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Chuck Dixon: Guiding the Bat-Family Through the 90s


Chuck Dixon has written some of the best comic books dating back to the 80s. He wrote "Savage Sword of Conan" and "Punisher: War Journal" for Marvel. But it is his work on the character of Gotham City that he's best known for.

He wrote "Detective Comics" from #644 to #738, through the major Batman stories "Knightfall" and "KnightsEnd", where he helped create the major villain Bane, "Contagion", "Legacy", "Cataclysm", and "No Man's Land". Dixon and Tom Lyle co-created the Electrocutioner in Detective Comics #644 and Stephanie Brown in Detective Comics #647. Dixon along with Tom Lyle launched Robin's first solo mini-series which led to two more, eventually leading to an ongoing series that he wrote for 100 issues. That series will always be one of my favorite comic books. That series solidified Tim as "the Robin" in a lot of fans eyes/

He also wrote "Nightwing" for 70 issue s as well. Which showed Dick Grayson as his own man in his own city, without the shadow of "the Bat" looming over him. that was another series that I loved growing up. The growth of the character really showed why he's one of the most important characters in the DCU and comics in general. His work on "Birds Of Prey" starring Barbara Gordon/Oracle and Black Canary was another creation of his that was successful and still going strong to this day.

When he left DC to go to CrossGen, he helped create great stories such as "Way of the Rat", "Brath", and "El Cazador". While his time over there was brief, those stories still resonate with me to this day. He has written many stories since and even returned to DC to write, "Bane: Conquest" last year. He has been one of the most influential writers in my years as a comic book fan and interviewing him was a huge honor.

Comic Lounge: When did you first decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Chuck Dixon: Not so much a decision as a realization that I liked telling stories. Once I realized that I wasn’t a good enough artist to draw the kind of comics I liked, I concentrated on the writing.

Comic Lounge: What do you love most about the comic book medium?

Dixon: It’s raw and simple. Someone writes a story and someone else draws it. Words and pictures. Minds and hands. And, in its purest form, the same person writes and draws the stories. And there’s an immediate experience to the creation as well as the enjoyment of comics. Good comics delight on every page.

Comic Lounge: You were one of the main Batman writers in the 90's. What were some of your favorite memories from those days?

Dixon: Mostly it was working directly with comic book legends like Denny O’Neil and Archie Goodwin. I think my favorite moment with Archie (and that’s a hard list to choose from) was the last day of a retreat for the Batman writers and artists. The hotel was a disaster. It was eleven on the morning and the staff had still not delivered the coffee. We were all tired and uncaffienated and our task that morning was to pick out the new, post-Knightfall Batman costume from dozens of drawings done by our team of artists. The pieces were all laid out on the floor and we just stood gloomily staring at them, not into it at all. Arche was sitting cross-legged on the floor and looking at one drawing after another and turned to us all with this big boyish smile and said, “Actually, y’know, this is kind of cool.” Changed the whole mood of the room and the day. Great moment.

My best moment with Denny was kind of self-aggrandizing and I’m not into that.

Comic Lounge: You created, Bane, the man who broke Batman. How did you come up with the character? Did you ever think he would become such a fan favorite villain?

Dixon: I only hoped he’d be successful enough to help carry the Knightfall event. It really did come down to the villain. And I thought it was a tall order to make this mystery guy work. If he didn’t click with the readers the whole stunt would fall to pieces. Whatever Graham and I did worked and he’s now a household name icon. No one’s more surprised than me.

Comic Lounge: You wrote the BEST run on Robin starting Tim Drake. Many fans say he's the best Robin, Why do you think his book had such a long and successful run? What do you like most about the character?

Dixon: I liked that he was relatable. He was a less-than-superhero. Like so many of us, he felt, even on his best days, that he was somehow faking it. He was never a natural like Dick Grayson or a driven zealot like Bruce Wayne. You had to root for the kid, he was working so hard.

Comic Lounge: You also wrote Nightwing., which made the character one of the most interesting characters in the DCU. How did you come up with an approach that made Dick stand out from the rest of the Bat-Family?

Dixon: Dick Grayson is, as I said above, a natural. A born athlete trained from childhood to be a high wire gymnast. That’s a level of physical skill and confidence few people achieve. So, he was a bit more relaxed about life. He “had’ this, you know? So, I made him a lot more “fun” than Bruce. And more relaxed. Even to his speech patterns which were less grammatical and proper than Bruce. And his identity as Dick Grayson was as important to him as his Nightwing persona, whereas, I think Bruce is always Batman in his mind. Dick is less flashy, less dramatic as well. That’s why I had him drive a car that wouldn’t stand out.

Comic Lounge: Birds of Prey was another creation of yours. How did you come up with the concept for the team? Why did you decide on Black Canary and Oracle?

Dixon: That was ALL Jordan B. Gorfinkel, the mother of the Birds of Prey. He thought that Canary and Oracle would have chemistry and talked me into writing a one-shot that would lead to more projects and finally the monthly series. He was right, their personalities contrasted and meshed in interesting ways. And his idea that they not meet at first was brilliant. All kudos to Gorf.

Comic Lounge: What storyline are you most proud of during your time on the Batbooks?

There’s SO many!

I still think very fondly of the Captain Leatherwing story in that Detective Comics annual. Quique Alcatena’s art was so perfectly illustrative for that story. Just perfection. And the Riddler origin I wrote for another ‘Tec annual with art by Kieran Dwyer. He brought that story to life so elegantly.

And Joker: Devil’s Advocate is probably the magnum opus of my collaborations with Graham Nolan. We always collaborated so closely. I welcomed his ideas on storylines as his knowledge of Batman is unequaled and he’s a damn good writer one his own. We spent several days in New York together plotting that graphic novel, the only time we did that on a Batman story.

Comic Lounge: You also did a lot of work at CrossGen, what book was your favorite? What was your experience like working at CrossGen?

Dixon: It was unique. Getting to go to an office every day and having the entire creative team there in one place was an experience I will always treasure. And the work shows it. Those were some beautiful comics and many of them, like "Way of the Rat" or "El Cazador", could never have been done under the usual system Those books were a product of the whole team working closely in sync together. Those two I named are my favorites from those days. Rat was only possible because of everything Jeff Johnson brought to the book. His familiarity with period Asian details as well as martial arts lifted that book from a kung-fu story to something lyrical and special. And Steve Epting and I worked so hard to make El Caz a real, authentic pirate book. Steve made that world so real with details that most readers probably missed. And both of us had PILES of reference books we gathered together. Heck, I had books on knots! Again, that could never happen with a book put together through emails.

Comic Lounge: Do you ever miss any of the characters? Would you like to see any of those books make a return?

Dixon: Again, those two titles. I wanted so bad to get to the next arc of WOTR. Bhuto Khan was going to return from the Hell of the Hungry Dragons and was going to be half dragon! And In the next arc of "El Cazador" they were going to steal the original manuscript for the Book of Revelation!

Comic Lounge: What books are you currently working on that you can talk about or tease?

Dixon: Currently, I’m writing Avalon, Right Ho, Jeeves and Q-ANON for Arkhaven. Those are available on Amazon. I’m writing a new VanHelsing mini series for Zenescope called Sword of Heaven. Also working on Ravage: Kill All Men! for Cautionary and I still do a weekly Pellucidar strip for ERB.com with Gray Kwapisz. We’re in our fifth year!

And I’m working on the sixth book in my novel series, Bad Times. Also available on Amazon.

Visit my website at https://dixonverse.wordpress.com/ And check out Bad Times at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_5_9?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bad+times+chuck+dixon&sprefix=bad+times%2Caps%2C209


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