Today we are joined by writer Scott Byron Wilson to talk about his comics, writing, and so much more!
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Scott Byron Wilson – Interview
Jeff Haas: [00:00:00] Hello listeners, a spoiler country today on the show.
We have the metastic writer. Mr. Scott, Brian Wilson. How’s
Scott Byron Wilson: it going, sir? Hey, what’s going on? Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it. Well, it’s definitely my
Jeff Haas: pleasure. I’m a big
Scott Byron Wilson: fan of your work. Thank you. Thank you
Jeff Haas: so well, but I always like to ask the comic book writers is when did you start first reading comic books.
Scott Byron Wilson: When I was kid maybe first grade, second grade, something like that. Very, very young. Yeah. And pretty much read steadily. My whole life barring. A bit in the nineties when I checked out in high school. But I got back into them again and graduate school. So maybe those four or five-year period in the nineties, I wasn’t super interested in other things were interesting to me, but for the most part I’ve read, I’ve read steadily almost my entire life.
So in one, you know, in one form or another,
Jeff Haas: so what were the, the comics that you first started reading?
Scott Byron Wilson: I was a big fan of Richie rich. Archie. Casper a lot of the Harvey comics. Then I got really interested in like, you know, those, those shitty horror [00:01:00] comics that like gold key date you know, like tales from the haunted house.
And then, you know, you know, Google, you know, whatever they, you know, there’s a million of them and they’re all identical. But I was really interested in those. I thought those were really scary and, and like just, I thought they were great, you know, it was something kind of dangerous about reading them.
I thought they were great. You know, then you know, I would, I would read anything in comic book form. I thought that. I just, I love the, I love the medium. I mean, I always, I was always a a big reader. I read, you know, I read a lot of you know, traditional prose books too, but I always really loved comics.
And when I was a kid, Richie rich was a big one, like I said but you know, I would read Matt about Millie, you know, whatever, you know, I would read whatever I thought that I, I was just, I was just super into him. When I got older, I, I liked. You know, I liked some superhero books, although I didn’t read them that regularly.
I mean, you know, when you’re a kid it’s hard to read books regularly because you can’t necessarily, especially at that time, you know, I mostly, mostly got my comics from, you know, the drug store or the grocery store off a spinner rack and you not [00:02:00] always guaranteed to get every issue. So, you would just kind of read, or at least I did, I would read, you know, very haphazardly You know, so you would just read random issues of X-Men or Spiderman or Batman or whatever.
And sometimes you’d string together seven or eight of them in a row. Once I found a comic book store and I could get, you know, my mom or my dad to take me there, I could, you know, sometimes fill in if I miss something. But you know, that’s, I just, it was very sort of haphazard reading. And then I think when I got a little older, maybe by.
Maybe by middle school. My local library, you know, I w I was always there. But they didn’t really have any comics because there wasn’t much in trade paperback form at that point. Right. They didn’t carry like, you know, floppy monthly comics there, but they had Watchmen, Ronan, dark Knight returns, and mouse trade paperback.
And I read those. Over and over and over again, I would just keep checking them out. Until I eventually [00:03:00] just got my own copies, you know, I picked up a dark Knight returns. I picked up a Watchman picked up Ronan because I just read them so much. And that was really all that was available in that format.
And I, I really, I don’t think I understood at that time that, that those were originally published as monthly comics. I, and I didn’t don’t think I really understood that. I just liked those. I mean, I liked them because they’re great comics, but I liked them because I could read the entire story in one sitting, you know?
And so, I think Yeah. Eventually I probably, I picked up all the issues of dark Knight returns, you know, I saw them around or whatever, and I picked them up. And you know, I, I have a full set of Watchman now and things like that, you know, that, that I picked up eventually. But for years I just thought, you know, those are just real, you know, any of those are still.
Huge influences on me. They’re just huge, hugely important comics, but because those were the ones that were available in that format. And then, you know, other things sort of came out along the way in that format. But none of them got my, you know, got my interest in my sort of long-term love like, like, like that did, in fact, I didn’t even read Batman year one until.[00:04:00]
Way, way, way later, I somehow just completely missed that as a kid. And I read that way, way, way later. But, but that, you know, that was what that was sort of, what I read and then, you know, you know, I, I got interested in you know, when I was in. High school or middle school, high school, early high school before I kind of stopped reading comics, I got interested in indie stuff, you know, like, you know, flaming carrot and, and, you know, weird, you know, indie books like that.
I, there was this whole other world, you know, that hadn’t even occurred to me that I thought was, was really interesting. And yeah, and I just sort of, you know, I dropped out of comics for a while and then, you know, I sort of, I think it was dark nights strikes again. When I saw, you know, I was like a Barnes and noble or something, and they had an issue like in the magazine section and I was like, holy shit, this is out again.
So I bought it and I was like issue two, I think. And they didn’t have number. Once I bought two, and then I found a comic store and I walked in the comic store. Of course I walked out with like $50 worth of stuff because I was just like, I was hooked again. And that was, that was pretty much it for me.
So, since then, you know, and that was. 20 years ago now, I [00:05:00] guess, or something like that. You know? So since then, that’s sort of been a, you know, one of, one of my obsessions, you know, comics.
Jeff Haas: Well, well, it definitely, I think speaks to one question. I think that is maybe very significant the combo industry.
