Nicola Scott has been working in comics for several years now, starting at Darkhorse, then Image and IDW. In 2005, “Wizard” magazine singled her out as a “Talent To Watch.” But her real breakthrough came when she began working for DC Comics, making quite a name for herself on ‘Birds of Prey,’ ‘Secret Six,’ ‘Teen Titans’ and ‘Wonder Woman.’ Nicola’s realistic, detailed work made her a hit with readers, who were disappointed that she had seemingly disappeared from DC’s roster with ‘The New 52’ relaunch. But she’s back in ‘Earth 2’ a new title featuring parallel universe versions of the regular DC Heroes! She took time from her busy schedule to answer some questions for our readers!
DC has come under some scrutiny recently for the number of women (or lack thereof) working in a creative capacity for them. You were working pretty consistently for them for a number of years, so I was surprised (and disappointed) that you weren’t one of the regular artists on any of their ‘New 52’ books. Were you offered a regular assignment or were you simply busy with other work?
Both actually. I was offered one book that seemed an odd choice for me. Really interesting but I didn’t think I was the right artist for it (turned out to be one of my favourites from the new line up and the totally appropriate art has had quite a bit to do with that). There was another book that was briefly in the mix too but again not quite what I was looking for. If I was going to leave my (then) current title I wanted it to be for the right book.
Most of the artists on the new books were either not currently assigned to a monthly or were leaving early to start on their new gigs. Teen Titans was approaching it’s 100th issue and even though it was all going to be moot anyway, I kinda wanted to see it trough to the end. JT Krull and I had really talked a lot about what we wanted to do with the book long term so it was a bit heart breaking to hear that the run was being cut so short. So I held out until the end and it was around that time that JSA (now Earth Two) popped up. It was exactly the kind of thing I had been holding out for.
With your Superman issues wrapping up, can you tell us anything about your upcoming projects?
Earth Two is launching in May!
I’m not sure there’s too much I can say about it yet but it’s definitely going to be different from what people are expecting. The main DCU has dozens of books carrying even more characters. Earth Two is an entirely alternate, similar in many ways but fundamentally different place, not just from events but also the nature of it. It’s still early days but it’s a blast.
Did you approach Superman, probably the most iconic male hero, any differently than Wonder Woman, the most iconic female?
I consider them to be equals in many ways but they are very different people. Despite being alien, there’s a very relaxed human quality to Clark. He’s grown up being different but still fully integrated into the American culture, lifestyle and values. Diana, on the other hand, grew up amongst her own people, royal, special and celebrated.
Clark has come to understand that his power gives him a responsibility to mankind, Diana was made aware of her responsibility to her people from birth, before her powers were evident. This is all my theory anyway. It informs how I approach their body language and draw them in general.
There has also been a lot of debate over the sexualization of female characters like Catwoman and Starfire. What are your thoughts on the depictions of female characters in comics in general?
As a woman I can say undoubtedly that sexuality is a power in our utility belt. However, it doesn’t mean all women use it and even then, not all the time.
Catwoman, sure, her sexual presence is one of her primary weapons. That, and she can beat the sh*t out of you. But I’m also pretty comfortable with plenty of other female characters being sexy, sexually aware and/or sexually aggressive. But not all of them and certainly not at every turn. It’s very one dimensional. If a character is going to be proactively sexual in their nature there needs to be a motivation for it, a reason behind it. Really, I think a lot of the responsibility comes down to the artist.
Incidentally sexy is something else altogether but it shouldn’t involve a broke-back pose or an arse-floss costume.
You drew Wonder Woman in her classic costume as well as her Star Sapphire costume in the Blackest Night tie-in miniseries. What are your thoughts on these costumes as well as her subsequent “pants and jacket” look designed by Jim Lee or her “New 52” costume? Do you feel that super hero suits need to be practical or are they just fantasy?
I LOVE the classic costume in all it’s variations. It’s exciting, bold and glamorous, three things I don’t think Diana is trying to be but she is nonetheless.
The Star Sapphire costume was ridiculous but standard for a Star Sapphire costume. I tried to make her wear it with some dignity.
There were a number of things I really liked about the “pants and jacket” look but none of them were the pants or the jacket.
The New 52 costume is pretty close to classic. I don’t mind it at all. I would prefer a red boot.
I got to design the Wonder Woman costume for our Earth Two series, with just some small tweaks by Jim Lee. It’s my version of her battle armor as apposed to a classic variant. It was the most appropriate direction considering the context.
Truthfully, I like the middle ground between pure fantasy and practicality. I want to know how a costume works, what all the parts are for, where did it come from, what it’s made of. I want there to be a practical nature but for that to not limit the design.
People often argue that male super heroes are also human perfection, but I would argue that they might be muscular and such, but they aren’t “sexy” because they aren’t presented that way… unless you draw them! Is that a conscious choice on your part? And if so, is it an example of “turning the tables” so to speak?
Men can be very sexy but I don’t often think it’s something in their control, like it can be for women. A man that’s too selfconsciously sexy tends to be a bit gross (to me anyway). A guy might know he’s sexy but as soon as he starts to “work it”, YUCK!
There are guys that have a natural sexual energy and some of those men are in the DCU. Dick Grayson, Roy Harper, Hal Jordan (?), Thomas Blake, etc. When I have the opportunity to draw any of these men I’m very aware of what I’m doing and it’s absolutely a chance to throw some equal opportunity ogling out. That said, if I were drawing Catwoman I wouldn’t be holding back on her either.
But desire is a very personal thing. Gail used to get more fan mail for our version of Bane than she did for Catman. Sexy doesn’t have to be obvious.
You previously stated that you couldn’t approach Superman as being sexy, but one of the reasons behind the “New 52” relaunch was to de-age the characters, presumably to make them a bit sexier. Did that impact how you approached drawing Superman?
Not really. He’s the same guy just younger. Superman is the perfect example of the flip side. He’s 6’4″, has black hair, blue eyes, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke and tells the truth. Perfection! But…… introduce him to your mother and marry him.
The nature of Clark’s personality doesn’t really bring out the sexual fantasy. Or maybe it does. To each their own.
I know you were heavily influenced by Wonder Woman. Now that you’ve had the chance to draw her, are there any other dream projects that you would love to do?
Well, more Wonder Woman at some point hopefully. There’s a lot of Gotham characters, peripheral and primary, that I’d like to work on at some point.
Really, I consider myself a character driven artist so I’m at my happiest when working with character driven writers on character driven books. I can love any character when i get to know them.
This may sound odd, but do you continue to follow “your” characters after they leave you? Do you still read Wonder Woman or Birds of Prey? If so, what are your thoughts on their current books?
I follow them if the same writer continues. That’s when they feel like they’re still a little bit mine.
As soon as a new writer comes on the direction can totally change. It really depends. I always check in but usually at trade time.
Deadshot or Catman? (Or other?)
One night? Catman.
Relationship? Deadshot. He seems more fun to hang out with. Catman’s too emo.
Excellent answers! Thanks to Nicola for taking the time to speak with us! Pick up ‘Earth 2’ when it debuts in May!