Since launching Rex Mundi with artist EricJ, Arvid Nelson has steadily continued building his writing career. With other creator-owned series at multiple publishers, some guest spots and one-shots with companies like Marvel, now Nelson is taking the reigns for the second story arc of Dynamite Entertainment’s Queen Sonja. The book launched a few months ago, with the now royal red-haired beauty, and we had a chat with Nelson about his plans for the book, how to approach a licensed property, and what makes Sonja tick.
Newsarama: Obviously the approach to scripting a longer-form story for a creator-owned versus a licensed property or publisher-owned character is very different, but is there a major difference in how you approach each individual issue?
Arvid Nelson: Actually, not really! A comic book issue is like a long haiku. You need the same basic underlying structure, regardless of the subject matter.
Exclusive interior art from Queen Sonja #6Nrama: And how long are you signed on for? It's unclear to us whether you guys are the new ongoing team or just here for an arc.
Nelson: Five issues, as far as I know! We’ll see where that leads. I believe in pay-for-performance. I’m sure if readers respond to this story, and I think they will, the sky’s the limit.
Nrama: That asked, will you be working with Jackson Herbert for the duration of your run?
Nelson: Yeah, I believe so. Jack’s a terrific artist.
Nrama: What attracts you to the book and the character?
Exclusive interior art from Queen Sonja #6Nelson: Sonja’s actually a very complex lady. I mean yes, she’s a hot barbarian slayeress in a chainmail bikini, but she carries a lot of pain around inside her, too. That, and I’m absolutely nuts about Sword & Sorcery. It seems to be swirling around in the murk of the collective unconscious right now. Not just in comics, in music too -- bands like Baroness, The Sword, 3 Inches of Blood. It’s wonderful to be able to dive in.
Nrama: Certainly Dynamite's ongoing books are an odd animal: They don't have the long-running and elaborate continuity of the Marvel and DC superhero books, but the creative teams shift from time to time. Obviously you don't have to worry about coordinating with the last guy who wrote "Rex Mundi." How much homework to you do before taking on a project like this?
Nelson: I always try to become an expert on whatever I’m writing. But that’s where editors come in, too. Joe Rybrant has an encyclopedic knowledge of the characters he shepherds. He makes me come off a lot smarter than I actually am.
Exclusive interior art from Queen Sonja #6Nrama: That asked, is it easier to work on an ongoing story like you have in a "regular" monthly comic as opposed to writing something like "Deadlocke," where you've got to put your own stamp on someone else's work without straying too far from the story you're adapting?
Nelson: You know, the same basic rules always apply. You have to go to the story, you can’t force the story to come to you. It’s always a matter of figuring out what makes the source material click and then evoking that as best you can. I don’t ever worry about putting my stamp on something -- that always happens, whether or not I want it to!
Nrama: Is it nice to come in on a second arc, and not have to dedicate as much time and as many pages to stage-setting and introductions? To just worry about plot and character-building right out of the gate? Or would you have liked to start at #1?
Nelson: There’s a cliché in boxing that “the most important fight of your career is your next one”. That’s true for writing comics, too. I approach every project like it will be the last unless I give it my best -- because that’s the truth!