The serialization combos were in many ways, the purchasing a complex as short complete stories, like you said, that we’ve got for now was like dark Knight returns watching it like that does seem to have a, a great benefit to a lot of readers who can’t make it to a store every week. And they’ll make you wonder if some comics should be closer to more complete one issue stories.
Scott Byron Wilson: Yeah, I think, I mean, I don’t think you can really argue that reading it as a whole in one sitting is, is a worse experience than reading it every month when it comes out. I do really love the monthly format. I mean, there’s. There’s really just something about it that I think is just fantastic. It’s like the secret world that most people don’t know about.
You know, [00:06:00] you can go in a comic book store and you can get a chapter from a story that you’ve been reading. And every Wednesday there’s different chapters from different stories available. It’s just such an antiquated way of telling a story that I think is just amazing. And I love it and I hope it never goes away.
I, you know, I do think, and especially with. Especially with work for hire comics, the monthly issues sort of. Subsidize, you know, the, the page rates that, that the talent is being paid. Right. So you can’t just, you know, so if you’re just going to publish a six issue series just to get to publish it as a graphic novel, that is a tremendous cash outlay with no return until.
It’s published. Right. But comics, aren’t incredibly expensive to print. So you can really recoup, even if you don’t make everything back, you can really recoup a lot of that money every month so that when the trade comes out, which is going to be ultimately the final the final, you know, vehicle. You know, [00:07:00] for the story that, you know, the final form of the story that, you know, you know, you, haven’t just, you know, you haven’t just completely taken a bath and, and lost and lost money, you know?
So I know that in, in, in work for hire comics, Marvel, DC, things like that, I don’t really see that format going away. At least anytime soon you know, and with creator own comics, It’s interesting because while it may be tempting to just do a graphic novel, I think something that gets really overlooked is when you release a graphic novel, every, you know, the best case scenario, everybody’s talking about it, the day it comes out.
Right. But what happens the next Wednesday when the next next system in the next batch of comics comes out, you’re forgotten. And that’s it. There’s not another issue. Right. So, you know, maybe you get you know, maybe you get a TV deal or an option or something that kind of gets some more people interested or you win a [00:08:00] bunch of awards or something like that.
But that’s very few books considering the amount that come out. Right. But if you serialize your story across four or five issues, you can have people talking about it every month for four or five, six months, however long the series is until the trade comes out. Right. And then you can sort of build up word of mouth.
You can build up interest. So I think it’s still a real valuable format. Monthly periodical comics, I think is, I think it’s a really valuable format still. Should
Jeff Haas: the monthly comics then all contain then a previously in page in the inside cover. Yes, because I think that’s another thing that I don’t think comics do as well as they could, which is make sure that you do summarize what’s happening and don’t assume everyone has.
Scott Byron Wilson: totally. And I think you can usually do it in two sentences, right. Or three sentences, you know, sometimes I’ll pick up a book and I’ll see the previously in and I’m like, this is going to take me as long to [00:09:00] read this as it’s going to take to read the issue. Why is it this complicated? You know? So, you know, yes, I think so.
It should definitely include a previously in and. I don’t, I don’t mind having a next in, you know, saying, Hey, next issue, whatever it’s going to be totally generic because you’re not going to give anything away. But it’s, there’s a sense of excitement there, you know? And yeah, so the, the, the creator own book, one of the creator in books I’m doing now, true cult, we do that in every issue we have a previously in and a next in.
So, I think it’s an important tool for for, for monthly comics, I think, you know, Do you see doesn’t really do with them because the inside cover is ad space. Marvel does among some books, I think you know, Audrey
Jeff Haas: Ben books. Definitely. They do. I don’t know if they do it as much with the
Scott Byron Wilson: regular issues.
Yeah. So I think, you know, there’s, there’s, you know, you do see it a bit, but I definitely think it’s, it’s super helpful, especially because, you know, You know, if, if I read a book a month ago, I’m not necessarily going to remember exactly what happened in it. If, [00:10:00] and if I’ve read, you know, 40 other comics since then, especially, you know, so it’s, it’s super helpful to have, I think it’s, I think it’s a, it’s a tool that should be, should be used for sure.
Jeff Haas: And I do find the people who I talk to, who don’t buy comics are used to buy comics and don’t go back into comic books is the, I don’t know where to start and I can’t. Pick up quickly what’s happening. Cause there’s so much that’s happened since I’ve read. And I, and I do think the major publishers should work harder on making things more accessible.
I would say either in a summary or maybe. A bio page maybe or something, you know, anything that details that someone can pick up and just kind of get a quick idea of orientation before they jump in.
Scott Byron Wilson: Yeah. I definitely think that’s the case for, for Marvel and DC. You know, my, my, my response to that would be, well, you should go read some creator on comics, you know, or some Mongo, you know, where it’s like clear where the starting point is.
And it’s clear where the ending point is, you know? Yeah, I mean, and even like, even like, just like a [00:11:00] basic thing, like numbering your trades, you know, like trying to figure out, you know, You know, trying to figure out what you’re looking at, you know? And I know you rebrand, you know, later, you know, a series is finished and you rebranding, you rerelease it, you know, whatever.
But you know, I was, I was to how’s comic story the other day, and there was this, you know, used Punisher trade. And I was like, I couldn’t, I was looking at it and I. Remember if I had it and I couldn’t remember, I was like, totally confused and I ended up not buying it. Cause I was like, I think I have this already.
