With another San Diego Comic Con in the history books, DC Collectibles’ sculptor Jonathan Matthews was gracious enough to spare a few moments of his post-SDCC down time to answer a few questions about the figures he sculpted for DC Collectibles’ presentation at the Con.
Your friendly neighborhood jman: DC Collectibles introduced a line of designer figures based on Darwyn Cooke’s style at San Diego Comic Con. It’s a pretty an eclectic assortment. It features Batman, Adam Strange, Supergirl and Harley Quinn. Of the four, which one did you find the hardest to do? Did DC Collectibles/Darwyn Cooke provide character sheets or designs for them?
Jonathan Matthews: Yes, they do represent an interesting assortment of choices. We’ve got two classic looking figures and two modern/ new 52 figures. Given that Darwyn Cooke has done a lot of art depicting the more classic looking characters, I had better reference for Batman and Supergirl. Mr. Cooke wasn’t able to do full renderings for this wave of figures, so the reference available for Adam Strange and Harley was really sparse. I had maybe one or two drawings for each of them to go by and had to sort of cobble together the look using drawings from other books and characters. Given the lack of character specific reference, Harley and Adam Strange presented more of a challenge to convincingly mimic Mr. Cooke’s art style.
jman: Cooke’s got a simple, clean style. Is there a disadvantage to that when you’re sculpting an expressive figure? Even in it’s simplicity, you still manage to capture Supergirl’s fresh faced look and Batman’s menacing demeanor. Is that something that just easily carries over from Cooke’s style?
JM: I wouldn’t say that Mr. Cooke’s artistic style has a disadvantage of expression because it’s clean and minimalistic. He manages to illustrate a lot of expression from panel to panel, and for my sculpture work, it’s just a matter of finding the right panel where the expression you’re seeking is present. Like with most other more minimal styles that I’ve sculpted from in the past, Mr. Cooke’s is deceptively complex. There is a lot of expression that is implied by very few lines on the page. I have to find just the right balance of sculpted details and broad, uninterrupted planes in order to make the sculpture look like one of Mr. Cooke’s drawings.
Most of his female characters have a fresh and cheerful look to them and I can use an expression from one or several different characters to achieve the look of his artwork on whichever female character I’m working on.
Batman is typically a little easier. I basically just have to make him look grumpy. You can project any number of more subtle emotions on a grumpy looking face, and that’s usually what happens when someone looks at one of my Batman figures. Character specific artwork is always preferable, but I can usually make do without.
jman: And you know people are gonna go crazy for Krypto and Streaky, right?
JM: I hope so! I had a lot of fun making them and both my daughters and myself really look forward to playing with the finished action figures.
jman: Speaking of which, Supergirl and Batman look like they could’ve been pulled right out of Cooke’s New Frontier. But, Harley’s look is more based on how she looks today. I’m kinda surprised DC Collectibles/Darwyn didn’t go with her more original harlequin look, it seems like it would’ve been a perfect fit of Darwyn’s style. Did you have any input on the designs?