Many people know, or think they know who the Scarlet Witch is. Wanda has been many things in the Marvel Universe and even appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron this past year. Now she is the focus of her own solo series from writer James Robinson. The series will follow Wanda as she attempts to fix witchcraft in the Marvel Universe.
Vanesa Del Rey was tasked with art alongside Jordie Bellaire on colors for the first issue of this brand new Marvel series. Her always hauntingly beautiful art set the stage for a more focused and character driven series from Robinson and team. Like her work on Hit and The Empty Man, Vanessa brings her darker noir stylings to Wanda’s new tale. We were able to talk with Vanessa about her art and working on “Scarlet Witch” #1.
A huge thanks to Vanesa for taking the time to answer our questions. Issue one of “Scarlet Witch” is now available in stores and online from Marvel. Vanessa’s work on “Hit” and “The Empty Man” from Boom! Studios is available in trade now too!
With issue one out now, how does it feel looking back on the issue mixed with the great response from fans?
Vanesa Del Rey: It’s always scary for me to see the response from readers. I don’t read many reviews… When I finish a project I do this little post-mortem thing on my own where I go through all the pages and think about what i’ve accomplished and how I can improve going forward. I’m pretty self-critical and I love to learn. I can say I’m satisfied overall with the outcome of this project, it was a fun challenge!
How did this project come about for you. It seems like a perfect fit for your work with a very sophisticated female lead and the additions of the detective/noir style story elements.
VR: I did a little short 14 pg story for an anthology Marvel published last year called “Once Upon a Time: Out of the Past,” edited by Emily Shaw and a couple of covers edited by Mark Paniccia. All the work along the lines of Noir film characterization, something the peeps at Marvel were really excited about so I was asked to work on the launching of “Scarlet Witch”. I was immediately shocked to get such an offer and excited I’d get to experiment with the genre. The whole idea was to have me set the tone for the series which would be the dark gritty stuff I’m into.
What’s your general process like for an issue?
VR: First thing reading the script/making notes, then I follow it again with thumbnails/layouts for each page. Then I scan my thumbnails and place them on a template and draw my pages digitally on top of the thumbnail. I print them out and ink them with a brush and ink. A hybrid process…
Your style feels very much like classic almost fine art approach to comics. What was your ideas for the book going in on how you wanted it to look? Did you have to adjust or develop any other aspects of your style at all for this series?
VR: Thanks! That’s awesome. I always try to improve my craft with everything I do. I think the style you are trying to describe is somewhat a mix of everything that has influenced me. I come mostly form a classic fine arts training. Most prominently Russian realism, the baroque, the impressionists, and in regards to line work, Joseph Clement Coll, A. B. Frost..the classics. Other influences could be: European comics and anime. With this specific issue I experimented with more sound effects design and some new page layout ideas something I want to keep doing.
There have been many different versions of the Scarlet Witch. Who is Wanda to you and how do you try to portray that in your art?
VR: I wasn’t familiar with the character at all before this issue. I only knew she was Magneto’s daughter… There seem to be many versions of Wanda, she’s kind of like a filler from what I’ve read, so I guess I could say I still don’t really know who Wanda is. My approach was more realistic I’d say. I tried to make her seem a little more natural, organic, a little more relatable maybe.. Not so stiff and dry as I’ve seen her be portrayed before.Continued below
Magic can be a hard ability to bring to life. The scenes with Scarlet Witch using her powers towards the end of the issue are really stunning. Does the team have a clear identity for how her powers manifest? What do you try to bring to those abilities and sequences?
VR: The magic/witchcraft was actually something I was looking forward to drawing. I wanted to play with some texture from the brush and ink to create the magic blasts, smoke and such. I wanted an atmosphere, a more ethereal representation of this magical energy that are her powers. Jordie did a wonderful job with her color work on the magical pages too, she’s magnificent.
I am always enjoy the way you pace and layout pages. How does the back and forth work with you and James in that regards, are you given some freedom in the look of the pages? (I love when you use the triangle panels. You used them so effectively in The Empty Man. Is there any secret to you using them?)
VR: Hey, thanks! I have all the freedom actually and I rarely get notes on layouts. I’m inclined to use rare shapes on my layouts to accent things happening in the story. The triangles are a rare shape to use and I think that’s what attracts me to them. The medium of comics is about telling a story with a series of pictures, I’m looking to do so in the most entertaining way possible and that means putting things outside of the box sometimes.
Issue one made it seem like this is a very personal story and journey for Wanda. Is that something you and James are working towards? As an artist/story teller it is more interesting for you it it stays a personal piece or if it evolved into something like Wanda team up book with lots of characters?
VR: I wouldn’t be able to say for sure because I haven’t done a team book before. For me right now there’s really not a preference, i’m interested in exploring different kinds of storylines and genres. I think Wanda will be mostly alone, but that question would be more for Mr. James Robinson.
What can readers expect from the series and your art going forward?
VR: Well, I won’t be continuing the series, I have only done issue one, but I think the line up coming looks really great!
My work will continue to be a surprise to me as well as my readers. It has a mind of its own, you know. I’m hoping I’m given more opportunities to develop and experiment with the medium. I’m working on a couple of things at the moment again with Marvel and also a personal project with a great collaborator which I’m hoping will come to life next year at Image.