And it, it, it was like, I still can’t figure out where it falls. I, you know, I’m like, it’s, it seems like it’s partially stuff that I have in another trade, you know? So, you know, I, I think like there’s a real confusion with trade paperback program sometimes. You know, cause I think ultimately if you’re someone who’s getting into comics again, You’re probably not just dropping a hundred bucks on single issues, right.
You’re probably going to buy some trades to try to catch up and figure out where you [00:12:00] are. And sort of knowing kind of where is what’s a starting point, you know, would be, would be super helpful. But I definitely think like having some kind of a. I don’t know, maybe there is some website that just, that sort of lays this stuff out cleanly.
If I can’t figure it out, I usually just skip it. And I just read another book, you know? That’s generally the way I approach it on the call, this book here, I know this is volume one and I can look in the back cover and I can see what volume two is called. So I’ll buy volume two as well. Cause it’s right here.
But if I’m saying they’re like confused, I’d use a guy, whatever. It’s probably not worth it. You know,
Jeff Haas: I agree completely. And I do think there’s a disservice done a little bit with the constant renumbering of comic books, you know, and the restarts I can, I think, I mean, I know sometimes I’ll buy in. An issue of something, a back issue of something.
And I can’t remember which volume it actually shows up. So it happens all the taco Aqua man. I was like, I bought it a random issue. I think it was like at a when those use stores, you know, and, and, and, and I, and I bought it somewhere on the back shelf somewhere. I thought I was reading. I was like, wait, I have [00:13:00] no fucking clue what volume this is.
And then I tried to edit, go back and try to research the covers of do I think my come and shop dotcom and try to figure out where it actually showed up. And I was like, if I didn’t know what I was doing, nobody I was looking for. There’s no way I would know where this comp of Queensland
Scott Byron Wilson: and especially cause like with Aquaman, they did, he didn’t have, you know, he didn’t have an ongoing series.
Maybe as the eighties, the nineties, and they did a bunch of like four issue minis. There’s like three or four of them they did. And each one of those sort of gets considered a volume. So you’re on like volume 10 of Aquaman or something. It’s so hard to figure out. Yeah, no, I agree. Yeah. I think the cost of the renumbering is, I mean, I understand.
Why it’s done, but you know, there’s something to be said for, do I have detective 5 94? No, I don’t. Right. Like, it’s pretty easy. Cause there’s only one of them versus, oh, detective number six. Which one is it? You know, I, you know, or, or, or something worse, like, you know, the Punisher that everyday. 12 issues gets a new number one or something, or every time there’s a new writer gets a new number one.
I’m [00:14:00] sure as a writer, I would appreciate a new number one, because you’re going to get a little sales boost. But as a reader, I think you start going, wait, is this volume? Is this number one, come before this other number one, like you gotta look at the date, you gotta turn it into like a, a detective to figure out, you know, how to read them.
Jeff Haas: this was the thing that I think I appreciate. Inspired to start picking up spawn again, when it was hitting like
Scott Byron Wilson: 2 98 or 2
Jeff Haas: 99 to, you know, the impression I got sucked back in and something nice to the fact that it is 321 issues now, and you can easily figure it out. You know, what is happening in order.
Cause you can, you know, it’s just kept consistent.
Scott Byron Wilson: Totally. Totally. Yeah. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s, there, it is one through three, there’s only the one number one, you know? Exactly. It’s pretty easy to
Jeff Haas: follow. Exactly. So as you became a comic fan for, I’m also, like I said, growing up, when was it that you felt that you wanted to actually become a
Scott Byron Wilson: writer?
Well, so. [00:15:00] I mean, I wanted to be a writer from when I was really young. I mean, I, that was, I think I knew that’s what I wanted to do from when I was really young. It never occurred to me. That was actually a job where you could make money. That could actually be a job. I mean, I knew there were novels, but I guess it didn’t occur to me that they were written by people.
You know, it’s like, it’s this weird thing when you’re a kid, right? You don’t, you sort of don’t necessarily think things through. And I comics are the same way. I would read the names in the comics, but it didn’t occur to me that like, oh, this person’s job, this is what they do. They write comic books. They make money doing this.
That didn’t occur to me. I mean, I don’t know. I was probably 30. I was like, oh wait, really people can make money, like make a living doing this. You know? So, so you know, being a writer as a, as a career, never really occurred to me until, you know, I was probably, I went to graduate school and. [00:16:00] I somewhere, you know, in there, I, I was like, I’m going to seriously pursue writing a, but I was writing fiction you know, prose fiction, short stories, novels, things like that.
That was sort of what I was going to pursue. And I loved comic books, but again, it just never occurred to me. And I had no way. I had no way in, right. Like I knew plenty of people in like the, you know, the, the fiction world who, you know, running, you know, literary journals or whatever, you know, And, but I didn’t know anybody in comics, so that was never it just never crossed my mind, you know, that that was something I could do.
As much as I loved them, you know, it’s, it’s weird to think, like it never occurred to me. But I was busy writing short stories and I was working on some novels and, you know, that’s kinda what I was doing. So a friend of mine got a job at DC comics and he called. One day or I think I found out and I was like, Hey, I know you’re working at D C.
I don’t know if you actually liked comics, but if you get anything for free, I’ll take them. [00:17:00] Cause you know, I just, I love, you know, whatever. And he was like, he was like, I, you know, I didn’t know you like comics. But there’s a job open here. If you’re interested, I can put in a good word for you. So that’s what I did.
