Talking Comics with Tim | Nicola Scott
For longtime comic readers like myself, there’s nothing quite like when a team book introduces a new character to the mix. This Wednesday, artist Nicola Scott gets to bring Solstice, a character she designed, into the Teen Titans mix with the release of Teen Titans 93. In addition to discussing Solstice, Scott notes the shift in tone/sense of fun that series writer J.T. Krul has brought to the series; how she considers herself a character-driven artist; as well as the lessons learned from collaborating with the likes of writer Gail Simone/dealing in subtext (among other topics). At the end of the interview, she invites fans to suggest characters we’d like to see her draw in the future–be sure to chime in with your ideas in the comments section.
Tim O’Shea: Over at the Source, you expressed part of what appealed to working with J.T. Krul on Teen Titans. ” Character, tone, direction. He has blown me away.” What is it about Krul’s approach to character and tone that appealed to you?
Nicola Scott: Over the last couple of years the tone of the book seemed to have become quite dark, and seemed to be missing youthful energy and a sense of fun. The characters weren’t quite connecting in the way DC hoped for them to. Straight off the bat JT had them feel exactly like their regular selves. The comradery had returned too and that’s such an important ingredient with the Teen Titans. The script for the first issue was fun, a great recap of the characters and who they are to each other. There were some gags and some drama and it felt like young people with huge responsibility. Another ingredient that I think was important, was bringing it back to the core members. A couple of new additions is fine but when most of the cast is unrecognizable to outside readers, it’s hard to grow the audience.
O’Shea: Some artists dread working on a team book, because of the demands involved with multiple characters. You seem to relish working on a team book, why do you think you can approach it so enjoyably on assignment than many others cannot?
Scott: I consider myself a character driven artist. I like to know the characters, their body language, their emotional range and their personality types. That’s what I like to draw. With team books you get to play around with so many different types of heroes (and villains) and how they interact with each other. I make a point of making all my characters as different from each other as possible so that what plays out between them is more satisfying for me and, hopefully, the reader too. It really is more interesting to look at. As exhausting as it is, I’m really grateful to have worked on so may important DCU teams. I had not worked with teams previously so it was a great learning curve.
O’Shea: Teen Titans 93 features the introduction of a relatively new character, Solstice. Were you involved in designing the character? How enjoyable is it to help define the look of the character (given that you’re the first artist to draw her on a regular basis)?
Scott: I did get to design her. I come from an acting background where I’ve also worked as a production/costume designer so creating new characters is extremely satisfying. As artists we’re all constantly designing looks for new characters, from passing extras, to bit parts, to fully fledged new leads. Solstice came about over a few months of communication with JT and Rachel Gluckstern, our editor. JT and Rachel refined her personality and power set and provided me with some general guidance regarding her look. I played around with some ideas, doing a bunch of sketches and eventually we ended up with how she appears in the book.
O’Shea: What advantages does your art gain when it is inked by Teen Titans inker Doug Hazlewood?
Scott: Doug and I have worked together now for five years. It was my first editor at DC, Mike Carlin, who hooked us up. My pencils are extremely tight and as I’m very fussy about the details of my characters, especially their faces, I get really disappointed when they look different after the inking stage. With Doug, I know it’s always going to look right. He’s incredibly reliable and always delivers what I want. Doug has a really nice clean, smooth, old school style that really suits my work. Luckily, most the the work we’ve done together has suited that kind of clean finish.
O’Shea: You’ve made no bones that Teen Titans is a book you’ve wanted to work on since starting your career, can you single out an issue or scene that has been most enjoyable to take on so far?
Scott: I love these guys so much and I love it when they’re happy but the story line I’ve most appreciated drawing is the relationship between Conner and Cassie. I see them as one of the genuinely loving couples in the DCU and I have every faith that their future lies together. But every relationship has it’s bumps and they can really be confusing when you’re young. It’s very clear to me that these two still love each other very much so drawing their separation is a subtle art. JT is really pulling on the heart strings in a very delicate way.
O’Shea: While you’re not currently collaborating with writer Gail Simone, you have clearly enjoyed working with her in the past on a variety of DC titles. What kind of storytelling lessons have you taken away from working with Simone?
Scott: Gail and I have this incredibly easy, synchronized approach and understanding of what we want from our collaborations. In terms of tone, character and humor, we’re on the same page but more importantly we build on each others ideas in a really effective way. Gail writes a lot of subtext that isn’t always evident on the scripted page but reveals itself as you’re drawing. That’s how I feel anyway. Not every artist see’s it but it’s there. I love finding these layers and bring them to the surface. In turn, Gail writes layered, complex and subtle scenes, specifically for me, because she knows I’ll hit the right mark. I think we both have a similar view of just how absurd real life can be and we’re both really interested in capturing those moments, often for their humour, but also for their tragedy.
O’Shea: As impressive as your art consistently is, I’m curious, which of your fellow creators do you most look forward to reading these days? Who impresses you?
Scott: I generally tend to get really behind with my reading as I don’t get too much time and my comp box is, as a rule, months late. I always read Gail’s work but I’m also a huge fan of Greg Rucka and Grant Morrison. There’s all kinds of art that really appeals to me. J.H. Williams through to Ivan Reis. George Perez and Adam Hughes were and are at the top of my favorite lists.
O’Shea: Enough answering questions–let’s switch the dynamics–are there any questions you’d like to toss out to our readers?
Scott: I don’t get to many American conventions so I don’t get to make contact with many U.S. readers. What would they like to see me draw in future?