|Born||August 11, 1962|
Before Watchmen: Comedian / Rorschach
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel
|Awards||Eisner Award (2001)|
Brian Azzarello (born August 11, 1962 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American comic book writer and screenwriter who first came to prominence with the hardboiled crime series 100 Bullets, published by DC Comics' mature-audience imprint Vertigo. Azzarello is best known for his numerous collaborations with artists Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets, "Batman: Broken City", Spaceman, Moonshine) and Lee Bermejo (Batman/Deathblow, Luthor, Joker, Batman: Damned), his contributions to the Watchmen prequel project Before Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns sequel series DK III: The Master Race, as well as for his stints on the long-running Vertigo series Hellblazer and The New 52 relaunch of the Wonder Woman title.
Azzarello grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where his mother managed a restaurant and his father was a salesman. As a child, he read monster and war comic books, but avoided the superhero genre. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, studying painting and printmaking. In 1989, after several years of working various blue-collar jobs, Azzarello moved to Chicago, where he became interested in the work of Black Lizard Press, a small publishing house which reprinted hardboiled detective and noir fiction. He also met his future wife Jill Thompson, a comic book artist who was working for DC Comics's imprint Vertigo.
Azzarello began working in comics in 1992, joining Comico as the production coordinator. He was soon promoted to managing editor, before becoming Editor-in-Chief—or, as he was often credited, "line editor"—the position he held from 1993 until the company's demise in 1997. During this period, Azzarello's wife Jill Thompson introduced him to Lou Stathis, an editor at DC Comics' Vertigo who wanted to move away from the light fantasy stories the imprint was known for at the time, and Azzarello was eventually hired as a writer. He contributed short stories to a number of Vertigo's anthology titles and penned Jonny Double, a 4-issue limited series which marked his first collaboration with Argentine artist Eduardo Risso. In August 1999, Azzarello and Risso launched 100 Bullets, a hardboiled noir series for Vertigo. The series ran for one hundred issues, from 1999 to 2009, and was noted for Azzarello's use of regional and local accents, as well as the frequent use of slang and oblique, metaphorical language in his characters' dialogue. Azzarello's other work for Verigo includes a run on Hellblazer, the 2005 western series Loveless with artist Marcelo Frusin and an original graphic novel Filthy Rich, one of the two titles that launched the Vertigo Crime line in 2009.
In 2003, Azzarello was assigned to write arcs for DC Comics' Batman and Superman, commenting to Chicago Tribune, "DC is giving me the keys to both cars in the garage, the Maserati and the Ferrari... Somebody told me, 'Don't drive drunk.'" The results were the 6-issue "Batman: Broken City" and the 12-issue "Superman: For Tomorrow", which was supposed to be the centerpiece of a larger storyline consisting of several interconnected mini-series, including one written by Azzarello, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. The initiative, unofficially dubbed "Superstorm" due to the fact that the mini-series were edited by the team of DC's Wildstorm imprint, experienced production problems and delays, causing Luthor to become a standalone work only loosely connected to "For Tomorrow". In the following years, Azzarello continued to write more Batman-related stories such as the 2008 graphic novel Joker, a serial for Wednesday Comics in 2009 and Flashpoint: Batman — Knight of Vengeance. In April 2015, Azzarello was announced as the co-writer of an eight-issue sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, titled The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, with Frank Miller and artist Andy Kubert. The series, released bi-monthly, was launched in late 2015. Azzarello's most recent Batman work was the Batman: Damned three-issue series for the DC Black Label imprint with artist Lee Bermejo.
Azzarello was one of the architects of First Wave, a new publishing line for pulp characters then-recently acquired by DC Comics, set outside the main DC continuity. He wrote the opening one-shot for the line, Batman/Doc Savage, continuing with the First Wave limited series. In 2011, Azzarello spearheaded The New 52 relaunch of the Wonder Woman series with artist Cliff Chiang. The pair stayed on the title until issue #35 (Dec. 2014). In 2012, Azzarello wrote two limited series for the Before Watchmen project, focusing on Comedian and Rorschach. In 2014, Azzarello became the co-writer of the weekly series The New 52: Futures End along with Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens.
In 2016, Azzarello launched the 12-issue maxi-series Moonshine with frequent collaborator Eduardo Risso at Image. In 2019, the series resumed publication with issue #13 as an ongoing title.
Azzarello and Risso won the 2001 Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story in 100 Bullets #15–18: "Hang Up on the Hang Low".
Azzarello cites Jim Thompson and David Goodis among his influences.
Azzarello is married to fellow comic book creator Jill Thompson. The couple resides in Chicago.
The character "666" from Mark Waid and Alex Ross' 1996 mini-series Kingdom Come is physically modeled after Azzarello.
Editor Bob Schreck gave two more big name creators a shot at the Batman when he hired writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso for a six-issue noir thriller.
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[Wednesday Comics] contained fifteen continuous stories including...'Batman' with a story by Brian Azzarello and art by Eduardo Risso.
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DC Comics will launch its new prestige imprint DC Black Label. The publisher is going to be kicking it off in grand fashion with Batman: Damned, which reunites the iconoclastic team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo, the same creatives behind 2009's arresting Joker graphic novel.
In Kingdom Come, Alex Ross DID specifically use [Jill] Thompson as the model for Joker's Daughter (and her husband, Brian Azzarello, as the basis for another character, the villain 666).