And I, in 2004, I got hired at DC comics. But basically doing art returns. So my job was, you know, photocopying the art as it came in because it still was delivered by FedEx every day. Right. And what most art was not delivered by email, you know, it was all coming by hand and it was just all this art that had to be.
You’d have to photocopy it and you give it to the editors and then you’d have to get it to production and you’d have to log where it was at all times. And then it would come back. And then once the issue came out and then a few months had passed, we returned the art to the artist. And you had to sort of divided up between the penciler and the anchor, depending on what you know.
So it was this whole thing. So that’s how I sort of ended up doing that. But then I did that for a little while and then I sort of, I worked in scheduling for a while where we would make the, [00:18:00] the schedules for the, for the books. So, so an editor has a book, it needs a schedule where they have an artist who takes six weeks to do a book.
Like what, what, what, on what date did they need to get the pages in, you know, to, to make the schedule for the book so that it’s not late. And you know, I did that for a while. And then I ended up, which is where I sort of ultimately sort of flourished a DC in the business affairs department, which is under the umbrella of legal.
And we basically worked on the contracts for the books. Now once there was this decree at DC that you weren’t allowed to make. You weren’t allowed to write or draw comics for anybody who wasn’t DC. Right. So there were a lot of people there who made indie comics who were. Allowed to make indie comics, right.
Because that was seen as a you know, competition, right? Like somebody making a black and white Xerox you know, mini comic that they’re going to make 25 copies of and sell it a little comic show, right? Like there’s no, no threat to Batman, but you know, so a lot of [00:19:00] those people work under pseudonyms so that they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t be found out, you know?
But, and then. So there were some people who worked at DC, you know, there’s a couple of editors or whatever who wrote you know, from, from time to time, there were a couple people that production who maybe would let her books or ink or something like that. But because I was in the legal department, I legally.
It was not an option to write, to do anything creative for the company. So, and that was fine. It never, it was just not something that I was had thought about, you know? And I loved comics, right. I mean, it was like, but it just, I was, I was happy working on the pros. And then when DC was going to move to Burbank in 2011, I believe I said, you know what, I’m not going to go.
I’m not going to move my family out to California. Like I’m going to stay here. And you know, I knew my time was, was wrapping up and, you know, I was I was talking to Mark Doyle who at the time was the the bad group editor. And he was like, so are you going to write comics now? And I said I, I really hadn’t thought about it.
He was because, you know, you’re allowed to. [00:20:00] Right, but you’re not going to be here. And we were, we were friends, we had a lot of similar tastes in books and movies, TV shows and comics, you know, we talk comics a lot. And I said, yeah, sure. I’ll I’ll yeah. I mean, yeah. I’ll write comics, you know? Sure. I’ll do that.
And then I was kinda like like a light went on. I was like, oh, this is something that. This is, I can finally do this, right. Like, because it had, because it wasn’t legally an option. It just wasn’t anything I had ever considered. So that’s sort of, you know, that’s, you know, that’s, that’s, if you need the key to break it into comics, it’s it’s spend 11 years working for DC comics in the legal department.
And and you’re good to go. So, but you know, th the, the it’s funny because. You know, so my first, my first two paying jobs in comics were writing Batman. And which sounds, you know, like. I don’t know, like, fuck you. Right. Like, but the funny thing is right. Like, I got, you know, you know, I got, I wrote a shadow man for [00:21:00] Valiant and I did a star Trek for IDW, but they were just like one shots, you know?
It’s not like writing those two early Batman stories. They didn’t, they didn’t get me anything. Right. Like I still had to pay my dues. And I’m still paying my dues. Right. I’m just, now this is my first, this pennyworth is my first like, you know, ongoing, Amazon was seven issues, but it’s long. Right?
So my first like sort of lengthy series but you know, I’ve been, I’ve been doing this for five years now. Right? So it’s not like. You know, it’s like, oh yeah, I worked there 11 years and then they just gave me a detective comics to write, you know, you know, or whatever. So, it definitely helped get my foot in the door with all of the people I met when I worked there.
And you know, it’s, it’s so funny, you know, all these people who were my peers at DC at one point are now like They’re so big and comics now, you know, like, Nachi Marsha, who’s the president of of IDW. He’s the publisher of IDW right now. Sorry, the publisher you know, he was an assistant editor when I started at DC.
And you know, folks like that, you know, just sort of, you know, sort of climbing the ranks and, and, and, [00:22:00] and all these companies it’s really exciting to see But, yeah, so that’s sort of how that’s sort of a very long winded way of saying like, how I ended up writing comics. But you know, the funny thing is right, I’m still making little indie comics now, right.
With my friends and still making these little small run comics with my buddies because I love comics and I love making comics and. You know, there’s all these stories. I want to tell that that’s the format for them, you know, or we’re just doing it for fun. So, you know, it’s not like, you know, it’s not, it’s not like to me, you know, cause that’s like the that’s like the, the, you know, cause I, a buddy who had worked at DC was over at Marvel and when I started writing comics, I was like, Hey, you know, I’m writing comics now, you know, Lots of talk to you about it.
Right. And he was like, great, go publish some comics and then we can talk. Right. So like, you know that, you know, so, you know, I’m in the same boat as everyone else who’s gotten that answer. Right. You know, I guess the only difference is like I [00:23:00] knew his email address to directly get rejected. Right. So. So, you know, I’m still doing that.
