Exclusive Interview: Scott Kolins – Part One: Justice Society of America (JSA)

Artist-Writer Scott Kolins is an industry veteran who has turned his sights recently on the Justice Society of America. While most associated with Flash for DC in recent times, and exclusively as an artist, he has also branched into writing in the last few years. He has proven, in a very short time, to be a top industry writer AND artist, no small feat.

I was thrilled when Scott Kolins agreed to a 3-part interview that primarily touches on his work over the last few years, and today, at DC Comics. His responses were quite candid… and fun… in true Scott Kolins fashion.

This is the first of a 3-part interview I had with Scott.

We start with his current art assignment on my favourite DC franchise, the Justice Society of America!

Comics Nexus: DC’s October 2010 solicitations announced you as the new artist for Justice Society of America (JSA). How did this come about and what attracted you to work with Marc Guggenheim and DC’s Golden Age greats?

Scott Kolins: DC asked me – is how I got the JSA gig. I do sometimes ask for projects – like (Solomon) Grundy, but most of the projects I work on are offered without me having any connection beforehand. I’ve always been a fan of the JSA – and Marc and I have tried to work together before and we are glad to be together on this now. Hopefully we’ll cook something up that will be worth it!

Nexus: Although Marc Guggenheim has indicated he’ll be starting off with a smaller initial cast for Justice Society of America and growing from there, how do you feel about working on a team book with as many potential and actual members as Justice Society of America? Does your artistic approach change from solo hero books like the Flash to team books like the Justice Society of America?

Kolins: A group book has its good aspects and its tougher aspects – both involving the cast. I’ve worked on other group books before – including the Legion of Super-Heroes – so I know how it works. The JSA roster, big or small, is a great one, so it doesn’t bother me either way. Give me a solo Wildcat story or give me the giant cluster with all the greats and I’m still happy. The larger group can be more work on some pages but – there’s only so much you can fit in regardless of who’s involved. It’s always a balancing act to indicate enough that satisfies the reader but doesn’t overload the space and becomes unreadable. Sometimes I do need to make extra notes keeping tabs on everyone, but it’s not that bad.

Nexus: What can we expect from the “Society” focused opening arc? I understand the team adopts a city and looks after it while it’s being rebuilt. How far into the artwork are you in the series?

Kolins: I’ve only just started; I was still finishing my JSA Special with Magog when all this was offered to me. But yes, I’ve seen an outline and talked with Marc about what he wants to do and roughly how we’ll do it. Continuing from Geoff (Johns)’s legacy framework on JSA, Marc wants to keep that growing so that the generations of heroes have an impact on the society around them – beyond stopping the bad guy. Being part of our Society – literally. I like it. The Justice part of the group has always been obvious, but I think the Society part of the JSA is an interesting continuation for readers today.

Nexus: I’m not sure about how well in advance you and Marc started collaborating on this book, but did the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf play at all into any of themes of this arc or influence your art at all in this book?

Kolins: I don’t know if that particular disaster played into why Marc chose this direction, but I imagine all these sorts of disasters we’ve witnessed recently crept into his mind – and therefore probably crept into these stories. Comics – like any form of entertainment or form of art is usually a reflection of what’s going on around us. It’s our way of communicating with each other. Working things out – talking things out, to maybe find solutions or even just let each other know we’re not alone.

Nexus: In recent years, your mainstream comic book resume has seen you branch into writing as well as art. Is this something you’ve wanted to do for a while? Why was this the right time to stretch into writing?

Kolins: Yes, writing and drawing comics is what I’ve always wanted to do. I enjoy collaborating with others a lot, but some of my strongest influences come from the solo creator putting the whole story together: Jack Kirby, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Mike Mignola – to name a few. Why now? The opportunity arose! I’ve been trying for years and years to do this, but it was the recent situation with Grundy and DC’s open-mindedness that gave me the opportunity. That and my pal Geoff Johns told DC I could do it. Geoff’s the man! And thankfully they were happy with what I did and have offered a few more writing and drawing projects already. I don’t assume all my projects will be “solo” jobs, such as JSA now with Marc, but I’m very happy to be considered from time to time to handle projects by myself.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of our 3-part interview with Scott Kolins. Tomorrow we talk Solomon Grundy, Superman, Batman and more.

To find larger versions of the interior JSA art by Scott Kolins used in this interview, please visit DC The Source’s “First Look” at his opening issue.

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