The month of March brought with it new beginnings and a few endings. We have the triumphant entry of the DC Extended Universe in theaters with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the end of the acclaimed ‘Superheavy’ arc in Batman #50, and the first Batman variant cover from rocker, Chris Daughtry. Best known for his music career, Chris has gone on to be the number three bestselling American Idol artist of all time, behind only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, which is no a small feat.
What you may not have known is that Chris has also always wanted to be a comic book artist, having been drawing and sketching since he was just five years old. With the release of Batman V Superman this weekend, Chris was asked by his friend, comic book legend Jim Lee, to create a variant cover for the monumental Batman #50.
I was very fortunate to be able to interview Chris at his signing at LA’s Golden Apple Comics. It’s not every day that you get to sit down with a bonifide rock star who also draws comic book artwork, yet Chris is not anything like the arrogant celebrity we may think of – he is really nice and down-to-earth guy. You’ll find my full interview with Chris, below.
Since we only have a few minutes before your signing, I will jump right into the questions if you don’t mind?
Not at all man.
How does it feel to have artwork that you designed on the cover of a comic book?
For lack of being super cliché it’s really a dream come true, it’s really something I’ve wanted to do since I was five years old. I wanted to be a comic artist way before I wanted to pick up the guitar, and so I never thought it would be the title and I never thought my hero would be inking it. I mean, it’s like all kinds of surreal.
What is it like working with a legend like Jim Lee?
He’s been a friend for a long time now and over the years I’ll send him sketches and he’ll send me notes and ways to correct it and things like that, so he’s kind of been a mentor of mine for a little while now. And when he approached me to do this cover, I didn’t know he was going to be inking it. I’m very happy that was brought out later because at first I thought it was penciling and inking it. I don’t think I would have met that deadline [laughs].
Are you and Jim Lee going to work together again?
Oh I certainly hope so. We definitely talked about the possibility of future covers and things like that, so I’m keeping my hand warmed up in the meantime.
As an artist who is talented in both music and sketching/drawing, do you find these two talents inspire each other or do they exist on separate planes?
I think it’s separate planes, but for me, anything that that I love to do I put everything that I have into it. But the pressure that I put on myself is pretty equal across the board with something I care about. So with songwriting, I’m always trying to up anything I’ve done before and definitely gotta think about what you’re up against out in the market. With this it was like, I got Jim inking it, I got Batman, and Capullo does the cover. You know all these people and I’m not necessarily at their level, because I obviously am not, but at least I want to somewhat hold my own in that arena so… so I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself.
Which of the three variant covers is your favorite?
I do like the fact you can see some of the original pencil in there, seeing as it is my first cover, but I think seeing the full cover and color in all its glory is my favorite.
What is your inspiration when you come up with a cover like the one that is appearing on Batman #50?
Yeah, I mean, they definitely made it clear that it was to promote Batman V Superman so… but some artists were given the movie suits, some were given the New 52 suits. I was given the New 52’s, so you know I wanted to–I didn’t want the typical ‘them up against each other fighting’, but I did want that tension and that energy. Like… like shit was about to go down, you know what I mean? And I love that my original background was skyline, there was them looking up towards the buildings and silhouetted. And Jim made a decision to totally demolish them and make it more of an environment around them, and I thought that was way cooler and it framed them up really nice. I was really happy he did that.
What got you interested in comics as a kid?
It was super powers, really. Back in 1984, the action figures came with the comic books and stuff like that. I was very into Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s art, and I just kind of started drawing. I kind of always was drawn to DC and Justice League, but I always mostly Batman.
What is your favorite superhero comic book that keeps taking you back?
Yeah there’s a few of them. Hush it definitely one of my favorite Batman stories, now of the more recent stuff, Endgame, Court of Owls. As far as going back, The Killing Joke, I remember as a kid reading that book, it was very different than any other book I’d read at that point as far as how earnest it was, how it tackled very controversial issues and things like that. That was always one of my favorites, the artwork was incredible. There are tons of other storylines that I love throughout the years but those definitely stand out.
Are you planning on seeing Batman V Superman this weekend?
Yes, I saw it a few nights ago and I probably will be going to see it again before the weekend is over.
Is it safe to say you are rooting for Team Batman?
Oh for sure, all the way! Team Batfleck!
Has Ben Affleck done as well playing Batman as everyone has been saying?
He is excellent. He is by far, in my opinion, the best on-screen Batman to date.
Are you planning on doing more artwork for comic books?
It’d be cool to do some more covers. I don’t ever plan to do panel work, but yeah I’d love to do more covers in the future.
I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. I’ve been a fan of your music for quite a while now, I know you need to start signing soon.
Oh for sure dude, I really appreciate that, thank you again!
Batman #50 is on sale now. Check your local comic book store for available copies. Chris’ variant comes in three version: full color, fade black and white to color, and full color character spotlight version. Each version is randomly placed in polybags, making it a surprise which you’ll receive.