Like, you know, just cause I’m I’m writing a book for DC and I’ve done some other things, you know, I’m still making these, these little books because this to me is, is is exciting.
Jeff Haas: So how did you get involved with pennyworth? So pennyworth
Scott Byron Wilson: I wrote I, I, it’s so hard to say in COVID times, I can’t really remember the timeline anymore, but I guess.
I guess it was 2020. I did a a Batman Gotham Knights, a story with Chris Mooney having he drew it, it was a it was a two face and commissioner Gordon’s story. It was a crime of sort of. Crime piece and the editor on that story was Katie Kubert and she really liked what we did.
And you know, I guess a few months after that came out she just emailed me and said, Hey, we’re doing this penny worth series. I think you’re the right. For this book you know, send me some semi some pitches, meaning semi some [00:24:00] story ideas. You know, she said, this is, this is how long it is, you know?
So send me some ideas. So, and you know, so that’s, that’s sort of how that, that’s sort of how that got started. Right? The Gotham Knights story was my You know, I didn’t know, it, it wasn’t really a tryout book, but that’s, it’s sort of became that right to show that I could do this crime story. And that’s a genre that I’ve always been super interested in anyway.
So I was really excited to see, I mean, pennyworth is a little more spy than crime, but there’s a whole lot of overlap between those two genres. You know, now,
Jeff Haas: are you a fan of the television show up anywhere prior to getting to the, the the job or did you have to go back and watch the
Scott Byron Wilson: series? I’m going to tell you something.
I actually haven’t seen this series. And you know, I hadn’t seen it. I think it’s on a channel that I don’t get, you know, and I just, it hadn’t, it just hadn’t really crossed my path. Oh, epics. Yes. I don’t know if I even get that. I don’t, I have no idea if I get decisions. So when I got the book, I asked her, I said, Hey, so, you know, it was this tight, like I was trying to figure out like, do I need to go watch it right now before I even.
Pitches the [00:25:00] story ideas. And basically they wanted, they wanted the character continuing in the DC universe you know, as, as from the TV show, but it didn’t necessarily need to It didn’t need to tie in with the TV show specifically. And they, the only character they asked me to use was the Dave boy character.
And then I just went, I went on YouTube and I watched a few clips just to kind of see what it was. But I didn’t watch it for the same reason. I didn’t watch the altered carbon show when I was writing that graphic novel. And that’s, I didn’t want to be influenced by it visually. So w you know, w w when I did the altered carbon graphic novel for dynamite, which I think.
Either later this month or next month I read the book but I watched maybe five minutes of the show. Just to just kind of see what it looked like, but I didn’t want us, I didn’t want to get influenced by visually. And the same idea was happened here. I don’t know if it has a sort of signature look, but I didn’t want, I want, I wanted this pennyworth book to be my book.
You know what I mean? Or my book and Juan’s book one Getty and who’s the artist on it. I want it to be honorable. And give it a very specific look. So [00:26:00] I didn’t want to be visually influenced by it. So, you know, I’ll probably go back and, you know, whenever the series ends, I don’t know if we’ll do another season or whatever, whenever, you know, we’ve, we’ve kind of put it to bed or I’m done with it or whatever.
I’ll probably go back and watch it just to see like, you know, what it’s, what it’s about. But yeah. I, you know, I was also afraid if I saw it, I would start trying to write it versus what I want, the story I wanted to tell. So, and I think that’s a real dangerous area for a writer to be in is when you start trying to write it, I didn’t want to try to write to some fans expectations.
Right. It’s tough with comics because everyone’s got an opinion and they’re going to let you know it. And so I thought, well, I would rather them rake me across the coals, telling the story. I want to tell in the way I want to tell it rather than. Try to ape the [00:27:00] TV show and then get raked across the coals.
You know, at least I did something that I wanted to do that was like my point of view. So, so that’s sort of, that was, that was what, that was, what happened there
Jeff Haas: from an editorial standpoint. Was there any continuity things that were either told to not go near or total. To include that were any details when running your comic book.
I mean, is there any concern with this, with the story of what has to either be appear or not appear because of the
Scott Byron Wilson: series? Yeah, not really. And, and so what, what happened was I wrote I wrote the, I wrote the, the sort of the pitch. I had two that I liked too, that we sort of narrowed it down to. One is the one that.
You’re reading now in the, in the series and the other one is one we didn’t go with but maybe if we do another season, that’ll be the, you know, that’ll be the story arc or whatever. But I wrote that and then we picked the one we wanted and then Katie said, well, we [00:28:00] just, can you just write an outline because I’ve got to get it approved by.
The TV people, right? Like the production side. So I said, sure. So I basically just wrote, which is something I would have done. Anyway. It’s part of my process. I wrote a page by page issue by issue, outline of what happened in the book. And then, you know, they sent that over and, you know, they sent it over to make sure a, that it was good and B that it wasn’t messing with anything that was going to happen on the show.
Right. I think. And consistency is the penny worth book. Common. Takes place in the DC universe. I think, although I think Alfred’s dead right now in the DC universe, but this takes place in the DC universe versus in the pennyworth TV show universe. Right. And Alfred’s dad has a different name in the DC universe versus element TV show.
