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Tony Daniel Talks Flash #13

Tony Daniel Talks Flash #13
by Vaneta Rogers – courtesy of http://www.newsarama.com – June 2007


If your job had you working in a cave somewhere in upper Slovenia this week, you may not have heard what happened in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13.

So beware: Spoilers below.

But for those of you who have read the issue — or just couldn’t avoid reading spoilers before you could get your hands on it — the comic marks the end of one Flash’s era, as well as being the culmination of a series of deliberate deceptions by DC Comics in an attempt to surprise readers. Not only did the company apparently release “dummy” solicitations for the July and August issues of the comic series, which is instead ending with this week’s issue, but there were fake covers, variant covers and interviews done that indicated the title and its hero Bart Allen were around for the long haul.

Not so. The latest “fastest man alive” isn’t actually alive anymore.

The death of a comics character is almost always emotional for readers, but whether that emotional impact works well relies on the work done by the writer and artist. In the case of Bart Allen’s death, the responsibility for the art side of the equation fell on the shoulders of penciler Tony Daniel. Newsarama talked to Daniel about how he got involved in this project, what he was told about the top-secret ending of the series, and how he worked to tell the story of the death of Bart Allen.

Newsarama: This was a pretty big milestone for you, to draw such a big event, wasn’t it?

Tony Daniel: Yeah! It was pretty unexpected too. I had contacted Dan DiDio about my desire to work on another title. Teen Titans is a very labor-intensive book to work on and I was ready to have a normal schedule again after two-and-a-half years of 12-hour days. Dan called me two weeks later and asked me if I would do this arc. Unfortunately, that meant leaving Titans before “Titans East” was through. But in the end, this was more important.

NRAMA: You were on Titans when Bart was on the team, so knowing the character so well, was it difficult to do this?

TD: He’s one of my favorites. I hadn’t seen the character for so long, and when I do, I have to give him a dirt nap. It was like putting your dog to sleep after you adopted him to another owner five years earlier.

NRAMA: Did you know from the start, when you came onto the title, that this was coming?

TD: Yeah. Dan DiDio told me right away that this was a very important arc. That’s why he wanted me to do it. He told me all the dirty details: that Bart was going to die, we’re going to keep it secret, we’re going to have fake solicitation covers, and this is going to be one of the biggest and most well-kept secret in comics. And it was. And I knew it was an honor to be asked to do something this important. It’s also, probably, one of the most important issues from DC this year. And no one expected this either.

NRAMA: Retailers were warned that it was an important issue, but you’re right that nobody really saw this coming until some stuff was teased this last weekend. And even then, the guesses were all over the place.

TD: A lot of people predicted Barry coming back. Then people were arguing whether it should be Barry or Wally.

NRAMA: And Marc Guggenheim was on the web talking about his long-term plans for Bart, so he just threw everyone in another direction.

TD: It was a concerted effort. We all knew going into this that it was going to be limited — that Marc was not going to be the full-time writer and that I was only on until Bart died.

NRAMA: How was it working with Marc Guggenheim on this arc?

TD: It was great working with Marc because he’s a young, up-and-coming writer. Even though he’s pretty new at this, you can see that he’s got the talent and what it takes to succeed here. Reading his scripts, I knew his skills as a television writer would translate really well for him. I think he’s going to be very, very good in the years to come. I think he’s very good now, and this is just the beginning for him.

NRAMA: Let’s talk about your work on this story. Not only did you deal with the usual difficulties of portraying The Flash moving quickly, but in this arc, you had to show him without powers.

TD: Right. He loses his power toward the end of issue #12. And it’s just Bart in a Flash costume as a normal person. I had to try to convey that with the art — that he’s still a hero, but not a superhero. Hopefully that’s what came across.

NRAMA: There were some pretty intense and emotional scenes in this issue.

TD: Yeah. When I read the script, there were certain scenes that I had already envisioned in my head. In particular, the Rogues beating down on Bart and killing him. I read it once, and then I just let it percolate in my head for a little bit, and I knew how I wanted to draw it. First of all, nothing ever comes out the way I envisioned it. But I had a goal how I wanted to portray the scene, with smaller panels and lots of close-ups of the punching and the hitting, and
Bart taking it.

NRAMA: That splash page was really powerful.

TD: Thanks. No words, just the emotion on the page. I hope I did the scene justice.

NRAMA: You had to draw a lot of emotions, didn’t you?

TD: Yeah, I tried to get the emotional levels across on the characters’ facial expressions. That was first and foremost to me. Even though I was working fast, there are certain pages that I took my time on and labored over.

NRAMA: Such as?

TD: Well, the splash page of Bart, dead in Val’s arms … I held onto for three weeks.

NRAMA: So his death was one of the first things you drew?

