San Diego Comic Con’s first ever fully digital convention is in full swing. Today during day two of the DC @ Home panel DC’s Batman group editor Ben Abernathy was joined by Batman writer James Tynion IV, Batman artist Jorge Jimenez, Detective Comics artist Brad Walker, Batgirl writer Cecil Castellucci, and Nightwing writer Dan Jurgens to discuss the new Batman event, Joker War.
Suicide Squad artist Bruno Redondo was also present in the role of translator for Jorge Jimenez.
The Joker War event has forced its way into every Bat-family title and this group of creators let’s us know how it’s shaping their plans for our favorite group of caped crusaders.
The panel began with Ben Abernathy asking James Tynion IV how Joker War started to become something truly tangible.
Ben: James I was thinking back to our mini-summit in Burbank last December, when Joker War really started to come together. What do you remember from that meeting?
James: Honestly that was really the moment that I feel like everything started picking up steam. I had been announced as taking over the Batman title just a few months prior and I had doing some work, but the size and shape of the story kept changing, and there were a few things that happened in quick succession: you [Ben] came in as Batman group editor, we found out that we were going to be joined on the book by the amazing Jorge Jimenez, and we realized that okay, this Joker element to the story that we had been building is going to be blown up into a full event sized story line. And that meant that we were really going to be able to let all the pieces breath.
So that’s the moment that we started talking about little things that I had had conversations about. Such as, okay if the Joker’s going to have henchmen, then we need a top henchmen, and realizing that we were really going to have the room to develop each of these pieces. That’s where a character like Punchline started to be developed and I remember right around that summit we were writing out the character summaries and then sending them to Jorge.
Jorge you were just finishing Justice League and you were about to start drawing the characters and it was this exciting, exciting moment where we realized Joker War is going to be this big story and I’m just really excited that we’re at a point where it’s about to come out and people are excited to see it.
Ben: Jorge what did you think when James came to you with the Joker War concept?
Jorge: Batman is one of my favorite characters so my first feeling was one of “Thank you!” So when James came to me with a big event involving Batman and this Joker War I felt that this could be a really great moment for an important character. Big excitement!
Brad Walker is the current artist for Detective Comics, another Batman book and one that’s heavily impacted by the events occurring with Joker War.
Ben: Now joining us is the current Detective Comics artist Brad Walker. Hey Brad!
Brad: Hey everyone!
Ben: So Brad, your arc on Detective has helped flesh out the Joker’s preparation for War. Can you tell us a little bit about that set up?
Brad: We had already started a big Two-Face arch that we had talked about in broad strokes, so it was probably a little more intimate initially. But as things started to ramp up for Joker War and James’ plan started to build, I think everybody sort of saw an opportunity to bring other books into the mix and make the event feel bigger. As Pete and I discussed the story more we started to see areas in the Two-Face story that could be helped by including Joker anyway, and I haven’t gotten to draw Joker really. So the idea of putting him in there in this master planner type of role that would facilitate the kind of things that James wanted to do was sort of a perfect opportunity and made our story feel bigger and more epic.
We go back to sort of New 52 era in the latest issue that’s out, I’m not spoiling anything, to kind of explain his involvement. It made everything really exciting I think for the story itself and the readers, but also me creatively and I know I can speak for Pete to say that he adores Joker and any chance to use Joker he would jump at just like I did. So it all just worked really well. We’re all happy to do it.
Ben: Well, I can say Brad that better your and Jorge’s Joker I have nightmares 7 days a week now.
Brad: He’s so much fun to draw and you can go in so many different directions with him just speaking visually. He can have a moment where he’s a silly character and then at the drop of a hat just be terrifying and it’s a fun visual seat to flip back and forth and be a schizophrenic like he is as a character.
Joker involves nearly every Bat-family title DC has going right now, including Dan Jurgen’s Nightwing and Cecil Castellucci’s Batgirl. Jurgens and Castellucci joined the broadcast to share their thoughts on Joker War and how it impacts their books.
Ben: Tell me briefly what you thought about the Joker War concept and how your title’s would fit in.
Dan: For me it’s something that worked out very, very well because we were just getting to a point where we were dealing with Rick Grayson, who had amnesia and did not remember his time as Robin, as being part of Batman’s world. So having the Joker available to help bring him back into that world was absolutely ideal.
Cecil: I feel like Batgirl has been going through some enormous growth every since Year of the Villain and so I think that to have the opportunity because Joker’s obviously a core wound in Batgirl’s life, and for Joker War it was like the knock on the door. I knew I really needed to address her and the Joker and The Killing Joker. So Jessica Chen and I, my editor, had a really great conversation about trying to make it sort of a mirror of that classic issue, but where we have Barbara a little bit more in power of the situation and reclaiming the moment in a certain way. So it was a really great opportunity because I’ve been trying to make Batgirl grow in new ways and this was a great gift to directly address this core wound in her story.