Saturday, September 4, 2010

Scott Tipton & Elena Casagrande Interview


Patrick Shand Interviews Scott Tipton & Elena Casagrande


BUFFYVERSE COMIC REVIEWS: First, the obvious question that I feel somewhat obliged to ask: What drew you to the episodes Smile Time, Not Fade Away, and Hole in the World?

SCOTT TIPTON: Well, the obvious answer in terms of the work was simple enough: IDW bossman Chris Ryall coming to me on SMILE TIME and NOT FADE AWAY and asking if I'd be interested in adapting them. I'd been away from ANGEL for a couple of years at that point (save a single chapter of AFTER THE FALL that Brian Lynch was generous enough to invite me to co-write), so any chance to get back to the Angelverse (and work with talents like David Messina and Stephen Mooney) sounded like a pretty good deal to me.As for the episodes themselves, SMILE TIME is such an anomaly in the series, such a goofy lighthearted romp, that it was a joy to play with. And the epic, operatic scale of NOT FADE AWAY, the grand all-the-marbles tone it takes as a finale –well, I couldn't resist that.

ELENA CASAGRANDE: I was very happy to work on this project: “A Hole in the World” and “Shells” are two of my favorite episodes of ANGEL's fifth season, where you really didn't expect that so strong a character like Fred will die to be replaced with a powerful and fascinating one. I was excited and also a bit frightened that we wouldn’t be able to express the feelings and the atmosphere of the story, but I watched the episode so many times that in the end I felt very natural working on it. I know that the comic book never will be the same thing as the TV show, but I hoped that with our work, we could realize a good tribute and a different way to see of the show.

Elena Casagrande's HOLE IN THE WORLD 1-5

Linking covers

BCR: Scott, what about the Hole/Shells episodes made you want to pitch this comic?

SCOTT: For one, it's both an origin tale and a true tragedy, both of which didn't come up very often in the series. "A Hole in the World" was one of the few ANGEL episodes I never watched in repeats or on DVD, just because I loved the Fred character so much and the episode was brutally sad. (Of course, I wound up having to watch it repeatedly in the production of our series. Maybe I should have thought it through a little better…)

BCR: The Smile Time hardcover was packed with extras (the entire Shadow Puppets series and the Angel: Masks puppety tale) and the Not Fade Away trade included the entire illustrated script of the original episode. What can readers expect from the Hole in the World TPB?

SCOTT: First off, there's IDW's usual top-notch production. The art and coloring just look beautiful. And in the back, we have a real treat, the only ANGEL work by David Messina and myself that had never been collected or reprinted, our Illyria story "Unacceptable Losses" from the ANGEL Halloween special MASKS. Not only does the story take place chronologically just after the events of "Shells," making it a perfect fit for the book, but it was the first project Messina and I worked on together, kicking off a series of collaborations that would go on for the next four years. I'm delighted to see it back in print.

And the whole thing is under a gorgeous brand-new cover by Elena, maybe my favorite of all the covers we've done.

BCR: What other episodes would you have liked to adapt?

SCOTT: Elena and I were dying to tackle "Orpheus" – Getting the opportunity to play with Angelus, Willow and Faith would have been a real treat. And just on a personal level, "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco" has always been a favorite.

Casagrande and Tipton's Vision of "Orpheus"

BCR: Big picture, now: Overall experience-wise, can you describe your experience working on Hole in the World?

SCOTT: If readers would like the long version of the story, they can always head over to my Web site, COMICS 101, and read "Adaptation: The HOLE Story," an account by Elena and myself of the entire process, start to finish here.

But in short, it was a fantastic experience, if a little intimidating. The episodes are so emotionally dense, trying to capture all of that on the page was daunting, to say the least. With something like SMILE TIME, we had room to add in some new scenes and have a little more fun with it, but here, fitting two episodes into only five issues, we didn't really have that flexibility. Plus, the tone was so serious, it didn't feel right to us to add in new scenes "just because." We kind of felt like we owed the Fred character and her story the proper respect, to re-tell her tale and do it right.

BCR: You two worked together previously on an issue of Angel: Auld Lang Syne and will pair up again on the upcoming Illyria: Haunted miniseries. How is it like working together?

SCOTT: Elena is a joy to work with. It's a true partnership, in that she's involved in plotting and breakdowns and story ideas from the very beginning and I help contribute in my small way to cover designs and the visual aspect of things. She has an excellent sense of story and is a fountain of ideas for these characters. And to be honest, working with her has spoiled me, as she always brings back with each page more than I had imagined in my script. I couldn't ask for a better partner.

ELENA: I love to work with Scott: initially, with Auld Lang Syne, my first comic book with him, I worked on his script and found it very easy and funny; after doing some other Star Trek issues and after we got to know each other in New York at the Comic-Con, we continue to find working together a good feeling; often we find a great solution for a drawing, a cover, or have cool idea for a story talking to each other and it's funny and stimulating...we're in harmony most of the time!

BCR: Elena, were you a fan of ANGEL before working on the title?

