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When we think of some of the most definitive artists to lend their pencils to Batman over the past 78 years, such greats as Bob Kane, Dick Sprang, Neal Adams, Frank Miller, Bruce Timm and Jim Lee immediately come to mind. But, in recent years, the torch has been passed to incredible talents such as Tony S. Daniel, Greg Capullo and the subject of today’s interview, Jason Fabok.
Having arrived on the scene several years ago with a gig on Superman/Batman, it wasn’t long before Fabok filled in for David Finch on a couple issues of Batman: The Dark Knight before it was relaunched for the New 52. And before anyone knew what hit them, he was drawing what I believe to be the most badass rendition of Batman of this decade in Detective Comics, Batman Eternal, Justice League and, most recently, The Button.
I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Jason at Motor City Comic Con, where we discussed his rapid rise in the industry, his work on The Button and what’s on his creative bucket list, which, believe me, you’re definitely going to want to stick around for. Enjoy!
WGTC: Over the past few years, it’s been interesting to see your rise at DC Comics because it’s occurred in very short order. I remember seeing you on a couple issues of Superman/Batman, and now you’re one of the top guys at DC that they go to for major projects. Has it been a surreal experience for you?
Jason Fabok: Oh yeah, it still amazes me every day to think that I was able to accomplish my dream and my goal. Coming into the industry, I wanted to draw Batman, alright? I just wanted to draw Batman. I figured it would take me 10-15 years to get to a point where I would actually get offered a chance to draw Batman in a comic book. The amazing thing is the first issue I ever did was a Superman/Batman issue with Batman – and every single book I’ve drawn for DC has had Batman in it, which is crazy to think.
I have this crazy streak going where I’ve drawn Batman in every single book. Sometimes he’s just appeared for one panel, but I’ve done it. I don’t know, it just blows my mind to think that I’m doing this, that I’m even doing this job and I’m getting to work with some of the biggest writers on the biggest books.
My parents always taught me to be humble and to just be thankful for all the opportunities that you get, and I am. I feel very blessed to have this job and to be able to do this. I hope I can do it another twenty years. I don’t know, but for now, I’m just really thankful for where I’m at and excited to see where the future goes.
WGTC: I don’t know if “typecast” is the word to use for an artist, but are you comfortable that you’re the go-to Batman guy? I’m sure you’ll get to work on some of the other big guns, but are you comfortable having a second home in Gotham right now?
JF: Yeah, if I could, I would work on Batman for the next 5-6 years. Here’s the funny thing about Batman: I don’t feel that I’ve drawn the Batman story that I was meant to draw yet. I’ve done Detective Comics, I did Batman Eternal and The Button. I’ve done some cool little things in there, but I don’t feel like I’ve really been able to put my stamp on Batman. But I do think that is gonna come in the future. I think, for me, everything has been leading up to taking a bigger role on a Batman book, like doing a nice, long run on something like that.
WGTC: Maybe an original graphic novel?
JF: You know what? I’d love to do something like that. That’s the character I’ve always wanted to draw. That’s the character that interests me the most. There are other DC characters that I’d love to draw, but right now, I seem to have a little bit of… I don’t know what the word is for “comic book fame” and you can kinda choose where you want to be. Batman’s the high selling book and he gets the most attention. And while I have DC’s eye, I kind of want to keep going with it as long as I can.
There will come a day when I’m sure I’ll be swayed to some other characters, but Batman’s the one I want to do for now, and I just want to keep putting my stamp on the character, and we’ll see. I’ve got some cool stuff coming down the line that involves the character, and we’ll see how it goes.
WGTC: It wasn’t quite “the definitive Batman story” you were talking about, but one particular issue that will stand out for many is #22, in which we saw Batmen Bruce and Thomas fighting side by side. That’s certainly going to be a definitive moment in the character’s history because who would’ve thought we’d ever see that? Can you tell us about what it was like to put together that story with Tom King and Joshua Williamson, and what it was like to be a part of comic book history?
JF: It was an interesting thing. I was looking for something to do. I wanted to keep my workload light as I’m waiting for my next bigger project to come towards the end of the year. They had approached me about this and, originally, they just kind of said, “hey, we got a Batman/Flash crossover we’re gonna do. You want to do that?”
I said, “sure, that sounds neat.”
“It’ll only be two issues. Oh, and by the way, it’s gonna now involve the Watchmen!”
It’s like, “oh, wow!”
As the story kind of progressed, I knew they were teasing towards this Doomsday Clock Geoff Johns is at. He had told me about this a while ago, that he was gonna do it, so I kind of knew where everything was leading with that story.
For issue 21, working with Tom and doing the nine panel layouts, trying to make it very evocative of the original Watchmen… I had a blast on that story. Issue 22 surprised me because that one was a book where I was drawing on a very tight deadline. I felt like “I gotta get this done.” I felt like I was cutting corners on that book, and the script that I got from Joshua Williamson was very bare bones. It didn’t have much of the dialogue in it. It was just like, “Batman and Thomas, they talk here. And then they look over and it’s the Flash.”
But then when I actually read that issue, the scene where Bruce tells his father “you’re a grandfather, I have a son,” I choked up, man. I couldn’t believe how my artwork matched it. Sometimes it’s the magic of comics that comes together. From my end, I’m just sitting there working and I don’t really think “this is going to become a great issue.”
In fact, I thought the opposite. I thought, “are people going to dig this? Are people going to like Batman talking with Flashpoint Batman?” But they did. I think it’s just one of those books that clicked, and I’m really proud of it. I’m hoping that fans really dug that story.