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Interview: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato Unleash Anarky in DETECTIVE COMICS

We chat with the two writers about Batman, Anarky, Harvey Bullock, cats, jealousy, and even personal insults.

Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are back on DETECTIVE COMICS. They've brought Anarky with him. The character was first seen in the New 52 during the Zero Year time period. But is this the same character? We talked to the two storytellers of the book about the character as well as other things like could Harvey Bullock ever put on a costume and become a vigilante? The response might be a little scary.

Hopefully you read DETECTIVE COMICS #37. We reviewed it HERE. If you haven't read it, no need to worry. There aren't any spoilers for the issue here.

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COMIC VINE: How long is this next story arc?

FRANCIS MANAPUL: Four.

BRIAN BUCCELLATO: Four issues. It takes us to CONVERGENCE.

CV: Oh, that makes sense.

BB: Then a little break.

CV: Another break? Just kidding.

[laughs]

BB: It’s the company’s planned break for CONVERGENCE.

FM: That’s right. I’ll take the break though.

BB: The break doesn’t mean what you think it means.

FM: “Break” is a very loose term.

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CV: It looks like the focus will be on Anarky, why did you guys choose him?

BB: Because we had a story to tell involving…identity and chaos and order. He was the best Batman character to play that out. Don’t you think?

FM: Yeah, we were playing around with the concept. A lot of stories are born due to the fact that they live in Gotham. The city of Gotham has, more or less, dictated who people are. If you take a character like Bruce Wayne, there’s certain events in Gotham that shape who he is. How many other people in Gotham don’t have billions of dollars? What happens to them? What kind of situation are they in? A character like Anarky challenges that idea of the city dictating who you are. Instead, what if you had a do-over? What if you could do whatever you want or be whoever you want? What would you do with that opportunity?

Playing around with that concept, Anarky was the perfect character to explore that idea with. Everything just kind of came together. Obviously we’re using Mad Hatter as well. There’s certain elements to that character that will play into what we’re doing. A lot of it came from the desire to answer that question.

CV: Is this the same character we saw in the Zero Year story in GREEN LANTERN CORPS #25?

BB: It’s not.

FM: No.

CV: It’s not?

BB: But we have an explanation for that. It involves Anarky being more of a movement and a concept and an idea than the actual person behind the mask.

CV: Okay. I was going to ask then what had he been up to since it’s been…six years or so since Zero Year and where’s he been since then?

FM: Well, I think at that point he’s probably older, doesn’t rebel against society anymore.

BB: Yeah, he got a good job.

FM: He has a 401K.

BB: He’s playing Xbox.

FM: Exactly.

CV: Okay, we never knew much about that Anarky. Can you tell us if your Anarky is a New 52 updated version of the pre-existing character or is he someone completely new?

BB: Hmmm…pass.

[laughs]

FM: The concept of who he is and what he does carries over. Obviously in the New 52, there’s still things we haven’t introduced yet. There’s room for a new exploration into the idea of the character.

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CV: Do you think we need more anarchy in the real world or comics industry?

BB: No.

FM: Yes.

BB: Anarchy as a rule…leads to people getting hurt. And I’m against people getting hurt.

FM: I just said “yes” to oppose what Brian said.

BB: Because you know Francis is all about people getting hurt.

FM: …all the time.

CV: And you’re all about certain doctors in comic books getting hurt too. But we won’t go there.

FM: Sure.

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CV: We saw Mad Hatter in issue #37 and you mentioned him. Any plans to sprinkle in other villains?

BB: We will see more of Mad Hatter.

FM: Yeah. We’re mainly focusing on Anarky but Mad Hatter does have a role to play. There are two cases that Batman is working on right now.

CV: Only two?

FM: Only two this time.

CV: I guess he’s being lazy.

[laughs]

CV: Can we assume there will be plenty more Harvey Bullock?

BB: That is a correct assumption. Did you know that Harvey is Francis’ favorite? Francis and I love Harvey.

CV: Yeah, I think so.

FM: He’s the best character to write in the middle of the night, especially when you’re writing dialogue at 3 a.m. And when you’re working that late, you’re angry.

BB: You probably have a good time drawing him since he’s interesting-looking.

