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Barry Kitson on Titans End

Barry Kitson’s New Empire 
By Jennifer M. Contino – posted 03-19-2003 – courtesy of http://www.comicon.com/pulse
[this page offers only the Titans portion of the full interview]


Barry Kitson’s been interested in comics since the tender age of four. He was “instantly hooked” on the colorful costumes and superhero themes. His love of comics grew and he soon found himself drawing some of his favorites in the Marvel UK line. From there he landed his first US job, the Batgirl Special and just kept movin’ and grovin’ drawing more and more heroes. Currently the talented creator is working with pal, scribe Mark Waid on Empire and an upcoming Fantastic Four arc. We talked with him about those projects, the end of The Titans and more!

THE PULSE: One of your first works at DC was the Batgirl Special. Looking back at that book now, how do you think you’ve changes as an artist? How has your style evolved?

KITSON: Wow! That’s a real hard question to answer – it’s so subjective. I’d like to think my knowledge of anatomy, storytelling, layout…everything has moved on since then, but just how it’s changed is hard to say. I’m probably the worst person to ask … if I sat down and looked through the comic page by page I could probably pick out dozens of things I’d change and do differently. But I think the fundamental philosophy behind what I do has stayed pretty constant…I’ve just come to understand it and the mechanics involved better. I like to think I’ve learnt a great deal since those days … but only the readers could say whether I’m kidding myself or not!

THE PULSE: After Batgirl you worked on an eclectic mix of titles and characters. Which do you prefer – being regular artist on a series or just doing fill in issues here and there? Why? What are the advantages to both?

KITSON: No contest, I would choose to be a regular artist every time! It goes back to the story telling imperative – I love getting to ‘really know’ a character so that I’m aware of how they move, their particular body language etc. One of the best things for me about working in comics is the interaction with the fans and you only really get that if you work on a title for a good length of time.

There are only two real advantages to doing a fill-in issue here or there; One is just the fun of drawing the characters. I’m very much still a fan at heart so whenever I get any opportunity to draw a great character I’ll try to take it! I still want to draw all the characters that thrilled me when I was a kid…and there’s lots to go yet!

The other is that the odd fill-in also gives you the chance to work with creators you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to work with. I recently did a Dr.Fate story for the JSA-All Stars book that’s coming out soon written by Geoff Johns and David Goyer and I absolutely had a ball. I can’t wait to work on something else with them! Obviously my schedule won’t allow us to do a regular book together in the foreseeable future but at least I did get to enjoy the experience and that has to be better than missing out all together…

I guess a third advantage might be that you get to show some readers not familiar with your regular series a sample of your work!

I hope in all that rambling there’s a sensible answer somewhere :)

THE PULSE: When you’re working on a title for the first time what kind of research do you do? How important is it for you as an artist to have your style so the work is recognizable as Barry Kitson, but also so the characters are recognizable as well? How hard is it to develop a style?

KITSON: Well I try to make sure I have a clear idea what all the characters should look like in my own mind. I’ll do pretty in depth reading of the past issues so that I’m well grounded in the history and nature of the characters. I don’t think about style really as such – I just draw the way I draw and the rest takes care of itself – any style I adopt is very much an unconscious choice on my part. I really just try to draw in a manner that suits the story – whatever I do I think it’ll come out looking recognizably ‘Barry Kitson’ …sometimes I wish it didn’t LOL! All I consciously think about it is whether the story is told well by the pictures and that, hopefully, it looks good!

THE PULSE: You’ve been working on The Titans for a while now … what initially attracted you to that assignment?

KITSON: It’ll come as no surprise from my previous answers to know it was really the chance to draw a group of characters I really liked!

THE PULSE: Were you very familiar with the Titans? Which version of the team was a particular favorite?

KITSON: I’d been a Titans fan from way back – the Nick Cardy days – and ,of course followed them through the Wolfman/Pérez era. Those are the two eras that really stood out for me and to follow in such distinguished footsteps is always a huge thrill!

THE PULSE: Which members of the team were the toughest to get the hang of drawing? Why?

KITSON: I think Donna was by far the toughest for me – probably because I was so conscious of trying to do her justice…and keep her legion of VERY devoted fans happy. I was probably trying to hard for the first few issues, but I felt I was beginning to get the hang of the character after a few issues and beginning to relax into drawing her more. I never quite felt I achieved what I would consider a definitive version, but then that still gives me something to aim for in the future! Also . I would like to have been allowed to give Jesse Quick a new costume – as I wasn’t really too keen on her present one.

THE PULSE: Which members of the team did you enjoy the most drawing? Why?

KITSON: Oh I enjoyed drawing all of them, just because of who they were. I have to admit I was really happy to have gotten the chance to draw Lilith in particular, just because when I was a kid she was one of my all time favorite female characters in comics… probably due to the way Nick Cardy drew her!.

THE PULSE: When you’re working on a comic and designing the pages, how conscious are you of trying to use different angles and views to represent something? Are you always trying to evolve and present something in a different fashion? Why is or isn’t that important to you?

KITSON: You’ll be aware of a theme to these answers LOL!

I’m very, very aware of using angles and lighting to help tell the story! The choices you make as an artist about these things can have a big influence on how a scene is interpreted by the reader!

I also think it’s absolutely essential to try new ways of story telling and I do put a lot of thought into designing the pages so the story flows and the placing of light and shade enhances rather than detracts from the story. My first and foremost concern is always how well will the story be told – I try not to do something different purely for it’s own sake. When you’ve been drawing comics as long as I have, you do have to be aware of the danger of falling back on the ‘tried and true’ which also has to be avoided – so in all my preliminary work there are lots of ‘new approaches’ tried and every now and then one of them actually works and finds its way into my story-telling arsenal. So, yes, it is important to me to keep trying new approaches and to improve my work in every way!

THE PULSE: Now that you’re getting down to some of the final issues for the series is it a little sad to think of this version of The Titans being over? Or are you looking forward to changing gears and working on something different?

KITSON: To be honest I’m enjoying all the new projects I’m working on and very, very , excited and enthused about the work –the situation with the Titans never actually got itself to a point where I felt I could do what I’d really hoped to with the characters. There was a lot of uncertainty while DC decided what long term plans they had for the Titans book and Young Justice- a result of that was the book went into something of a holding pattern. It was still a lot of fun drawing the characters, but also a little frustrating as there was a great deal I would have liked to have done differently and a whole lot of ideas that never got implemented. But that’s just life and at least I did get to fulfill the dream of drawing the characters for a while!

 


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author