Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale Artist Isaac Goodhart Brings Teen Selina Kyle to Life for DC Ink

Comics Features Isaac Goodhart
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<i>Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale</i> Artist Isaac Goodhart Brings Teen Selina Kyle to Life for DC Ink

Both readers and critics met the announcement of DC Zoom and DC Ink, new middle-grade and Young Adult imprints from DC, respectively, with understandable excitement. Although MG and YA graphic novels are a growing and important part of the comics market, major superhero publishers have a massive gap between media targeting children and those aimed at adults, making the leap from something like DC Superhero Girls to Supergirl or Batgirl sometimes impossible. But books like Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale are the perfect vehicle to help readers transition towards adult comics. Under the Moon reintroduces familiar faces like Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne in a new story about the young woman who eventually becomes Catwoman. It’s not exactly an origin story, but it does breathe new life into characters a lot of fans might feel they already know.

Written by YA novelist Lauren Myracle, Under the Moon focuses on the events that drive Selina into her life as Catwoman, providing new insight into how a Gotham girl can grow into the feline-inspired hero/antihero readers are more familiar with. Thanks in no small part to Isaac Goodhart’s art, the book is sweet and emotional without feeling cloying or out of character for Selina. She behaves irrationally—a teenage girl with a deep desire to be self-sufficient and defined on her own terms. It’s easy to relate to her frustrations and struggles, each written clearly on her face and in her body language. Even her clothing communicates to the reader and draws them in, making a character that’s often aloof and untouchable much more accessible not only to the teens that the book is targeting, but to adult readers, too. It’s fun to be reminded that even very serious, reserved characters like Catwoman and Batman were once teenagers, with all the foibles and drama that entails.

Ahead of Under the Moon’s publication in comic shops, Paste exchanged emails with Goodhart to find out more about his role in bringing Selina’s story to life.

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Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale Cover Art by Isaac Goodhart & Jeremy Lawson

Paste: Under the Moon is a departure from what you’ve worked on before in several ways. It’s a YA graphic novel with a limited color palette, and a lot of your work has been on the monthly series Postal, which is full color and decidedly not kid-friendly. Did you find any parts of the artistic experience to be different?

Isaac Goodhart: I think Postal was a departure from the kinds of comics I’ve always wanted to make! I learned so much from Postal and loved working with Bryan Edward Hill and K. Michael Russell, but the truth is, I read comics more like Under the Moon growing up.

What was surprising to me when I first read Lauren’s script was how some scenes were just as dark and heavy (maybe even as violent) as any issue of Postal. That’s what makes Lauren such a unique author! She’s able to balance these happy and scary moments so beautifully. As an artist who always wanted to draw comics that were more kid-friendly, but cut their teeth on a “mature” book like Postal, Under the Moon is a perfect project for me!

So, my approach to the characters in Under the Moon was definitely to make my style a little softer and rounder. Maybe their gestures a bit broader depending on the context of the scene. However, I honestly didn’t make too many conscious alterations to how I approach drawing a page!

Paste: Tackling well-known and much-beloved characters can be a challenge under any circumstances, but you had the added challenge of adapting those characters to younger versions of themselves. How did you approach designing Selina and Bruce as teens? How did you go about navigating Selina’s wardrobe choices?

Goodhart: There is DEFINITELY an element of intimidation when working on such well-known characters. One of the great things about this DC Ink line is that it’s new! I’m not following in the footsteps of another artist, so there’s no predecessor to compare my art to! That was a big relief for me. I didn’t have to worry about drawing young Selina as well as any number of incredible DC artists who have drawn the character. With this new interpretation, I was able to do just that; draw these characters in my own way without worrying about the continuity or artists that came before me. That was freeing.

As far as wardrobe goes, I try to think of what stores these characters would shop at. At this point in her life, Selina is very much a Hot Topic type of person. As the story goes on her fashion style becomes darker, she starts to wear more jewelry and she dons her first leather jacket in the final act of the story. This is a visual progression of her developing her identity and becoming more like the Catwoman we know from the comics.

