project that Windsor-Smith is working with DC on is a Superman book. “I
went to DC last year with this idea for a Superman graphic novel, in
a big art book format, and Paul (Levitz) was very pleased with the concept.
It was gonna be Superman in Storyteller style, i.e. a sophisticated story.
No exposition. There was to be no flying, no punching, no fighting. It’s
a story about two people -- when Superman meets Lois Lane. But it
took seven bleedin’ months to figure out the contract, while I’m
sitting poised, pencil in hand . . . you want to see it?”
this, we look over one of the best looking Superman stories I’ve
ever seen. “It’s been gathering dust for about a year. So I
kept saying, look, I’m ready and I’m rolling on this thing.
And they say just give us a while to work out the contract. Then they got
it into their heads that I was working on the story behind the scenes before
the contract was done, and they were right. I was agonizing over not working,
I was bursting with inspiration and they said no, don’t work on it.
Seven months later there’s a contract -- SEVEN MONTHS! By that time
my energy had dissipated and my spirit had imploded. Talk about red tape,
I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
The problem that
threw the slow gel into the works was the fact that Superman is clearly
a hugely important licensed character for DC, something
they have droves of lawyers just to protect the shiny, happy image
of, and there were doubts and questions about Windsor-Smith’s approach
to the old codger. Will it happen? Who knows?
fact is I should never have listened to ‘em, I should’ve
just continued making the book behind their backs and when the bloody
contract was sorted out I’d’ve had the book done. The worst
that could’ve happened would be changing the occasional panel
to fit their editorial [strictures]. If I’d listened to my intuition An
Evening With Superman would’ve been done and published last
year.” Windsor-Smith shows us pages from the first version, which
he has since scrapped and redrawn. In this version, the look is very
40s. The redrawn pages reflect more timelessness, with aesthetic sensibilities
drawn from every age. Lois looks like a real woman, with a lean figure
and intelligent eyes. “I didn’t like the first version
after a while. It was too comic book. It’s not as far away from
comic books as I’d like it to be...actually, as I look at it
now, I think what’s the problem? This is nice stuff. At the time
I hated it. I’m not really good at drawing Superman. There are
too many clichés in my head about Superman. I was trying to
make him look like an alien. I’ve got to work on it more . .
situation, though dragged out, is not hopeless for a Windsor-Smith
Superman at a store near you. “If I can revive my interest the
story is projected to be about 120 pages. This new version has more of
what I want from it . . .” Indeed, one can
see what the artist is going for, what with the cinematic camera tracking,
placed color cues . . . in the Daily Planet offices the information normally
passed on to the reader through exposition is apparent in much more subtle
ways, through typographers and designers working on the headline “Flying
Man Sighted,” through photos being examined by editors, until we
see Perry and Lois. Here, dialogue takes over. All this without a caption.
And in a unique world.