Daredevil: Black and White
(September 2010)

In the summer of 2010, DAREDEVIL: BLACK AND WHITE was released as a special one-shot from Marvel. Inside were three stories presented in black & white, by top talent who had never worked on DD before and some past DD creators who were excited to work on the character again.

In "Second Sight", writer Peter Milligan and artist Jason Latour explored a dilemma for Matt Murdock... should he restore his sight?

Writer Rick Spears and artist Mick Bertilorenzi examined an eerie confession by the Kingpin in "Secrets and Lies".

And the last story, written by Ann Nocenti, with illustrations by David Aja, is a prose piece entitled "Game Room".

I was lucky to get in contact with all of the creators on this book and editor Jody LeHeup, and ask them a few questions about their stories. I hope you enjoy this look at these excellent tales.

Jason Latour on illustrating "Second Sight"

Kuljit Mithra: Before the issue came out, you posted a few images on your blog, showing some sketches and preview panels. The first thing I noticed was that you were using shades of grey and ziptones, instead of straight black & white. Was this always the plan, or did you try inking it with just blacks first? How many different ideas went through your mind when you first got the job?

Jason Latour: I'd just done an entire graphic novel with the technique so I was very comfortable it. Zip or half tone is technically black and white, it's black dots on white paper that give the illusion of grey as the dots get closer together or further apart and differentiate in size. Our story is about learning to see figuratively and literally so I felt "grey" was a great device to have. It allowed me to have a meter, a way to control the "volume" of the experience. More zip feels darker, less feels brighter.

Mithra: I believe you had mentioned that you hadn't drawn "superhero"-type artwork for a while and needed to get back into that groove... Aside from the technique you used for the "grey", what were some of the challenges of illustrating the story? You used some unconventional panel sizes and shapes as well for the Bullseye fight.

Latour: Superhero books like Daredevil provide a particularly unique challenge in that you have to walk a real fine line between real but not too real or exaggerated but not too much so. It's one of the things that makes him so unique. He operates in a real place yet does incredible things. You've got less leeway that you would have with Batman even, but to my mind that's a fun challenge. It forces you to really think about what you need and what you don't. Where you can bend and where you should break.

Mithra: Spread throughout your story are various nods to DD characters and creators (I especially liked the Stick appearance and the Elektra: Assassin pic). Am I wrong to assume you are a fan of the 80's Daredevil? What's your take on the character?

Latour: The 80s-ish take was a suggestion by the writer, Peter Milligan, but I am a fan of that stuff so I jumped at it. The first issue I can remember buying was the "Fall of the Mutants" tie-in from #252 by Nocenti/Romita Jr./Williamson, which sits on my art desk right now. I'm pretty fond of her take as a writer. I love the Miller/Mazzucchelli stuff as much as anyone but I liked some of her ideas and willingness to make the characters slightly more vulnerable.

My take? It's not a pun but I love the shades of grey the character has. I like that everything about he and his world is set up as a look at the middle ground between extremes. Beyond that I guess you'll have to wait for my full take, I'd hope to get a crack at writing him someday. I can tell you that anything from that 80s- TV movie version, the one with the guy in the panty hose mask and the Kingpin who looked like a Miami Vice extra, is not in my take. My Fisk building would not be an abandoned Laser Tag.

Mithra: So I guess I shouldn't ask you what you thought of the movie with Ben Affleck? I feel it was a lost opportunity because it tried too hard to show all the cool things about DD, but then the filmmakers didn't think audiences would get it and added all this extra stuff that were used in other comics and movies.

Latour: I think any movie where you have spray red hair you're going to have problems. The only thing I remember liking was Collin Farrell as Bullseye. At the time he was really trapped in bad movie hell. It's nice to see he's got out of that rut and that I wasn't totally nuts thinking he was pretty good. Of course for all I know he was just drunk the whole shoot, who could blame him?

Peter Milligan on writing "Second Sight"

Kuljit Mithra: The idea of Matt Murdock getting his eyesight back has been explored a few times in the Daredevil comic, so I'm wondering if you've read any of those stories? What is it about DD's character, in your opinion, that would make him not go through with the surgery?

Peter Milligan: I haven't read those stories but I guessed there must have been more than one story that dealt with this kind of theme. What might make DD/Matt Murdock not go through with the surgery is at the heart of this story. I think the key thing is he would be conflicted. One very human part of him would probably be drawn towards having normal sight again. Another side would know or guess that this might be at some cost.

Mithra: Jason Latour mentioned that you wanted the story to be based in the 80's. Is this a case of what you were familiar with, in terms of Miller/Janson stories?

Milligan: Well, it's true that I was really moved and interested by the Daredevil stories from the Miller period. This story is in some way an homage to those days.

Mick Bertilorenzi on illustrating "Secrets and Lies"

Kuljit Mithra: I had asked Jason Latour why he chose to do his story with shades of gray, so I wanted to ask you why you chose to do your artwork in stark black and white? Had you thought of maybe trying something a bit different in terms of shading etc.? Was there anything you did differently in terms of preparing your artwork since you knew it was not going to be coloured?

