Hawkeye might be one of superhero comics’ most expert marksmen, but when it comes to life he’s not quite the straight-shooter: and that’s a big part of the success of the Hawkeye comic series. But now it’s counting down to a close, as early next year series creators Matt Fraction and David Aja are culminating the series in January with Hawkeye #22. For series co-artist Annie Wu however, her time on the book – illustrating the side-story of the “other” Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, in Los Angeles – ended with with September’s #20, but as she tells Newsarama, she’s “just as excited as the other fans to see what [Fraction and Aja] have lined up for the finale.”
Wu joined the Hawkeye creative team in late 2013 to alternate issues as artist alongside Aja, and through it made a name for herself. Newsarama talked with the NYC-based artist about her final pages, the influences that inspired her work on the book, and who she finds herself in common with – both in the book and outside it. Along the way she mentions influences as diverse as Edgar Wright, Stanley Kubrick and Nicki Minaj, and even drops some subtle hints on what spin-off project she thinks Marvel should do from Hawkeye.
Newsarama: Annie, how does it feel to be done with Hawkeye, your longest work to date, and the series itself ending early next year?
Annie Wu: Oh, it's weird. To jump on a well-loved series with an amazing team and for everyone to be so cool and welcoming -- I've honestly felt spoiled. I'm very grateful to be a part of this run. And, initially, I was bummed out about the series ending but after thinking about it I'm glad the guys get to wrap things up how they want, really blow it out. I have no idea what's coming up, so I'm just as excited as the other fans to see what they have lined up for the finale.
Nrama: The last issue of yours, #20, was the finale of Kate Bishop’s stories in California. What’s it been like for you, these stories?
Wu: I've loved following this arc and seeing Kate develop as a person/character... Something in every issue spoke to me. Creatively, it's been wonderfully challenging and thrilling, because Matt Fraction's damn good and he's not afraid to get weird (see: the fractured timeline of #20 and my face while going through it for the first time). Also, I was always hyper-aware I was alternating with David Aja. I mean, just one look at the world Matt and David have built with all these other amazing guest artists, and you know you need to step up your game, son.
Nrama: For the writing, Matt hasn’t been ashamed of wearing his influences on his sleeve. Art-wise, what inspires you – or at least comes to mind – when you did this final issue?
Wu: I think films and acting inform my visual choices the most, consciously and unconsciously. For example, I only recently realized I've regularly borrowed the Edgar Wright thing of having disembodied hands pop into close-ups to deliver notes or a phone. I'm also a big fan of Wright's tendency to reward fans who go back and watch his stuff over and over again -- I hope when the full series comes out, people can read it all in one sitting and notice the subtle callbacks, not just in details but layouts and framing. Especially between Kate and HHH, I had a lot of mirrored panels to echo their Los Angeles experiences. A mish-mash of Stanley Kubrick, Nicolas Winding Refn and Alejandro Jodorowsky rang in my head for more still, brutal moments.
Along those cinematic lines, over the last year, I've become obsessed with manipulating how people sense time in comics, sort of? Not necessarily articulating the passage of time itself in the story but more like affecting the reader... Like, how do you reproduce the feeling of a smash-cut or slow-motion while still being crystal clear and economical with page space? I love it when someone says a page's pacing creeped them out or literally gave them chills.
So it's, like, these filmmaking inspirations plus an awareness that I can't (or don't need to) abide by the same rules of time in this medium. And swishy hair -- I'm really inspired by swishy hair.
Nrama: Can you describe how you were originally brought into Hawkeye and how it evolved into being you and David alternating?
Wu: Matt and I were Twitter-friendly with each other, and one day he asked me to do those romance covers in #8... I'm not 100% on this but I guess when they were preparing the Kate arc, they dipped back into the team of previous guest artists to find someone. It was like Nicki Minaj's early days, y'know? Like, I had just shown up to do a guest verse on someone's album and then we collaborated on an EP. That's one of the many ways I'm like Nicki Minaj.
Nrama: It may be simplistic to say that authors always write or draw versions of themselves when fiction, but do you see a bit of you in Kate?
Wu: Yeah, a lot, actually. I think I'm closer in age to Kate than Clint, and the way Matt writes her resonates with me. I recognize those thoughts and doubts as a young adult, and I've gone through the same struggles with being your own person, learning what it means to be courageous. Maybe with a little less punching.
And I don't know how true this is, but friends have said that Kate sounds a bit like me. I also have a couple people I've realized are real-life Clint Bartons to my Kate Bishop. My god, they can never know.
Nrama: Who would you say you identify with most in the series? And who, of the main characters, the least?
Wu: I suppose I identify the most with Kate, but I wonder that comes from spending so much time with her. There's something at my core that got really attached to HHH and Will Bryson, even though they only showed up in this arc. I don't know what that says about me! Ideally, I'd say I'm least like a villain but I'd have to say I identify least with Clint, actually. Too much drama, Barton.
Nrama: Your run on Hawkeye is over, but can you rule out collaborating with Matt down the road?
Wu: No, I wouldn't rule it out. I'd love to work with him again in the future if the right project/time comes along. Maybe on a creator-owned. Or maybe Dog Cops becomes one of those Marvel shows on Netflix and we can collaborate on gritty canine drama.