories? What inspired you to get your spook on?

CHAMPAGNE: The scary thing is that I wrote this right after Christmas, so it was kind of hard to channel the whole Halloween vibe while cleaning up wrapping paper and building toys. But, you know what they say...that's why they pay me the big bucks!

And actually, there's no Dick Grayson story in this annual. That was a mistake in the solicits. Once Jason Pearson came on board, we decided to double the page count of the Damian story to give the world an extra dose of his gorgeous art.

THE PULSE: You really got to work with a variety of characters in this Annual. Which one was the toughest to script?

CHAMPAGNE: I had a hard time finding a voice for Damian. He's a fairly new character and I had only read one issue of Batman in which he appeared. So it took me some trial and error until I felt comfortable with his characterization.

Fun character though, for a testy little brat!

THE PULSE: Which story almost wrote itself?

CHAMPAGNE: Ah, wouldn't it be a beautiful world if that was the way things worked? As far as characters go, I will say that Harvey Bullock, who plays a role in the Robin story, came snarling onto the page and wrote himself.

THE PULSE: What do you personally view as the greatest attributes to Damian, Tim Drake and Dick Grayson?

CHAMPAGNE: With Damian, I sort of feel that deep down, he wants to be a good kid. He's just never had a stable role model to guide him through his young life. But even when he's acting like a little shit, I don't see him as deliberately being a brat. He's just never learned to play nice with others.

As far as Tim goes, he's a pretty well defined character at this point. I'd say his greatest attribute is his brain. He's a really smart, clever kid.

Plus, they both know kung fu.

THE PULSE: What do you view as each's Achilles heals?

CHAMPAGNE: I think they're opposites in that Tim is always hoping for the best from people and Damian is always expecting the worst.

THE PULSE: Who or what influenced you the most when you were coming up with these stories? Which storytellers do you think are masters at doing something like incorporating a holiday into a comic story effortlessly?

CHAMPAGNE: "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd was a big influence on the Damian story. "Gimme Shelter" by the Stones set the mood nicely for the Robin one. In fact, I'd recommend listening to both of those while you read the annual.

I think holidays like Christmas are very hard to incorporate into a comic story in a non-cheesy manner. The Halloween atmosphere lends itself more easily to that same purpose. It's a lot easier to write creepy than it is to write heartwarming.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of anyone who was a master at this kind of thing. There's so few of them that are done that it's hard to single out one person who has mastered the form. It's an interesting challenge, though.

I do love both the Peanuts Christmas and Halloween specials so maybe Charles Schultz was on to something there.

THE PULSE: What have you enjoyed the most about getting to tell these types of Halloween stories?

CHAMPAGNE: I enjoyed the chance to stretch beyond writing traditional super hero stories and do something a little darker and more atmospheric.

It was fun to use Tim Drake, I like the character and I feel like I have a good voice for him. Based on the Tim Drake story, I was slated to take over writing the monthly Robin book for a while. However, as they often do, those plans changed after Tomasi left staff.

THE PULSE: When you were younger, what was the coolest Halloween costume you ever wore?

CHAMPAGNE: One year, I was the boogeyman, which entailed dressing all in black and covering my face with oatmeal, mixed with something to make it stick to me. I remember that being a really cool costume.

Oh, wait...that might have been for my second grade school play. It's all a haze so I'll just say...SUPERMAN!

THE PULSE: Which artists do you think are the best at drawing horror? Why?

CHAMPAGNE: It's hard to find someone these days who puts as much atmosphere into a book as Tom Mandrake. I think of the current generation of working comic artists, he's our darkest light. Gene Colan might be the all-time great, based on his Dracula stuff.

I'd be an ass if I didn't say that Jason Pearson and Derec Donovan are doing AMAZING work on these stories. Derec's stuff is, in my opinion, the best of his career to date. I love his pages so much I want to marry them.

And I still have to pinch myself, it's hard to believe that Jason Pearson is drawing one of my stories. Mike Marts sent me some pages from each the other day and we both agree that this Robin annual will be, bar none, the best looking book on the stands in the month of October. These guys are bringing their 'A' games!

THE PULSE: What do you personally enjoy the most about Halloween?

CHAMPAGNE: I like handing out the candy to the kids when they come to the door, checking out the different costumes. I live in an area where we get HEAVY traffic on Halloween, we go through like ten bags of candy. It's great to see them all.

Of course, nothing beats taking my son out trick or treating. Especially now that he's older and can say "TRICK OR TREAT!"

THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?

CHAMPAGNE: Countdown: ARENA is the big one. Four weekly, double-sized issues covering the month of December.