So I think the one note we got was can you just not use Alfred’s dad’s name? Just so. People people who are watching from the TV show, won’t be confused [00:29:00] and people are reading. The comic are going to go wait, you know, why is his name different? So, I think that was sort of the one thing, but yeah, I don’t really remember anything else.
Maybe there was one other little note, but it wasn’t anything substantial. And then of course, after I wrote the first script that had to get approved, so basically, you know, they’re just making sure I’m not screwing around with, with their, you know, their, what they made, you know, and that I’m not You know, somehow selling, you know, the, the penny worth TV show.
But I think from what I understand, they’ve been happy with it. So, you know, I’m cool with that. Think
Jeff Haas: I find it with the penny worth as, as a character is obviously pennyworth is in the world of DC intrinsically tied to Batman, right? I mean, everyone knows penny worth Batman and the combo and the show as well, has penny worth as a.
Pretty much a super spy. And when you’re writing the character, pennyworth how do you differentiate the feats of what. A super spike can do versus the feet of a superhero. You know what I’m saying? Is there something that [00:30:00] you think to yourself I can only have my character goes so far because beyond this point he does enter the realm of
Scott Byron Wilson: apartment.
Oh, totally. Totally. And in fact, in the book, I can’t say much, but Alfred does make mistakes. Right. And he does not win at every turn. Right. So. Yes. I think I was very aware of, I don’t want this to just turn into, you know, you could just a fill in the blank superhero, you know, he, he wins, he wins everything he does and he’s power, you know?
You know, I wanted him to have some flaws because in the end, that’s what makes these people relatable and makes them interesting. Right. I tried to make him as relatable as you can make a Butler super spy fighting. Crazy Russian monsters. Right.
Jeff Haas: Right, right. And Lisa and I, and in the first issue, you do also do a very interesting thing too, where you do give an illusion to the fear and Batman as well in the story.
I think you did that within the first [00:31:00] two or three pages of memory. If my memory started to the first issue is it once again, is that as, as, as a reminder to fans of who pennyworth is associated with, or. Are you also, or are you more insinuating again, the mirror between Alfred’s life and a vigilantes legs?
Scott Byron Wilson: Well, so the, the comic takes place in three different time periods. It takes place in the time period which is the main time period of the story, which is Alfred as the super spy, which is the time period of the TV show. There’s also the time period of young Alfred growing up, which I kind of described in my pitches Alford year one, right.
Learning to be a spy, right? Whether he’s a little kid or whether he’s an acting on the stage or something like that. And then the, the third time period is present day, which is Alfred, who is a Butler for Bruce Wayne. Right. And the whole story is being narrated by. Current Alfred’s point of view. It was important to me to put back in now, Batman doesn’t actually appear in it, but it’s, it was important to have him mentioned because if it’s being narrated by [00:32:00] pennyworth in present day, Batman has been a huge part of his life for decades.
So he would obviously mention him, right? So there are a lot of illusions to Batman in the book that are hidden around. And then Alfred himself mentions, you know, Bruce quite a bit and his narration as he served, trying to figure out. You know, he’s going to do to get himself out of the predicament, he’s found himself in.
But I didn’t actually want Batman to appear in the book itself, because this is Alfred’s book. This is penny where it’s book he’s can stand on his own as a character. Right. So that was sort of my, that was sort of my thinking with that. And
Jeff Haas: there’s a lot of interesting effects you also do in this comic, which I think are really kind of interesting, such as once again in the beginning you have certain dialogue obscured by the narrative captions, right.
Can you kind of go through your thought process on creating that because it’s created a very interesting effect in the reading of it.
Scott Byron Wilson: Yeah. So, I think there’s, there’s sort of a two fold approach. One is that I’m always trying to [00:33:00] find. A new way to tell a story and comics something new to do. I’m not the first person to do that effect.
I think I put up together a lot of different things in the book to give it to make it read a little differently than any other comic on the stands. The other thing is the arrows that point out the spycraft right? These are just little arrows that show you what Alfred is seeing and thinking without being captioned boxes.
The second part of it is that I am by nature. A pretty wordy writer. And I am aware of that. So on the first page with the overlapping balloons, I realized there’s a lot of texts for this page. I also realized none of what the guy hanging upside down is saying is important because Alfred’s just going to assume he’s lying.
So what if we just cover his balloons with Alfred’s caption to show that Alfred isn’t even paying attention to them? And I knew DC Hopkins was going to be lettering the book and he is one of the best letter as comics, I think. And he’s someone who I work with a [00:34:00] lot. In fact, he said, I think he’s probably lettered more of my work than anyone.
But I knew I had him on board, so I knew that all these weird little things I wanted to do, and there’s a few other ones throughout the book, there’s a few other odds and ends of little lettering, things that happen. I knew he would understand what I was trying to do and if he didn’t, he just.
You know, and that’s sort of that’s, you know, that’s basically, I knew I sort of, okay, I’m going to push this as much as I can and see, you know, narratively what we can do with these weird captions. Yeah. And
Jeff Haas: I, and like I said, the fact that you mentioned those hours, that it’s kinda like that commentary that you, that it gets embedded through certain pages, as you as mentioned to.
The such, such as reflection in the window, things, some things of that nature, let’s say, I thought it was so smart because one, obviously I think it was extremely efficient because once again, there’s only so many things you can show on a page before. Right. You have bogged down in those details and you lose the story.
