BATMAN AND THE SIGNAL’s Laura Martin and Cully Hamner on Their Vision of Gotham (Exclusive)

Laura Martin and Cully Hamner have been working together for over ten years. They even used to share a studio. So when it comes to collaboration, they’re a force to be reckoned with. When DC Comics approached Hamner about the possibility of illustrating a new Bat-book, Batman and the Signal, he had one person in mind to color it. “They came to me with this project and it just sounded like something that was a lot of fun,” Hamner told Nerdist. “It was a different idea for the Bat-books, something that was not only literally brighter in tone than the Bat-books but also from a character point of view. I thought it was an intriguing idea and so I went to Laura. I said to DC, ‘I have to get Laura, Laura is the one I like working with more than almost anybody.’ So she hopped on board.”

Batman and the Signal, written by Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick, puts Duke Thomas in the forefront and depicts a vision of Gotham that’s rarely been seen: Gotham by daylight. We have exclusive pages from issue #2 below.

Gotham has long been steeped in darkness. Even Batman‘s moniker The Dark Knight is a play on the shadows he was born in. This was an enjoyable challenge for superstar colorist Laura Martin. She explained, “It’s interesting because there’s so much material and history out there about Gotham at night, and so many different color schemes. You think about Batman Beyond and the red skies, and there’s just been so many interesting things done with Gotham at night which means there’s so much for me as a colorist to fall back on when I’m working on a Batman story. But for this I had to stop and think, ‘What would Gotham look like in the day? Is it grungy? Is it smoggy? Is it hazy? Is it completely bright and shiny? What would Gotham look like?’ I had to sit back and think of what do other cities look like in daylight?”

“The big thing is that Cully always offers me a lot of information on the page, there’s always a light source, and I always know where it’s coming from. I really tried to push the colors to make it look harsh, so it’s almost blinding compared to the nighttime scenes,” she continued.

The world of Batman and the Signal is vibrant and bright, a striking juxtaposition to the world of Gotham we’ve all come to know. For artist Hamner the details were vital in creating a vision of Gotham during the day. “I made a conscious effort to make sure that even down to the clothes people were wearing and the props they’re using, to make sure people are wearing hats or sunglasses. Reflective sunglasses are even better, to really give that idea that it’s daytime, you know? And I wanted to extend that to cityscapes too, to silhouette buildings in the distance to really give that idea of light pollution,” he said.

From the first page of the first issue, it’s clear as the light spills through the curtains of Wayne Manor that the Batman and the Signal creative team are really doing something different with this book. “One thing we talked about was including a lot of sunlight filtering into interior space. We wanted a lot of light pollution in this, we wanted it to feel like the light is infecting the shadows. But there are still heavy shadows, still places criminals can hide, and there’s still danger. So a lot of the interior scenes take place underground or hidden away but still have light filtering in from above, ” Martin told us.

Hamner expanded on the subtle visual motif. “That was definitely conscious. If you look at where they hold the Metas under the youth center, I made a really conscious effort to try and communicate this to Laura–that there are light tunnels and skylights that come from above down underground. You can still get those shafts of lights. In fact, the little prison under the youth center is called the Shafts for that reason.”

As you can see from our exclusive pages of the second issue, Batman and The Signal is a striking, exciting book with a fresh visual landscape crafted by Martin and Hamner. The first issue was a hit and the team are really excited for fans to see the where the story goes. “There’s some stuff in #3 that’s going to be really cool for people to see,” Hamner teased. “Go out and buy it because it’s awesome! It’s worth checking out for sure because it’s a different look for Gotham and I think Batman fans are going to dig that,” Martin exclaimed.

Batman and The Signal #2 is out on Wednesday, February 21.

Images: DC Comics

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