Nikki Cook, one of Bust's favorite ladies in comics, has a new book out this week. She worked on DMZ #41 with Brian Wood. It's a stand-alone issue, focusing on what happens to Zee, one of the book's lead characters, when she ventures outside the protected section of a war-torn Manhattan. Nikki did a guest spot, filling in for the book's regular artists, and she took some time to talk about it with Bust before it came out. Read on!
How did you get started doing comics?
I went to school for comics, actually. I graduated from MCAD with a degree in comic book art, which seemed like a really entertaining degree to have, but it doesn't quite work like that.
I self-published a couple of books while I was in school, and then after that moved on to webcomics, which are a lot cheaper with basically the same result. I was one of the founding members of Act-I-Vate, and moved on from that to doing anthologies and other print projects, and that's where I'm at.
What else are you working on right now?
Right now I'm doing a project for a movie property that I'm not really allowed to talk about. I think that goes to press in like two months. I actually turned down a couple of projects. I kind of have too much work right now so I can't really do projects for free anymore. It's kind of a nice thing, but you end up missing out on some really cool things. I had to turn down a couple of really nice projects in the last couple of months because of it.
I am going to be doing one of the backup stories in Phonogram, but everything else is pretty much out.
A lot of your published work has been stuff that you wrote as well, like the Comic Book Tattoo story. Do you prefer writing your own comics to working with a writer?
It depends on the situation, like there's a project I've worked on for about two years, the first part is online, that is actually being extended into a full-size graphic novel, and that's with a writer. But the benefit of that is that it's a really really good writer. I don't mind collaborating as long as it's a true collaboration, it's not just 'I'm going to tell you what to do and you're going to do it.'
That's what's really nice about working with Brian [Wood], is that he's always been really cool about taking input. Of course beggars can't be choosers to a point. If it's a good project, even if I'm not super-into the writer, if it's a good project I'll still take it, or if it puts me in a better business position then I'll take it. But I'd rather do my own writing if I have the opportunity, all things equal.
It's kind of nice to know where your strong bits are. I'm proficient at writing and I really enjoy it, it gives me a lot more of an opportunity to produce the kind of work that I want to do, but I know that my skills are definitely geared more toward the art end of it and the storytelling end of it.
So what kind of stories do you like to do?
Everything I do is pretty much based around one theme, which is that human behavior tends to be really bad. People do horrible, horrible things to each other but they're still worthwhile, because of other things they contribute to the society or community or relationship or whatever. It doesn't really matter what genre, I think. I enjoy doing a wide variety of kinds of work, but I think that everything I've done on my own, without other people involved has always been with that basic theme, everything from porn to horror or drama, it's always the same concept.
Can you tell me about working on DMZ with Brian Wood?
The nice thing about working on DMZ was that it was really open. There was a lot of creative freedom. Time-wise it was a little crunched, but I think it's a pretty good-looking book and I'm pretty proud of it.
His writing is really nice, too, because it leaves so much room, and if I wanted to change something, he was very open to changing the details as long as the story stayed pure. It was very, very nice.
He tends to write for his artists. He definitely gears it toward what he thinks they are most capable of doing. So a lot of what I was doing was this relationship that was building within the particular comic, this intense friendship, or not really a friendship, just this intimate interaction. He's very aware of what we're good at and what would challenge us.
If you're not familiar with DMZ, this is a stand-alone issue and a great time to pick it up. Thanks to Nikki for talking to us, and DC comics for the preview pages!