(Most of these questions are paraphrased, or a mix of two different questions.)
1. You charge way too much for commissions (between $1000-$3000 for 11x17). How do you justify that?
I agree it's a lot of money. When I first started pricing commissions so high, it was for 2 reasons: I only had time for a handful a year, and having a commission list stressed me out. I priced them high so less people would ask. Commissions are nice, but I see it as a short term money game, whereas working on creator-owned properties is more lucrative over time when you think about prints, t shirts, licensing, etc.
The work I put into a 1k commission is the same I'd put into a Batman cover. And I sell Batman covers for 3k. So, in one way, my commissions are a bargain.
2. Why don't you do a Batman title?
I love Batman. And I have open offers to do Batman titles--continuity stuff, minis, maxis, etc. I promise one day I'm going to do my Dark Knight or Batman: Year 100. And I'm even considering writing something myself. But not in the next 3 years. I have a long career ahead of me, and Batman isn't going anywhere, so there's no rush.
3. I hate drawing cars, motorcycles and other machines. You clearly love it—why?
Cars and bikes are exciting, and I love the challenge of drawing them. So many comic artists avoid drawing cars, so because there was a void in the marketplace, I went after it that much more aggressively when I asked John Arcudi to write me a Batman short that highlighted the Batmobile. I also started offering “hero plus his/her vehicle” commissions for 1k just to drive the nail in the coffin. An artist like Otomo in Japan draws some of the nicest cars I've ever seen, but even he had assistants. I'm not at his level yet, but I draw everything myself so one day I hope to surpass him.
4. When I met you at the show, you were nicer than I was expecting.
I get this one a lot.
I've written journals in the past where I made strong statements on topics ranging from digital inking to photo tracing to copyright law. I eventually realized that most people like looking at comics as a rock concert, and anyone who questions the stuff behind the curtain is ruining the show. As my career advanced, I got to see more “behind the curtain” stuff, and I felt a responsibility to try and share it because I thought the information would be useful to people looking to break in. But while some people really found those blogs insightful, most people were turned off by them. So I stopped, but the reputation still lingers.
Oh, and doing a comic where Jesus becomes an atheist probably didn't help.
5. I see some artists swiping your style. Are you aware of this?
I'm heavily influence by Zaffino and Toppi. If they saw certain pieces I did, they'd probably accuse me of the same thing. Being influenced by another artists means you run the risk of getting too close to their style, but when it's infrequent then it's a compliment. When it happens all the time, then you're a clone. And while I love Zaffino and Toppi, I'm not a clone.
When I see people influenced by my stuff, it's mostly just the inking and the textures. That's just the cheap, easy-to-see stuff that they're taking. What they're not getting is the storytelling and a lot of the subtle things that I'm juggling in my pages. Plus many of them haven't studied writing, which heavily affects how you draw.
Once or twice a year I'll see a drawing that I think is too close to my stuff, but mostly I'm thrilled that people are inking with REAL ink and inking themselves. And if I'm influencing that, then I'm flattered.