ELENA: The truth is that I discovered the Angel series when David Messina talked to me about his first project on it with IDW, The Curse. I was curious so I searched the episodes and I started to follow the show, which unfortunately here in Italy wasn't so famous yet. I liked the show episode after episode and I really appreciated the growth of all the characters (especially about Wesley, my favorite character...sigh!)... I was really sad at the end!

BCR: How did it feel to be able to translate such an important episode into comic form?

ELENA: Like I said before, I was very very excited to work on Hole, in spite of the responsibilities towards all the fans (but I'm a fan too, so it helped!)... I felt like an ambassador!


BCR: So, basics. What can you tell us about "Illyria: Haunted"?

SCOTT: This one is all about Illyria, and her struggles both to find her place in this world she never belonged in, and her difficulties in dealing with how she came to walk this world: namely at the expense of an innocent, Fred. As my co-writer Mariah Huehner has said, "She has her own motives and reasons...and is now kind of literally haunted from the inside. Which is a poetic juxtaposition, since her resembling Fred is haunting for those who knew her, too."

And it bears saying here, by the way, that the genesis of this story comes very much from Mariah. Elena and I were actually working on another project that wound up being cancelled for reasons too dull to go into here, and when we became available, Mariah asked us if we'd like to come develop this ILLYRIA series with her, and we happily leapt at the chance. Mariah is the best kind of collaborator, full of ideas and willing to see them taken in any manner of directions, however they best serve the story.

Illyria: Haunted #1 (art by Elena Casagrande)

BCR: Recently, there have been some questioned posed about Illyria's character. In the recent arc, she's been seducing Connor, searching for meaning, and quite suddenly questioning her grammatical choices. Will this miniseries address her strange behavior?

SCOTT: The events in HAUNTED definitely dovetail with what readers have been seeing in the main book, sure. But it's less of an "x + y = z" situation, and more of a general progression of what we're seeing as Illyria's state of mind.

BCR: The cover for the second issue is a tender image of Spike putting his jacket on Illyria's shoulders. This seems to call back to AFTER THE FALL, when Illyria and Spike were close. They lived together; he spent most of his time in Hell trying to save her, and he wound up taking her down with his and Wesley's memories of Fred. AFTER THE FALL left them with a sad image of them standing in the rain, unable to talk, before walking away from each other. And now, in recent issues, they've been hanging out in the Hyperion, barely saying a word to each other. How will "Haunted" address the strange relationship between these two characters?

SCOTT: I've always been a big fan of the Spike/Illyria relationship, both in the brief, tantalizing tastes of it we got in the TV series, and in the marvelous way Brian handled it in AFTER THE FALL. And even more so was I a fan of the Spike/Fred relationship, in how we saw Spike genuinely care for someone else purely out of gratitude and affection. Both of these dynamics come into play in our series, and I'm delighted we got the chance to explore them.

Illyria: Haunted #2 (art by Elena Casagrande)

BCR: Illyria has been the subject of many miniseries. She frolicked about with Gunn and her pet in "Only Human," she crossed-over into Peter David's world in "Fallen Angel: Reborn," she killed Jim from The Office in "Spike: After the Fall," and she got angsty in a one-shot here and there. Where will "Haunted" take this fan-favorite character?

SCOTT: We'll see Illyria breaking heads and mending hearts, and facing challenges both gargantuan and cosmic as well as pedestrian and mundane. We really get to put her through her paces here, exploring her origins and her future.

BCR: What do you think it is about Illyria that fans are so interested in?

SCOTT: She's a classic "fish out of water" character, continually out of place in a world she never wanted to be a part of; I think a lot of people can relate to that. Also, her role as the outsider made her the perfect foil for Angel's crew, for pointing out the others' faults and foibles, and that's always going to be appealing to watch, especially with Illyria's trademark deadpan delivery.

PAGE TWO of Illyria: Haunted #1 (art by Elena Casagrande)

BCR: Wesley is arguably the person that showed Illyria, as ushy-gushy as it may sound, how to be concerned for another. We never really got to see her reaction to living in a Wesley-free world, post-AFTER THE FALL. Does "Haunted" address her grief?

SCOTT: We love Wesley. Even though he's gone, his influence on Illyria (as well as on Fred) plays a vital role in the goings-on.

BCR: How does "Haunted" tie into the main title?

SCOTT: It doesn't tie in directly, in that you don’t need one to understand the other. But readers will definitely know where it fits in the big picture.

BCR: I believe Mariah said that Illyria would be leaving the main title for HAUNTED. Do you know if she'll be back in time for the finale with #44?

SCOTT: That, as they say, would be telling…

BCR: Elena, how do you manage to do the art for both ILLYRIA and ANGEL? Some artists can't even complete one book per month, and need super long delays. Are you magic?

ELENA: Hey, do you ask a magician how he does his tricks? :P Without joking... like everyone can see, I changed my art style from Hole to the ongoing series. This lets me work faster and I can say is also more fun, so, except for some hard scenes, usually I realize an inked page per day on Angel. About Illyria, I have precious help from my friend Walter Trono, who will be the inker, in this way I can work on pencils, covers and... special pages! :P

Anyway, I can assure you that the coffee is my best friend....!