A LOT more to be announced soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Scanner test

I'm getting my work computer back up to speed after a system crash and burn. Here I am, testing my scanner. This is a panel from the upcoming All-New Atom #18, my inks over Andy Smith's pencils.

Monday, October 15, 2007

January Solicits

DC Comics released their January solicitation info today and I've got something shipping that month, so here's the scoop...


Written by Keith Champagne
Art by Jerry Ordway & Trevor Scott
Cover by Ladrönn

When a team of scientists goes missing, it’s up to the Atom to travel far below the depths of Ivy Town for the most dangerous rescue mission of his career! But the underground dwellers of Ivy Town don’t take kindly to strangers of any size!
On sale January 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

First, I don't think these are the final cover colors. These look like the flats and I'd expect a more fully rendered job when the book ships.

Interestingly, I was under the impression I was also inking this issue, mainly because it was a chance to work with Jerry Ordway, who's work I admire a great deal. I was planning on starting in another week or two so I guess I should check in and see if this is a solicit error or what.

I had a lot of fun writing this issue, so much so that I've been trying to worm my way back in and write some more Atom since. In fact, I'd say that if I were to take over a monthly writing assignment at DC, the Atom would be one of my top two choices...the other being Aquaman, which I would love to take a spin on.

Over and out for now...

Friday, October 12, 2007

More Hamster-speak

An interview I did a month or so ago to promote the Hamsters has popped up online over at Comic Book Resources. As always, the linkage:


Not only does it feature the colored cover to #1 (by the mighty Moose himself), it also shows Mike Oeming's alternate cover to the first issue. Also the first glimpse at the four reimagined original hamsters, Bruce, Chuck, Jackie, and Clint.

If radioactive, furry, anthropomorphic characters are your cup of tea (and if they're not, what's wrong with you?), check it out.

In other news, keep an eye out for a weekly (or biweekly) behind-the-scenes production column I'll be writing to lead up to the Hamsters relaunch in January. You won't have to look far, I'm sure I'll post a link to the first one here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fallcon 2.0 wrap up and more...

There's not too much to report from the floors of Fallcon, except to say that I am now convinced that global warming is the real deal. There's NO WAY it's supposed to be that hot and humid in Minnesota in October.

Unfortunately, while the show wasn't the most profitable one I've ever attended (and as great as it is to meet readers and talk comics, we comic book people also like to make money at these things), I did enjoy the quality time spent with the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Thanks to Tom, Doug, and Pat for taking such good care of me and Shawn Moll? I admire your dedication to the pages of She Hulk. I also enjoyed talking with Moira, who got an exclusive sneak peek at Arena #1 (Well, not the ending) just because she's so awesome and because, back in the early seventies, Julie Schwartz liked her Batman idea (which is the coolest thing ever).

Of course, thanks once again to Nick Post and the staff of Fallcon for bringing me out for the show. I hope to be back a third time next year.

Prince Valiant was once again there, hawking his KISS posters. He seems quite fond of Tom but, then again, who isn't? Pat, if you email me his picture from your cell phone, I'll be your best friend.

Since I got back, I finished writing an Action Comics script that, at this point, is my favorite story that I've written. Which doesn't mean it's any good, just that it's my favorite. The idea for the story is something I've carried in my head since my teenage years and it was gratifying to write something I've held onto for so long. The script still needs some shaping before I turn it in but writing an issue of Action Comics is literally my oldest professional dream come true.

Next up, I'll be making a miniature return to inking, working over 11 pages of Andy Smith art for an issue of The Atom, then inking a full issue of The Atom (that I also wrote) over an artist I couldn't say no to working over. Similar to when I worked with John Byrne, it's another dream gig come true (and the easiest way to snag some original art from one of the greats.)

After that, or probably sometime during once the ball starts rolling, the plan is to write a two-issue, prestige format series for DC. Plus the third issue of The Hamsters needs to be finished.

Fun times. Speaking of fun, did you vote for ARENA yet?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I guess before I shut down for the day, this would be a good time to mention that thanks to the fine folks behind the show, I'll be appearing this coming weekend (Oct. 6-7) at FALLCON.

The show is a nice, medium-sized convention held on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul. This will be my second consecutive year attending; for whatever reason, they liked me enough last year to bring me out again for this year's show.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Minnesota Wrecking Crew of comic book creators again, including but not limited to Tom "Black Belt Hamster" Nguyen, Doug "Black Adam" Mahnke, and that prince among men, Pat "Black Ops Green Lanterns" Gleason...and maybe even that strange little guy with the Prince Valiant haircut who was selling homemade KISS posters last year.

There's a great line up of comic book people at the show so even if you don't give a rat's ass about me, by all means come by anyway. If you're a reader of this blog, come up and tell me and I'll give you a free ARMOR X print.