It’s been a while since our last women in comics post, but we have a bunch queued for this week. We thought we’d kick it off with one of GRCT favourites, artist Nicola Scott. After great runs on Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman and Teen Titans, she’s doing a few issues of Superman with the promise of a Justice League book still in the future. It was hard to see her not on a DC book for a few months, and as a fan I can’t say enough how happy I am to see her back and drawing again!
I didn’t grow up with comics being part of my field of awareness. The culture of comics just wasn’t so strong in Australia when I was growing up. There were comics at the news stands but it was always characters I didn’t know and didn’t intrigue me. I did, however, grow up with superheroes. They were all over the TV in the 70’s and they affected me straight away.
Wonder Woman was the first superhero I saw, at the age of 4, (and she’ll always be #1 to me) followed by Batgirl, Electra Woman, Isis and on. I would draw them all the time, write stories with my friend and illustrate them and then run around the house and the parks being them. I always got to be Wonder Woman because I was older and taller (and bossier).
It wasn’t until my teens that I started meeting the occasional guy that was into comics and I started to really look at them properly. This was round about the time of the original Crisis and the relaunch of a number of books after, a heady comics period! That was the first time I had the idea that I might draw comics one day but I never really thought much beyond that. I had other fish to fry.After spending my twenties attempting to get an acting career off the ground and working in hospitality, I had one of those self analysis moments that culminated in suddenly being absolutely sure I wanted to draw superhero comics. I knew I had to do something creative. I knew I was pretty good at acting, sewing and drawing. I went through the various jobs and careers I could think of with those skills and crossed every single one off the list until I had got it down to drawing and what I thought I would be happy to draw every day if I had to. I remember distinctly thinking “I’d love to just be able to draw Wonder Woman all day”. And that was the moment. Holy Crap! That was an actual job that right now someone had! I wanted that job!!! So with no idea what I was doing or how I was going to get there I suddenly had a firm goal.
I started talking to people at the comic store, I started going to conventions, I started asking questions and listening to the answers. I started drawing every day. I set myself rules and tasks. I started showing my work to people and taking in their critiques. I bought myself I ticket to San Diego Comic Con and started the whole networking/portfolio review thing there too. I sold my car, I moved out of my apartment and lived out of a suitcase for three years (two with my folks and one in New York) and made a priority out of getting as big a body of work together as I could in a short space of time. It took me four and a half years from my decision to draw comics to getting my first monthly at DC Comics.
Tell us a bit about the projects you’ve worked on.
Having been pretty sure that I’d slot right into drawing female super characters I actually spent the first few years of my career drawing Sci-Fi and horror books. Halloween Man was a favourite of mine that I got to work on a few times over the years. My first big pro gig was drawing Star Wars books but I felt the most at home when I worked with Peter David on an “Illyria” (Angel) oneshot for IDW. It was the first time I had worked on something that was right up my ally. A character driven story with a bit of action and some really subtle storytelling.
It wasn’t too long after that that I started at DC and working with Gail Simone, who has become a great friend and collaborator. Birds of Prey was a great starting point for me. Getting to work on my first monthly with a fun writer and a really supportive editor (Mike Carlin) was a huge benefit.
What is your favourite work that you’ve done so far?
Secret Six, again with Gail, was an absolute highlight. To date that has been the most fun I’ve had. I miss those characters every day and would have drawn them forever.
Getting to finally work on Wonder Woman, and with Greg Rucka, was too good to be true. His Diana is the modern Wonder Woman for me. One day I hope that he and I can work together on her again. He really nails her voice and themes and I’d love to add my visual take, adding the right amount of strength and glamour.
Did you ever get advice about the field that you’d like to pass on?
Very early on I heard a big time pro say that there are three things you can be to help you get work. Good – fun to hang with – able to make deadlines. If you can be any two of those things you can probably get work. If you’re all three, you can probably get and stay in work. I decided to go for all three.
What is your favourite thing to write or draw? From situations to characters to themes, anything goes.
Obviously big, actiony, pin-upy pages are fun to draw but what I really like are the subtle human moments. They’re the thing I feel are my strength. Finding that balance, acting out the scene and keeping the storytelling smooth. That’s satisfying.
There was a scene in #10 of Secret Six where Bane and Scandal end up in bed together. It’s an incredibly loaded, heavy scene. Funny, sexy and emotional but very particular in every way. Finding the right balance, being true to the scene, the characters and to Gail was really important. That’s the kind of thing that I feel is a big part of what I have to offer.
In an ideal world, in what direction would you like to see your career evolve?
There are particular titles I want to spend some time with but there are also my own projects I hope to have an opportunity to get off the ground. Fingers crossed.
Thanks for the interview. I’ve enjoyed her work for years. Nicola has an ability to grasp and bring subtle human emotions to her work that I truly appreciate.
She definitely does. I’ve always loved her emotiveness and the fact that not everyone looks the SAME.
She drew the most beautiful Lois Lane in the recent Superman issues. I would really love to see Nicola get to work on Superman long term.
I need to get my hands on those!
A major talent, a class act, and the richest laugh in the comic business. Always a pleasure to see her work.
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