The following is an interview with artist/writer Scott Kolins who has contributed to Blackest Night: Flash, Solomon Grundy and Superman/Batmanamong many other titles. Brought to you by the Green Lantern Spotlight Podcast and the SpeedsterSite
GL SPOTLIGHT: Well first let’s dive into Blackest Night: Flash, the miniseries that reunites the highly praised Flash team of you and writer Geoff Johns. How different were these three issues than your time on Flash previously? Have Geoff’s scripts become any more visually demanding than before?
SCOTT KOLINS: Rogues Revenge was only loosely connected to Final Crisis. The Blackest Night Flash series story is tied more to the central plot of Blackest Night. Barry is a pivotal figure on Blackest Night and he’s 1/2 the story in Blackest Night Flash. The Rogues 1/2 of this story is a little looser but still connected as they fight some Black Lantern Rogues. Geoff’s scripts are about the same – which means great and very much based on the core story being told. In Rogues Revenge was about revenge (Duh!), and here it was more about survival – against undead friends and villains! The only new thing – which is actually very old school is that Geoff was so busy working on all aspects of Blackest Night that he would sometimes call me on the phone and we’d discuss the next page or scene and break it down over the phone. Then I’d rough out the page or pages and email that back to him for his approval. It was actually kinda fun this way and we got the book done on time!
GL Spotlight: It was definitely a fun read. We know that Flash: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver designed many of the Black Lanterns for this event. Were you able to design the Black Lantern outfits for the Rogues, Reverse-Flash, and even Solomon Grundy, yourself?
SCOTT: Yes I did. Design may be a bit too big a credit because they’re all working off the basic Black Lantern design already set up – but I did sketch out Solomon Grundy and Black Lantern Reverse Flash. Grundy’s was a natural as he is already a walking dead creation – just add the triangle and some pants stripes. I played more with Black Lantern Reverse Flash. The five “fingers” on top of the inverted triangle were squared off at first but I showed a pointy version to Geoff which he preferred. Then balance out how much lightning would work with the extra pant Black Lantern lines and he was done. The Black Lanterns are an awesome concept and were tons of fun to draw.
GL SPOTLIGHT: The Black Lanterns weren’t the only ones to have costume changes, though. As a creator and a fan, what do you think of Wally West’s new costume and Blue Lantern Barry Allen? Were the changes to Wally, in particular, hard to convey, or was it just another day drawing Flash?
SCOTT: Wally’s new costume did feel different at first – because, of course, it was a change. It wasn’t hard to draw or anything, and after drawing it for a few pages – the new costume felt good and natural. It still felt like Wally and the costume difference makes the clear distinction between Wally and Barry –which is very important. No one has to guess which Flash is doing what. -And I think it also works because this connects Wally to the JL Animated stuff that been out there which also may help keep things clear for fans. It’s another smart choice by Geoff and DC. Barry’s Blue costume was another thing altogether. It was cool and a lot of fun for the story – but Barry’s just come back and I found myself wanting to draw his red costume on every page. But maybe that’s a good thing too
GL SPOTLIGHT: You recently finished the Solomon Grundy miniseries and its Blackest Night two issue story arc in Superman/Batman. What is it about Grundy that appeals to you as a writer and artist?
SCOTT: I’ve always been a big fan of monsters. The Incredible Hulk was my first comic book – with the WEN-DI-GO! -Monsters galore! I loved watching Godzilla, King Kong, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein and The Mummy – you name it. My local T.V. station would put these movies on every week. Sometimes at 2 AM so I had to set my alarm clock, but my parents never stopped me. So getting to write and draw Solomon Grundy was just an awesome opportunity. The swamp, the undead angle but being part plant, the massive monster able to throw trucks, the ripped clothes and rotted work boots – it was all very appealing. Plus my friend Geoff Johns had a great idea to give the series a direction: Can he solve the curse and free himself. Pure horror delight! I will forever be thankful to Geoff for his help on Grundy. -Changed my life. I’d LOVE to get back to Grundy someday. I’d also like to thank Dan Didio – who personally asked me to work on Grundy. Dan was very supportive from the outset and has continued to be. Without Dan’s approval I wouldn’t have these further writing opportunities. It’s nice when your boss has real faith in you. The Editors Eddie[Berganza] and Adam[Schlagman] also were extremely helpful and patient with me. I couldn’t have done it without them.
