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Interview: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato on DETECTIVE COMICS

The creative team of TEC tells us about the upcoming arc and why there's no inner-dialogue in their book.

Storytellers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have ended their first arc, Icarus, on DETECTIVE COMICS. Their run, thus far, has really changed the face of the book, putting a heavy focus on the detective side of things, as well as more of a focus on Harvey Bullock. Manapul and Buccellato talked to us over the phone about what's coming down the road for the book, as well as their writing style for this series.

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COMIC VINE: In issue #34 of DETECTIVE, the conclusion of Icarus, there's a startling/disturbing revelation where with the Icarus drug is coming from. Are we going to see some resolution with that character in upcoming issues?

FRANCIS MANAPUL: Not any time soon.

BRIAN BUCCELLATO: [laughs] That's the honest answer. We're not going to see him in this arc.

FM: Yeah, he's a character who we will get back to. He's got a lot of emotional problems and I feel that us having just dealt with Icarus the drug, it's time for us to focus on a different aspect of Gotham city. Where as with the first arc, the drug, the dealers and the people affected by it, the second arc is going to focus a lot on kids, in particular orphans, and how they grow up in a system like Gotham City. If you're not a billionaire and you lose your parents, what happens to you? What opportunities do you have? That's going to be the main focus of our next arc.

CV: In DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #3, we got our first real glimpse of Calendar Man. What can we expect from this character in the future?

BB: Actually, Calendar Man does make a prominent appearance in the Futures End event issue, so you will see him there. The Riddler teams up with Batman to go on an adventure, five years in the future, and the villain, in that story, will be Calendar Man.

CV: What led you guys to bringing him into the book?

BB: I wanted to the origin of a Batman villain based around Batman, who beats up a guy who beats his kid and the ramifications. That whole story is about unintended consequences which is why I called it "Chaos Theory." So the unintended consequence of getting a little bit of justice, in beating up Julian Day is you create a character that is a super-villain.

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CV: Do either of you have any involvement with the Futures End stuff next month?

FM: Not me, but Brian will be doing some stuff for that.

BB: The Detective Comics issue for Futures End featuring Riddler and Calendar Man is a one-off and part of the whole September event and it plays off some of the stuff I set up in the Annual.

CV: With this last arc, there was a heavy focus on Harvey Bullock. Are you going to be expanding on the next arc with secondary heroes in Gotham?

BB: We're gonna start calling the book "Detective and Harvey." We have no plans to give him up, so definetly more Harvey, all the time.

CV: The art style and page set ups here is a bit different from other current books. Francis, what's your process for the art in this book?

FM: Well, we write the story, then I draw it. [laughs] It's actually much more straightforward than THE FLASH. I'm kind of taking a more structured approach to my storytelling and a lot of that has to do with the story that we're both telling. It's very much a classic, detective story. I just felt that a clean way to tell a story, especially if the book is about a murder and once you delve into the complexities of each character and their motivation. It just felt like something that clean and easy to read was the best approach.

CV: Are there any aspects of the Batman universe that have not come into the New 52 that you both would like to work on?

FM: Our interpretation of Anarky is going to be quite different. More of less, he is being introduced like a brand new character. A lot of the major villains have already been introduced.

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CV: One thing that's really interesting about this book is that there's no inner-dialogue from Batman. Is that something you guys started consciously working on when you came onto the book?

FM: The thing is when we writing the first arc, we had mentioned not doing it at all. As we were telling the story, it just didn't need it. Anything that went on in his head, it felt superfluous. We want the reader to encounter and see the things as Batman is seeing them and be in the moment and be driven by the dialogue rather than the internal monologue and it just allowed us to be more in the now and have the story move at a much more brisk pace. Also, it just felt better. I think, with a character like Batman, you can get lost with the internal monologue and be too insightful, in terms of what's going on in his mind, instead of just showing it. We're trying to show and trying to tell through dialogue rather than have the character tell you how he feels. We want the readers to see how he feels.

BB: A lot of it has been pretty liberating to not have to create some kind of inner-monologue. I think it's been done so much and so often that we felt like didn't need to do it. Let me start by saying that we're not going to do it. Right now, we just don't want to do it. I don't have any desire to get into his head. I like the challenge of revealing the information in dialogue and through art.

FM: Don't get us wrong, I love internal monologue. When done well, it's fantastic. All to often, you can see that it's written poorly and it doesn't even occur to me now to write internal monologue with the way we're telling the story. I think with a character like Batman, why wouldn't you want to do that but with everyone doing that Brian and I wanted to take a different approach. Once you read it in that way, you feel like you're finding out that information after the character is. It's a different experience, I guess. That's not to say we won't do internal monologue in our other stories, but I think for the faith of DETECTIVE, it's going to be driven by the dialogue.

CV: This is just my opinion, but that's one thing that makes DETECTIVE such a stand out series, for me, as a reader. Because Snyder's [BATMAN] is very inner-monologue driven, it great, but this makes it feel like a very separate book, with the same characters, which is kind of awesome that we have two, very strong Batman titles going on at the same time.

BB: Yeah. I love what Scott is doing and we're not trying to bad-mouth inner-monologue because he's doing a really great job. I just want to point that out. We do love all that stuff. It's just that we love what we're doing too.

FM: Absolutely, if you read our FLASH stuff, you know that we love doing internal monologue. I've been a fan of Scott Snyder's work for a long time, especially AMERICAN VAMPIRE, and I remember when I was talking to Brian, I said "Dude, you have to read AMERICAN VAMPIRE. I really love the way Scott does his narration and captioning." We did that in the FLASH. We both felt that once jumped onto DETECTIVE, it was a whole new ballgame and we weren't going to play it the same way we played THE FLASH.

Many thanks to Francis and Brian for taking the time to talk to us and make sure to check out DETECTIVE COMICS as well as the Futures End issue in September.