Exclusive Interview: Brian Buccellato Talks Revamping Pulp Hero Black Bat


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:5048:]]Dynamite will soon be unleashing a comic book built around the pulp hero Black Bat, a character which must have been an influence for everyone from Bob Kane to Stan Lee.

Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively sat down with Flash co-writer Brian Buccellato to discuss his revision and revamping of this classic hero for a modern comic-buying public.

Cosmic Book News: Brian, why are pulp heroes such a rich area to mine for many writers? How do you see this pulp hero, Black Bat?

Brian Buccellato: I can’t pretend to be an expert on why pulp heroes are so often revived and used as inspiration. But I guess it might be the allure of the gritty, heroic, sometimes dark, sometimes unexplainable worlds that they painted. I also think pulp stories are entrenched with the kind of proactive and flawed characters that many are naturally drawn to. I would say that my take on the Black Bat is both of those things … he is a flawed protagonist who is actively trying to right his past wrongs.

CBN: Tell us a little about how you look to “modernize” Black Bat, if you will. And tell us about the man behind the mask? Who is he?

Brian Buccellato: My modernization of the Black Bat and his alter ego, Tony Quinn, is built around his motivations for what he is doing. The original version was pretty straight forward — do-gooder DA is blinded by his nemesis, then becomes a gun-toting hero who operates outside the law to bring criminals to justice. Writing stories from that perspective didn’t interest me, so I had to look for an angle that was something I would want to explore. So I changed Tony to a morally bankrupt defense attorney for the mob, who gets in too deep with his murderous clients as is almost killed. When he is given a second chance on life, he decides to set right all of his previous wrongs. But the challenge for Tony is knowing where to draw the line between justice and revenge.

CBN: I understand you did some of the visuals and redesigns yourself. Tell us about that process? Will you be doing any art on the book.

Brian Buccellato: Yeah, the final design is mine … but it was only after numerous iterations by some really good artists that we all decided to go with one of my designs. I won’t be doing any of the art … except maybe coloring some covers.

CBN: Black Bat, I am sure, influenced Bob Kane and perhaps many others on their handling of Batman. Tell us about how you see both characters, their similarities and differences.

Brian Buccellato: Batman is a classic superhero that operates outside the law to bring bad guys to justice. He has a definite line that he won’t cross and is VERY clear in his path. The Black Bat, however, is not sure where those lines are and isn’t even against shooting to kill as a means of setting things right. Tony Quinn has a debt that he owes to the world and despite his own moral failings, he is making an effort to pay that debt. Batman does what he does because he doesn’t want anyone to go through what he did as a young boy. Sure, they both have capes and masks and use bat imagery … but that’s where the similarities end.

CBN: Who is Black Bat’s main big-bad? Explain his/her motivation and is there a personal connection like Superman/Luthor or Reed Richards/Doom?

Brian Buccellato: Oliver Snate is the crime boss that literally CUT OUT Tony’s Quinn’s eyes with a pocket knife. He runs the city and is as ruthless a kingpin as you could find. All criminal roads lead to Snate, and that is where the Black Bat is headed. It is absolutely personal for Tony.

CBN: There is a little Daredevil feel here as well. Do you feel there are similarities?

Brian Buccellato: It’s pretty obvious that the Black Bat was a direct inspiration to Stan the Man, both characters go blind and are lawyers by trade. But those elements are integral to the Black Bat’s origin, so I have elected to keep them. I’m sure some people are going to accuse me of ripping of Daredevil, but there’s not much I can do about that.

CBN: There seem to be many street level heroes today in comics, many vigilantes. What makes Black Bat rise above the pack?

Brian Buccellato: There are no new stories in any genre, really. So it’s about the specific ways of dealing with the character and his arc/journey. It’s HOW you choose to tell the story and what things you focus on thematically that can make or break it.  I think I found a unique take that differs from the more established street level heroes and I hope it will resonate with readers. As far as rising ABOVE the pack … that’s not my concern. I write to the best of my ability and let the chips fall where they may.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Brian Buccellato for his time and wish him luck on this new book, set to debut sometime this year. Thanks also to Nick Barrucci, Dynamite publisher and CEO, who helped make this interview possible.