Thursday, March 1, 2007
Bill Ramey

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Buy 'ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN!' THE LONG HALLOWEEN just may be my favorite Batman story. So in honor of the upcoming ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN! I recently had the privilege of talking with the artist of that book, the great Tim Sale! Here's Tim's bio:

Tim Sale was born in Ithaca, New York, 1956. He and his family moved to Seattle, Washington when he was six years old, and on the car ride west, his father bought him comic books to help pass the time, thus beginning his lifelong interest in visual storytelling. When Sale was 13, his family spent a few months in London, England and he discovered that the Popular Book Centre chain of used book stores also sold used American comic books; the easy access to inexpensive comics intensified his increasingly obsessive immersion in Marvel Comics of the 1960's, and the artists that worked for Marvel at that time -- Kirby, Buscema, Ditko, Romita, Steranko, especially -- inspired him to increase his own interest in drawing.

Sale had two years of college at the University of Washington and attended the comics workshop run by John Buscema in NYC in 1976, but is largely self-taught. As his experience with talented comic book writers such as Jeph Loeb and Matt Wagner progressed, his interest in commercial art outside of comics did as well, and Sale believes that it is this exposure and inspiration that is largely responsible for his continued employability and career longevity.

He lives in southern California with his two dogs, the mighty and lovable, Hotspur and Shelby.

Batman: Long Halloween, DC Comics
Batman: Dark Victory, DC Comics
Superman For All Seasons, DC Comics
Superman Confidential, DC Comics
Solo, DC Comics
Daredevil Yellow, Marvel Comics
Spider-Man Blue, Marvel Comics
Hulk Grey, Marvel Comics Wolverine/Gambit, Marvel Comics
Grendel Devil's Reign, Dark Horse Comics
HEROES, NBC television

Tim Sale

JETT: So, what's Tim Sale currently working on and/or have coming up?

TS: My current comics project is SUPERMAN CONFIDENTIAL, with Darwyn Cooke writing and Dave Stewart coloring. That's a six issue story arc, and after that is unknown what Ill do, but I am still exclusive to DC and in the contract, I still owe them about another 100 pages after SC is done, so I'm sure we'll find something!

JETT: My bad! I knew your were working on SC! Everyone says it's a heck of a comic book. Anyway, I've heard you've done some stuff for HEROES. True?

TS: It's true. Jeph Loeb and the series creator and head honcho, Tim Kring, have known each other for years, and when Kring was looking for some art to illustrate his pilot script, he asked Jeph to recommend one of his comics artist buddies, and Jeph mentioned me. When the script was picked up, Kring brought me in and asked if I would be interested in creating the paintings for the character of Isaac. I explained that I don't paint because I'm colorblind, but that in comics (like Catwoman: When In Rome and Daredevil Yellow), I create grey-tone drawings that are transformed on the computer to look like color paint, and that became how the "paintings" for HEROES are done -- they are prints on canvas of my wash and charcoal drawings colored by the great Dave Stewart. It's a lot of fun!

JETT: What first crosses your mind when you think about THE LONG HALLOWEEN?

TS: That it was a long time ago! I'm very proud of the work, and I think over the course of the series I really learned a great deal, and Jeph and I really learned how to work together. TLH and SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS were the real coming out party for Jeph and I as artists and friends and collaborators.

JETT: You know many Batman fans consider TLH one of the greatest Batman stories ever produced. What's your take on that?

TS: Thanks! As I say, it meant a great deal to me at the time to do the work, to truly be a storytelling partner with Jeph, and it's extremely gratifying that it was so well received. The mystery story format is perfect for Batman, and I personally love the genre, so that made it all the more fun. Film Noir, too. As Steranko once told me, "Where would we be without Venetian blinds?"


JETT: How much creative freedom did you have when working with Jeph Loeb on TLH and DARK VICTORY? Did the two of you discuss about every little detail or did you have completely free hand?

