The Real Wonder Woman: Nicola Scott Talks Shop
By Adam White
Upon discovering Nicola Scott’s work in Angel
Spotlight: Illyria, I knew I needed to find out all I could about this wonderful artist who had somehow managed to
slip into the industry beneath my radar. So I started with an obligatory Google search
and dug up what I could on Scott, then started a list of her work that I had somehow missed. After diligently scouring
message boards and the like I came up with a way to contact her and decided to get the real 4-1-1 straight from the source.
Thankfully, Ms. Scott’s personality is as outstanding as her artwork, so she sat down for an e-interview to graciously
give us the scoop on what she’s done, what she’s up to, and where she’s headed.
ADAM WHITE: What first interested you in drawing? Were you inherently predisposed
towards art or was it something you discovered and worked towards?
NICOLA SCOTT: My mother and my grandmother were/are artists, so my sisters and I were
tutored in art from the very beginning. My eldest sister is a graphic
designer and I’ve been in and out of various visual arts for most of my
adult life, so it held us in good stead.
AW: How would you describe your method of drawing? What instruments (for
lack of a better term) do you prefer?
NS: I work on a lightbox. I do the roughest of roughs, just the basic
composition really, on the right side of the paper. I then flip it to the
wrong side (a trick I do to give myself an instant “fresh eye”) and work in
as much detail as I need to do the finished piece. I then flip back to the
right side and start the finished art. I try to do the finished art as
quickly as possible so as to not lose any vitality from the stages. I work
with a mechanical pencil usually, or a collection of markers if I’m doing the
AW: When you sit down to do a page, what influences your choices for panel
layouts and where the focus lies over the course of the page?
NS: On my second reading of the script I do thumbnails in the margins. I look
for sequences in panels, like a conversation
or a steady beat or the
progress of an action, and try to keep those panels together in size and
shape. Then I pick the moment, if any, on the page and make sure I give it
the largest of panels. As long as I’m not repeating myself from page to page
and the layouts work next to each other then I’m happy. The details of each
panel then just have to fit.
I pick the moment, if any, on a page and make sure I give it
the largest of panels.
AW: When thinking compositionally, how do you weight each element in a
particular issue? Do you map it all out thoroughly beforehand or just
start and see where it takes you?
NS: I try to give the layout or idea behind the presentation of each scene
its own look. It helps to break up the issue into distinguishable parts.
AW: As your art style progresses over time, do you find yourself mastering a
particular preferred technique or do you find yourself experimenting with
other styles and/or methods of drawing?
NS: I’m still experimenting a little. I know I like clean lines, I know I like
detail, and I know I like design. With that, I just play around whenever an
opportunity comes up.
AW: When drawing an issue, how closely do you rely on the script for the
direction of the art? Do you prefer comprehensive scripts or like to
experiment more with your interpretations of the scenes and explore
NS: I’ve worked on all manner of scripts, both heavily detailed and very bare,
and I like them all for different reasons. The details I like the most are
the descriptions of people’s delivery of lines. Capturing the expression that
goes along with it is my favourite thing to do.
AW: What writers and artists inspire you as a creator? Are they mainly
comicbook creators, or are there people from other fields such as literature,
film, television, etc., that influence your desire to create?
NS: I think most creators take inspiration from everything that appeals to them.
For me it’s everything from fine art to Olympic
gymnasts. I love artists with a
great sense of design and colour, like Klimpt or Modigliani. I love watching
actors achieve a very distinct mix of emotions with a subtleness that’s
often missing in comics; I do my best to render those subtleties. I love seeing
bodies in peak condition on the go — what they can and can’t do always inspires me to draw.
Capturing the expressions that go along with people’s delivery of lines is my favourite thing to do.
AW: What, if anything, do you think is currently great work in comicbooks?
What creators and/or specific books do you think use the medium to its
fullest extent and make you excited to be a part of the industry?
NS: One of my favourite and most inspiring artists is cover/pin-up artist Adam
Hughes. He achieves such a distinct reality while never losing his amazing
knack for design. I don’t really get to read comics that often, and most of the
time when I do it’s trades that people have suggested are a must. Currently
I’m getting into Ex Machina, Sandman, and The Authority. Loving them all.
AW: I was introduced to your work in the
Illyria one-shot from IDW and,
needless to say, I was impressed. What are the differences (if any) of
working on a licensed property that has previously existed in another
medium? How do you translate the performances of an actor onto the page
and maintain the characters’ quirks and personality (which you did so
wonderfully in Illyria)?
