Comic Watch’s own Kevin Rossi recently had the opportunity to sit down with Graham Nolan at Rhode Island Comic Con. An industry veteran, Graham Nolan is best known for being a co-creator of the Batman villain Bane. The two discussed Bane’s legacy and future, Frankenstein movies and comics, like Nolan’s Joe Frankenstein, and what’s next for Nolan.
Comic Watch: So Graham, how are you liking Rhode Island Comic Con?
Graham Nolan: It’s great. This is the second time I’ve been here. The first time was about four years ago when we did the presentation to Stan Lee and I got to go upstairs — actually was the first time I met Stan. It was such a thrill, I think he died the next year, two years later, something like that. So it was a great opportunity for me and I had a great time so it’s great to be back.
CW: I’m loving it here! I live about a mile away from this place.
GN: Oh nice!
CW: So a little bit about Bane, but then a little bit about Joe Frankenstein, too
GN: Oooh, yeah. I love Joe Frankenstein
CW: One of the things that has defined your career was the involvement in the creation of Bane and Knightfall. So you were just talking about how he has that last presence in comics, film, and television and things like that–
CW: How do you feel about that character even though– you were talking about having Tom Hardy– do you still consider that your character, character that you helped create?
GN: Yeah, he’ll always be our character. I mean we don’t own him, DC Comics owns Bane. We have an equity agreements so we have royalties and stuff for the character. But we have no control over his destiny or what they do with the publishing rights. I mean, aside from that they cant away the fact that we created him. So yeah, we consider him our character
CW: Yeah, that’s what I love about comics books. Is that it can get so far away from how the character started.
GN: Yeah, the way we looked at it is if Chuck didn’t write it or I didn’t draw it then it’s not like legitimate Bane. Some people have interesting takes, but yeah, I don’t sort of consider them canon.
GN: We tried to do a reset with Bane conquest last year that was 12-issue series that was going to set Bane up as like the criminal mastermind of the DC Universe and he took down Hydra — not Hydra, its called [laughs] Cobra, [laughs] same thing. So we left a lot of easter eggs in there because we wanted to continue the storyline after the 12 issues but DC wanted to do this City of Bane thing so it didn’t follow up. But we got to reset a lot of stuff with Bane whether they consider it canon or not, and return Bane to the really brilliant tactician and mastermind, which had been missing.
CW: Before that, had you kind of accepted once he was out of your hands, anyone could have done anything to him?
GN: Oh yeah, we accepted that when we created him that we had no control.
CW: So, I’m an English professor around here and in grad school I wrote about comics a lot. I’ve written about Frankenstein a couple times– Frankenstein in comics. And so that’s a lot different than someone taking like Bane and writing about him. Frankenstein is such a serial figure. So there’s a lot more room for play. So even if you create your own version of Frankenstein you can still kind of reference the film or the original novel. So it just kind of keeps feeding itself into it. How’s it feel to work with a character like that rather than someone from DC Comics or Marvel?
GN: Frankenstein is a public domain character. [interruption] So where we were?
CW: So all of this, The books, the movies, the plays are attached to the character. What’s it like using that character in comics where all of that is associated?
GN: Well for me it was just grist for the mill. You know, I was able to tap into all of those things that I loved about the character from all these different iterations. Particularly the movies because that’s what introduced me to horror– was Frankenstein vs The Wolf Man– first monster movie film I ever saw, like 6 years old. The Wolf Man scared the piss out of me but the Frankenstein monster I thought was sort of like the hero of the story. You know, I think that probably stuck with me and why I wanted to make him, you know, more of the heroic figure that I did in Joe Frankenstein.
CW: You’re just adding to the Frankenstein culture text.
GN: Yeah! I mean yeah, exactly! The creator is long gone, you know, so there’s nothing there, you know, It’s a whole different thing when you’re talking about something like Bane, where the creators are still alive and vital in their work. I’m assuming at some point after I croak [laughs] that people will be doing Bane from now until when cows come home. They’ll have their own versions, maybe mine will be forgotten. It won’t matter [laughs]. Just like Mary Shelley didn’t have a say, you know, in the Universal Monster versions or anything else, you know. So yeah, yeah, it is just more stuff that I can use to tie into, you know, the character.
CW: It’s such a classic Karloff monster look, and that’s the most iconic one.
GN: Yeah, that’s the vision that everybody has of Frankesntein’s monster so my version of him is obviously based on that, but it’s a copyrighted version so I couldn’t do it exactly like that. Sort of the shape and head but I had the more surgical circular top cut, had his ear chewed off to indicate he’d been in battles ever since he was brought to life or maybe twenty years ago, who knows. So i added things, you know, to make him my own.
CW: I love anything Frankenstein in comics! Are there any future projects you can talk about or you’re working on?
GN: Yeah, I’m working with Chuck [Dixon] again on a movie related project, but I can’t really announce it, I don’t have permission to announce it yet. That’s what I’m working on. My Return to Monster Island book, which is the sequel to my original graphic novel, Monster Island, will be available very shortly. It’s at the printer now, started as a kickstarter and it’s fully funded, so we’re printing it– but people that didn’t get on board with the kickstarter can still order copies on indiegogo. So you do search for Return to Monster on indiegogo and it’ll come up and you can order copies now. I suggest they do it before we’re fully– if we don’t print enough [laughs].
CW: So they won’t have to wait!
On Monsters and Comics: An Interview With Graham Nolan
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