You saw GYRE, now read Kevin Smith's intro to the CACOPHONY HC
Yesterday, we showed off pages from BATMAN: THE WIDENING GYRE #1, from Kevin Smith and artist Walt Flanagan. But the creative duo aren't newbies when it comes to Batman.
On September 16, renowned filmmaker Smith (Clerks, Dogma) steps onto the streets of Gotham City to tell a tale of the Batman, as he squares off against Smith’s villainous creation, the mysterious serial killer known as Onomatepoeia. As the murderer sets his sights on the Caped Crusader, a collection of familiar faces appear to intercede, including the Crown Prince of Crime himself.
Told in the sharp-tongued and engaging style that has made Smith’s films fan favorites over the years, BATMAN: CACOPHONY pairs Smith with artists Flanagan and Sandra Hope to tell a tale that will force Batman to make the ultimate decision: Bring in a murderous villain or save the Joker’s life. Smith’s deft pacing, sharp dialogue and familiarity with the character of Batman and his milieu combine to create a tale of the Dark Knight unlike any other – and one that won’t soon be forgotten.
The hardcover graphic novel edition of the three-issue tale features an introduction from Smith along with his original script for the third issue. We've got the introduction for you right here, too. Just click that handy "Read More" link below.
Introduction by Kevin Smith
To address the elephant in the room, yes - Walt got the job because he’s my friend. And, yes - it’s unseemly and unprofessional to trade in such naked nepotism; so much so that a base-coach from the other team insinuated that I bullied DC editorial into giving my guy the job.
I mean, sure – that’s one way to look at it. Or you can view it through this prism: without Walt, not only would “Cacophony” not exist, I’d have likely never read any comics beyond Sad Sack or Hot Stuff the L’il Devil.
Walt Flanagan was my comics guru. Circa 1989, we worked together at the Highlands Recreation Center for a year, during which time he’d loan me copies of THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, WATCHMEN and Mage.
It was an age of wonders. We’d spend weekends going to Fred Greenberg’s NY comic book shows at the Penn Hotel, cherry-picking the wall books and discount boxes ‘til dusk – at which point, we two suburbanite lads would scamper back home to Monmouth County, where nobody’s ever been mugged. When there wasn’t a weekend show to hit, we’d drive from one end of Jersey to the other with a phone book, tracking down hole-in-the-wall hobby shops, hoping to find still-racked, first printings of THE KILLING JOKE (re: phonebook – mind you, this is in the pre-internet, pre-GPS, nearly-crustacean era).
Walt Flanagan always liked to draw. He had a penchant for drawing Metal-influenced zombies.
During those many hours on toll roads, we’d talk about the story arcs and specific issues we loved, and - like all comic fans - how we would’ve improved plot points or dialogue with our fan-boy attention to detail and love of continuity. And after all that unwitting training, a decade or so later, I was actually writing for those very DC characters I’d rhapsodized about with Walt while trekking up and down the state, looking for new wall books at old rack prices.
No slouch himself, Walt had teamed-up with his cinematic and real word best-y, Bryan Johnson to create both Karney and War of the Undead for IDW. The most involvement I had with either mini was an intro I did for the Karney trade.
So there we were: two comics-lovin’ dudes from the Jersey ‘burbs who both fulfilled dreams of making funny books.
But we’d never done it together (y’know, a comic book; not “whoopee”).
And that’s what I was thinking when I saw the “Dark Knight” billboard.
Oh, I was always a Batman fan: from a childhood of afternoons spent watching Adam West “Batman” reruns when school let out, to Tim Burton’s groundbreaking film in ’89, to everything Marshall Rogers and Frank Miller had ever done that featured the cowled crusader. But the teaser trailers for Nolan’s flick? The billboards? It reignited my Bat-thusiasm. I fell in love all over again.
Confession time: I haven’t read weekly new books in over five years. I fell behind in my reading, then fell even further behind, then stopped reading altogether. Walt would keep me updated as to what was happening in the various plotlines of the many titles I used to regularly read. I’d long since lost the desire to write comics – largely because I’d become persona non grata in the comics community, due to my incessant lateness. But looking up at that billboard? I became very interested in Batman again. And the more I stared at the billboard, the more I “saw” Walt’s name.
Here was one of my closest friends in the world – the guy responsible for my four-color enthusiasm – drawing comics. Here was me, wanting to write some comics. And neither of us were getting any younger.
So I called Dan Didio, who I’d met many years prior, and asked him if I could write a Batman mini and have my long-time friend draw it. Dan understood immediately that my passion for the project was being fueled by the desire to bring my comics interest full circle: create a miniseries with my comics-brother-from-another-mother handling the art chores.
And man, was it fun for us – not to mention a dream come true.
Fun and educational, actually. I banged out the first two scripts in a week, but it wasn’t until issue one streeted that I did a second draft – all thanks to a CACOPHONY review in which a critic pointed out that some of the dialogue I’d given Batman didn’t sound natural in the least when spoken aloud. I gave it a test run and the blogger was absolutely correct: I’d gotten too showy with the word balloons. So I re-drafted all the dialogue for the next two issues, scraping away the excess verbiage, and boiling each sentiment down to the same Bat-time (same Bat-channel).
On the art front, Walt would draw a rough of the page, if necessary, I’d ask for tweaks, then he’d take it to full pencils. And over the course of three issues, both of us got better at creating a comic book. The writing improved from issue one to issue three, and the art followed suit (indeed, peep out the “Fountainhead” reading sequences in issue one and three; they look like they were drawn by two different artists entirely).
So for those who’d snark about me getting my friend a job: you’ve got it all wrong. Scrape away everything else, and you’ll see that I’M the friend who benefited from nepotism; because if it weren’t for Walt Flanagan, I wouldn’t have this gig. Walt is Batman himself, and me? I’ve always been nothing more than a fat and flabby, immature, over-eager Robin.
But to be fair, once we got the approval from Dan and DC, I started thinking about how I’d written Batman into a bit of my GREEN ARROW run, yet said in many an interview, “I don’t wanna write a Batman story ever; it’s fun to use him as a supporting player instead.” What a stupid thing to say. Why limit yourself when it came to the single most interesting superhero ever created? Why not try to write the best Batman story you could?
No – that’s not CACOPHONY.
By series’ end, I realized it wasn’t the best Batman story I could write; nor was it Walt’s finest hour. By the time we were finished, I saw CACOPHONY for what it was: a dress rehearsal for the best Batman story I could write/Walt could draw. It was a warm-up. Quentin Tarantino (yeah, I’m dropping names) once told me that he wanted to do another martial arts flick after the Kill Bill films because by the time those flicks were done, he’d learned how to do it. His logic was “Now I’ve got all this expertise in the field. Why not put it to use immediately?”
So the three issues of CACOPHONY gave birth to a twelve issue maxi-series that Walt and I are working on now, for release this fall. Entitled BATMAN: THE WIDENING GYRE, it is, for sure, the best Batman story either of us can do.
Meantime, ‘til that hits the stands? Please enjoy the second best Batman story me and Walt could tell.