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by Vince Brusio

Paul Dini has worked on an adventure for “The Fishnets Brigade” for a long time, and now the wait is finally over with the arrival of Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell, an original graphic novel from DC Comics. Aside from his million-and-one responsibilities, Paul took some time out of his schedule to do a quick Q&A with us about this book that has been the topic of many web posts, and much speculation.

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PREVIEWSworld: Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell (JAN140326) is an original graphic novel that has been a work in progress for years. It’s no surprise that other projects got in your way to prevent you from releasing this book earlier. You’re always working. But could you tell us how you maintained that creative anchor to this project? The book was announced as far back as 2006, pre-dating the New 52. How did you keep the fire burning for this project?

Paul Dini: I finished the script in late 2006 or early 2007, and then it became a matter of finding an artist who could commit to a nearly hundred page project. Fortunately we had that in Joe Quinones.  He took it from there and weathered the storms of deadlines and shifting release schedules.  I chimed in from time to time, as the pages came in, with suggestions for new dialogue, or to fine tune a few things with our wonderful editor, Joey Cavalieri.  Basically, it was a book we all wanted to see done, and the three of us were going to see it through.

PREVIEWSworld: Your book features Black Canary and Zatanna in their more traditional costumes. Is this because the book was conceived and started production too far in advance of the New 52 overhaul? Or were you “in” on the changes to come, and decided to plow ahead anyway with original costumes as you wanted to keep the book old school?

Paul Dini: At the time I conceived the story, the New 52 DC Universe was years away.  But the story never changed even as the Universe did. It was always intended to be a stand-alone, a story that takes place in no particular DC continuity, but is familiar to all readers of DC comics over the years. If bits of Black Canary and Zatanna's relationship as depicted in Bloodspell later find their way into ongoing continuity, then I'll know that readers and creators have found something interesting in their relationship, and I think that's a good thing.

PREVIEWSworld: Why a graphic novel about these two ladies? Is it because to the layman on the street Black Canary and Zatanna are not “A list” superheroines and you wanted to do something different with these two characters? Is it because fans are always hungry for the “old school”?  I remember past collaborations when DC was putting out Elseworlds books, and this project makes me think of that period in time. Reinventing the past. Is this that kind of experimentation?

Paul Dini: The DC Universe is a vast playing field, and it definitely has its quarterbacks and star players in characters like Superman and Wonder Woman. But everything is cyclical, and even Batman had some down years in the late sixties after the TV show and Bat-Mania had run its course.  It doesn't hurt to focus on some of the lesser-known players in special projects now and then to try and turn them into more fully developed characters, and in some cases, fan favorites.  Certainly Hawkgirl's exposure in the Warner Bros. JLA series did that for her. It's great to do the big Batman story to end all Batman stories, but if the rest of the superhero pantheon becomes as well-known, then that gives writers and artists more chances to tell big stories about characters who might always remain supporting players.

PREVIEWSworld: We’ve seen books like Birds of Prey and Gotham City Sirens do very well for DC Comics. Not to mention, Power Girl and Huntress are being received positively for the new World’s Finest book. And now Harley Quinn has an ongoing series. Do you think girl power is becoming more en vogue in comics?

Paul Dini: I think there is a new breed of female fan that has grown up with superheroines over the last twenty years and continues to embrace them. I don't think they are inspired just by comics, but by the TV shows, movies, and cartoons they watched, and games they played when they were younger — so many tell me they were fans of  Batman: The Animated Series, or anime, or Dr. Who or Star Wars, the list is endless.  And they bring a great sense of humor and play to things like comic conventions.  I saw an article on cosplay in Entertainment Weekly last year and almost half the cosplayers on a two page spread where dressed either like Harley Quinn or Zatanna!  It seems to me if they identify with the characters that much, there's an audience there that would appreciate some comics that reflect their sensibilities.  I just hope our little GN strikes the bullseye.

PREVIEWSworld: What do you hope fans will come away with after reading Bloodspell? Besides being entertained, would they have a new appreciation for the characters? If you had to address a panel at a future Con, what would you say in closing about your work on this book?

Paul Dini: I'd say that Joe Quinones drew the hell out of it and made it as fun a book as I've ever had the pleasure of working on. It’s a Valentine to the more upbeat, carefree spirit of DC Comics.

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell HC
DC Comics
Item Code: JAN140326
Price: $22.99
PREVIEWS Page #140
In Shops 5/21/2014