FM: Yeah. I think if you notice, in the new issue, you can really see that Harvey’s nose was broken. That’s some Earth-shattering change to continuity. He has a broken nose now. He has a boxer’s nose. I think with a character like Harvey, it’s good to show what he’s done from a different angle aside from Batman. Batman has all these gadgets and stuff like that. Playing them off each other, in an antagonistic way, while they’re both trying to solve the exact same crime, it makes it more exciting. For me, Harvey feels more like us than Batman. He’s the everyman that we’re all supposed to, in some sort of way, relate to.

BB: Yeah, he is way more relatable than a rich millionaire turned vigilante.

FM: Essentially, it’s like, imagine Tony if some guy came along to do your job but he’s better.

BB: And he has a ba-zillion dollars to do it.

FM: …he has a ha-zillion dollars and he just seems to scoop up the story from under you just before you can get there.

BB: And he was way better looking than you.

[laughs]

FM: I don’t know if that’s possible.

CV: Are we ever going to see more of Harvey’s personal life? Like what he does when he’s not on the job? Does he have any friends?

FM: Absolutely.

CV: Does he have cats? Didn’t you guys give him cats?

BB: Yeah.

DETECTIVE COMICS #32
DETECTIVE COMICS #32

FM: Well, number one, he doesn’t have friends. Right now the closet friends he has are his two cats and his new psuedo-partner.

BB: Detective Yip.

Detective Yip
Detective Yip

FM: …his mom and his job. That’s all that fills his life right now.

CV: So he’ll never be friends with Batman?

FM: No way. The way the relationship works is he respects Batman but also despises him at the same time.

BB: He’s also, I think, a little bit jealous that Batman gets to circumvent all the rules and has all these other things at his disposal, including not having to play by the police code, to solve the crimes. That’s gotta be annoying. That’s gotta make you jealous.

FM: We’ll definitely explore…we have some pretty big plans for him over the next year.

BB: And by “big plans,” we mean he’s going to gain more weight.

[I thought we were out of time but was told we had more]

CV: Could Harvey ever be a vigilante? Could he ever dress up in a suit? I'm making stuff up now.

FM: I think he could.

BB: Well, if he’s serious about hooking up with Detective Yip, he has to get in better shape. Maybe that will get the ball rolling and he’ll end up in the Bat-suit. You never know.

FM: Well Batman always needs a Robin, right?

[laughs]

BB: Yeah! He could break the record for “Oldest Robin Ever.”

CV: Okay, there’s the twist. Somebody get Peter Tomasi on the phone.

BB: Yeah, we’ll put him in the green undies.

FM: No, I think someone like Harvey, he’ll never wear a mask because he wants the glory for himself. He works for nothing. He’s a cop in Gotham. I can’t imagine you’d get paid very much so a lot of it is him liking solving crimes. He’s good at it. He wants people to know that. The main reason he doesn’t like Batman, like Brian, he’s jealous. He wants that notoriety, he wants that respect.

CV: Did you say, “Like Brian”?

BB: Are you saying I’m jealous?

CV: I think there was a Freudian Slip there.

FM: No, I was saying, “Like Brian said” about Harvey, Harvey is jealous of Batman.

BB: I think Tony is just trying to start stuff.

FM: That’s it.

CV: I’m going to replay the audio, because I heard “Like Brian.”

[laughs]

FM: Like Brian.

BB: He said, “like Brian said.”

CV: I didn’t hear that. Maybe it cut out.

[I did send the audio to Brian and Francis to prove what I heard on my end.]

FM: This is why we killed you in our story. You’re a meddler.

BB: Yeah.

CV: No, I’m a catalyst.

BB: No, you’re a mean-spirited jerk.

CV: Hey, I still need to publish the review for 37.

BB: You should print that. I want that part in there.

CV: You want that in there? You want me to quote you on that?

BB: [pause] Yeah. You’re a mean-spirited jerk.

FM: Actually, you could open your review with that. You could put Brian in quotes and then say, “And yet, I still loved the story.”

BB: Yeah. That’s beautiful.

FM: That’s a good intro. “Brian called me a jerk, yet I still loved it.”

BB: Poetry.

FM: You can’t sell a book better than that.

CV: Alright. This is getting long and I gotta transcribe all this. And eat lunch.

BB: Alright pal.

CV: I’ll talk to you guys later.

BB: Love you!

[laughs]

Pick up DETECTIVE COMICS #37, on sale now, for Anarky, Part 1.