Mick Bertilorenzi: I like stark black and white. I love artists like Eduardo Risso, Mike Mignola and Frank Miller. In this particular case I just pulled down a little hand on the blacks because there would be no color and to increase the "Noir" effect. I'm happy about final result. :)

Mithra: What do you enjoy most about drawing crime stories and noir?

Bertilorenzi: The best thing is that you can concentrate on the atmosphere, which is often overlooked. Dark alleys, or shadows, sillhouette figures are all elements that play to increase the pathos of the scene. Sometimes it misses some healthy superhero action.

Mithra: Your story mainly focuses on the conversation with the Kingpin. Were there any challenges for you in presenting a story like this that didn't have too many "superhero"-type panels with lots of action? How did you approach drawing the Kingpin?

Bertilorenzi: I'm not new to crime stories in black and white. I did "The Chill" for Vertigo Crime, "Snow" a short story for Negative Burn, and minor issues for Italian projects. I love Noir and I love Kingpin! Work on this character came naturally.

Mithra: What is it about Kingpin that you found interesting?

Bertilorenzi: Kingpin is a GREAT villain! (in all senses..) I like his style so much, his composure that hides a animal ruthlessness. Besides this he is very interesting to draw... his exaggerated proportions and his big hands make it funny and disturbing at the same time. After Bullseye he is my favorite villain in the Marvel Universe.

Rick Spears on writing "Secrets and Lies"

Kuljit Mithra: When I read your story, I was reminded of stories where Matt Murdock goes to confession. Since you focused on the Kingpin... do you find he's similar to Daredevil in many ways?

Rick Spears: Yeah, the story revolves around confession. It is something both Matt and Fisk need but in very different ways. Fisk isn't seeking forgiveness. He understands that all men have weaknesses particularly when it comes to keeping secrets and this is his process of managing that for himself.

Mithra: What's your opinion on Kingpin keeping the Daredevil secret identity knowledge to himself for so long? Was that ultimately his weakness?

Spears: In an earlier draft I actually had Kingpin tell Turner DD's identity but it telegraphed the Turner's "ending" a bit too much. For Kingpin DD's identity is his greatest secret and the most dangerous one to let slip. I wouldn't call it a weakness but it is an interesting point to explore. I would argue the Kingpin practices this confession ritual(?) from time to time and some of his confessors do choose to hear the true name of DD.

Mithra: What was the genesis of this story? Had you been asked specifically to write a Kingpin-centric story? The themes of secrets, confessions, weakness, and trust run throughout the story.

Spears: I'd been working with Jody [LeHeup] the editor on some other things when this came up. They didn't ask for him but I knew I wanted to work with the Kingpin. He's always fascinated me. He's impossibly smart and I knew I wanted to work with his complicated, even convoluted, way of constructing a crime.

Mithra: Also, in terms of writing the story... did you envision any elements specific to a black and white story that you may not have written in a colour comic? In terms of framing the panel descriptions etc. for Mick Bertilorenzi.

Spears: Art descriptions can be a tricky thing. I tried to keep them simple and clear to give Mick the necessary information but leave him room to work. As for B/W vs. color, I try to write all my panel descriptions to stand on their own without color even when color is used.

Ann Nocenti on writing "Game Room"

Kuljit Mithra: Your story is a few pages long, but I suspect it took longer to write and prepare for this story than say, your "3 Jacks" story with David Aja. You've written "superhero prose" before and, of course, comics with Daredevil... the one thing that ran through my mind was that I thought you were enjoying the way you could describe DD's senses in prose. What led you to this kind of direction for the story?

Ann Nocenti: When Jody from Marvel asked me to write a DD story, my first thought was that I wanted to write a nasty and fractured fight scene, and somehow have the action flicker with a staccato rhythm and speed that would both reflect how time is truncated in a real fight (yes, I've been in a few) but also echo the multiple-panel comic form and how brilliantly I've seen many comic artists capture the feeling of a fight in shattered images -- I wanted to try that in prose.

So I started by writing the end, the fight. Then one night I was waiting on a city street and closed my eyes, listened to the city, and began piecing together sound and scent fragments that I imagined would be how Daredevil would perceive a city street: scraps of tones and smells. Which was fun and nostalgic because that's what I used to do when writing the comic years ago. I think about sensory perception a lot because I'm deaf in one ear from an accident, so I often feel the vibration of a person's approach or smell them before I hear or see them arrive. And then I wondered, if I were Daredevil, and had decided to be watchful for crime, what would I do? Perch in one spot and wait? Travel the city and listen? Listen for what?

It was then that I remembered a true crime that haunted me. A girl I knew, a terrific artist, was murdered in a similar way as the girl in the story. I remembered when it happened it was so intensely tragic that I played out savior fantasies in my head. You know, "If only her husband had called her at that moment..." etc. Basically the kind of senseless roofbrain chatter that people torture themselves with when trying to comprehend the inexplicable. So i decided to homage -- not avenge not change the outcome -- but rather honor her passing with this little tale.

To those of us that write comics, prose always ends up looking naked on the page, so I was thrilled when David Aja did the illustrations. He somehow pulled a song out of the story, and told a version of the story with a musical sensibility... those bathroom tiles turned into fragmented, dissipating music notes in his hands; it's as if he captured not just the dead girl's last song, but Daredevil's perception of it.

