After years of creating art for DC Comics series like Secret Six and Earth Two, Nicola Scott launched Black Magick with Greg Rucka to immediate acclaim for her transition from drawing clean superheroics to painting a gritty world of crime and witchcraft. Since I spoke with Nicola last she briefly returned to DC to create a new origin for Wonder Woman with Rucka, and just recently completed the second arc of Black Magick. I spoke to her about all of that and more.
I believe you’ve described drawing a Wonder Woman comic as your dream project. What draws you to the character?
Wonder Woman was the first superhero I ever encountered. I was four, watching TV when Lynda Carter leaped across my screen. I was so dazzled. She left an extraordinary impression. I never ever really recovered. As the years have gone by, the more I discovered about Diana the more I responded, related. She speaks to me on many levels.
Year One altered the origin from what Azzarello and Chiang laid out during the New 52. What led you and Greg to make that story choice?
Part of our brief and a big part of our wishes was to reset to the classic origin. Greg and I have been Diana fans forever and we’d spent the last ten years talking about how we saw the character and what we’d do together if we had the opportunity. We also knew the movie was coming and while we didn’t know it’s exact content we did know they were more likely to be working from a classic origin. The New 52 was a really interesting and delightful departure.
Year One wasn’t entirely standalone, fitting into the overall narrative of Greg’s run. How did that shape things differently than if it was its own project?
We were aware of the parameters of the project, twice a month, from the very beginning. It was Greg’s idea to split it into two stories separated by ten years. We immediately started workshopping the possibilities together, along with Liam [Sharp]. That continued throughout the process. In the end, I’m not sure that there was anything significant that we might have done differently had we not have to consider the present tense story.
Was it difficult to have the two storylines running concurrently?
Not for me. Maybe for Greg? It was quite the pressure providing two quality scripts a month with different stories and coordinating the various reveals.
Do you have any tricks that helped you transition from Wonder Woman back to the headspace you need for Black Magick?
It was a big adjustment, in terms of pace, storytelling style and process. Not really any tricks involved, just re-entrenching myself back into the world of Black Magick, back into my files of research and slowly getting back into the muscle memory of painting again.
Being Wiccan yourself, were you able to depict some aspects of the faith more accurately than you’ve seen in other media?
I’m not really Wiccan, I don’t have any religious practice, but it has always fascinated me. I’ve got shelves of books and accouterments that I’ve collected over the decades. Greg and I were very sure of how accurate we were determined to be and he’s a rigorous researcher. We’ve also sought the advice of a few witches to help us find our answers. We were determined to ground our witches in reality before letting our fantastical elements loose.
Given the financial realities of the industry, few series can run forever. Have you and Greg discussed how far Black Magick will go?
We knew from the very beginning how long the series will go for. When Greg first pitched me the idea he told me the first and last page as well as the turn in the story that gets us there.
What makes you and Greg such a good team?
Thank you! We’ve been friends for a long time and while we’re very different people we have a similar approach to storytelling and character. We want to explore similar concerns and perspectives. And we just get along really well. My husband refers to us as brother and sister. We bicker constantly over silly things and love each other deeply.
Where do you see yourself after Black Magick? Are you looking forward to returning to work-for-hire, or do you have other ambitions?
Black Magick is definitely a passion project for me, that I’m more than happy to spend so long on. After it’s done I’m hoping to spread my time between shorter work-for-hire and creator-owned projects. I like to keep myself and my approach fresh. I’ve got a really great relationship with DC that I hope to continue well into the future but I’ve really loved the creator-owned environment and the challenges and rewards it can provide.
Matt Chats is an interview series featuring discussions with a creator or player in comics, diving deep into industry, process, and creative topics. Find its author, Matt O’Keefe, on Twitter and Tumblr. Email him with questions, comments, complaints, or whatever else is on your mind at [email protected].