“Welcome to Gotham Academy!” Creative Team Dishes On Volume 1! [EXCLUSIVE Q&A]

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“Welcome to Gotham Academy!” Creative Team Dishes On Volume 1! [EXCLUSIVE Q&A]
By Jorge Solis (j.solis@mstarsnews.com) | Jun 19, 2015 03:00 PM EDT
Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy

DC Entertainment collects the first New 52 six issues of the critically acclaimed series, Gotham Academy. In an exclusive interview with MStars News, the creative team, co-writers Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and artist Karl Kerschel dish on Volume 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy.

In the first volume, Olive Silverlock is a sweet and innocent teenage girl attending the prestigious Gotham Academy. At the start of the semester, Olive stars discover something lucking in the shadowy halls of the academy. Who are those mysterious figures she sees running around the campus? And why does she feel connected to them?

Cloonan, Fletcher, and Kershecl talk about building the look of the academy from scratch, Olive Silverlock’s coming-of-age story arc, and introducing Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son and Robin, into the series.

MStars News: Tell me how you became involved with Gotham Academy?

Becky Cloonan: It was actually about a year ago when the head group editor called me up one day. He was like, “I want to show you something” and it was Gotham Academy. I was actually in the same room as Brendan and Karl. And I basically looked at them, I was like, “Hey, do you want to do this Gotham Academy thing with me?” That was actually almost exactly how it started.

Brenden Fletcher: And Karl and I just rolled our eyes and went, “No, we want to do a Batman book next year! Can’t we do a regular Batman book?” [Laughs] She was like wagging her finger at us like a teacher and she said, “No, you two are going to do a book about kids in Gotham.” [Laughs] And we just said, “Aw okay, I guess we’ll put our Batman dreams on pause for another few years.” [Laughs]

No, it’s super exciting!, Karl and I have always wanted to do books about younger people. Karl got to do that Teen Titans: Year One book. It was a huge influence on the visual direction of Gotham Academy and it’s something I think we always wanted to do together! This is a great opportunity!

MS: What I really like about the story is that it’s a coming of age tale for Olive and the Mean Girls style of high school. Tell me more about that.

BC: Olive was the first character that we thought of when we were developing the story and all the other characters developed as well for her.

BF: Yeah, I remember our very first conversations were about Olive. It was very much about the school itself and Olive. And we didn’t have any periphery characters at the time. We did most of the development just with that character herself. She figures so strongly into the plot and those plot points, because it’s a mystery, a lot of those plot points are still obscure.

We’ve still kept them hidden. If you read this first collective of stories in the trade paperback, by the end, you get a strong hint as to where the larger story is going and where Olive’s tale will take her.

MS: And in the second arc?

BF: In the second arc, which we’re working on at the moment, we answer a lot of those questions very definitively.

MS: What I thought was really interesting was that there was such a look to the architecture of the school and of the hallways. Did you make a map of this entire structure?

Karl Kerschl: There are two existing maps of Gotham Academy and they’re both radically different. The first one is one that Becky drew when we first started designing the story and the look of the school. It’s just a couple of block buildings on a piece of paper.

And then, when I drew the series, I think we roughly used that as a guide to where the main building was, where the chapel was in relation to it, where the cemetery was in relation to that and where the North Hall was; which was the main set pieces of the first arc.

And then, the other map is a more elaborate one that Becky drew and is something that would appear in Maps’ notebook. The only place you can see that is in the back of the trade.

MS: One of my favorite characters makes an appearance in the first volume.Was it a challenge keeping him a secret?

BC: He’s such a tragic figure because he just wants to be left alone free of and persecution. So I think he’s going through a lot of the things that Olive is deal with and the two can connected really well. She sympathizes with this guy.

BF: If you look at the back matter in the trade paperback, you can see that’s something we wrestled with, even as the series was progressing. Karl wanted to do a cover for it. I think it was issue #6 but we realized it was going to appear in the solicitations, before the reveal of the character in the series itself. So it had to be nixed, and it’s such a great cover too.

MS: Damian Wayne is drawn on the cover of issue #7. Tell me about introducing him in the sixth installment.

BC: He’s a good foil for Maps because he’s a kind of a punk. He’s super rich, he’s an al-Ghul, he’s killed people and he’s an assassin. So how would a kid like that fit into Gotham Academy? That’s the real question. And that’ what the characters are struggling with in the first arc.

Going into the second arc, we see how they fit in and Damian has to deal with those exact same problems. Even though he’s an assassin, he’s been dead and came back to life with his new powers, but even a kid like that is going to have to go through some awkward social problems.

BC: Right now I’m also writing Southern Cross for Image Comics. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a bit different than Gotham Academy. It’s also a mystery, it’s a little more creepy.

BF: I’m writing like half of the Bat books! [Laughs] I’m writing Gotham Academy with Becky and Karl. I’m still working on Batgirl with Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr. We have a Batgirl annual coming up with Bengal and a bunch of other artists yet to be named.

And I’m also working on Black Canary, drawn by the incredible Annie Wu. The first issue is out in stores now. [Check out our MStars review here!] And I’m sure there’s like 10 other things I’m forgetting, but that’s my full plate at the moment.

KK: I’m not allowed to work on anything else. Gotham Academy basically takes up my entire working life. Sometimes I’m let off the leash to do a variant cover for something else but for now it’s all Gotham Academy all the time. [Laughs]

Highly recommended, Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy is out in comic shops now, and arrives in bookstores everywhere on June 23.