NICOLA SCOTT Redesigning Superhero Life On EARTH 2
EARTH 2 #10, page 2Now that DC relaunched its Earth 2 universe beginning last May, readers are learning that it's even more revamped and refreshed than the initial "wave" of New 52 titles.
Writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott have introduced readers to a brand new world of superheroes, where alternate versions of DC heroes are popping up in an environment void of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Scott, who first grabbed the attention of DC readers on Birds of Prey, was previously best known for working with her frequent collaborator, writer Gail Simone on projects like Secret Six and even Wonder Woman.
When the New 52 was announced in 2011, the Australian artist was among DC's slate of female creators who were missed by fans. But they soon found out she was still working for DC — on a high-profile project relaunching the Justice Society of America.
Earth 2, which is one of the top-selling titles added to DC's line-up post-2011, has also gotten a lot of attention for the way it's adding diversity to the former JSA members. Even mainstream media ran stories announcing the fact that Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth 2, was now a homosexual, after having initially been a heterosexual in the Golden Age of comics.
But all these "tweaks" to old characters have also required a lot of design work on Scott's part, as she's worked with other DC artists to bring a whole new look to the Society of heroes on Earth 2.
EARTH 2 #10, page 6As this week's Earth 2 #9 introduces a few new heroes to the line-up of the comic, Newsarama talked to Scott to find out more about her work on the series.
Newsarama: Nicola, you've been creating this whole new world with James since the series began. Did you know what you were getting into?
Nicola Scott: I did! When they very first approached me about the project, it was seven or eight months before I started working on it. It was still in development. It was before the New 52 had started. And it was this conscious decision that there would be a second wave and that this would be one of the primary titles of the second wave.
How it was originally pitched to me is very different to how it turned out. But it was very clear that it was going to be Earth 2 and that everything needed to be created from scratch.
Over that time, I was kept in the loop and the idea was evolving, until it ended up at what it is now. And this direction makes sense, given the approach to the whole New 52 universe. It kind of makes sense where they've arrived.
It really did require a lot of research, a lot of design, and a lot of thinking things through. I had a lot of help though; I had a lot of people designing along with me.
Nrama: Alan Scott had a look before the relaunch that spoke to his age. I know you had help on the costume's design, but how do you approach the character in a way that maintains who the character is, but gives him a new twist?
Scott: His costume was designed by Joe Prado. And I love the costume. But he himself -- his body language, his face and his personality type, and how it demonstrates itself physically -- came out of discussions with James. It's very clear the role he has to play in our universe, and the impact he has to have on those around him.
So he needed to be the natural alpha male, like everyone would just instantly, naturally defer to him, because of his physicality and his personality. He would be the team leader. The way James described him is, "he is our answer to Superman, now that Superman is gone." He's going to be replacing that archetype. That informed how I wanted to portray him. He's quite tall and good-looking, and I wanted him to be beautiful looking and masculine. And really big in the shoulders. Very manly. And that he would hold himself in a very manly, confident way. He's kind of cocky. We've started to see now, in the recent issue -- particularly at the end of the first story arc...
Nrama: Yeah, he doesn't want to join the team.
Scott: He's just sort of like, "Team? What are you guys talking about? I can do this by myself. See you later."
EARTH 2 #10, page 14So yeah, even though it's slightly an asshole move, it's not that he's a nasty guy at all. He's just not been in that position before. He's been the boss. He's never needed to be a comrade or team player. He's just been capable.
The second story arc and the third story arc will play into his evolution as a team player.
Nrama: People were excited to see Jay Garrick, and we've learned a little more about him. What are your thoughts behind how he looks. He seems younger and less confident than Alan.
Scott: Yeah. The way James is writing the book, the captions are only ever from the perspective from Jay or Alan, so we get these two quite polar opposites, but at the same time similar. They're going through a similar experience at the same time, but their experience of it is polar opposite.
And where Alan is an already established, world-experienced made man, Jay's fresh out of college and kind of without direction. So there's a real charm to Jay.
Jay will be coming into himself, and we'll be learning more about him and his approach to his new role, and his personal life, over the next few story arcs.
Nrama: Before the New 52 they were seen in the same light, as the old guard. But they're coming at this from completely different directions.
Scott: Yeah, and that has been the case from the very beginning, from the very first version of JSA or Earth 2 that we had started talking about. It was going to be about them being young men getting their powers for the very first time. So they weren't these old, established characters who had been doing their job for a long time.
It was always about building not only the team, but building the roles they're going to represent in the world they're in. Their roles are very significant. And we know that from a very early stage, because all of the superheroes got killed off. And suddenly we have this new breed of superhero.
Nrama: We're just getting to know Hawkgirl.
Scott: I love her. She's such fun to draw. Brett Booth designed her outfit. And the primary reason for having Jay and Alan be the only people we get captions from is that Hawkgirl had to remain elusive. We're going to slowly but surely reveal more of her story. There are little hints here and there. Like she has a past with the World Army. And she has a history with Al Pratt. And she's essentially a fugitive now and has been for a little while. So there's more to her story, and I find her really interesting. She's a lot of fun.
Nrama: What are you thoughts behind Al Pratt and who he is, especially his story going forward?