Bruce Wayne has the style and wardrobe I wish I could pull off when I was in school! Even though I think of Bruce as the dark brooding hero of the night, it’s also important to note that he maintains the billionaire playboy act in his other life. His looks and wardrobe reflect that.

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Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale Interior Art by Isaac Goodhart & Jeremy Lawson

Paste: In the back of the book and immediately before a wonderful section where you and writer Lauren Myracle interview each other, there are some character designs where Selina has short hair like her current adult look. In the rest of the book she has very long hair, what prompted that shift?

Goodhart: Lauren prompted that! My instincts as a FAN of these characters was initially to draw them like how I think of them in the comics. Lauren (very astutely) reminded me that these characters aren’t who they are in the comics, YET. We are telling the story of how they become who they are. At this point in her life, Selina does not want to be noticed. She wants to blend in and to hide behind curtains of hair. It’s going to be a long road for Selina to become the confident, self-assured adult we know her as and that’s the story Lauren and I are telling.

Paste: Did you see any particular challenge in giving yet another origin story to a familiar character?

Goodhart: I never thought of it as a challenge for a second. When I was first emailed Lauren’s script, I loved it wholeheartedly. I was impressed with how familiar, yet surprising, risky and mature it was. So, when I started the art, I drew every page completely trusting Lauren and her direction. I knew this was the kind of comic I would have loved as a teen, so I never worried about the story for a moment.

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Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale Interior Art by Isaac Goodhart & Jeremy Lawson

Paste: Not only does Under the Moon tell a new story about Selina and Bruce, it also introduces a handful of new original characters for them to interact with. How did you make sure that Ojo, Yang and Rosie fit into the larger context of Gotham and Selina’s history?

Goodhart: In a lot of ways, Gotham is an analog to New York City, where I currently live. Like a lot of big cities, it’s a big melting pot of different people from various different backgrounds. In fact, I live in Jackson Heights, which is the most diverse area in the most diverse city in the world. The pages of Under the Moon reflect that I hope.

Ojo, Yang and Rosie are three totally different people who found each other and Selina. They fit in Gotham because everyone fits in Gotham, and the relationships they have with Selina will have a profound impact on her as she develops her personality through her relationships with others.

Paste: There have been a lot of different Catwoman stories and a lot of different versions of Selina over the years. What’s your favorite thing about her? Do you have a particular Catwoman costume you love best?

Goodhart: My favorite thing about Selina is the unwavering confidence she has. She has a very strong sense of self and never conforms to anybody’s idea of who she is. She’s a hero, a villain, a contradiction. Always interesting.

My favorite Catwoman costume is actually a recent one. I loved this one small storyline from Tom King and Joëlle Jones’ run where Bruce and Selina are in the desert on their way to meet Talia Al Guhl. Joëlle drew Catwoman with big cargo pants and a white cape!! It was AWESOME. Joëlle Jones is one of the all-time best Catwoman artists without a doubt. She also perfectly designed Selina’s black-and-white wedding dress which eagle-eyed readers might spot in the background of a panel in Under the Moon.

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Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale Interior Art by Isaac Goodhart & Jeremy Lawson

Paste: There’s a lovely detail at the start of each section of Under the Moon that shows the moon going through different phases as the book progresses. Was that always part of the plan, or was it added later?

Goodhart: That was always Lauren’s idea and was one of the first things I drew for the project. That’s Cinders before I drew Cinders in the story!

Paste: Time for the most controversial question: are you more of a dog person or a cat person?

Goodhart: Oh no, I’m a dog person through and through!! I haven’t discussed this with Lauren, but I suspect Ojo is a big-time dog person as well. Ojo and I are similar in that we’re these two big doofuses who are excited about everything with a penchant for talking too much and too loudly. Sounds pretty dog-like to me!

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Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale Interior Art by Isaac Goodhart & Jeremy Lawson

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