The world of Earth 2 is a huge mash-up of devastation, bright and shiny heroes, and the darkest of villains, but none of that would be possible without the skilled pencils of artist Nicola Scott. Special guest to C2E2 for the very first time, Scott sat down with Comicosity to chat all things Earth 2, how it feels to develop new versions of Batman and Superman, and what we should be keeping our eyes open for in the coming months!
Matt Santori: Nicola, thanks so much for taking time out to talk to us! Your work on Earth 2 has been nothing short of exemplary. What do you feel like you know now that you didn’t before issue #1, almost two years ago?
Nicola Scott: Whether or not I could draw a book like this. Part of what was happening with the New 52, when they were assigning different books, was I was campaigning for a male-dominated, testosterone-y book that I hadn’t drawn before. Partly, I wanted to see if DC would give me the job, and partly, I wanted to see if I could do the job. They gave me the job, and I feel like I can do the job. So, that’s what I know now — that I can do that if called to.
MSG: The opportunity to craft an entire world and manage its direction for so long is rare in mainstream comics. What kind of challenge has it been to shape the planet of Earth 2 — its terrain, cities, culture — while simultaneously having to illustrate its slow destruction?
NS: Right! Well, destruction is easy, because it’s just messy.
I’m just sort of keeping in mind that it’s almost like the regular continuity of DC Earth, but changing and tweaking it just enough. Most of the work is in designing and creating and thinking on the fly. I can’t reference anyone else’s work or any other books for what’s happening. And it’s just a global book. It’s about the whole of the Earth. We’ve been in so many cities so far in the 23 issues that have come out, but there has to be a continuity among the cities — reflecting that they’re all on the same Earth. And there’s a few key visual icons that I keep repeating city after city that help demonstrate that this is the planet that we’re on, and not the regular DCU Earth.
For example, there’s lots of jumbo-trons everywhere. It’s a slightly more technical city, post the Apokaliptian War. There are remnants of Apokaliptian technology. It’s where Sandman gets his technology: the armband he uses to teleport himself around is an old Parademon piece of hardware. There’s sort of little bits and pieces of that kind of tech that’s seeped its way into the high-end commercial first world cities of Earth 2.
MSG: A number of different artists — Jim Lee, Cully Hamner, Joe Prado, and Brett Booth among them — have had a hand in character design for Earth 2, but you were responsible specifically for the original Trinity, Sandman, and a few others. How do you blend your ideas with those of other artists?
NS: When you have other artists contributing designs, even if you have a finished, fully-approved design, it’s still up to me to draw it. I will have my own way of demonstating what I think metal looks like, and my own way of illustrating different body types. At the end of the day, I’m still putting my stamp on how it’s interpreted, as every artist does. You can look at the different cover or fill-in artists who have drawn Jay or Dr. Fate, by comparison to myself or the original designer. And there’s enough variety, just because of our styles, while still following the same design rules.
MSG: Is there a character design of your own that you are particularly fond of?
NS: Oh man! I get asked this a lot. I’ve been working on team books almost the whole time I’ve been at DC — almost eight years. The thing I love about team books is the variety. I never get bored and really love drawing all of them. Because I only draw any of them for a few panels at a time, it keeps everybody really fresh for me. If I haven’t drawn Alan for a while, it’s a real breath of fresh air when I get to draw him.
MSG: And that shows amazingly with Red Tornado too.
NS: Red Tornado is great fun. I wanted Lois to be Lois, despite the fact that she’s metal. I wanted to make sure she looked really feminine and really beautiful, so all she’d need is a flesh coating and a wig and she’d be good to go. And we’ve left that option open, to get some kind of organic tissue on the outside.
I love drawing hair, although it’s not a book that has a lot of hair — except when Fury pops up occasionally. Anything where I can get into a hypnotic state. It’s all just finishing, but it’s the kind of polish that sells the texture to me. That’s the kind of thing I really get off on.
