Exclusive Interview with Nicola Scott! (2016)
I hope you didn’t think we were done with our Oz Comic-Con coverage! We’ve got plenty of awesome interviews coming up this week from our favourite authors and artists. Today we have Nicola Scott, an Australian artist bringing both dark, occult detective stories and one of DC’s biggest heroes to the shelves.
Click below to enjoy the audio!
G-Funk: We’re at Oz Comic-Con in Perth, it is 2016 and we’re talking to comic book artist Nicola Scott. Good morning!
Nicola Scott: Good morning, thanks for having me.
G: Thank you for coming and joining us. How’s your convention going?
NS: It’s Sunday morning now, so I’m feeling a little crusty, but yesterday was super busy.
G: You don’t look crusty, not at all.
NS: Smoke and mirrors.
G: They can’t see us, it’s ok! First of all, we need to say congratulations because I believe you’ve got a job you’ve been wanting to do for a long time?
NS: Yeah, the whole reason I decided to draw comics in the first place was to draw Wonder Woman. Since the moment I discovered Greg Rucka I’ve wanted to draw a book together, on Wonder Woman, for over ten years. We settled for doing creator owned, so we spent the last year blissed out and happy doing our creator owned book together. ‘Black Magic’ from Image, which is going on to a hiatus because we were just given a ‘Wonder Woman’ origin story, which is…both of us are just bouncing of the walls with excitement.
G: DC usually have a closed door policy of sneak peaks and whatnot, but can you give us an idea of the direction you want to go?
NS: Because it’s part of the rebirth and that makes all the primary titles have twice month shipping, what Greg decided to do was make one issue a month be a contemporary story and one issue a month be a Year One story. They will relate to each other in that we will see characters that people are familiar with from DC lore and Wonder Woman lore happening in the contemporary story and in the Year One story we’ll see how those relationships started.
G: Are you more focused on the contemporary or the traditional story?
NS: I’m doing the Year One story for six issues.
G: But could that open the door to a lot more?
NS: No, I want to go back to ‘Black Magic’ after that. Year One will be enough for me.
G: ‘Black Magic’ isn’t an established name like Wonder Woman, so tell us about ‘Black Magic’.
NS: ‘Black Magic’ is an idea that Greg had the initial seed for and he and I have been cultivating this idea and workshopping it for some time. It’s an occult noir book about a police detective who happens to be a witch who has been targeted by nefarious forces.
G: That sounds like it’s a bit more adult orientated than a superhero book…
NS: It’s absolutely more adult orientated than a superhero book. There’s moments of gore, there’s moments of nudity, there will be moments of very violent sex…but there’s also a lot of heart in the book. There’s very complex characters, there’s very complex relationships. It’s very much an adult book. It’s black and white but it’s essentially grayscale. I’ve painted it all in ink wash.
G: Is that a typical style for you to use?
NS: I came from a painting background, so it’s rediscovering old skills for me. But there aren’t many painted books out there, they take quite a bit of time.
G: So it’s very much an artistic book as well as a story driven one.
NS: Yeah, very much so.
G: And as we’re speaking to an artist, is a great thing!
NS: Yeah, it’s incredibly creatively satisfying to be working in a more challenging and complex way to achieve the sequential storytelling of comic book art.
G: It sounds like a very unique book, I bought it, I’m going to read it tonight. What influences did you draw on for its look?
NS: Out of all the occult sub-genres, witches have always been my thing, they’ve always appealed to me way more the vampires and zombies and this, that and the other. I discovered them in the 80s when I was in my very early teens. I think what intrigued me in my first study, I was doing a book report or something, out of the occult genres they were the only ones with a real life history. There were real life people who consider themselves witches. There are some people who go around posing as real life vampires, but they’re only posing. Wherein there are some people who live and breath the religion of real life witchcraft. Then the 90s came along and Wicca became more commercially and publically known, that became the face of modern witchcraft. Ten plus years after I started reading about it, I hadn’t seen anything about Wicca prior to that. I’m always drawn to witch-based fiction, but very little of that witch-based fiction appeals to me. It’s a little too much sorcery, a little too much fantasy, and I kinda like the idea of real world witches who can affect real world action, but have to face real world consequences because of that action. Real magic, the theory of real magic, it’s the manipulation of energies, enforcing your will upon it, but there’s always a price to pay because those energies create a vacuum. You’re always dealing the aftermath of something you’ve done so you have to get dirty, you have to get your hands literally dirty. It’s a lot of blood, nail clippings, hair clippings, grave dirt…you know, it’s old school dirty magic.
G: For research, did you any spells or anything like that?
NS: I’ve been reading about the various kinds of magic from the various nations since I was 12, because it’s always fascinated me, so I’ve got a decent library of stuff. I’m a tactile person so I’ve been accumulating witch-specific accoutrement but I’m not really a practiser. I’m not a religious person so I’m not looking for a religious alternative but whenever I’m going through whatever my most spiritual phases are, Paganism is where I would find myself leaning in a most Buddhist sense. It’s all about Earth and nature and cycles.
