Along with a few other artists (including David Finch, Humberto Ramos and Tony S. Daniel), Greg Capullo was able to stay for more than two decades on the cusp of a world accustomed to rapid change such as the US comicsdome.
His first professional job is on Gore Shriek, an independent horror series recommended for mature readers. In 1991 he began collaborating with Marvel, creating stories for Quasar, X-Force and What If?.
For the Image Comics he was working with Todd McFarlane‘s Spawn character and he became one of the artists who has achieved the highest number of stories. After the debut in Spawn # 16 (text of Grant Morrison) is chosen by Todd McFarlane as regular artist (from # 26). In 1997, he then produced texts and drawings of a creator-owned project, The Creech, of which he published two mini-series of three numbers, also for Image.
In the meantime, is also involved in the world of metal music: he make some album covers for bands like Iced Earth, Korn and Disturbed.
Its recent history is linked instead in glove with the Dark Knight: In 2011, DC Comics relaunched all its characters with new numbers 1 and Capullo is called to carry out the designs of Batman stories, alongside Scott Snyder (formerly author of American Vampire for the Vertigo label). The couple Snyder / Capullo achieves success among critics and audiences, managing the difficult task of taking over the management of the character by Grant Morrison. In the course of their stories they introduce new nemesis (as the Court of Owls) and narrative strands (such as Year Zero) then also reflected in other serious side effects.
We have reached Greg Capullo live during the last Etna Comics, held in June this year in Sicily.
Which one of the older character versions has influenced you the most? And which of the many artists who have dealt with Batman has exerted a major influence on you?Obviously, we are always exposed to tv shows, cartoons, movies and what have you. It all comes to your brain and somehow comes out in your hands, but the thing that influenced me the most was Frank Miller’s great story of Dark Knight Returns. He had Superman fight Batman and Batman had armor on. That kind of Robocop helmet that he had, I loved that! And so when I did my Batman, I think – as much as I respect the artists who did it – I never liked really Batman’s cowl to get more wrinkly to show his facial expressions, because to me it should be more like a helmet, hard, to protect you. I can’t see that the mask would be able to do that, and so I combined that thinking with Frank Miller’s flat helmet and tried to make it as smooth as possible, even like the tv animated series, it’s very plain and simple. My main influence came from that.
A far as artists that influenced me to want to make comics, that would be John Buscema, a fellow Italian who did a lot of Marvel work when I was a child. Also another Italian: Frank Frazetta.
How do you get to work with Scott Snyder? Did you know him already as an author? How much do you think his kind of writing is integrated with your style?
I mean, it’s just one of those lucky things, you know? Scott and I were put together by powers above us and it’s working out. You could never predict that sort of thing. You could have equal talent, another writer who’s equally good or another artist who’s equally good, but together they wouldn’t be as successful for whatever reason. Somehow, I don’t know what the explanation is, but Scott and I just seem to produce a Batman together that masses of fans seem to really enjoy. We’re lucky. I don’t know how to describe how it works, but it’s just great that it does work.
Is there an “expiration date” in your character’s management and your run?
I still have quite a bit to go for my contract. I will finish Zero Year. Then, for my contract, after the final issue of Zero Year I still have 17 more issues on Batman. So I’ll be there for a long time.
Where did you get the inspiration for the Year Zero bat-suit, except, of course, for the purple gloves?
Scott’s vision of Bruce Wayne at that time is: very flamboyant, like a peacock. So he wanted the suit to reflect Bruce Wayne’s strong personality. He is a bit more young, a bit more uncontrolled, a bit more daring, a bit more wild and so he said to me: “I want the suit to be crazy, with racing stripes on it”. He mentioned racing stripes and from there, I went to the sketchpad and tried to come up with a full design. So that’s how it worked. Really flamboyant, with racing stripes and that’s how it came to be. Scott gives me his directions in his head and I try to go that way and try to come up with something brilliant. It’s very collaborative.
What is the character that you had the most fun drawing?
I had a lot of fun doing Death of the family, a Joker story. I mean, Joker was cool even before his face was reattached, but the way we did it… he’s even more of a monster. And who doesn’t love monsters? We all love monsters.
Second to that would be Clayface’s story, because, again, another monster.
You think there are parallels between Batman’s Gotham and Spawn’s New York?
Now that I draw Batman I see parallels in a more familiar way. To me, Todd’s intention was to try to recreate Batman, because now I recognize relationships that I didn’t recognize before. You can see something similar in Spawn, where shadow-dwelling characters are grooving all the time in the alleys. In Spawn you have the Clown, in Batman the Joker, and now [in retrospect] I go “wow!”. You have Twitch [Williams] and you have Gordon and Bullock.
There’s more parallels that I recognized but I don’t think they are the same at all, they are different characters, and I never, at any time, think: “What would I do if I was doing Spawn, now?”. I treat Batman completely differently.
If one day you were to relate back and think about what you’ve done so far on Batman, what would you consider to have added to the character’s mythology?
It’s hard to say when you’re doing it, you can’t really see that far, you’re busy doing it! From a logical standpoint, I would say, probably, Zero Year. It’s an origin story that will stand the test of time for a while. But I think it’s one of those things where I have to wait a few years before I can recognize it myself. I’ll just keep busy doing it. It’s hard getting now to predict what will be. I’ll wait and see.
If you had to think of a Batman Elseworld you’d like to draw, which would it be?
A steampunk Batman would be really cool! So, Victorian Age, but with gadgets and stuff like that. That would be interesting and you could make that pretty dark and scary, for that time. Batman riding a dinosaur might be pretty cool (laughs)!
Live interview conducted in 2014, June