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From Art to Action Figures: An Interview with Dustin Nguyen

From Art to Action Figures: An Interview with Dustin Nguyen

By Tim Beedle Friday, April 11th, 2014

It’s fair to stay that Dustin Nguyen is a pretty big Batman fan.

While he’s worked on quite a few titles within the DC Universe over the past several years, he gained a much of his popularity while drawing the Dark Knight in Detective Comics, Superman/Batman and Batman: Streets of Gotham. However, he’s become most well known for his distinctly different take on Batman and friends in the Digital First series Batman: Li’l Gotham. While the ongoing series has ended, it remains popular among fans and the timeless, out-of-continuity approach to its storytelling all but ensures that this is a Batman comic that will continue being read for years to come.

So of course, all of us at DC Collectibles were dying to give Dustin and co-writer Derek Fridolfs’ fun new approach to Gotham the action figure treatment. In September of this year, the first four figures based on Batman: Li’l Gotham will hit stores. They’re cute. They’re cool. They’re collectible. And they’re the perfect complement to the darker, more intense Batman action figures and statues that you’re likely more accustomed to seeing. You can check out the first four figures above, if you haven’t yet seen them. Trust us, you’ll never seen such adorable hyenas.

To get a sense of how this all came together, and to find out more about Dustin in general, we sat down with him to ask him a few questions.


When you first started drawing these li’l guys, I think you showed us sketches years ago, did you ever expect to see them in three dimensions?

I never imagined this. I originally wanted them to be snow globes! I’m glad we waited this long. My original sketches looked horrible. I was still developing the look. I think I started drawing them as babies.


How many rounds of character designs do you normally go through until a character is ready?

It was easy because I’d had so many chances to draw them in the book already. Every book has 10 pages worth of story. The Joker’s had his own story and Robin is in every issue.


Four Batman: Li’l Gotham action figures—Batman, Robin, Joker and Harley Quinn—have so far been announced by DC Collectibles. Who would be your top picks for future characters you’d like to see in action figure form?

I’d really like to see Poison Ivy and Catwoman to complete the Gotham Girls thing, and definitely Mr. Freeze!


Which Batman: Li’l Gotham character would you say is most likely to collect action figures?

I think it would be Batman! That dude has a cave full of stuff! He has a trophy room where he just collects stuff! He’s a hoarder!


We’re currently celebrating 75 years of Batman. Do you have a favorite Batman storyline?

There was a story in Batman Beyond where Bruce was going crazy. He was hearing voices in his head and so they threw him in the asylum. At the end of the story, he finds out that someone put a chip in his head and that was generating the voices. At the end of the story Terry says something like, “How did you know you weren’t crazy?” And Bruce says, “Because the voice kept calling me Bruce… I don’t call myself Bruce.”

That just says so much about Batman.


On a similar note, DC Collectibles has produced a lot of Batman product over the years. Do you have a favorite statue or figure?

The Batman Animated Maquette you guys made a while back has always been my favorite. Batman: The Animated Series has always been my canon.


Finally, are you more of a “leave your action figures in their original packaging” sort of guy, or do you like to open them up and play with them?

I used to get two. I’d get one to play with and one just to put away.

I stopped doing that recently because it took up too much room. Now I take them out, break them and repaint them. I like to repaint my figures all the time. I actually buy figures and repaint them gray to get that “exclusive” look!


Look for the Batman: Li’l Gotham action figures in your favorite comic or specialty store in September, 2014. Or shop for them online at Amazon and at www.shopdccollectibles.com.