Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Skottie Young

The Magneto: Not a Hero writer and Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz artist talks magnetic mutants and magical lands



By Chris Arrant

After providing art for Marvel’s Oz adaptations over the past four years, Skottie Young finds himself on an adventure of his own, branching write a series set square in the Marvel Universe.

Launching last month with the second installment hitting stands tomorrow, December 14, the four-issue Young-written MAGNETO: NOT A HERO series finds the X-Man at odds with his long-lost clone Joseph, who marked his return by killing a group of anti-mutant protesters and re-igniting public distrust over Magneto.

Meanwhile, Young continues on his and writer Eric Shanower’s long-running Oz odyssey with the fourth volume in the series, DOROTHY & THE WIZARD IN OZ. As this series reaches its halfway point, Dorothy and the Wizard go outside of their now-familiar surroundings in the world of Oz and into unexplored regions of Dorothy’s home world, Earth.

Marvel.com spoke with Young about his endeavors from the Yellow Brick Road to the House of Ideas.

MAGNETO: NOT A HERO #3 preview art by Clay Mann

Marvel.com: You’ve written comics on your own and here at Marvel before, but MAGNETO: NOT A HERO would probably be your biggest venture yet as a writer. How did it come about?

Skottie Young: [Senior] Editor Nick Lowe and I have worked together on various things over the years and he really started to open up to the idea of me writing. After [I wrote] some X-Men shorts for the last few crossovers, Nick wanted to work with me on a series. A few different ideas came across the table but timing and my grasp of the characters kept me from taking a few of them. When he asked me to pitch for Magneto I jumped in instantly. I put together an idea and after a few months we were rolling. 

Marvel.com: At the end of the first issue, you reveal that Joseph has returned and impersonated Magneto to kill a group of anti-mutant protestors. First off, can you tell us about your view of Joseph? Did you read UNCANNY X-MEN back when he first appeared?

Skottie Young: Yes, I was an X-Men reader back when Joseph was alive and well and up through [“Magneto War” where he died]. I thought the way he died left it open for some fun comic booking to go on. What happens to a clone of man that is in control of the most powerful energy on the planet? Maybe he's out there somewhere. Maybe that energy can be harnessed and he could be brought back. Maybe? 

MAGNETO: NOT A HERO #3 preview art by Clay Mann

But as a character, he's a clone; which means there's a lot at play in that head of his. He could be just like Magneto or he could be just the opposite. The interesting thing to me is watching two characters made up of the same structure and see what paths they each take and what may influence those paths.

Marvel.com: In addition to writing Magneto, Cyclops and Emma, you also fit in some old friends in issue #1, Pixie and Surge, who you drew in your run on NEW X-MEN.

Skottie Young: The kid characters will always be my favorite. I'm a GENERATION X fan from way back. I like when kids are written and drawn like kids. When I thought about the environment that Magneto lives in now it only made sense to have a few pauses in there to show the characters he's surrounded by. In this case I bring back a few of my favorites from my run on NEW X-MEN with Chris Yost. It's probably also my hint to Nick Lowe to let me write these characters on the regular! [Laughs]

Pixie makes another cameo and I'm sure we'll see a few more familiar faces as well.

Marvel.com: That final shot of Joseph ripped from Magneto’s mind also shows some potential cohorts coming with him. Can you tell us anything about this all-new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?

Skottie Young: Astra was the mutant that created Joseph. She believes she was just as responsible for the formation of the original Brotherhood and that Magneto pushed her out. She's had a mad-on for him ever since. I thought that a scorned woman with a knack for cloning might not stop at Magneto.
Marvel.com: Magneto has been a certifiable bad guy, so what’s it like to write a series about a man who’s done so many bad things but now skirts the line between hero and villain?

MAGNETO: NOT A HERO #3 preview art by Clay Mann

Skottie Young: It's a challenge. I've grown up with him as a villain my whole life so my brain always leans that way. But I suppose that serves me well as I'm struggling to center him as a writer just as he's probably struggling to center himself as a character. He's always believed what he's believed and I think he still does. It's just a matter of how he is choosing to stand behind those beliefs that have changed—for the moment.

Marvel.com: Much like how some people will always view Magneto as a villain, people still see you primarily as an artist. What’s it like writing for another artist, particularly someone like Clay Mann whose style differs from yours?

Skottie Young: I love it. It's a thrill to see what he'll bring back and I have been blown away with each page. I see every step visually as I write it and I think I have a handle on how Clay approaches shots but he surprises me every time by going so far beyond what I expected. The fact that his style is so different from my own is one of my favorite things. It allows me, and I think the readers, to clean the slate with their expectations of me. His style also allows me to tap into different tones that might now work with an artist that drew closer to my style.

Marvel.com: You’re doing MAGNETO: NOT A HERO just as your career has reached a new level of popularity drawing the Oz adaptations. What’s it like to be Skottie Young at this point?

Skottie Young: [Laughs] That sounds so Hollywood. I love it! [Laughs]

I have zero complaints on the direction things have gone. I'm drawing fun, whimsical stuff and people seem to enjoy it and now I'm writing things in a completely different realm and people are calling for my head on a platter their either. So I feel very lucky and excited to keep growing as a storyteller in both writing and drawing. 

DOROTHY & THE WIZARD IN OZ #4 cover by Skottie Young

Marvel.com: You and Eric Shanower are currently at the halfway point in releasing the fourth volume of the Oz books, DOROTHY & THE WIZARD OF OZ. Readers of the original novels know that this one is darker in tone than the earlier versions, so what’s it like delving into this material?

Skottie Young: It feels like home. I'm in the fourth year of drawing this world and these characters so I feel very comfortable no matter where the tone of the story goes. I'm lucky to have the chance to get to know a world this well and for this long. Oz is my home and each book feels like I'm adding on rooms. They're new and different but still part of that home. It's comfy there!

Marvel.com: The first few issues of the current series also show that the adventures begin to go outside of Oz itself. What’s it like spreading your wings and going underground and other places in this volume?

Skottie Young: It's always good to add new locations and environments. It keeps it fresh and exciting for both me and the reader. They don't know what to expect. I don't know what to expect. I'm not stuck in alleys and skyscrapers. Every other page is a new castle, cave, mountain, ocean, etc. It's just so fun. 

Marvel.com: After working on the Oz books for so long, how does it feel now that the newness of it all has worn off?

Skottie Young: Well, we're midway thru year four of working on it and it still feels new to me. Each Oz volume has a different feel and cast of characters, but you always see your old favorites in each book as well. So it's the best of both worlds. I can feel comfortable with characters that I'm used to and feel the excitement of creating new characters as well. Each year we gain new readers of all ages and gender so that newness will never feel like it's worn off. I feel that we're just hitting our stride on Oz and hopefully everyone will stick with us for the entire journey.

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How about this: if Scottie DOES learn to draw, he WILL pass the first grade. Is that a positive enough Disney spin for you censors?