Scott Kolins: Interlude with the Man of Steel and Caped Crusader
By Keith Dallas
Scott Kolins let us know in late August that he was leaving Marvel Comics after a productive four year stay. Since signing an exclusive contract with DC Comics in September 2007, Kolins has provided covers (for titles like Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, JSA: Classified and Countdown: Arena) and been added to the pool of Countdown to Final Crisis artists. In January he and his former Flash collaborator, Geoff Johns, announced they will be teaming up once again to produce Flash: Rogues Revenge. While preliminary work on that project gets underway, Kolins is also keeping busy with other assignments, including more Countdown work and Superman/Batman Annual #2 (in stores on Wednesday, March 19).
I recently chatted with Scott Kolins about the changes to his art style, his opportunity to draw–finally–DC Comics’ biggest icons, and what we can expect from his next issue on Countdown to Final Crisis.
Keith Dallas (KD): I wanted to talk to you about your linework on Countdown. As you told me in our last interview, the majority of your work for Marvel had no line-weight or shadows. At the very end of your Marvel tenure you drew Omega Flight in full tones.
Now I’m looking at your art in Countdown and it has line-weight AND shadows. Did DC Editorial encourage you to change your style?
Scott Kolins (SK): No, DC did not ask me to draw one way or another. Whenever I get offered a job, I look at what the job is and what I should do within the parameters of that job. Often times my job is to do something different; try something new. Most notably I did that with Flash and the open line style there went over very well. I did that for my recent Marvel work like Omega Flight which was another attempt at trying something different – and Omega Flight did well too. But with Countdown to Final Crisis I’m joining a large and varied creative team halfway through the series. And I was offered one issue; I wasn’t offered to take over the book (as if something like that was possible!). So I looked at the Countdown job as more “fitting in” and not as a “Scott Kolins” book. I didn’t want readers to stop reading the story and look at the Scott Kolins art. I didn’t want to break the flow, so I went back to using more standard shadows and line-work. What surprised me is that I’d been doing my own art thing for so long, no seemed to remember that I could draw like this… and had done so for many years. So I’d get feedback or see comments calling this the “new” Scott Kolins style. As long as I’m having fun and people are buying the books, it’s all good.
KD: That all makes sense. Are you growing fond of this “new old” style? Are you planning on using this for Rogues Revenge?
SK: I’ll be drawing more like my Flash style for Rogues Revenge, but I like using anything I can get my head around. If I could paint a comic I probably would. If I could do a comic with markers, I’d love to. The fun for me in using this “retro” style is using my old influences again. No matter how many times I look at Jack Kirby, I’ll always learn something new or get a bit closer to drawing pages with that raw power. I did keep with shadows and all that with the Superman/Batman Annual #2 coming out. It was a guilty pleasure to draw all those dark “Toth-y” Batman pages; something I’d never had the opportunity to draw before. Despite drawing nearly all the characters at Marvel and DC – I hadn’t drawn a Superman or Batman story. So this was nice. And I got to design the villain!
Pages from Superman/Batman Annual #2
KD: [Looking at the Batman splash page from Superman/Batman Annual #2] That’s a REALLY distinctive Batman you drew there. What was your inspiration? Did you partially model your Batman on another artist’s?
SK: I personally like to go very early with Superman and Batman. I’m not nearly where I’d like to be with them. I need a lot more time and practice. But the Fleisher cartoon Superman is the Superman that really gets me and the Bob Kane fused with Alex Toth would be the angle I’m searching for. That and I went for a bit of the Batman eyes of Batman Strikes. I don’t like Batman to have a “nose.” He should look inhuman. Scary. I mean, I’d also like to play Batman without shadows in the line art and do it all in color – to try something different, but that would have to be organized before hand. There was no preplanning for this Superman/Batman Annual #2. I got the villain idea a day or so before starting – got a sketch approved and then I had to start drawing pages.
Pages from Superman/Batman Annual #2
KD: Hold on a second. Did you say before that you’ve never drawn a Batman or Superman comic book? [Peruses Scott’s comicbookdb.com listing] Wow. I never knew that. The only work I could find that you drew that contained Batman and Superma
n is the Silver Age: Justice League of America one-shot from 2000. I also remember one panel of Flash #200 had Superman in it. Is that it though?
SK: Superman and Batman had appeared in a few stories I worked on – here or there. I remember really enjoying drawing a very old-school Batman in a couple panels in the Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., but the Justice League of America: The Silver Age one shot was the closest I came to a full story with Superman – but Batman wasn’t really in there. Was he?
KD: Well, I’ll confess to not owning that comic book. The database lists Batman as one of the characters in the comic book though.
Anyway, was that one reason why you accepted the Superman/Batman Annual #2 assignment? The opportunity to draw DC’s icons?
SK: Completely! And I love the pairing of the two! The Yin and Yang of it is beautiful.
KD: Did you even need to know the premise of the Annual before accepting the assignment? I mean, was it like [editor] Eddie Berganza calling you up asking, “Do you want to do a Superman/Batman issue?” and you’re like, “Say no more. Done!”?
SK: Yeah, pretty much. I think I knew that Joe Kelly was writing it – and I’d liked working with Joe before.
KD: What did you and Joe work on before?
SK: On a short story for the 9-11 Tribute book. I was really proud of that story too. I was told that our entire story was on display at the Library of Congress 9-11 Tribute showroom. My wife and I almost took a flight to go see. These stories are very different, but Joe’s great. I had a great time. And I just saw some of the coloring which looks amazing!
KD: I remember you telling me that during your time at Marvel they never could figure out how to color your linework in a way that satisfied everyone. But since you’ve rejoined DC, you’ve been happy with the coloring of your work?
SK: Overall, yes. The Countdown colors have been good, especially considering the deadlines on that book, but it’s also easier to color my pages that include line-weights and shadows. It becomes more straight forward comic book coloring. With my Marvel pages – except Omega Flight – in the no line-weight no shadow style, depth and clarity become even more important in the coloring. You can’t put the same blue on the character in the foreground as you do in the background.
KD: So what’s next? What are you working on right now?
SK: I’m currently drawing Countdown to Final Crisis #2 – and it’s unbelieveable!!! One of the coolest issues I will draw in my life. In. My. Life.
KD: Really? Wow!
SK: No joke. Something happens in that issue that I will never again get to draw. Honestly: never again! And it’s something you drool over if you’re a Kirby fan like I am. I am so jazzed on each page, it’s crazy. Every page is like my birthday! Never gonna sell a page from this book. I threatened Giffen & Carlin for months asking for this job. Carlin’s email that offered the job had the subject line “The moment you been waiting for” – and it is completely true.
KD: Cool! I’m looking forward to it.
How about we talk about Rogues Revenge now?
SK: Not yet. Soon though. Promise.
Editor’s Note: For more exclusive pages from Superman/Batman Annual #2, go to ComicsBulletin’s News Section.