Original Art Stories: Trevor Von Eeden's Grimm Batman
Launched in 1989 as a stand-alone title following the huge popularity of the Tim Burton Batman movie, Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight was initially different from mainstream Batman titles and was the first on-going Batman title to debut since the main title, batman, debuted in 1940. The concept of the title was to showcase constantly rotating creative teams, whom would work no more than five issue arcs to produce stories of graphic novel quality. Best of all the creative teams could have carte blanche as they could feature stories that were not necessarily part of current continuity, but could be considered canon in the characters history. This meant that each team could pick an era of the Batman’s career and work within that time frame and not be bound by current events in the mainstream Batman titles.
Eventually events of the book would impact upon other Batman comics, most memorably with Denny O'Neil's story Venom, pencilled by Trevor Von Eeden and inked by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, a story that showed Batman taking a performance enhancing drug, a drug which would be abused by Bane, a character that would be Batman's undoing.
Grimm, marking one of the few times an artistic team has been invited back to the book. At the time DC announced the story-line, written by Jean Marc (J.M) DeMatties as, "A new Legend begins - this one focusing on Dick Grayson, at the very beginning of his career as Robin. The Boy Wonder follows a street pickpocket right into the lair of the joyfully inane Mother Grimm, who collects homeless and wayward children while putting them to work and allowing them to live in her subterranean world. But there's trouble in this 'paradise."
The art showed that Trevor wasn't living off past glories and could still produce a unique vision of the Batman, but, unfortunately, there wasn’t any interaction between the writer and artist. “I've never met nor spoken to J.M. DeMatties,” says Trevor, “Andy Helfer merely gave me his scripts after he'd edited 'em, that's all. I think that Bob Fleming, the creator/writer of THRILLER, was the only writer who'd ever called me occasionally, during my tenure at DC. It was a great help to me, actually - inspired some of the best work that I'd done for that series. But other than those phone calls from Bob, my time at DC was mostly a solitary one. I didn't mind. I still enjoy my own company.”
“But the only thing that I didn't like was my drawing of Batman's first full-page appearance in - I think that I drew him a little too abstractly. I should've made him a bit more representational and identifiably human, in that shot - at least, that's my opinion now. I still like the fight scene between him and Aquaman, though - and the pages/full-page shots of them talking on the docks. I could really get into an Aquaman story, if it takes place underwater - the opportunity to create visuals previously unseen in comics would be tremendous. It'd have to be an interesting script, though, needless to say.”
Recently Trevor Von Eeden sat down and shared his thoughts on a wide range of subjects, from the evolution of his art style, superheroes, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, the Grimm story line and the character Batman.
I may have to write my own Batman story in order to revisit that Art style, though - but of course, I'd need DC Comics' permission to do so, first.
My Art has evolved over the years in accordance with the development of my own inner world - my own particular spiritual, intellectual, and most importantly - psychological growth. Art in Comics is always the visual expression of a psychological concept - an abstract state of mind. Super-heroes, e.g., are literal embodiments of psychological abstractions - different states of mind (Superman: Omnipotence/ Batman: Intelligence; Resourcefulness; Bizarre theatricality/ Captain America: Patriotism; Phenomenal physical prowess; Military invincibility/ Spider-Man: Radioactive runaway teen-age hormones!/ Angst gone wild! Ok, skip that last one...) - which is why the concept of Integrity is vital to a super-hero's (or villain's) persona - they're each supposed to be a pure representation of a psychological state - that's the very essence of their identities! (Which is why they can be such prima donnas...) Just so, the Art styles of comic book artists are visual representations of their own, individual inner worlds - their unique and particular point of view and psychology - how they see the world, and what they think of it. And being one of "them", that's what I do, too. So far, they seem nice...
I love Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's work, and had requested him as inker on ‘Grimm’. Andy said, "I don't think he'd be interested." Once Jose heard about my request, he walked out of Andy's office that same day, with my pages in his portfolio! I liked what he did on my pencils VERY much - he added a solid confidence and "commerciality" to my work, with the boldness of his line work, and his sensitivity to my original drawings. On a couple of occasions, I think he even improved on what I'd drawn. (No, I'm not gonna tell you which ones...) I had the honor to sit next to Jose back in '03, at The Big Apple Con - and the experience was like being in the presence of true royalty. Not "aristocracy", mind you - the man is so modest, so unpretentious, and so genuine in his humanity that the label "aristocrat" - one above the common people - just doesn't apply. Jose Luis Garcia Lopez is genuine royalty - like Kirby, and Elvis were Kings among men - by the people, for the people, and one OF the people! You just don't find better men than that.
Movies is magic, baby! (Which probably explains the disappearance of my Hollywood royalty checks from my mailbox...) Heck, I'm still waiting to hear from the guys behind "The Matrix" for ripping off Salvo, and calling him Neo. Maybe I'll take 'em on a helicopter ride over the city one day - I hear the view from a dangling cable is not to be believed...
The rest of the work that I may do for DC Comics in the future will be entirely up to them.
Personally, I have no grudges to bear - against anyone.
I like my life that way.