Her Aim Is True: Annie Wu Joins HAWKEYE Art Team
Hawkeye #14 cover by David Aja
CREDIT: Marvel Comics
Matt Fraction and David Aja have been hitting bullseyes with Hawkeye since their launch last year. And now they’re something new to their quiver: Annie Wu. Beginning with next month’s Hawkeye #14, Wu (Venture Bros., Batman Beyond) will be joining the series as co-lead artist, drawing even-numbered issues of Hawkeye focusing on Kate Bishop – aka Lady Hawkeye – while David Aja handles Hawkeye and the odd-numbered issues. Wu previously worked on the series in a limited capacity back in Hawkeye #8, and based on the success of that they invited her back in this more permanent role. Wu balances this work on Hawkeye with her day job in animation working on the likes of Venture Bros.
Scheduled to ship on November 27, Hawkeye #14 follows up on Kate Bishop’s story from Hawkeye Annual #1 which saw the New Avengers alum leave New York for the West Coast – pizza dog in tow. For more, Newsarama reached out and spoke with Wu about Hawkeye, Hawkguy, Lady Hawkeye, pizza dog and palm trees.
Newsarama: Annie, your first full issue on Hawkeye is issue #14 coming out in November. What did you get to do in this issue that excited you?
Annie Wu: Well, Kate Bishop gets the spotlight and she's so great to draw. I'm not sure how much I can say without giving anything away but there's a lot of sneering going on, and I love an excuse to draw a good sneer. An interesting, oddly-specific task was modifying Kate's wardrobe for her new budget and climate, which was also fun.
Nrama: What do you think of Kate as a character, on her own and in the context of that other Hawkeye, Hawkguy?
Wu: Kate's strong and fun and snarky, and Matt Fraction does a beautiful job of setting up moments to celebrate those traits, especially in this west coast arc. Kate took off from New York City a few issues ago to get some time away from Clint and have him sort out his own craziness, so she's kind of removed from her role as the young voice of reason. While certain things will feel very familiar, there's also a lot of all-caps NEW going on... Kate-fans get to see what she's like in a new place with new people, without her rich-girl money, without Hawkguy, without the Young Avengers. I hope people enjoy it because I'm having a blast drawing the arc and learning how Kate works on her own too.
... Did I say "Kate" enough? Kate. Katie-Kate Kate.
Nrama: I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, but we’ll move on. Hawkeye #14 will be only the second full issue of a published comic you’ve drawn, after your Batgirl issue of DC’s Batman Beyond. What’s been the challenges for you?
Wu: With this "Hawkeye" arc, I've been working with an established character throwing herself in an unfamiliar environment (within the context of the series), so the research and the areas where I could take liberties were a little different.
If we want to talk super-specifics, though, this is the first time I've done an issue for an ongoing series. A big (self-imposed) challenge for me was to recalibrate my style a bit to better suit not only the cohesiveness of the series but Matt Hollingsworth's beautiful, flat colors. My lines typically can get a little busy but I wanted to clean it up a bit. A lot of that was just me being hard on myself, of course, but I don't think anyone can blame me. Like, what would you do if you had to alternate issues of Hawkeye with David Aja? You step up your game, and you do your best to be considerate with details, like, at least half as much as he does. You also panic-eat a lot of Thai food.
Nrama: And what’s been the rewards in doing more longer-form storytelling?
Wu: I've never done a multi-issue arc like this before, so it's pretty interesting. I get to plant the seeds visually for things that pay off later, which hopefully people will see when they read #14. There are little moments that never would have occurred to me if I were doing shorter pieces.
Nrama: These issues of yours follow Kate onto the West Coast. In terms of surroundings, how are you working on the setting to make it real without being too real?
Wu: Maybe I'm cheating, but: palm trees, man.
Nrama: Hawkguy’s got a dog, and a brother – what does Kate have out here in California?
Wu: Kate takes Pizza Dog with her, so he's in Cali too. At the end of Hawkeye Annual #1 that Javier Pulido illustrated, you see she ends up trailer-sitting for an old couple by the beach and watching their cat, which has very specific dietary needs. Most adorably, she befriends her neighbors at this beachside trailer park, and they sort of assist her through these west coast adventures. I don't want to give too much away but they're a treat for fans familiar with what Matt Fraction considers to be Hawkeye’s spiritual forefathers.
Nrama: You got your start on Hawkeye –and at Marvel – a few months back when you did some illustrations for Hawkeye #8. Can you tell us about that early experience, and how it evolved into you as a rotating artist on the book with David?
Wu: I think in both cases, the wheels were already in motion, at least conceptually, before I was even brought on. There was already a plan to have an artist switch off with David and do the Kate issues in California. I'm not 100% on this part, but I think they were looking at the artists who had previously worked on the series. I was there and available and not a crazy-person, as far as they could tell, so yeah. I was like the final piece of the puzzle after a search -- I said sure and they pretty much immediately dropped a finished script on my desk. My digital desk.
Nrama:.I know you’ve been wanting to get in comics more for a while now, but you’ve got a busy day job as an artist on the animated series Venture Bros. – so what made you say, “hey, Hawkeye is the right gig for me?”
Wu: I've actually been working nearly non-stop on comics for a few years, slowly but surely. I get fussy with details, which is why the output seems sporadic. I'm learning, though -- I swear I'm getting better! Anyway, my department doesn't join Venture Bros. for a few months, so I'm strictly illustration at the moment.
Hawkeye was the right gig for me because it's Hawkeye. I get to read every issue and script as an artist and a fan, how cool is that? Or to not give a terrible answer: It basically comes down to interest and time, and if those work out, I'm on board. I'm fortunate to have choices -- I don't really work on anything I'm not excited about these days, which seems like a minor thing to say, but it's a huge deal for me and I'm constantly pathetically grateful for it.
Nrama: So are you going to continue to split time between animation and comics, or are you leaning towards one specifically down the road?
Wu: I'll be back for Venture Bros. next season, in some capacity. I'm pretty cool with doing illustration stuff steadily with some Venture Bros. here and there. It seems like the next few months are full-on comics, followed by the show and more comics, and some nebulous possible projects on the horizon in fields I've never tried before. I'm interested in a lot of different things so these are exciting, strange times. I'm certainly never bored.