TS: By the time we got to TLH, Jeph and I had a lot of work together behind us, and had finally settled on a technique that worked best for us. Jeph had learned what I do well and don't do well -- or don't like to do -- and he has a great ability to write to that. By the time of TLH, Jeph was writing pretty much full scripts for me, in that there are page and panel breakdowns, with descriptions and much of the dialogue. In his mind he is very much writing for me and so there are things he can rely on me to provide that he doesn't have to mention, and references he can make to old movies or comics that he knows I will get. We will discuss the kind of story that we want to tell in the beginning, but from then on it's Jeph writing and I'm kibitzing and editing slightly. As far as the art, I have free reign to cut or add panels, shift emphasis if I think it serves the story, but there is very little of that really.

JETT: Would you like to collaborate with Jeph on Batman again? Perhaps a sequel to DARK VICTORY?

TS: Sure, anytime. As far as a sequel, never say never, but I doubt it, and besides, we kinda think of CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME as our third in the trilogy.

JETT: When you watched BATMAN BEGINS, did you see any of TLH in it?

TS: Y'know, I didn't. Others did, and I know that both Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan mentioned TLH as an influence, but I didn't really see it. Maybe I'm too close to it.

JETT: Rumor has it that TLH will have a BIG influence on the new Batman film, THE DARK KNIGHT. What aspects of your book would you like to see included in the film?

TS: I suppose I'd love to see the transformation of the crime-fighting trio of Batman, Gordon and Dent into the Two-Face story, and how Gotham City is changed from being run by hoods tom being run by the "freaks", the supervillians. A mystery story would be nice, too, a real plot. But movies are a very different thing than comics and I'm not one to desire "faithfulness" in the details, I just want a good story, well told.

JETT: Are you excited about the upcoming release of ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN? Did you do anything new for it?

TS: Yes, very much. It's been ten years, and I can't wait to see it all big and shiny! I worked with DC designer Louis Prandi on the look of the volume, and Bob Harris and Robbin Brosterman oversaw it all and made sure things worked. DC was very inclusive of things Jeph and I wanted to do. There is a new cover and four new story pages that were pencilled for the original comics but had to be cut for length, so I inked them up (ten years between pencils and inks!), and Dave Stewart colored them in his best Greg Wright imitation. There is a cover section with sketches and Jeph's original story proposal in there too. David Goyer and Christopher Nolan provide the intro, how cool is that?

JETT: What work are you most proud of?

TS: I love both the Batman and Superman works I've done with Jeph, but maybe my favorite is the short story Jeph and I did in SUPERMAN/BATMAN #26, called "Sam's Story". Inspired by the awful, awful untimely death of Jeph's teenage son Sam, it's a very moving story of how Clark first experiences mortality when a classmate of his gets cancer. Makes me tear up just thinking about it, and I did my best to honor Sam and what happened. I think it may be the best thing that Jeph and I ever did together.

JETT: Thatís awesome Tim, really. Is there a character/comic that you haven't worked on and would love to?

TS: I don't really have a strong wish list of characters, I'm more interested in story and motivation, what's the reason to tell this story? There are lots of characters that I think might fit that bill, but I'm nowhere near as good at thinking about how a character fits a storyline as many writers are.

JETT: Do you like the way Batman is being written in the comics post-INFINITE CRISIS? More heroic -- still dark -- but less "disturbed," if you will.

TS: I plead ignorance. I don't really follow the monthly comics, I'm afraid, so I'm unaware of what folks are doing. From your description, it doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but the hard working people at DC need to keep those books coming out, and I certainly don't envy the task of creating new ideas for 60-odd year old character.

JETT: Warner Bros. has commissioned a JUSTICE LEAGUE script for a live-action. Would you like to see one and if so, should Batman be included? That's a big debate amongst the Bat-fans right now, LOL!

TS: I say just ask Bruce Timm. The man is a genius artistically, conceptually and in execution. For me personally, hey, I don't even like Batman with Robin, much less a group of other costumed geeks. I like him best as a tortured, driven, solitary figure.

JETT: Any chance that you'll be heading back to "Gotham" soon?

TS: No plans, but who knows? There are those 100 pages that DC will need from me!

JETT: Thanks Tim! Y'all make sure to visit Tim's OFFICIAL WEBSITE!

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and Editor in Chief of


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