BRETT BOOTH On the New 52 WALLY WEST: 'He Will Be Different'
CREDIT: DC Comics
DC artist Brett Booth was getting impatient.
The artist, like many other DC fans, wanted to see former Flash Wally West show up in the rebooted New 52. Ever since DC relaunched and renumbered all its comics in September 2011, Barry Allen had been the Flash — albeit a younger, more modern version of him — but there was no sign of Wally.
Booth made it clear on social media sites that he was not happy about that.
Now Booth is getting the chance to not only introduce the New 52 version of Wally in April's The Flash Annual #3, but he's also the new ongoing artist on The Flash monthly, working with new writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen.
Newsarama talked to Booth about the gig, and tried to find out more about the new version of Wally West.
Newsarama: Brett, you've been a vocal Wally West fan on social media. Is there any hesitation to being the one to bring him to the DC New 52?
Brett Booth: Yes and no. I've always wanted to draw him for DC, I was worried I'd never get the chance. But drawing some of these iconic characters can be stressful. Sometimes I have trouble finding the core of the character. Had a heck of time with Superman 'til I saw Man of Steel. I was worried about Barry until I saw Grant Gustin play him on Arrow. Luckily I've read LOTS of Wally comics, as Kid Flash and the Flash. So I know him pretty well.
Nrama: Why do you think now is the time to go ahead and introduce Wally?
Booth: For me any time would be a good time.
Nrama: You're obviously a big fan. Do you have any idea how much fans like you influenced DC's decision to bring the character into the New 52?
Booth: I'd like to say a lot. I've been pestering Dan DiDio for years.
Nrama: Let's talk about what you guys are facing now. We've had two and a half years of the New 52 with no Flash except Barry Allen. What's the biggest challenge about introducing Wally West at this time, with Barry already established?
Booth: I think it will be getting people to accept this version. I know what some people are expecting, I know what I'd want. He will be different, for one thing, in the old DCU he was Iris's sister's kid. She has a brother now, so things won't be exactly the same. The original Wally was from a different time, a very Norman Rockwell sort of place. That is no longer the case for anyone in the New 52. He will reflect that, I'm sure.
Nrama: Yeah, obviously, there will have to be some significant changes to Wally's character to fit him into this new universe — what teases or words of caution would you offer to fellow fans?
Booth: Be open to change and wait for things to play out a bit. I know everyone's first reaction is to flip out, myself included, but be patient.
Nrama: What were you hoping to incorporate into your design for his New 52 version? And can you describe anything about how you approached it?
Booth: How do I answer this… well, they gave me a few guidelines and let me take it from there.
Nrama: Does the New 52 afford the opportunity to give him his own unique look? Or is it important to keep the classic Flash costume as intact as possible to meet fan expectations?
Booth: We're going to try to give him his own look. I can't give too much away about that.
Nrama: We've seen a cover for the Flash Annual #3 that you drew, with a Flash in black. What can you tell us about that image?
Booth: Dark blue actually. It's scenes from the issue, a collage of what's inside with the Future Flash busting through coming to "our" time. I wasn't sure who was going to be working on it, so I decided it might be best to give them something to work from, as it turns out, I'll be drawing part of the issue so it gives me something already drawn to start with.
Nrama: Point blank question (because a lot of fans are wondering) — is that figure on that cover supposed to be Wally?
Booth: Wally is on the cover.
Nrama: Hmmm. There are a lot of possibilities for that answer. The cover also has some familiar villains on it. Anything you can tell us about the villains you're getting to draw?
Booth: We got a few old rogues coming up!
Nrama: Let's talk about how you got the opportunity to work on The Flash monthly. You were announced as the regular artist on Batman/Superman, but you'll switch to this gig after only a few months. Was this switch to The Flash something you lobbied for, as a fan of the character? Or did DC come to you with the opportunity?
Booth: Funny story, I was originally going to do the Flash after a 3 issue run on Batman/Superman. Then that changed to drawing Batman/Superman semi-regularly. I think when they decided to use Wally, they decided I'd be "upset" if they didn't ask. I'm sure all the Forever Evil shakeups also had something to do with it as well. How could I say no to Wally?
Nrama: When you were introduced to the art team on Batman/Superman, you kicked things off with a horizontal issue. Is there any plan in place to do something similarly "visually different" to kick off the new era for The Flash?
Booth: Not really. I think this will be more standard style (I do love the sideways format; it's like lots of double page spreads!). One thing I don't want to do is slow the book down. If I get too artsy with it, I might loose the feel. The Flash is speed and the book needs to reflect that energy.
Nrama: Are there any Flash artists or story arcs from the past that are influencing your approach?
Booth: Of course! I'm standing on the shoulders of some of my favorite artists. From Infantino to Cardy to Perez, LaRogue and Jimenez to Van Sciver and Manapul.
Nrama: It's still early, but have you gotten very far in your collaboration with Robert Venditti and Van Jensen? Anything you're noticing about the team that's noteworthy?
Booth: They are exceedingly nice! I've just started issue 30, but design wise they let me play!
Nrama: Francis and Brian established a very specific style for the series. How do you keep things similar but also give your own take on things?
Booth: I'll use what they've already established. Hairstyles, clothing styles, buildings, etc. I'm not going to try and emulate what Francis did — that's his style, which he did beautifully. I'm going to do what I think the Flash should look like. Energy. Flash is a book about speed. My work will reflect that.