MSG: Coming up, we have a focus arriving on the new Batman, the second for Earth 2, as well as a new Superman. How do you conceptualize these newcomers differently than the classic versions, or even the original ones from issue #1?
NS: From the very beginning, when we were killing off the original Trinity, we knew that Thomas Wayne would come back as Batman. This was in the works from the very beginning, and that it would take a while for us to get there. We didn’t want it to be a Batman book. I didn’t design the Thomas Wayne Batman outfit. I didn’t even know he was coming until he was in the Annual. But by the time, it got to me, I think two or three other artists had drawn him.
By the time I got to draw him in issue #17, I had been thinking about this guy for a year and a half. I know who he’s meant to be, I know what he’s meant to look like, and I love this costume design, but I wanted to make him look older and chunkier than other people had been making him look. He sort of just looked like Batman, and he has to look uncomfortably roid-y. And he has to look 60. So, I tried to get in more gristle. I added the stubble on him. I changed the symbol a little bit to make him seem broader in the chest. As I would draw his figure, I would draw his shoulders and his chest. And then I would make it a little bit bigger. And a little bit bigger. And a little bit bigger. Sort of Frank Miller it up a bit.
MSG: Sort of like Wally Wood’s evolution of Power Girl’s bust!
NS: Yeah! Exactly. Just sort of make him borderline ridiculous.
Where with Val, Tom Taylor and I had been talking about him since Tom started, and we knew exactly emotionally what kind of impulse we wanted to give the readers. It was really important that his physical look, as well as his costume — because it would be a number of issues before we’d see him in his costume — really presented exactly who he is straight off the bat. He’s young. He’s slim. He has a sort of really sweet, non-aggressive face, and everything about him is just passive.
And when it came to designing his outfit, I said right away that I think we need to ditch the red and yellow as much as possible. I wanted to make it a blue and white outfit, because that’s something clean and fresh that will look beautiful with his skin tone. So, I submitted a number of designs. We were trying to get him cape-free. Tom and I both wanted him without a cape, but they kind of pushed. I did about three or four different designs and added a cape to each one. We played with the cape being red and being white.
We all agreed on this one particular design we really liked, but Tom tweaked it by putting that last bit by putting red in the background of the shield. It just sort of polished it off and made it look perfect. It was a great counterbalance to our old Superman, who also has red in the background of his shield. So, we have a black shield and a white shield fighting each other shortly.
NS: Yes! That was me!
Tom was talking to me about an actual tribe of people who are water-farers in the Phillipines, the Bajau Laut. He wanted to make Atlantis the forebearers of this race, and he didn’t want her looking like a super-hero.
So, OK, if she’s queen of the ocean, I wanted to make her look like she’s the queen. It took a little while to get the coloring right, because I wanted to make her look pearlescent. I said to the colorist, don’t make her blue. Make her look like she’s in a bridal outfit. She’s crusted with pearls and mother-of-pearl. She’s got natural fins, and is wearing fins, and she’s got a tiara made of pearls and crustaceans. It’s all organic, and its all underwater fare.
When I submitted the design, Tom was railing, “Yes! That’s exactly what I meant!” And we have a second design for her coming up shortly when she rises from the ocean with battle armor on.
MSG: Any special teases about upcoming issues you can share with the fans at Comicosity?
NS: As you know, the book is getting very crowded at the moment, but one of the great things Tom has done is he’s separated what’s coming up, starting with the next issue #23. The original team of Alan, Jay, and Kendra find each other and go off to fight a battle, while the rest of the group rally behind Val. So, we get a nice JSA-type rallying.
MSG: That’s great! That will make many, many fans really happy.
NS: I think so too!
MSG: Thank you so much, Nicola. I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a very long time, so this was a great opportunity.
NS: It’s my pleasure. That’s very sweet! Thank you very much!
The next issue of Nicola Scott’s Earth 2, #23, arrives in comic shops tomorrow from DC Comics!