Right. And I also, oh, okay. I’ll go ahead. [00:35:00] And I think the only thing I, and I was thinking to myself as well, I don’t know if this was part of your thought process in when you were doing it. Is that, that is also something that can only be done in a comic
Scott Byron Wilson: book. Yeah, totally. Because a TV show, you can’t have.
Jeff Haas: Boxes pop up or you would lose a visual. You would probably lose the story in a comic book. I not to come up. Sorry, India television show. If you had little arrows pointing, you know, this is this, this is that it wouldn’t work in a novel. You can’t do that, but in a calm look, that works extremely well. And was that it kind of, when you intentionally utilizing that functional, calm book in that way to add that?
Scott Byron Wilson: Yeah, totally. You know, you can do it in a TV show and you can do it in a movie, but you have. The movie, right. I’ve, you’ll see it. Maybe in like some Tarantino films or something like that. We’ll stop. And there’ll be a little title card showing you who someone is or something. But then it has to start again.
Right. But you can’t, it’s really hard to do it while the movie is still rolling with dialogue and action on the screen. But yes, in comics you can totally just do it’s one thing you can do in comics. So you definitely can’t do it in a novel. I don’t even know what the current. Would [00:36:00] be they would be a drawing of some sort probably.
Jeff Haas: So weird footnote.
Scott Byron Wilson: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, yeah, cause I was thinking like, you know, I want to show that Alfred is this bad-ass by, but first of all, I’ve got to establish for the reader who he is, what is he doing? That this is in fact. The Alfred from the comics that mans or, you know, Bruce Wayne’s Butler.
I also have to tell what is going on in the story without being super obvious that this is all what’s happening. There’s so much information you have to convey in the first couple of pages. Right. And I realized like, they need to know what a bad-ass by he is. So, you know, you could write like, I never take a direct route anywhere I’m going.
While I look in mirror lo you know, look in the window, see if anyone’s following me. Right. But then you’ve, it’s just overwhelming amount of texts, but you could just do it with a little arrow. Right. And those, those little arrows continue throughout the series. I just I just finished the lettering script for issue three and or maybe, yeah, issue three.
And. They’re still in there, you know, they go, they run throughout the [00:37:00] series as little arrows. So yeah, that’s that was a fun thing. I think. I think, you know, one of the things I love about comics is it does have things you can do and then that you can’t do in any other. In any other medium, you know?
And so I think always just trying to find what those are and use them in the coolest way possible as a sort of a challenge as a writer. You know,
Jeff Haas: and yeah, I think it was, it was very interesting and I liked that you are going to continue with the Rocco’s. It does create an interesting effect.
And once again, I think as I was reading that part, I really kind of smiled at the fact that that is one thing that complex can do as a medium, but no one else can do. And I thought that was really.
Scott Byron Wilson: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’m always sort of, I’m always on the lookout for those kinds of things, especially when I’m reading comics, you know, and you see something that’s just so smart and you’re like, fuck you.
Right. It just makes you, it just makes you mad. Cause you’re like, this is so good. You know, this was so smart. You know, there’s that issue of There’s that issue of of premia, where the characters are on a, on a Mobius strip and you flip [00:38:00] the, you know, it just, the way the dialogue is written, it just loops and you can just keep reading the page over and over and over, and you’re stuck in it.
And it’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever seen in comics. And it’s just, I saw that and I was like, This is th this is, this is as good as it gets, you know,
Jeff Haas: and yeah. And also tell me there’s another character that you introduce in the series. And I don’t seem to recall if she’s in the show. I saw some of the episodes of the show, cause I I interviewed one of the cast members from the TV show some months back, but I can’t remember this character, the character of Shirley that that’s just from your combo,
Scott Byron Wilson: correct?
Yeah, totally. I was, I, I said you know, Sort of writing out the pitch. I was like, there’s a lot of masculine energy in this thing. There’s a lot of sausage happening, you know? And I thought we need a love interest because. It totally makes sense. Alfred’s yelling and hot. Of course he would have some [00:39:00] young and hot love interests.
Right. You know, and then I just thought, you know, it would have to be another spy because Alfred wouldn’t fall. Some, you know, know who else would be exciting next to his spy life. Right. So, so yeah, I created her for the book. And she’s a big, you know, she’s a major character throughout the, throughout the series.
Jeff Haas: Well, it’s like having read Batman and also we don’t hear of Shirley, is that a clue of potential? What’s going to happen at the character?
Scott Byron Wilson: I mean, you know, look, there’s always ways you can, then you’re it’s comics, right? You can I will confirm nor deny anything. But there’s always ways you can, you can make something.
You know. But yeah, you know, I think in fact, I think there’s a lot of things in this book where you’re reading and you’re like, how come we would never hear that before? And I think, I hope, I hope it’s resolved in a way that you’re like, oh, okay. That makes sense. That’s cool know.
Jeff Haas: So did the character of Shirley have to be run past [00:40:00] the pennyworth people at all?
Scott Byron Wilson: They read it, they saw it. They didn’t, they didn’t raise any objections. I think they probably agreed that like, Having a strong female character is only a positive for anything, you know? So, I would assume that they would be, you know, totally fine with it. So yeah. Nobody ever raised any, any sort of concerns?
Jeff Haas: I would imagine if she shows up now on the TV show, you get paid for that, right?