TD: Yeah, I started it the first week of the issue, even though it happens towards the end of the story. I wanted to get it out of the way first. I didn’t want to wait until I got there to figure it out. I figured that I wanted to be sure of it and give myself time to change it if I needed to.

NRAMA: Did you revise it at all, or did you nail it right away?

TD: [laughs] After maybe 10 different full page roughs that I ripped up, I finally found something very powerful. But like I figured, I made a last minute change before I inked it. I actually inked that page as well and a few pages in that issue — that’s how fast we were all working on this book. I inked pages in #12 and #13 to help out. And of course, when they asked which pages I wanted to ink, I wanted the death page.

NRAMA: What was the change?

TD: We can only see Iris’ shadow as opposed to her whole body, which is what the editor saw.

NRAMA: You mean, when you showed the editor your pencils, she was fully seen?

TD: Yeah. It was a little surprise for them when I completed the inks, and I’m hoping they weren’t too attached to Iris kneeling beside Bart crying. I just thought it was more of an impact to show her weeping shadow.

I think it’s the best page in the book, but that’s probably because I spent so much time on it.

NRAMA: Do you think this issue is one of your best?

TD: I’m not sure. I am proud of having done the work, and I’m not disappointed in it at all. It would have been better if I’d had more time.

NRAMA: But can’t you say that about anything you do? That it would be better with more time?

TD: That’s the way it is. But that’s part of the job. If I took the time to make it what I wanted, I’d be working on the book for three years! I’m really afraid to open any of my issues when they come out because I only see what’s wrong and how it could be better and how I can be better, or the inks or the colors. I’m never satisfied.

It’s always been like that for me, so it’s not something I can change, but I think it helps me grow. So to be honest, I think my best work so far is Teen Titans: One Year Later, particularly issue #35, and also #43, to this point.

NRAMA: You said you were all working fast on this comic? I would think it would take time to convey that kind of emotion.

TD: It does, but I [laughs] … I actually have never worked so fast in all the years I’ve been working in comics. But that was part of what I had to do, was meet these three deadlines. I was working at one-and-a-half to twice the normal speed, which I didn’t like. I can’t do what I want to do working at that speed. There are only so many hours in the day when I can be productive. I had no social life, I worked six days a week, and I worked all day and night. I wanted to do the best job I could.

NRAMA: Well, as readers of Countdown and Justice League have seen, there are so many things at DC tied into this issue’s events that it couldn’t be late and had to be a pretty tight schedule.

TD: I think in the end, it helped me become a better artist because it forced me to work a little faster and yet better at the same time. It was very challenging. I hope I don’t have to work that fast again for a long time! A day here and there to catch up, or even a week of pounding it out, I can handle though. I’m actually taking two weeks off where I don’t have to do anything. I’m looking forward to having a normal schedule again.

NRAMA: And with that normal schedule, are you allowed to announce what you’re doing next?

TD: I’m not, but I believe it’s been mentioned that I’m going to be working on a flagship title. People will have to wait until San Diego to hear what it is.

NRAMA: Are you already working on it now?

TD: I just started working on a cover. I read a rough draft of the first script to help me figure the covers out and I can tell this is going to be the most incredible experience of my career.


Geoff Johns on “Liightning Saga” and Wally’s Return

Newsarama reports: When fans first heard that the newly re-launched Justice League of America and Justice Society of America comics were going to cross over in a story entitled “The Lightning Saga,” it was safe to assume the conclusion would be a doozy. And now that the issue’s out, readers have discovered its ending is not only a surprise, but the fact that it ties together with other elements in the DCU, all timed for release on the same week, makes it a double-whammy.

As their story is both making waves and inspiring questions, Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer talked to Newsarama about the crossover’s conclusion, how they coordinated it with other comics, and how some of those “Easter eggs” we saw hinted at things coming up in the DCU.

NRAMA: Why do you think the DCU needs “a” Flash back now? And why Wally in particular?

BM: It’s so easy to make annoyingly cryptic remarks, as well as ones that try to overintellectualize why Wally and Barry and Bart should all be chosen ones — but the truth is, I just like the character.

GJ: There were a lot of questions open about Wally and his family and people wanted to know the story — so did I! I’m really excited about Mark’s upcoming run on The Flash. Mark’s someone who has been hugely influential on me, even now more so than before I got in the business, and his Flash run is my favorite comic run of all time.

NRAMA: Yeah, but Geoff… be honest. You missed Wally, didn’t you?

GJ: Hell, yes. I miss writing Wally, Linda and the Rogues a lot. I miss Bart as Kid Flash too. (And just to add my two cents when no one’s asking: the Rogues don’t do drugs. That’s Captain Cold’s #2 rule.)

 


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