Hawkman illustrator Bryan Hitch on bringing Carter Hall to life and what’s next

Hawkman #12. Photo: DC Comics
Hawkman #12. Photo: DC Comics /

FanSided talked with Bryan Hitch about the epic Hawkman #12 issue and what’s next as Hitch leaves the title for new projects.

Writer Robert Venditti and illustrator Bryan Hitch have elevated the standalone Hawkman title, elevating Carter Hall’s story to an epic adventure, which will culminate in issue no. 12, “Cataclysm.” Both Venditti and Hitch spoke to FanSided about their work on Hawkman #12, the epic conclusion to the “Cataclysm” story and what’s next for the duo. (You can read our interview with Venditti here.)

My interview with Bryan Hitch took place via email but his enthusiasm for Hawkman and how much it has meant to him really shines through, as does his admiration for Robert Venditti.

Hawkman #12 is nothing short of epic. It’s the story that brings a massive arc to a close while launching Carter into the next phase of his story and your art really captures this key moment, not only with the big battles but with several emotional moments. Can you talk about your thought process going into this issue?

My first thought on reading Robert’s plot was “how the hell am I going to fit this all in?” I could easily have filled 36-48 pages with the content. I think though, given the more decompressed take on the action in issues 9-11, taking a more compressed style here gave it a sort of galloping finish and the events going on, even if they only got a single image rather than a full scene, certainly have an epic scope. I cross cut between the close, intimate Carter/Idamm fight and the bigger, wider action stuff and that helped push that wider narrative forward in leaps.

I also had in mind that, after the crazy deadlines, the rollercoaster fun of the series, that this was my last issue. Despite the odds against it, we made it to the end. I was only contracted to draw the first six issues but really wanted to stay and see this full 12 issue arc completed. When I started drawing issue one, it was four weeks until the print deadline so we hadn’t any lead time at all on the art. Actually hitting every single issue, some of which I had to ink as well, on deadlines as short as 10 days, is my proudest achievement on the series. No fill-ins, no guest artists. Just me on pencils every issue no matter how short the deadline was. So one thought I did have was “I can have next week off!”

When I spoke with Robert he talked about how you really enjoy going to great lengths to add as much detail as you can into every panel. Hawkman #12 features some tight shots as well as sweeping battle scenes and every panel is packed with details. Was adding a lot of details particularly important for you with this issue?

It’s honestly not conscious and, if anything, I was probably holding my OCD tendencies back on this stuff. Hawkman, especially in flight, should have a sense of open sky and space around him so there were times I was trying NOT to be overly detailed.  I put in whatever I need to in order to give the right sense of believability, of reality to whatever the scene is and this has always been my way of working. Each series is different but once you have the flavor of it and just dive in, it somewhat takes care of itself while you hold the pencil. I think Robert often commented on how much visual storytelling I could fit into a panel or a page. We did talk about this and I’m not a pin-up artist. My sole interest in drawing is to tell stories so each picture is always designed to do just that, not be pretty necessarily, just drive the story forward.

Robert gave me a very open plot each issue. It was packed with information and ideas but didn’t pin me down to a page by page, panel by panel structure so it gave me a free hand with the visual storytelling. It was a very enjoyable way to work and Robert and I seemed to relax into a mutual understanding very quickly. It made working on the title more fun that normal writer-artist relationships. He’s a true gent and a pal and we’ve already discussed some ideas for future projects together. Pretty epic stuff, if we can get to do it.

Do you have a favorite panel or page in Hawkman #12?

Not really. I never do favorites about anything; I can never pick! In my own work, there’s a great deal of satisfaction in just getting the project completed as planned and if I looked at it now, I’d only see the errors or compromises. Ask me in a year and I might be able to look at it again with more objective eyes.

You and Robert have brought Hawkman into a whole new era, bringing a venerated character into the limelight not with a brand new origin story but one that celebrates his history. What has that been like for you?

It’s been a very fun book to work on. Hawkman is a core original DC character, a true legacy character so being able to contribute something positive to that as been great. Personally I think I leave the character better than we found him and Robert is going to build on this going forward, making it even better.

You’re leaving Hawkman after issue #12, but we hear you’ll be sticking around DC Comics?

Definitely. I have two new series out in autumn and a summer one shot. You’ll be hearing about those and beyond soon but right now I have to keep it to myself. Its all great stuff though, all very different from each other and Hawkman. Real core DC stuff. Can’t wait to share it with everyone.

Next. Robert Venditti talks Hawkman #12. dark

Hawkman #12 is available now.