GL SPOLTIGHT: I thought you handled those necessary gritty elements known to Grundy, very well. Did you know if the series would have a two issue Blackest Night follow-up when you ended it? Can you talk about the decision to add Frankenstein and Man-bat with Solomon Grundy?
SCOTT: Thank you – We did know the ending right from the start. We knew Cyrus would not get free from his curse and Geoff wanted to make Grundy a Black Lantern. We talked about whether or not to include it in the Grundy series or for Geoff to do it in Blackest Night. Geoff was ok either way and I asked to include it. I felt it made a great ending – on top of the plot resolution. I think I had already written #7 before the two issues of Superman/Batman were offered, so no I didn’t know that before. That was a direct vote of confidence from DC after seeing what I had done in the Grundy series. As far as Frankenstein and other villains we used in the Grundy series – that was a combination of the initial idea from Geoff and I that it would be more fun to watch Grundy fight villains than other heroes (as he had done many times before) and fights I’d like to see and what DC wanted to see. Some characters were on both lists – like Bizarro. We all knew we wanted to see that. Coincidently we also immediately agreed on their friendship too. I love that part. And for the two Superman/Batman follow-up issues – it was DC’s idea to include Man-Bat – so that it would be a dark mirror version of the Title. Bizarro replacing Superman and Man-Bat replacing Batman. Great idea. –So much fun.
GL SPOTLIGHT: With this success as a writer, are there any upcoming writing projects you’re tackling? Is there a favorite character or title you’re yearning to write?
SCOTT: As a matter of fact, I am happy to say yes! I have a project that I’m writing and drawing. DC hasn’t announced it yet, but it’ll be in the next month’s catalog so people will find out soon. It’s another left turn I wouldn’t have expected, but it is turning into something really fun. As far as a favorite character to write? – there’s too many to name, though I will say I have a soft spot for those characters that have a harder time getting all the fans they deserve. That’s part of the reason why Grundy was so much fun. He’s super cool but incredibly under-utilized. Everyone wants to write Batman or Superman (me included) but at the same time Solomon Grundy was amazingly fun. Aquaman or Hawkman would be awesome too, or Shazam! I love Billy Batson and that whole mythology. I got to write the Demon for a bit in Grundy and would love to do a full story on him someday. Metamorpho? Dr. Fate? New Gods or Omac? Wonder Woman? If I only get to half of these, I’d die happy.
GL SPOTLIGHT: As would I! Getting back into your art duties, it was recently announced that you would be lending your skills to the all star lineup of artists for DC Universe Legacies. We know that Andy and Joe Kubert will be handling the first issue, what more can you tell us about this huge project?
SCOTT: The Legacies book is a ten-part retrospective, giving a bunch of insights throughout the history of DC Universe. I was asked to help with a few pages each month – that frame the story. I recently tried my tonal penciling style again and DC became very interested in finding uses for that style and this popped up. It’s a lot of fun and I love getting to draw many different famous time periods of the DC Universe. I’ve completed the first bunch already and it was a blast drawing the classic JSA. Plus it’s a complete honor to be in a book with such great legends of the comic book industry!
GL SPOTLIGHT: Sounds great. Wrapping things up, let’s talk about The Flash. DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio announced that the new ongoing series was set to have a Wally West starred co-feature written by Geoff Johns and drawn by yourself, to go alongside the Francis Manapul drawn Barry Allen story. Unfortunately those plans are no longer present, but what was the initial premise behind that co-feature with Wally? Can you tell us why plans were seemingly scrapped?
SCOTT: DC of course recognizes how important Wally is and has been for the Flash fans and the co-feature idea was one of the ways they wanted to make use of him. -But then they had another idea – a possibly better idea. The reader is the ultimate judge, but it’s all done with the best of intentions. I’ve been working long enough to realize that plans change as the company endlessly searches for new and better ideas. I don’t know if I’ll be a part of the new ideas for Wally, but I’m sure I’ll get another chance to work on him sometime – hopefully soon. And let’s not forget who’s leading the Flash universe again – Geoff Johns! You can’t find a bigger Flash fan than Geoff – so you know he’s going to steer that ship with loving care. I was very excited to be on the Wally plans before and who knows – Geoff could call next week and ask for me to come on board for the next idea – or the one after that. It’s all good.
GL SPOTLIGHT: I’m all for better ideas, and look forward to the day you return to The Flash! Thank you so much for an excellent interview, its been a real pleasure Scott. Best of luck to you on future projects.
SCOTT: My pleasure, thank you!
Be sure to pick up DC Universe Legacies and look out for a new Scott Kolins projects soon!