NS: Thanks! The major difference that I’ve found while working on a few licenced
properties is maily the audience. Generally comic readers don’t read, say,
Star Wars comics, but Star Wars fans do while not really getting into other
comic titles. I find that a similar thing happens with the Angel series.
The biggest hurdle creating them, however, comes from achieving a sufficient
likeness to the actors I’m drawing for six panels a page
pages. I find the best way to do so
is to become familiar with the
character’s body language and design a way to draw the actor’s face in your
own art style. For me it’s more important that the character looks the same
from panel to panel rather than exactly the same as the actor in every
panel. A photo likeness is completely unrealistic when it needs to be
achieved over and over and you have a deadline chomping at your heels.
For licensed comics, it’s more important that the character looks the same
from panel to panel rather than exactly the same as the actor in every panel.
AW: I have read that you are not only a talented artist but are active in
numerous creative fields — what various professional pursuits have you
explored over the years?
NS: My only serious training was as an actor. I pursued that one for ages
without really getting too far. I’ve also worked as a Production Designer
for numerous plays and films. Costume design and construction, commercial
art, modeling, blah blah blah. All of these had great moments but I’ve
kinda let them all slip as the comic work grows. The great thing is that I
can apply all this experience to what I do now!
AW: I have also read that you were almost cast as Wonder Woman — how was
that experience for you and are there any other superhero roles you could
see yourself playing?
NS: Hmm, that was about seven years ago now. It was a huge moment but the
beginning of the end of my acting career. Anyone who’s met working actors
would know that generally they’re quite petite. I’m nearly 6’ and that
proved to be one of the main reasons I had trouble getting cast in
anything. When Wonder Woman came along it was the one time that my height would play in
my favour. I got down to the final two before the show was put on hold and
then dumped. I lost my energy for acting after that. As for other
heroes, anyone tall with cheekbones would do ;)
AW: So that’s why I was unemployable in Hollywood: I’m a little over 6’4” myself.
And here I was afraid it was related to talent or personality; at least now I know it was because of something
deeply meaningful instead. Thanks Hollywood!
My own failed ambitions aside, back to more serious questioning. What superpower would you most like to have and why?
NS: Flying! Without question!
AW: If you could work on any three series of your choosing, what would they
NS: A new character-driven origin for Wonder Woman; a JLA arc; a World’s Finest story.
AW: I’d love to see your take on a Wonder Woman origin; that said, if you’re interested in
character-driven, meaningful stories, I’d suggest skipping out on the new Heinberg/Dodson Wonder Woman.
What three writers do you most want to work with, if the opportunity presents itself?
NS: Greg Rucka, as he has an incredible knack for interesting, character-driven
stories with strong female leads. Gail Simone, ‘cause she likes to have fun.
Mark Waid, for he can tell an epic tale.
AW: What work of your own are you most proud of or is your personal
NS: To date I’d have to say it was the Illyria one-shot. It was a great story
with emotional depth, and a female lead was right up my alley.
AW: Do you have any creations of your own you would like to publish one day
as a creator-owned book?
NS: Oh yes. When the time is right.
AW: What work do you have coming up that we can look forward to? And
please, plug anything and everything you can because I’m anxious for more
of your projects.
NS: There’s going to be a little more for the IDW Angel series. I’m also
about to start work on Queen & Country with Greg Rucka for
some talk of a trade
being published of my Halloween Man stories. I’ve contributed to a horror
anthology called Shivers
coming out through Onyx Publishing, a trade of the Image title Season of
the Witch, and I’m currently in talks to do an event comic crossover for
next summer starring two very hot tough chicks with big swords.
I’m about to start work on Queen & Country with Greg Rucka for Oni
AW: Queen & Country? Excellent! You get to work with one of your “choice” writers and I get
to see your work on one of my favorite series! That’s a Two-for-One if I ever saw one.
Which (sadly) brings us to the end of this discussion, but I’m glad we got to end it on such a high note. It looks
like we’ll be seeing a lot more work from Nicola Scott in the upcoming year, and all on projects that each and every
one of you should make sure to buy — I know I will.
I’d like to thank Ms. Scott for all her time and energy in participating in this interview, and encourage everyone
out there to seek out her upcoming work as well as all her previous projects (e.g. Angel Spotlight: Illyria, Star
Wars: Empire #26-27, Season of the Witch #3-4, etc.). If you enjoy Nicola Scott’s work even half as much as
I do then you’re guaranteed to love it and claim her as one of your new favorite artists.
So keep an eye out for work from Nicola Scott; but if you foolishly miss it you can always come back here to ComicCritique.com
where I’m certain to be talking about it and keeping you informed.CCdC
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