To what lengths would you go to protect them if you found out your family was in danger? What if you were locked away – behind bars – and unable to get involved? What if you could make a deal for someone else to protect them?
That’s just what William Hicks does in August’s Witchblade: Due Process one-shot from Top Cow. After being wrongly put away, he makes a deal with someone on the inside to protect his defenseless family on the outside. But as it turns out, the man he made a deal with is no man at all but a demon. Sara Pezzini, the bearer of the mystical artifact Witchblade, is brought into this as one of the arresting officers who put this innocent man behind bars years ago. A rookie at the time with deep suspicions that he was innocent, Sara has carried around the guilt and now she sees an opportunity to somehow make things right.Earlier this month we spoke with the book’s writer Phil Smith about this intriguing story of family and sacrifice, and now we turn to the one-shot’s artist, Alina Urusov. Although a relative new name in comics, Urusov has built up an impressive bibliography including X-Force, Young Avengers Presents, NYX: NO Way Home and is the cover artist to DC’s Birds of Prey starting with the fourth issue. Prior to comics, Urusov worked in animation, most notably on the TV series Boondocks.
With Witchblade: Due Process now on shelves, we talked with the enterprising Canadian artist about the book and she gave us several behind-the-scenes sketches for the book.Newsarama: For this book you had to design up essentially all of the characters except for Sara Pezzini. How was it establishing the characters of William and the others?
Alina Urusov: I did have a description of William, and I was given free reign with virtually everyone else save for Sara, so I just designed them according to what made sense to me, like William's shirt was plain because there would be no time to draw plaid, and his daughter had a big fuzzy ponytail because that is similar to the research photos I found of mixed race girls. So research did help, because I like to incorporate as much real details as I can.Nrama: I've read Phil Smith's notes for the demon Agares. How was that designing that character?
Urusov: I basically collected a whole bunch of weird/scary/gross creatures, like the frilled shark, because I wanted him to feel like a creature with actual anatomy and skin and veins. He has a big eye like an albino alligator and two bat eyes, and three mouths, because he is mostly a floating face with a misshapen sort of trail behind him. I tried to make him look creepy like Phil indicated (like the fingers look creepy to me because they're humanlike but they look off), but not like an animal or alien type monster, rather something different altogether.
Nrama: What was your favorite part of drawing this story?
Urusov: I like drawing (inking) people the most. The rest of the work is more work for my brain than for my hand.
Nrama: The writer, Phil Smith, said the story came out of the idea of what he would do as a father trying to protect his family. What do you think of the story and how dark it goes?Urusov: Well, it is pretty dark. I mentioned that maybe I could somehow soften the darker scenes but we decided that it was a mature subject matter so, it's not glorified violence but sobering violence which takes place in the world. I hope that people will not have to resort to such means in order to survive, but it takes the whole nation to see change, because everything is connected. If we close our eyes nothing will change.
Nrama: What's it been like working from Phil Smith's script on this one-shot?
Urusov: This particular script flowed very well, though there was no dialogue. I enjoyed that because it was more open for me to interpret what the characters would say, and in any case I do like ambiguity, and also when a subject matter transcends the dialogue. I would imagine the characters speaking with the same brisk informality as in the movie Night Watch.
Nrama: I've seen the Witchblade evolve into a variety of different degrees of armor. What was it like for you drawing this evolving costume?Urusov: I wouldn't say it was hard, but definitely time consuming, which is why I had to use a number of methods including photos and helpers for the blade. On the cover I actually drew it, but in the comic I couldn't draw every detail of it, there was just no time.
Nrama: Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is your first work for Top Cow after doing projects at Marvel like X-23 and Young Avengers. What brought you to Top Cow and on-board this one-shot in particular?
Urusov: I usually just get emails from different companies asking if I'm interested in doing a certain project, and I usually say yes. I did some sketches for Top Cow for a cover at first, but it was decided that we would do a different project for the sake of continuity, which turned out to be the Witchblade one shot.
Nrama: Why this project in particular?
Urusov: For one, I did it because I like the story. I felt that when Phil wrote it he cared about the characters and subject matter. I personally really enjoy supernatural stories that revolve around a family, and when the struggle comes primarily not from the monsters/demons but from the dynamics within the family.What do you think of Urusov's art?