Scott: We haven't discussed his personal story too much yet. But he is the soldier of that group of individuals. So his relationship with the rest of the -- I don't want to say team just yet, because they're not -- but his relationship with the rest of the group is always going to be in conflict with his allegiance to the World Army, because he's their soldier. That is going to play out.
We get a bit more of Captain Atom in issue #9. And he's very much a World Army player. So seeing how he develops and his relationship with the others develops over the next year or two, I think, will be very interesting.
Nrama: You're going to be handling the new Dr. Fate in the upcoming storyline. We just saw the first glimpse of him. I'm glad to see he's got the helmet.
Scott: The helmet is iconic!
Nrama: It's been revealed that Khalid is in the costume.
Scott: We meet Dr. Fate at the beginning of issue #9. That's where we get a better understanding of the Khalid relationship with Fate. But the story really plays out over this whole arc. It's a short arc at only four issues, but it's building toward him accepting the helmet of Fate.
Nrama: Did you design Fury's look?
Scott: I did. Because there have been quite a lot of characters to design, Joe Prado was helping out designing characters. He and Cully Hamner were doing a bunch of designs. And essentially what we ended up with were stripped down versions of a couple of designs that Jim Lee then tweaked.
Since then, most of the designs have been contributed by either myself or Brett Booth. They get divvied up depending on who the character is, like Brett designed Dr. Fate; I designed Fury and Wotan.
Nrama: What were your thoughts behind the way Fury looks?
Scott: We wanted to reference Wonder Woman's look quite specifically, as much as possible, which also referencing her time on Apokolips. So we came up with a couple of different designs. And it was just finding the right balance.
But at the same time, in the first issue, where we had Helena Wayne as Robin and Kara Zor-El as Supergirl, who then becomes Power Girl in World's Finest, this character was Wonder Woman's child. So she would have been around in the very early stages, but from what I understand, she was taken from Paradise Island as a child. So she's never really been a superhero.
Nrama: And as you mentioned, you've got Wotan coming up too, right?
Scott: Oh, yeah, we might be freaking people out with Wotan. There's nothing outlandish about his costume.
Nrama: As you design the characters, do you go back and look at the DC Encyclopedia and think about what they used to look like, and how you can pick elements from that for an update?
Scott: That is my first protocol, is the DC Encyclopedia. In there, Wotan's character drawing is teeny, tiny, so I Googled some images of him to get an idea of the various artistic versions of the basic design.
Wotan makes his appearance at the end of issue #9. And we'll see what people think. There are a lot of other people coming up too. It's exciting!
Nrama: What was your background with the JSA before you started on this book? Were you a fan or an admirer?
Scott: I wasn't a regular JSA reader when I started in comics, partly because many of their stories happened before I got into comic books. But I started learning about them as I began learning more about the characters in the DCU. So I went back and started reading their stories in trades. And I've been going about it that way ever since I've been at DC, just familiarizing myself more fully with the expanded DC Universe.
JSA was one of the first groups I started to learn about that I didn't know about during my time as a reader, that I hadn't picked up by myself. And it was great! I loved them!
The biggest influences for me have been, so far, I've gone back and read James' run a couple of times, and I already had a few of his trades on my shelf. So I've gone back and read them again. I've also re-read Geoff Johns' most recent run. That helps me put them in their old universe context. And that informed what I started doing, but I had to forget about all the peripheral information around the characters and around the team and the history, because we have to approach these guys fresh. We have to let go of a lot of baggage and a lot of established relationships and spin-off characters and stories that have really meant a lot to a lot of people, including us. We've had to let that go so these guys can start fresh, with just a small group of people that are young and have no idea what they're doing. And build on it from there.
Nrama: How has it been working with James? Do you Skype a lot?
Scott: We don't Skype as much as we probably should. Whenever we do Skype, we say, "Oh, we should do this more often!"
But we communicate via email, usually in between issues. I'll update him where I am, and he'll let me know what he's working on, which is usually an issue or two ahead of me. And we'll talk about our thoughts about the upcoming issues and share ideas and everything.
But once I've got a script, I sort of go into my own world and start drawing. And he and I will correspond only if I need clarification on something in particular. Or if I'm designing something that's coming up and we need to discuss it further.
So by the time I have a script for an issue, I already have a pretty good idea of what's coming because we've talked about it, at least a couple months in advance. The basics of the information have had quite a bit of time to marinate, so by the time he's able to articulate the details, it makes a lot of sense.
It's been a really easy, rewarding collaboration so far.
Nrama: You mentioned that you're looking forward to seeing how some of the stories unfold of these characters over time. Does that mean you're planning to be on the book for awhile?
Scott: I want to stay on this book as long as possible. There's so much possibility with these characters and concepts. There are so many different ideas that James and I have talked about. When we were in San Diego, at Comic Con, we sat down to lunch, and he was talking about story ideas that he had talked about with the editor at the time, and then I started throwing out some ideas, and it was just this never-ending series of ideas. We have this whole world to ourselves, and so many significant JSA characters yet to come. Even ones that we've hinted at that are still yet to show their face.
And the different ways that James has thought to interpret these characters and these stories -- there's so much room here to really experiment and have fun! It's not going to get boring. I'll stick around on the book as long as they'll keep me.
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