OZ COMIC-CON 2017: Black Magick Panel

The West Australia leg of Oz Comic-Con 2017 took place in Perth over the weekend of March 25th and 26th. The panel featured:

Greg Rucka, who described himself as the writer of Black Magick who makes Nicola miserable with his scripts, also writes prose pieces for the comic and pushes the general editorial direction.

Nicola Scott, is the artist of Black Magick who at times has been overwhelmed by Greg’s scripts but is NEVER miserable ! E.g. the current spread she is working on has been a two and a half day headache, but it’s been cool to do what is meant to be overwhelming. Now she just has to paint it ! Nicola noted this is her first creator-owned collaboration, has wanted to work together with Greg for years (initially on Queen & Country) so this is a dream project. The second one with Greg this year, as she also fulfilled a dream when she worked with Greg on Wonder Woman Year One for DC Rebirth.

Background: Black Magick took a break after issue 5 was published in February 2016 so the two could work on Wonder Woman Year One. Black Magick will be back on June 28 and will be released bi-monthly until January 2018. This will complete Act 1 of Black Magick, and Act 2 will kick off after a three month break.


What is Black Magick ?                                                                                                                                                           

Greg: It’s a comic and a story which is best told as a comic. The story’s main character is Rowan Black, who is the inheritor of a long tradition of magic (the magic of witches) which stretches back into pre-history. It is a story about her relationship with the other witches and other people who wield magic.  There are opposing forces at work, and the relationships are shifting in a way which will change magic. Thematically it is a conflict between the material life and spiritual life and how one shapes the other in response to this conflict.

The way colour is used is quite special – everything is in black and white, except those which are magical – why is colour used in this way ?

Greg: It was Nicola’s choice to use colour for magic and black and white for the book, initially I was writing it as a fully coloured comic. Nicola told me she wanted to try black and white painting rather than her traditional pencils only, and once she made this suggestion it opened a door. I realised we could have Rowan and the other witches seeing the world in a different way to other characters. Greg noted he had started reading Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic a few weeks later – with its eighth colour for magic which only wizards can see – and realised he must have plucked the idea out of the collective consciousness  !

Nicola: Prior to Black Magick I had been a penciller and only inked a little with a ballpoint pen. I had been experimenting a lot between finishing Earth 2 and starting Black Magick and found I was enjoying painting as it gave me much more control over the finished product. As Black Magick was my first creator owned book, I wanted to retain as much of that control as I could, and so I asked Greg whether I could/demanded that I would paint Black Magick.

Greg: In the moments of colour, we are closer to seeing the world in the way that witches do, as they see wavelengths of light or energy that non-witches cannot see (like infra-red). This gives us the readers an insight into how they see magic. The characters in the comic cannot see the colour, only the readers

Nicola: Different colours are used for every spell, and Greg and I spend a lot of time before the spell is even written into the script discussing who is casting it, what their intention is, what the result will be and what the historical precedents for the spell are.

How has the break to do Wonder Woman affected Black Magick ?

Greg: When we were asked to do Wonder Woman Rebirth we had Black Magick #6 written and 19 pages of art done. So we thought we could come back with that issue, but the pause allowed me to see that the reader doesn’t have information required to understand the importance of the events of that issue. I thought we had presented it all, but saw that we had left a lot of the background information off the page. So I wrote a whole new #6, and the previous #6 is now #7 with a few tweaks. One tweak is with the ending, which they thought was great but after it was changed realised the new ending was inevitable and they couldn’t see how it could be any different.

Black Magick #6 is a stand-alone issue which takes us back 20 years, when Rowan turns 13 years old. This is an important age for Rowan, as she becomes the inheritor of her family’s magick legacy. It will feature Rowan’s communications with her deceased mother and grandmother and we will see how Rowan awakens into everything she was.

Greg noted the plotting on the book is fairly tight, but this experience showed the importance of taking stock – it allows you to find new ways to get to the destination you have plotted; this is the best surprise a writer can have.

Nicola: World-building. There is a lot of story before Rowan’s (decades worth of stories !) so it was important we provide some of that background. Greg notes they have obligated themselves to delve into the background at least once a year now, as the past very much affects Rowan’s story going forward.  The focus is on Rowan as her story is a confluence of lots of the world’s history (and pre-history in some sense !)


GS Blogger: Brett Harris

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