This week’s theme is
Batman Day Harley Quinn Day 2017. So far, I have been looking at giveaway items that were produced for the even. Today’s post will be a little different though. While I am still discussing a giveaway, it is not one produced by DC Comics for the event. This item was produced by my local comic shop’s owner, Mike Noe, and artist Matt Speroni.
Speroni (of Atomic Robo fame) has been a friend of mine for several years after we attended art school together. He has worked as an artist for several years and I was thrilled when I learned that Mike Noe, owner of Campus Comics, had commissioned him to make a print for this year’s Batman Day.
In addition to featuring his print here, I decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask Matt some questions about the piece itself and the process.
How did you come to do this print?
A few months ago I did a custom cover commission for Scott Reed, of Burg Comics, featuring Wonder Woman, and then that lead to Mike asking me about doing a commission for him. He told me about Batman Day and asked if I’d be interested in doing something for that.
Were there any requests that Mike made when he commissioned you?
Nothing in particular. We agreed on a price first and then started coming up with concepts. One idea was Batman in his first costume (I can’t remember if Mike and I talked about that or if that was something I came up with on my own). Another idea we liked was a picture of every iteration of Batman over the years, but that didn’t seem very manageable to me for a number of reasons. The cost of that would’ve been three or four times the price we agreed on and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to pull the trigger on it. The only hard request Mike made was that it be 11″ by 14″. Other than that I was free to do what I wanted as long as it was Batman related.
Why “classic” Harley instead of the Suicide Squad or a more modern version?
It’s my favorite costume she has, and I think it’s also her most iconic one. It seems the most appropriate for her 25th Anniversary. I didn’t actually plan on doing a picture of Harley at all at first. I was still trying to come up with Batman ideas when Mike told me Harley was an option. Coming up with ideas for pictures of her was a lot easier for me because I’m an active reader of her comics. That’s not to say I don’t read Batman, but when I do it’s always the collections of classic stories (Long Halloween, Dark Knight Returns, Year One, etc).
Can you speak to your version of Harley Quinn? What informs the design or inspires you?
Harley’s not someone I draw a lot, even though I’m a fan of her, so I haven’t quite settled on a look for her yet. I feel like this recent pic is a step in the right direction. I want her face to look like Bruce Timm’s Harley, but still fit in with my general style. Trying to give her the right level of “unhinged” has been tricky. Too much one way and she looks too creepy. Too much the other way and she looks too cartoonish. She’s also pretty athletic in the comics, so I give her a fairly fit physique. Not so buff she looks like She-Hulk, but not lithe like Catwoman. Harley requires a lot of balancing for me to draw her right, which is odd considering her personality!
What was your process for creating this piece?
My pics start with sketches, and since I work purely in digital, turning a sketch into a full drawing is a breeze. The original sketch was actually of Classic Harley and Margot Robbie Harley standing back-to-back. However, I ran into some personal/financial issues and was forced to cut some things for the sake of time. I rearranged my composition and settled on the solo picture of Classic Harley.
Then I did the drawing (which is to say I tightened up my sketch) and went on to the coloring. Coloring Harley was the easiest step. The most difficult part was the bat-signal and getting the sky right. For the sky I wanted a very “Batman: Animated Series” look, very orange and red. The buildings are flat black with tiny white rectangles for windows, which is something you see a lot in the backgrounds in that show. Almost like construction paper cutouts (they may be that for all I know). I thought about putting in some blimps like in the opening of the cartoon, but I couldn’t work them into the image effectively.
How long did this piece take you?
Normally a picture like this would only take a day or two, but like I said, some personal issues came up and delayed it a little. Also Mike wasn’t too keen on it not having any elements of Batman at all, so I came up with the idea to add a smashed Bat-Signal. It wasn’t in the original version. Since pictures are built from the ground up, adding things like that when you’re far along into the process can be tricky and cause some delays. Still, I think the Bat-Signal adds a lot of oomph to it and I’m glad I added it.
What were people’s’ responses to the print?
People seemed to like the print a lot. I think Mike had given them all away by the time the day was over. I printed another Harley picture as well, and I sold half of them. I’m pretty encouraged to make more (not just of Harley, but of other characters). I have quite a few pictures that people have been asking for prints of, and so I’m looking forward to finally being able to get them done!
Do you take commissions? How can people request a piece from you?
I take commissions. People can either follow me on twitter at @msperoni or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where can people find you online?
Mostly on Twitter these days. I post a few things on Deviant Art (my username is: ExMile) and some other sites but I’m really not active in any communities these days.
Anything else you want people to know about the print or your work in general?
Nothing about the print, really. I suppose I should explain some things about my body of work online though, in case people track me down and are…surprised. I keep my ideology to my personal projects, but when it comes to commission work I take almost any job that comes my way regardless of the content.
There are things I won’t draw, but not many. That being said, my Deviant Art gallery can be a bit weird and all over the place. I try to filter and sort things the best I can, and indicate what is/isn’t NSFW, but I still like to warn people before they go browsing through my stuff. The internet has a way of sucking people into it whether they like it or not.
I want to thank Matt for his time and openness. Be sure to check out his work online and come back all this week for more
Batman Day Harley Quinn Day fun!