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Interview: Artist Gary Frank Talks BATMAN: EARTH ONE, Vol. 2, SHAZAM, and More

With the release of the first volume of EARTH ONE behind us, we ask the artist about his next Batman project with Geoff Johns and much more.

On the heels of the release of BATMAN: EARTH ONE came the announcement that artist Gary Frank and JUSTICE LEAGUE writer Geoff Johns would be teaming up once again to begin work on volume two of the BATMAN: EARTH ONE series. That's right; if you loved Johns and Frank on Batman, you'll get to see plenty more of it. So when we were invited to interview Gary Frank, we couldn't resist asking him about the upcoming project that is currently slated for release sometime next year. Check out the interview below where we talk to Frank about Batman, the Riddler, Shazam and much more.

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Comic Vine: If you had to choose, which project do you enjoy working on more? Earth One or the Shazam backup in Justice League?

Gary Frank: Well they are just so completely different. I think Batman is more of a…there's a grand sweep to Batman and the nature of the project, the way we worked in one go rather than small sections felt like we were working on a much bigger canvas. SHAZAM is a warmer story, it's not more emotional, but it feels closer and warmer, if that makes any sense. I don't know, Batman is like going to a big restaurant and Batman is like going to a big restaurant and eating this really huge and impressive meal. You're going to be involved in something with a big scope and skale to it, sometimes overwhelming. Working on it is almost overwhelming. Whereas working on SHAZAM is like eating a meal your mom cooked; it feels just as nice. I really am tortured on this metaphor but that's the best way I can put it. Even though SHAZAM is not as grand, there's a wholesomeness to it at the heart of it.

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CV: Over the weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, Geoff Johns announced you've both begun to work on BATMAN: EARTH ONE Volume two. How far along in that process are you?

GF: We're still in the talking stage. I know Geoff is putting pen to paper but we're spit balling ideas, trying to come up with things that will set the tone. Right now we're working in very broad strokes. It's not really pinning itself down to the degree where I am actually getting sketches in, it's purely at the stage where we are deciding what we need from visuals and from the story.

CV: Johns also mentioned the Riddler may be involved in Volume two, and you mentioned you don't really have sketches ready yet, but do you have some sort of an idea with what you want for the Riddler's character and whether he will be getting a redesign?

GF: Well he will certainly get a redesign, certainly get something to make it more relevant to our Gotham…When we were doing Penguin, we had an idea of what the character was going to be and at that point it would have been ridiculous to have him going to-to-toe physically with Batman, which is why we needed another physical threat for Batman. Penguin is kind of like the tip of the iceberg which is Gotham; the corruption and rot at the core of Gotham. Penguin is a politician and a gangster. Riddler…I don't know. At the way we are talking at the moment, it's very hard to know how much I can say. I think we may be bridging the gap a little bit more, but he still is not the Riddler that we know. He certainly won't be too colorful. We don't want him to feel out of place in our Gotham.

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CV: The first book is certainly very dark, the tone is very dark, and I think the art and colors really reflect that. Is that tone and theme something you plan to continue to bring to the second volume?

GF: Oh yeah. It's still…the tone and feel of the book…Batman is still learning and descending into the darkness with Gotham so certainly we won't be making it feel like metropolis any time soon. I guess if there comes a point in some future time where we feel that Batman is somehow turning the tide, then maybe Gotham will have a slightly different atmosphere but in this stage it's still a very grim and dark place with a lot of nastiness underneath the surface.

CV: You mentioned you and Geoff are chronicling the early years of Batman in this very different and new universe. Do you envision that your artistic style and the way you interpret the character is going to evolve as the character evolves?

GF: I don't know so much about my artistic style, but certainly the way in which batman is portrayed will evolve as the character evolves. At the moment, in the first book, he's an amateur. He's not a superhero. He's basically the beginnings of the character that may one day evolve into Batman. We get a glimpse of that at the end of the book, that he understand he needs to make Batman something more, something more solid if Batman is going to work as the tool that he needs it to be. In the beginning he wears no armor, he isn't wearing traditional superhero boots because he's not thinking of himself as a superhero. He just wears a pair of Doc Marten, military style lace-up boots -- he doesn't have a clear idea of what he needs to be.

CV: Going back to SHAZAM for a minute, is that a book you want and enjoy doing full time?

GF: I am drawing it full time at the moment, and it's going to be a substantial project. We decided early on if we were going to do it, we needed to make a proper story of it. It's not going to be a few pages and then we move on -- we've got an idea and a story-arc there and we'll take it to the end of the story.