L’il Gotham

Keep­ing Bat­man vis­ually di­verse, Dustin Nguyen’s comic is squarely aimed at a younger au­di­ence

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Colourful, ex­pres­sive and sketchy… not words you’d as­so­ciate with some of Dustin Nguyen’s in­flu­ences such as Frank Miller and David Maz­zuc­chelli. How­ever, the Viet­namese-Amer­i­can artist came up with a new con­cept for DC when he started de­sign­ing some Bat­man snow globes in 2006. That idea never took off but the sketch­ing he did around the project de­vel­oped into a whole new take on Bat­man. “I wanted to take a break from dark, moody Bat­man,” he ex­plains.

DC Dig­i­tal de­cided to ex­per­i­ment with a down­load-only Bat­man comic. Dustin was asked to cre­ate both the art­work and the sto­ries for a se­ries called L’il Gotham, where Bat­man and the other in­hab­i­tants of the city face var­i­ous not-so-noir ad­ven­tures.

“I wanted to keep the look and feel of the sketchier style I’d been do­ing. It’s all done with wa­ter­colour and coloured pen­cils for line work. It’s looser to keep that same en­ergy go­ing,” says Dustin.

The lower age-range tar­geted was some­thing he had to adapt to. He continues: “It was a bit tricky at first – not so much the il­lus­tra­tive side, but more in the sto­ries and premise of the book. Most char­ac­ters in Gotham are pretty dark, with some grue­some past sto­ries that have made them who they are. So we’ve sort of had to work around those, and pull apart the funny, lighter side of things. A lot of it is dark hu­mour pol­ished into colourful pan­els.”

DIG­I­TAL

PLA YFUL

With a naive ap­proach to the art­work, L’il Gotham by Dustin Nguyen brings a child-like qual­ity to his art­work, which is meant to

ap­peal to a younger au­di­ence. L’il Gotham started life as a dig­i­tal-only pub­li­ca­tion, but be­cause of its pop­u­lar­ity DC made it avail­able to its reg­u­lar print read­er­ship.

BOB­BLE HEAD Toy de­signs were an in­flu­ence on Dustin’s novel-look­ing se­ries.

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