Canadian Ray Fawkes has Batman under his spell
The cover for 'Batman Eternal #1' is shown. (DC Comics / Jason Fabok)
Published Saturday, August 30, 2014 9:04AM EDT
Canadian Ray Fawkes is feeling the magic as a writer for DC Comics' ambitious weekly series, "Batman Eternal."
The born-and-raised Toronto native has loved two things since a young age. The first is comics. The second is the supernatural. Now, Fawkes is combining those loves as a writer for "Batman Eternal," scripting supernatural narratives for the Dark Knight and his many allies.
Fawkes still remembers visiting comic exhibitions as a wide-eyed kid dreaming of superheroes. But this week he’s one of the exhibitors at Fan Expo in Toronto, which runs until Sunday and features big names from all corners of the pop culture landscape.
Fawkes said it’s always a thrill to attend a comic convention in his hometown. “I absolutely love it,” he told CTVNews.ca by phone last week. “I remember going to cons in Toronto as a kid, and it’s cool to be on the other side.”
Fawkes grew up loving supernatural horror stories like "Swamp Thing" by comics legend Alan Moore, and he remembers sitting in front of the TV as a six-year-old, watching Adam West’s campy 1960s "Batman" series – and taking it seriously.
“It would just destroy me if I was to learn that I would be working on those characters at some point,” he said.
Writing "Batman Eternal"
Now, Fawkes is one of a handful of rotating writers on "Batman Eternal," scripting stories for well-known characters like Batman and Alfred, and lesser-known names like Batwoman and Batwing.
“You go day-to-day on something and you’re just working,” he said. “But every once in a while, I’ll sit back in my chair and say, ‘Holy moly, I just wrote a line for Batman’s butler, Alfred!’ That’s a big deal in my mind."
Most comic books release one issue a month, but "Batman Eternal" comes out every week. The series is too fast-paced for one writer-artist team to tackle, so Fawkes is part of a platoon of writers who script the series together. Each writer picks a storyline he wants to work on and a few issues he wants to write, and everyone collaborates to make it all fit together as a whole.
Fawkes claims the supernatural storylines because he’s always enjoyed bringing magic to his work. “I love that stuff. That’s the stuff that makes me smile,” he said. “It gives you an incredible freedom to deal with subjects that are a lot harder to tackle in a sort of real-world way.”
Fawkes works with some of the top Batman writers in comics right now, and he’s the only Canadian of the bunch. He’s also still new to mainstream comics, having started at DC just over a year ago. But already he sees more Canadian writers coming up in the business.
Canadian comic writers
“It does seem like all of a sudden, there’s a new wave of Canadian writers,” Fawkes said.
One of Fawkes’ closest compatriots – geographically and professionally – is Jeff Lemire, a Toronto writer and farm boy-turned-comics creator who’s become another rising star at DC.
Lemire and Fawkes put a Canadian touch on the "American Vampire" series from Vertigo Comics last year, writing and drawing a story called "Canadian Vampire" for a series anthology.
Lemire came out with his "Justice League United" series earlier this year, which moved a team of superheroes to Moosonee, Ont. and introduced a new Cree hero just for the team.
Fawkes said it’s great to see DC taking a more global approach with its titles by allowing its writers to place their stories in diverse locations – including northern Ontario.
“It’s nice to see that we don’t have to set everything in an analogue of New York City if we don’t want to,” he said.
For his part, Fawkes takes his stories to as many locations and supernatural worlds as he can. And he’s not just a Batman writer – Fawkes also writes for magical characters in "Constantine," "Justice League Dark" and "Trinity of Sin: Pandora" for DC. That means he can take his characters absolutely anywhere, including up to heaven and down to hell.
But there’s one place he always likes to take his characters, if he can.
“Whenever I can settle a story in part of Canada, I do my best to do it because I love this country,” he said.
Fawkes has plans for another Canadian-inspired book in the works, though he says he’s not ready to reveal those just yet.
He has revealed his next project, though. It’s called "Gotham By Midnight," and it features a vengeful spirit with – you guessed it – supernatural powers.