David Aja on illustrating "Game Room"

Kuljit Mithra: You've gone into great detail about how you prepared the cover, on your blog, so I wanted to ask how you prepared for the story? Seems like you had limited space for your illustrations. What were some of your ideas and thoughts that first came to mind when you read Ann Nocenti's story? Did you know you would be doing this kind of non-sequential artwork when you accepted the job?

David Aja: Jody asked me to do the cover while I was working on another project but I loved the idea of doing some vintage Daredevil-looking cover, so I thought I would have time for this little break. When doing it I was told that Annie was writing a story for the issue. I wrote her and we were talking and she told me it was a prose one. I talked with Jody again and was told I should just do some illos so it would fit my schedule as well. I have to say that I found Annie's story brilliant, and I love her writing style.

I worked as an illustrator (for press, books, magazines...) back in the day, and I dug the idea to do it again. Doing illos is way different than doing sequential, or, at least my approach is way different. I usually try to do more evocative pics, conceptual shots, some complement to the words instead something purely descriptive. In a sequential you should add all narrative info with the pics; a prose tale gives us all info we need about what is happening, so I think another point of view, more symbolistic and expressionist is needed. I tried to pick up concepts like game, music, puzzle, death and tried to represent more the mood than the action of the tale.

But at last all this verbal diarrhoea seemed to be so difficult and I just did the illos I did. Somewhere in between all these processes was when an alien abduction happened, but I cannot remember well at what point it was.

Mithra: In any of your sketches, did you want to leave it in just black and white?

Aja: Well, it is just black and white after all. Ok, ok, it has some kind of halftone, but they are haltone dots. I love haltone dots. "What will you be when you grow up?" Halftone dot. That said, as I have used them on the cover as well, I thought it would be a good idea to use them inside for homogenizing all stuff.


Kuljit Mithra: Presenting Daredevil in this kind of black & white format seems like a no-brainer because of his "noir" reputation, but I wanted to know what you as an editor wanted to achieve with this project and how that affected your choice of the people you approached for it?

Jody LeHeup: I'm a huge fan of black and white and short form storytelling and I know a ton of creators who are as well so the goal of this project (as was the goal of the other black and white one-shots that have been released in the last year or so.) was to tell the best stories that we could using those limitations. And to make it even more fun, we decided to package the stories in a way that paid homage to the Marvel Magazine anthologies from the 70's and 80's. You'll see some of those influences in some of the art styles in the book, the cover copy, the crazy house ads, etc. Daredevil was of course one of the characters at the top of the list that I wanted to see given this treatment so I knew I had to get some great people on the book. I wanted to cast creators that would really think about the black and white format and use it to enhance the stories they would be telling. I also wanted them to have something meaningful to say about Daredevil and his world and be able to do it in not a lot of pages. So yes, the format did guide my choices of who to approach for which stories.

Mithra: Were there different aspects of DD you wanted to explore, or did you ask the writers to pitch something and see if it resonated with you?

LeHeup: I think it was both really. I wanted the writers to pitch ideas they were excited to write about but I also wanted to make sure that there was a good variety of stories being told and some diverse explorations of Daredevil as a character. Fortunately the writers all had different ground they wanted to cover and it made for a really well rounded book.

Mithra: In terms of pairing up the writer and artist, were they pitched with that partnership in mind, or did you suggest the pairings? For Nocenti and Aja, having worked together before, that one was an easy decision (or was it?).

LeHeup: I guess it was an evolution of sorts. I had some ideas right off but I didn't want to make any decisions until the stories started to take shape. Once they did it was a matter of checking to see if the guys I had in mind were free and interested and suggesting them to the writers. I didn't have to do that with Ann though. She was on the same page with David right off the bat! That said, I couldn't be happier with the way the book turned out. Everyone involved really put their heart into the work and I think that it shows on the page.

Many thanks to Jason Latour, Peter Milligan, Rick Spears, Mick Bertilorenzi, Ann Nocenti, David Aja and Jody LeHeup for this opportunity!


(c)2010 Kuljit Mithra www.manwithoutfear.com

Special 40-50% off Daredevil sale ONLY for ManWithoutFear.com visitors.
20%-40% discounts everyday & free shipping on all orders over $40.00

Daredevil (and other related characters appearing) and the distinctive likenesses are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used WITHOUT permission.
Copyright © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Visit Marvel.com.

COMICS: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Annuals | Appearances | Costumes | Hardcovers | Key Issues | Logos | Origin | Price Guide | Recommended |
Reviews | Secret Identity | Sales Data | Titles | Trades | Untold Tales

CREATORS: Cover Artists | Inkers | Pencillers | Writers

MEDIA: Books | Cartoons | Computer Fun! | Movies | Music | Pictures | Sketches | Video Games | Wallpapers

FANS: Fan Art | Fan Costumes | Fan Custom Figures | Fan Fiction | Fan Guitars | Fan Tattoos

Daredevil fans! Get all the latest updates of NEWS and WHAT'S NEW from the site by following ManWithoutFear.com on