EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Graham Nolan, Co-Creator Of Bane

The artist talks to us about the creation of Bane, taking us through the the design process as well as sharing his thoughts on Tom Hardy's upcoming portrayal of the villain in The Dark Knight Rises. He also discusses current projects, Rex Morgan, M.D. and Sunshine State.

Graham Nolan grew up between Long Beach, NY and Indian Harbour Beach, FL. For two years, he went to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Because he couldn't afford to graduate, he started working in advertising while waiting for his big break in comics. That break came at DC Comics when one of his teachers, Sal Amendola (who was the talent coordinator there) bought two of his school assignments to run in "New Talent Showcase." Soon after, he started picking up more assignments from DC, Marvel and Eclipse Comics eventually leading to a 6 year run illustrating Batman in "Detective Comics" and co-creating the villain, Bane. In 1998, he wrote, illustrated and self-published, "Monster Island." In 2000, he took over the syndicated comic-strip, "Rex Morgan, M.D." and the Sunday Phantom feature for King Features Syndicate. He has since dropped the Phantom to have more time to freelance in the comic-book field and continues to draw Rex as well as his humor strip, Sunshine State. [www.grahamnolanart.com]

Firstly, can you tell us about your current projects, Rex Morgan, M.D. and Sunshine State?

I've been doing the art for REX MORGAN, M.D. since 2000! Can't believe I've been on the strip for 12 years already! SUNSHINE STATE is my humor strip that is on line (www.sunshinestatecomics.com) as well as in newspapers. It is syndicated through Ink Bottle Syndicate. It's so enjoyable because it's such a departure from my other work.

Could you take us through your part in the creation of Bane?

I had done some fill ins on Detective Comics when I got a call (I think from editor Scott Peterson) to do this new project called Vengeance of Bane. At a Bat-Summit it was decided they needed a new villain to go toe to toe with Batman in the upcoming story arc: KNIGHTFALL. Chuck and I talked about who this guy was and where he came from so I designed him based on this Latin American origins as well the story needs. Chuck described him as the "evil Doc Savage" to used the James Bama Doc covers as a jumping off point for his look. When he has is mask off you will note he looks like Doc Savage with half his head shaved.

Did you ever imagine that the character would become as popular as he has?

We hoped he would take off for KNIGHTFALL. In fact we needed him to be accepted by the readers because he was the lynchpin to the entire story. The fact that he has been reborn for a new generation via ARKHAM ASYLAM and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, 20 years after we created him is pretty amazing.

What makes Bane such a good villain for a character like Batman to face off against?

Batman had never had an adversary that was both his intellectual and physical equal. Batman does what he does because he never wants another child to go through what he did. He works from a place of altruism, sacrifice and heroic ideals. Bane is a total narcissist. Bane does everything for the benefit of Bane.

Can you tell us what you think of Tom Hardy playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises?

He's a great actor and I look forward to seeing him as Bane. From the comments he and Christopher Nolan have made about Bane's character, it sounds like they "get" it.

As in his previous Batman films, director Christopher Nolan has gone for a slightly more realistic take on Bane's appearance. What do you think of the design?

I'm not as concerned with his "look" as I am in his character. Most comic characters looks have to be changed for film because what may look cool in a comic doesn't always translate to the real world of film.

How did you feel about the sillier take on Bane in 1997's Batman & Robin?

Haven't see the movie but the character looked cool. A perfect example of the importance of getting the character wrong and the look right. Proves my point.

The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. Which are you most looking forward to seeing this year?

The Dark Knight Rises of course followed by The Avengers!

Anything else your fans should be looking out for from you this year?

If fans would like to read BANE'S origin they should pick up the BATMAN VS BANE graphic novel on sale now (currently #4 on the NY Times Bestseller List for graphic paperbacks). Also check out SUNSHINE STATE at www.sunshinestatecomics.com. And look for GRAHAM NOLAN'S: MONSTER ISLAND to be published by Pulp 2.0 later this year!

Many thanks to Graham for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about him and his work by clicking HERE.

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