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Stevan Subic talks leaving an indelible mark on the 'The Riddler: Year One' with Paul Dano

Comic Books

Stevan Subic talks leaving an indelible mark on the ‘The Riddler: Year One’ with Paul Dano

The deep dive into Edward Nashton debuts on today, October 25.

Soon we’ll all know the Riddler a bit better thanks to Paul Dano and Stevan Subic. Launching today (October 25), Riddler: Year One will reveal how Edward Nashton became the Riddler in The Batman. A six-issue bimonthly series under DC Black Label, Riddler: Year One sets up the collision course of Batman and Riddler as part of that rich cinematic universe from director Matt Reeves.

Dano — who is an expert in Riddler having played the character on the big screen — personally picked artist Stevan Subic to draw and color the series. His art style, which we saw early previews of back at SDCC, is deeply personal and menacing, putting you firmly in the head of the Riddler.

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We recently got a chance to ask Subic questions about his approach, working with Dano, and other tidbits. Plus, can drawing a character for so many months actually bring you closer to them? Find that out and more in our interview below,

Stevan Subic talks leaving an indelible mark on the 'The Riddler: Year One' with Paul Dano

Courtesy DC Comics

AIPT: To start, how did this project get started? I understand Paul Dano picked you specifically for the project.

Stevan Subic: That’s right. DC had an insight into my works, they knew me from before through some of my books that I published in Europe and it happened that the editors wanted to share some of my works with Paul as well, and that’s where this story of ours begins. Of course, the collaboration came about in the first place because Paul decided that together we could do something special with The Riddler. From the start of the collaboration until now, I truly enjoy working on these pages, more than any other of my titles so far.

AIPT: Having had a look at the first issue, I’m very impressed with the layouts and blocking of scenes, with many close up shots, for instance. What were you going for with this approach?

SS: Thanks a lot. The approach is simple, we want to tell the story of Edward Nashton, which until now readers and fans have not had the opportunity to see, or experience. The basis is on the storytelling, on the story that must be readable, every inch on those pages is thought out carefully and thoroughly. The character that Matt Reeves created and Paul brilliantly performed is a special character, in that every detail of Edward Nashton is very carefully illustrated and chosen. Paul and I were very studious in building the first chapter/issue, a truly fascinating artistic process lies behind these 32 pages.

AIPT: Having nearly lived in Edward Nashton’s skin drawing him for a while now, do you feel closer to the character?

SS: The Riddler is one of my all-time favorite comic book characters. He has a superior intellect and is the only one who can match wits the greatest detective in the world. I was amazed at the way Paul presented him The Batman, and that made me love this character even more. As we’ve worked together we went deeper and deeper into the development of Edward Nashton’s character, and I can say that I am more than delighted with the result. This series will leave an indelible mark on the character of Riddler.


Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Are you a fan of comics that have adapted or told new stories within movie universes? 

SS: I can’t say that I read them too much, but I have nothing against them. Spin off’s, prequels, sequels have a special charm, and if they are done right, their value is enormous, as is the responsibility of working on them. I consider them very important for modern comics.

AIPT: Something I noticed with your renderings of Edward Nashton is how we can’t see his eyes a lot of the time. Am I right in thinking you’re using his glasses like a kind of mask?

SS: Edward is living in one shadowy world of Gotham, he is still evolving into the Riddler that we see in the film, so at the beginning we are giving only the hints of it, through events and experiences that will launch him into the super villain we’re all waiting for him to become. This is an extremely deep story, with so many hidden corners and with distinctive character that the reader should be prepared for what is coming from us here. It is pure storytelling about the rise of a super-villain and the glasses are the basic, first layer hint towards that process. As with everything else, the glasses have their own special role in what we are building here.

AIPT: Is there any pressure when working on The Riddler: Year One given it’s title “Year One” has so much history in the Batman universe with David Mazzucchelli and Frank Miller’s famous story?

SS: It is a gigantic honor and of course, a huge responsibility. Not only because of the giants that introduced this concept but also because this one has strong appeal to fans of both the comics and the movie. Both audiences will have, high expectations and that’s what makes what Paul and I are doing with The Riddler: Year One so special. You cannot do this kind of series if you are not approaching it with passion, and with the awareness that so many giants in our industry have been involved in similar concepts before, and on whose shoulders the younger generation of storytellers like me are standing.. I feel very honored to have this opportunity.

Stevan Subic The Riddler Paul Dano

Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Was there a particular scene in The Batman you use as a reference for Riddler, be it visually or mood/atmosphere when crafting this tale?

SS: Paul and I spent a lot of time talking, exchanging thoughts, ideas that can visually tell this story, from the level of layouts towards final pages, ink and colors. We stayed close to the film but we keep it also free of direct and obvious influence so that our voice here can be recognizable.

It is not the scene that can tell you to much about the The Riddler year one but it can tell you enough, the one in the bar where Edward is caught. That scene is for me already anthological, how Paul bring it to us, it is hard that there is anybody out there who would be able to do this portraying and that scene better. I had that scene in my mind when we started with layouts, we can see the traces of the series that we are bringing in the eyes of the Edward in that scene. That is how deeply Paul is preparing for his stuff, it is amazing experience. You will see for yourself as we are going.

AIPT: The use of color is also incredibly well done in The Riddler, can you talk a little bit about that and the theory behind it?

SS: Thank you very much. In color, the closeness to the film and the design of the film stand out the most. I followed a combination of solutions that I really liked and that were reflecting in the right way relationship with the film and what Paul and I want to tell. There is a special layer of meaning in the color itself, which will be noticeable as the chapters will roll.

AIPT: Do you have any favorite Riddler or Batman stories?

SS: Batman stories are my absolute favorite ones. I’m not reading comics that much anymore, in the first place because I don’t have enough time for it so I’m more into literature and movies, theater. But if I can choose to read comics that must have something to do with Batman. Of course, Year one from our giants and many more, it will be a really long list and I don’t want to miss any of the biggest ones for me. I’m also following new production, same as earlier one, in one word, Batman is the thing for me. From my earliest age towards today, if we are talking about the drawing and comics, that would be the Batman and then everything else.


Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: To finish, where can people find your work and find you online?

SS: So far I have worked with biggest publishers in Europe on books such as Conan the Cimmerian, Tarzan Lord of the jungle, Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes but I can’t tell if these books are available in the States at this moment or not. Some of them are going to be translated really soon, that I can tell but for now the best way to stay in contact with my work are social networks where I’m active daily and updating new stuff, on the first place Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Always welcoming new friends there, especially if thing that is connecting us is art.

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