BCR: Your artwork has a nice sense of movement. How do you balance the task of getting an actor's likeness versus keeping the movement believable from panel to panel?

ELENA: I always work first of all on the likeness of the characters, I think this is a basic concept in a licensing comic. I think "How could this character tell this? Or how could he/she act here?"; then I focus on the direction, on the kind of shot that could express better a TV-sensation, especially during the talking scenes. For the action scenes I enjoy myself and try to use all my comic-culture!

BCR: Which likenesses have been the hardest? The easiest?

ELENA: I think the hardest is Angel...a wrong line on the face and he isn't David Boreanaz anymore! While the easiest is surely Spike: James Marsters has a very distinguishable face and he's so expressive!

BCR: How is it like working under David Messina, another ANGEL artist who, to say the least, must have some kind of dark magic ability?

ELENA: I love David's style, he taught me a lot of things and yes, he's perfect for the dark stories... you mean dark in that sense, right? Anyway I hope to learn a bit of his dark magic ability :)


BCR: Plug time. What other books are you working on?

SCOTT: Well, my DEEP SPACE NINE graphic novel, FOOL'S GOLD, recently was released in trade paperback, along with the aforementioned ANGEL: A HOLE IN THE WORLD. In stores this month is the grand finale of my Classic STAR TREK miniseries THE BURDEN OF KNOWLEDGE. And premiering next month is maybe the most exciting TREK project I've ever done: KHAN: RULING IN HELL. The best STAR TREK villain of all time, finally in a starring role. “KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!”

ELENA: ...I have time for other books and no one told me? :P

BCR: For fun- What other comics are you reading?

SCOTT: I read practically everything that comes out, I have to admit. I’m really enjoying Bendis' refreshed AVENGERS series, DC's JONAH HEX remains great month in and month out. Matt Fraction's INVINCIBLE IRON MAN is a lot of fun. And I recently got an early chance to read Darwyn Cooke's next PARKER graphic novel, THE OUTFIT. It's spectacular.

ELENA: I'm reading Tommy Lee Edwards' works, he really inspires me...I love Turf! Unfortunately I have very little time to read as I wish...!

BCR: I guess it'll be weird if I don't ask this. It was announced in another book's letter section that ANGEL is leaving IDW. We've heard various folks chime in on the matter, so I was wondering what your reaction was.

SCOTT: It's been a hell of a ride. I hate to see it go.

ELENA: My reaction was and is simply this: sigh!

BCR: Where would you have liked to take these characters, were they staying at home with IDW?

SCOTT: We had plenty of stories left to tell, but they'll have to stay untold for now…

BCR: Scott, with ANGEL at Dark Horse, any chance we could see you writing for the TRUE BLOOD title? I can't help but dream of Scott Tipton penned Lafayette dialogue.

SCOTT: TRUE BLOOD is in very capable hands with my pals David Tischman and Mariah Huehner. However, if an opportunity to contribute arose, I wouldn't turn it down.

BCR: You've worked with IDW on ANGEL almost as long as they've had the title. It's been a ride, reading your various ANGEL and SPIKE (and, soon, ILLYRIA) books. Again with the big picture: Can you sum up your experience working on this title?

ELENA: I had a wonderful experience with all those characters, I love them. I was able to grow up with them, in my job and in my abilities, and it's been a beautiful journey with all the team around.

SCOTT: The Angel books mean a lot to me. Other than a couple of small short stories, ANGEL was where I first made my break into comics as a professional. Working on ANGEL has also provided me with an even greater gift, in my two favorite collaborators (and close friends) David Messina and Elena Casagrande, people I hope to be working with for years and years to come.

There are only a handful of people in the world who have gotten to work with these characters and tell their stories. I know I've been very lucky to be among their company.

BCR: As a professional and a fan, what do you think it is about ANGEL that makes fans so passionate?

ELENA: I can't talk for the other fans, but I can say that I like Angel for what it represented, how it developed over the years and what it means to me. There are some characters so interesting that I think like other famous heroes we can't stop wanting to read good stories about them. There are vampires, blood, action and emotions...what more do you want?

SCOTT: It all goes back to the source material. Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt pulled off that most miraculous of feats in the world of television: the spinoff series that, to my mind, anyway, surpassed its parent. Those characters, with their willingness to do the right thing despite the often unbearable costs of doing so, really stuck a chord with me. Angel's dedication, Gunn's bullheaded courage, Wesley's longing, Fred's innocence, Illyria's confidence, Spike's heart. I think that's what fans really relate to, and we tried (and continue to try) to keep those alive in the pages of our comics.


Kaz said...

Thankyou, Pat, Elena and Scott. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview. I can't wait for the Illyria series and I'm off to order the Episode Adaptation TPB's.

Veiriti said...

Awesome interview, Pat! Thank you for doing it! I'm looking forward Illyria series!

ryan said...

I love how feminine yet intricate Elena Casagrande's art is.