G: Have you had any feedback from practicing wiggans on the book?
NS: Yes! And they love it! They’re seeing a real representation of the rituals they will perform. They’re seeing the right use of tools, they’re seeing the right use of the language and they’re seeing it in a book where we’re showing – because it’s a black and white book – one of the things we’re doing is using colour from time to time and that colour represents the energy of magic taking shape. So we’re showing the magic at work, which is invisible to the naked eye. We’d have Muggles standing around while a spell is being performed but they won’t see the magic, they won’t see what we’re showing the reader.
G: I’m looking forward to reading it now, it sounds cool. (NB: We have now read it and it is indeed cool.) There’s a lot of superheroes fighting for screen time in cinemas and on TV and everywhere right now. Do you think the industry is being affected by this?
NS: The comic industry itself? Certainly DC and Marvel are, to a degree, starting to fall in line with their cinematic counterparts. It’s still in comic’s best interests, and the publishers know it, to stay ahead of the storytelling arc. If the movies look like they’re veering towards a kind of story, or a version of an origin story or whatever, the comics can do everything much faster. We can see the idea and have it out in print within a few months. Movies take a lot longer. If comics can stay ahead of the curve ball…because, really, that’s where all the creativity comes from. The characters come from comics, the storylines come from comics, the movies are in this really lovely position of being able to cherry pick the very best ideas and find the way they relate to each other and marry them together and create a one off story for the cinematic audience. Anyone who’s a comic book reader can spot the elements. That’s from that story, that’s from that story and obviously the title is from ‘Civil War’, circa 2003. It’s always in comics and movies best interest for comics to stay ahead. Comics are realising, even though there has not been a lot of blowback towards the comics in that all these millions of people who have seen these movies aren’t necessarily buying the comics, some of that has to do with how complex and how confusing comic book continuity can be, and how different they can be from the cinematic versions. It certainly kept me away from comics for a long time in the 70s and 80s. Comics were so different from the film and TV versions of the characters that I had become familiar with and I didn’t know who these extra characters were. The costumes are starting to veer closer to the cinematic version of the comic version. Some of the story elements and character relationship elements are starting to be reinforced.
G: We just had our first cinematic Wonder Woman – did you see it?
NS: I did! Twice!
G: Did you like it?
NS: I think the movie is weird and a mess, but I loved it. I really did love it. I do think one of the best things in the movie, although she’s only peppered throughout, was Wonder Woman.
G: She had the coolest reveal at the end.
NS: She had the coolest reveal because she comes in unexpected in this great moment with the best theme music. It was so cool! One thing no-one can argue about, that DC is doing better than Marvel, is that they’re giving their characters theme music. Marvel’s music is so generic and it’s disappointing. Even The Avengers sound…I’m familiar with it now but it doesn’t lift me. It sounds like they’re coming together, and it sounds official, but it doesn’t lift me. Superman’s theme music, Batman’s theme music and now especially Wonder Woman’s theme music – that IS theme music! That is amazing!
G: Will that version of Wonder Woman inform your process?
NS: A little bit. I did ask, and Greg and I have been discussing this and discussing with editorial, how obligated we are to the movie. Certainly her in-comics outfit from now on will be more like the film, which is no big surprise because we’ve been veering there a little while anyway. I created a Wonder Woman for ‘Earth 2’, which was 3 or 4 years ago now that had a battle skirt similar to the battle skirt in the film. She was wearing knee and shin guards similar to what she was wearing in the film. There are elements that have been in play in comics for a few years and we’ve been slowly but surely veering there. Now that the film has cemented it the comics will be following suite. What Liam (Sharp, Greg Rucka’s other collaborator) is doing is quite similar to the film, but he’s taking his own personal liberties. I said to them that I love the film version but I’d like to comics it up some, I’d like to get some five point stars in there, and they were like ‘go for it’. The silhouette is still pretty similar, there are some design elements that are similar but I’d like to make it a little more comics friendly.
G: Do you have your own unique take on the character?
NS: I have definite opinions, I don’t know how specifically unique they are. But I’ve got definite opinions, Greg and I have been workshopping loads of specific ideas about old school Wonder Woman lore and what we should do our best to include. It’s a Year One story and if we can pay homage to something and it feels as if it fits the story we’re going to do our best to make that happen. I feel like my take on Wonder Woman is what most big time Wonder Woman fan’s take is. We have the same idea, that she’s a compassionate character for whom violence is the last option but she’s in no way a push-over.
G: We got the ‘no push-over’ part in the movies, I hope we see the compassion in her solo outing. We’ll wrap it up here because you’ve still got people wanting to come over and look at your artwork, and I’m sure you’ve got a lot of work to do today. Thank you very much for talking to us and we’re looking forward to seeing your Wonder Woman work in…the next couple of months, isn’t it?
NS: Yeah, you will. Alright, thanks very much! Bye now!