Scott Byron Wilson: Yeah. I don’t know. We’ll have to see. I mean, you know, DC does have a character equity program where if you create a character in one of their books that isn’t. Derivative of previously existing characters. You can get a co you know, a piece of a piece, a split of it.
It’s not ownership, but you get a percentage of the, of the creator, a portion of that character. I mean, DC owns that character, even though I created it for the book, but that’s the deal you make when you do work for hire. But I also know that DC is very fair with like character equity. So I felt comfortable creating this character, knowing that I’ll get equity in this character.
[00:41:00] And yeah, she shows me the TV show. Maybe I’ll get, you know, maybe go get some beer money, you know? Well, I’ll be rooting for
Jeff Haas: you when next time I was watching him. So pennyworth, I’d be like, come on, Shirley show up for, for Scott
Scott Byron Wilson: for sure. That’d be
Jeff Haas: awesome. And I don’t know if it was intentional or non on near part.
So this is part of the question. The, the ending for me was a surprise because when I was reading. I kind of assumed it was going to maintain the timeline of the team show NBC and exist primarily just in that timeline. But when you get to the end is obviously the big surprise of the timeline shift.
Now, now tell me a little bit of the thought process on creating that shift and how you build towards that surprise.
Scott Byron Wilson: Well, I never really make anything easy for myself. So when I started thinking about this book, It just never occurred to me to just tell it in one timeline. I think from the very beginning, I was like, no, we’ve got to have, we have three timelines.
Like I think it’s important to show Alfred the current, you know, [00:42:00] 70 year old Butler is also a bad day. You know, just yeah, in a different way from when he was younger, you know? And I think I just, I didn’t, I just thought if we had it in three timelines or so much, we can do, we can foreshadow, we can show things happening in his childhood that then work in his life.
Later or that he remembers things that happens to him from when he was a child or whatever. There’s all these things we can do. You know, he’ll reference things as an, you know, as the, as the elderly Alfred he’ll reference things that we saw earlier and issues, you know? So, you know, for me, that was, and, and, you know, the, the original editors on the series they just, they kept saying.
We got to really be clear. We’ve got to really be clear for the readers, so they know what, there’s all this jumping around. You just gotta be careful with all the jumping around. And I was like, I know, I know we got it. We’ll do it. This, we got it. You know? And I just settled on, you know, it would just throw a caption every time we shift time, we’re just shut.
We’re still the same. As that time always has, [00:43:00] and that’ll just make it super clear. And I think I T I just kept saying them once readers read one issue, there’ll be set. They’ll understand this jumping around in time. They’ll get it. You know, there’ll be fine. I said, especially when it comes out in the trade, it won’t be a problem at all, you know?
So that was sort of a challenge to make it you know, real smooth like that. And as seamless as possible in terms of just. The tension to those moments. I mean, I don’t really know the process for most comic writers. I bet there are very few who just sit down and start writing a script.
Given the nature of comics and having a finite number of pages, you really have to plan ahead. So I had written, I knew blow by blow what happened on every page for all 140 pages of the series a before I wrote the first page. You know, so that would help me get the timing, right. And the building the tension so that it builds correctly throughout the series, you know, I, you know, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know how else I would do it other than, you know, cause I left, I would leave a few blank, some places where I was like, I’ll figure this out [00:44:00] later. Like that’s fine. Like here’s three pages. We’ll figure it out later. But you know, basically I knew exactly what was going to happen, you know, on every page.
So, that was, that was not too, too tough. You know, most of the work, in fact for me. Is done in that stage where you’re really trying to figure it out and you keep shifting things around. And that’s where most of the work is done. Once you have that, you know, it’s not, for me, at least it’s not too hard to actually write, write the script.
Jeff Haas: And I said, I really enjoyed the first issue. I think it was really well written. And, and you said you hadn’t watched the TV show. I thought the character did line up quite well. What can our listeners look forward to in the future issues of
Scott Byron Wilson: anywhere.
Well, there’s some some the, the villains that show up in an issue one we get some more of them, but you find out that maybe, you know, there’s some other stuff going on with that. It’s really hard to say because I don’t want to spoil anything. But you will find some villains you do recognize are [00:45:00] going to show up.
And there’s a lot of a flirtation, a lot of, you know, flirtation with Alfred and and Shirley. And there is a lot of action and some of the coming issues One Getty and who’s drawing it is, is he’s, he’s really good with action. And I tried to make sure that every issue has at least one action sequence, but there’s a couple issues coming up that have a whole lot of action.
That is really a a real treat. It’s going to be a real treat for the reader to look at. I know I love, I love seeing the pages come in, but I think the readers are going to are really going to dig them.
Jeff Haas: Well, the arts are phenomenal and like I said, I really enjoyed it. And I want to thank you so much, Mr.
Rosen for stopping by to talk with me. It was a great chat.
Scott Byron Wilson: You got it. Thank you for having
Jeff Haas: me. It is definitely my pleasure. And I can’t wait to read the next issue. You said it’s a total of seven issue series seven
Scott Byron Wilson: issues. Yes. 140 pages. So I get my comps for the next issue tomorrow. So I think that means it’ll be out next Wednesday, which is what I have no idea.
Today’s the sixth, seventh, eight. So the 15th, I think it will be out. [00:46:00] Yeah.
Jeff Haas: Well, very cool, sir. Thank you so much for stopping by.
Scott Byron Wilson: All right. Thanks. Take care. Have a great night. You too.