Project: Up Up and Runway
Months ago, when the decision was made to launch 52 new number ones, Co-Publisher Dan Didio, Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras along with DCU Executive Editor Eddie Berganza and VP-Art Direction and Design Mark Chiarello and I went over the entire proposed DCU lineup and bookmarked the characters we felt would benefit the most from a visual redesign. That initial list started at around 30 characters but quickly ballooned up as books got under way. Realizing the amount of time and effort it would take to complete the long list of designs, Mark Chiarello and I enlisted artist Cully Hamner onto the team, giving us not just another set of hands but another style altogether so we would have a variety of styles to literally draw from.
Cully, as many of you know, is a veteran artist with diverse professional experiences, one of the co-founders of Atlanta's Gaijin studios and also the co-creator of the WildStorm comic RED. He had also done a spectacular redesign of Blue Beetle some years back which Mark and DC loved so he was a natural choice for this project. Having known Cully both professionally and personally over the years, I knew his collaborative mindset and sheer creative skills would be perfect for this massive undertaking. Cully in particular took point in creating many of the designs you guys have seen debut in our staggered announcements, and his feedback and input and revisions on countless others were just as instrumental. On top of all this, there was the input provided by Mark Chiarello, a terrific artist in his own right, who gave countless notes and corralled all the images and feedback to make sure all the creators working on the titles had the information they needed and that every voice in this highly collaborative project was taken into account.
The entire redesign process was very organic in that every character's final design came about in an entirely unique fashion. More often than not, Cully and I worked independently or in parallel but sometimes, we jammed together on the same set of designs. And of course, all the designs were shaped and refined by the input of a series editor, writer and artist. In the end, we wanted to make sure all the key creators on a title were satisfied with the final look of the characters as the creative teams were the ones who had to live with and draw the new looks on a near daily basis. For instance, on Birds of Prey, the design process started with initial sketches by the series artist Jesus Saiz which Cully and I then used to riff off of. After rounds of input and alterations, the near final looks were then tweaked by Jesus himself at the end. Or on a series like Teen Titans, Brett Booth contributed most of the designs and Cully and I served as sounding boards, tossing out suggestions and visual counterpoints as we hammered out the final looks almost in real time over massive email chains. And lastly, for other titles altogether, the series' artists did all the designs and Mark and I just chimed in and signed off on the final approvals.
All in all, a huge project, one which only now is finally coming to light. On a reader level, we realize changing even the smallest detail of any character's costume brings out the passion in every fan, but I thought it important to describe the process so you all knew the time and care and thought that was put into each and every redesign. In the end, while you may not always agree with the changes, at least you know they were not made lightly or without great effort.
Finally, I wanted to thank all the DC editors for their incredible patience and invaluable input and so many of the the creative teams for allowing Cully and me to jam along with you. It was definitely an honor.