The Eisners have been announced, and Marvel‘s Black Widow has garnered a nomination for Best New Series. Having been enthralled with the series since issue one, I was thrilled to see the series get this recognition. From the emotional, character-driven narrative, to the gorgeous artwork, every issue of this series has landed so amazingly well. With my personal hype for the announcement, I had to take the opportunity to reach out to series writer Kelly Thompson to get some insights about the creative process of the series, as well as her feelings about the nomination. Luckily, Thompson was able to spare me a few moments to answer some questions.
BUT WHY THO: Firstly, congratulations on Black Widow’s big Eisner nomination. While you are no stranger to your projects getting acknowledged by the Eisners how does it feel to see this book get recognized?
Kelly Thompson: It’s honestly really rewarding to see Black Widow get recognized. I really love this book. I had a very clear vision for what I believed it could be and editor Sarah Brunstad truly pulled together the perfect team to bring that vision to life – and I’d argue – improved upon it. The whole team is incredible, but Elena Casagrana’s art and Jordie Bellaire’s colors, it must be said, are magic together. And we have also been graced with beautiful and exceedingly clever Adam Hughes covers that REALLY understand the book in a way covers often don’t these days. So yeah, it’s an amazing feeling when you have a vision for something, execute it correctly, and people really respond to it. It’s an incredible high.
BUT WHY THO: I feel like one of Black Widow’s biggest strengths is how well every aspect of the book has come together. Your rich character writing, Casagrande’s ability to capture both the personality and action of the book in her line work, Bellaire’s colors building the art out, and Petit’s great delivery of the story through the lettering all harmonize so perfectly. Any insights into how all this managed to coalesce so perfectly?
Kelly Thompson: I totally agree. And I think it’s largely down to Sarah Brunstad being a great editor, understanding the vision for the book, pulling in the right people for the project, and keeping us all moving and headed toward the target. She’s been an excellent fearless leader for us and I’m super grateful to have her. I think Elena, Jordie and I especially are honestly interested in Nat and the story we’re trying to tell with her – we’re committed to doing that to the best of our abilities.
BUT WHY THO: Perhaps the most striking ongoing element of the series is the amazing delivery of the fight sequence. Those double page panels that take the reader through an entire fight sequence are always so enthralling. Where did the idea for those come from? Was that something you or Casagrande thought up, a collaboration, and did you expect them to become such a keystone of the book’s aesthetic as it seems like they have?
Kelly Thompson: So, I actually do double-page spreads like that in almost all my books – repeated figures moving you through a single location/background – there are a lot of names for this technique, one is the De Luca Effect (Gianni De Luca). Sometimes with panels (which makes it less De Luca), sometimes without. If you go back through my work you’ll see pages like that in Hawkeye, Mr. and Mrs. X, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, almost everything. It’s a technique I like and what I’ve found I like most about it, is seeing how each artist interprets the concept. All of them approach it differently and all of the interpretations have been cool and interesting, to be honest, but I think Elena ran with it the most intensely – she really dialed into it and embraced it in a way few other artists had. And so it seemed really natural to lean into it as part of our style and visual identity for the book. What amazes me most is that she keeps one-upping herself – she’s absolutely incredible.
BUT WHY THO: My personal favorite thing about Black Widow’s narrative is how it is giving me looks at this Marvel icon in situations I’ve never seen before. From the first arc’s putting her in a family role to the current storyline’s placement of her in a mentor position, it’s all completely new from the Natasha I’m familiar with. Was this always a goal of yours, to show readers something new for the hero? And do you think the new ways you are exploring her helped the book stand out for Eisner consideration?
Kelly Thompson: Absolutely. I think Natasha is an incredible and fascinating character and as Black Widow she has had some truly great stories. But it has started to feel like a lot of the same Red Room origin story elements were getting hit for her and so I wanted to move away from that. Like, I love the Red Room stories, some of the Brubaker stuff that deals with it are some of my favorite Natasha stories. Liu also did terrific stuff dealing with Nat’s past and Samnee and Waid told one of my favorite Red Room-ish stories just a few years back. But I just felt like we should try to explore some new ground. I wanted to tell a story with Natasha that was going to add to the character and put her through some experiences that were going to permanently change her…and that can be hard to do. But Marvel gave us a lot of room to try it, and I really think it worked in breaking out into a different story for her….and setting her up to go in some different directions as a result of that story.
BUT WHY THO: Since we are talking, I can’t let the opportunity slip by without asking the question all the diehard fans want to know: Any chance of Jeff The Land Shark gracing the pages of Black Widow?
Kelly Thompson: Haha. Well, TECHNICALLY he has already appeared in the form of pajamas on Stevie and a giant plush in Stevie’s room. But I don’t know that actual Jeff is a great fit for this book, so probably we’ll have to make do without him.
BUT WHY THO: Lastly, do you have any words of wisdom for anyone reading this and hoping to get into comics and maybe get nominated for an Eisner of their own someday?
Kelly Thompson: Write what you love as much as you can. Put as much of yourself into it as you can. And don’t give up.
And there you have it. A bit of insight from the writer of the Eisner nominated Black Widow series. I hope you have enjoyed it, and thanks again to Kelly Thompson for taking the time to answer these questions.