Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir are a husband-and-wife writing team who hang their hats in sunny Los Angeles. Together, they’ve written a whole slew of miniseries and graphic novels for Oni Press, including SKINWALKER, THREE STRIKES, MARIA’S WEDDING, PAST LIES, THE TOMB, and ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, as well as a number of projects for Marvel and DC—they’ve written NEW X-MEN, NEW MUTANTS, HELLIONS, CHECKMATE, and ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (with Nunzio squeezing in a solo stint on DETECTIVE COMICS). They also created the manga titles AMAZING AGENT LUNA and DESTINY’S HAND, and have written for film, television, and video games, with credits on projects as diverse as the HBO sports comedy ARLI$$ and the animated adventure series KIM POSSIBLE for Disney. Somewhere in all of this, Weir and DeFilippis found the time to write a story arc for BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL, one that introduces a well-established Batman villain from another medium to the comic book page for the first time. Beautifully illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan, this three-issue arc is the kind of thrilling Batman yarn that hasn’t been seen for many a year—a nail-biting murder mystery that requires not only the Caped Crusader’s fighting prowess, but his considerable detective skills as well.
This week, as their storyline concludes in BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #28, DeFilippis and Weir were kind enough to answer some questions about how this story arc came to be, how they write scripts together, and what they’ve got lined up for the future. So, without further ado…
You guys have divided your time between work-for-hire projects for the Big Two, creator-owned, non-superhero graphic novels and miniseries for Oni Press, and even a bit of manga just to keep it international. Do you have a preference, or do you like bouncing back and forth? Is one easier or harder than the other?
CW: I don't particularly have a preference. They all have their pros and cons. The work we do with Oni allows us to pretty much tell any type of story we want. We've been able to do horror, crime drama, family comedy, fantasy, etc. But working for DC and Marvel allows us to play with history. There's nothing like actually getting to write Batman, Superman or the X-Men. In general, as a writer, any work is good work. I'll take it all!
Can you tell us a bit about how your co-writing process works? Do you hash out the plot together, then take turns on subsequent drafts, or is it a constant collaboration at every stage?
ND: In a perfect world, we do everything together. We discuss plot, map it out, do breakdowns for the issues, and even write together. Christina usually works the keyboard and I pace a lot. I do most of the talking, which might make it seem like I'm shaping the script, but remember... she does all of the typing. So she just changes what she wants, and then I come over and look, and we argue about it until we find a happy medium that we both like. However, this method can take a while, so when we have a lot of jobs to juggle, we'll tag team. I'm plotting one while she's writing another, then she reworks my plots while I rewrite her scripts, and vice versa. Basically, no matter what method we use, nothing gets done until we've both had at least one crack at it, and we're both happy with it.
Your latest project, a three-issue arc on BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL, features the first DCU appearance of King Tut, a villain whose only previous appearance was the 1960s Adam West/Burt Ward BATMAN TV series. Why did you choose Tut to make over instead of, say, Egghead, The Great Chandell, or Marsha, Queen of Diamonds?
CW: We originally were pitching a Riddler story - a story where Batman and Riddler had to team up to fight a villain and the Riddler was particularly interested because the villain was stealing his M.O. But we pitched it as a new villain called The Sphinx. Mike Carlin really liked the idea, but being an old school fan and a fan of the TV show, he said "Why not use King Tut?" We certainly can't argue with the results.
ND: As Christina mentioned, this started as a Riddler idea. I've been trying to tell Riddler stories for years. He's a personal favorite of mine, and I think in writing him, Christina developed a deep love for the character too.
Your BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL arc features stunning art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Did you have much contact with the artist while developing the story? Were you familiar with his previous work, and, if so, did you find it intimidating to work with him?
CW: We have not had contact with Jose. But we LOVE his art. When Mike mentioned wanting to get him on this project, we were ecstatic. And every time Mike would send us new pages was like Christmas. We hope to some day thank him in person for the spectacular job he's done. We also hope to buy the Riddler splash page from issue #27.
The King Tut arc wraps up this week in BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #28. Can you tell us anything about what projects you have lined up next?
ND: For DC, we have one definite project that we can't quite talk about yet - a brief stint on an ongoing title where we get to slot in another idea we've been trying to tell, working for an editor we've been dying to work for on a character I've wanted to write for decades. Then we are pitching some more Riddler stories, but they need a home and we need to find a way to fit them into the stories running in existing books, so we don't know if that'll happen. We also have numerous pitches floating around DC, and because we just keep knocking on doors at DC, and because this Confidential arc is so well received within DC (from what we hear), maybe one or two of them might find homes someday.
CW: Also in comics, we have a new graphic novel coming out from Oni Press at the end of the year. It's called ALL SAINTS DAY and is a sequel to our previous book PAST LIES. It's been a long time in the making since our artist is the father of triplets. But we're very exciting with how the book is coming along. We're developing an ongoing horror series for Oni called BAD MEDICINE, though the artist for the book has to finish a graphic novel before it gets on the schedule. We also have the final volume of DESTINY'S HAND due out later this year. That will wrap up our pirate adventure. Otherwise, we're working on a feature film that we hope moves forward this year. So as usual, lots of balls in the air and waiting to see what pans out.