April 13th was the supposed release date for the original graphic novel Wonder Woman: Earth One. For some reason, by the grace of Gaea, we lucked out and it was shipped a week early. "Earth One" is the series of graphic novels from DC's top-notch talents intended to serve a fresh, modern spin on some of the company's classic characters. Batman, Superman, and the Teen Titans have all ready seen this treatment. Wonder Woman: Earth One has been highly anticipated since it was first announced some time ago.
To sweeten the pot, the tome would be produced by superstar writer Grant Morrison and feature the beautiful, lavish art of Yanick Paquette. The book received a lot of buzz when an irresponsible reviewer leaked many pages of the story several months before the book's release. It also received a lot of controversy and concern over provocative, possibly misogynistic and/or racial images, such as Hercules binding a half-naked Hyppolyta with chains whilst calling her the "B"-word and Diana grabbing an African American Steve Trevor by the crotch to prove he was a man and later trying to put chains of submission on him.
When I asked Paquette about the controversy, he said, "I was expecting it. Look, I'm French Canadian. We tend to be more open minded about such things. My father is gay and I grew up in a very liberal household. It's sensuous. I don't see it as exploitation, I'm at peace with my sexuality." Plus, it was three guys working on a book about DC's most recognizable heroine." He felt like they had been labeled already. Like people would discount it because they thought a woman should be doing it.
Paquette feels that Wonder Woman has been pushed more as a warrior in recent years to make her more relevant which he finds confusing. "I would much rather have someone resolve a conflict peacefully. I hate violence." He said he doesn't much care for drawing the battle scenes, as they tend to interrupt the flow of the story." "I want to make clear that if I promote one version of the character it doesn't make others worse. It's just different explorations."
Although it is rarely mentioned in current press, Earth One isn't Yanick's first time on the dance floor with everyone's favorite Amazon. Wonder Woman was actually his first monthly comic following legendary comic creator John Byrne's infamous run on the series. What one would think to be a dream job was more of a nightmare for the artist. He suffered each month trying to make deadlines and to make matters worse, faced criticism from fans wanting to know why the interiors "weren't as good" as good as the covers produced by Good Girl artist Adam Hughes. (Hey, no pressure there.)
Yanick said he was drafted to work on Earth One a while back after having worked with Morrison on Bulleteer. According to Yanick, "It was intended to be something else entirely and was eventually sidelined due to the introduction of the New 52." Then, Yanick went on to an exclusive contract with Marvel. When the exclusive with Marvel ended, Paquette returned to DC and Wonder Woman was back on the table, this time under the guise of the Earth One heading.
I asked him what it must be like to work on a Grant Morrison script. "It was very different. I was used to Alan Moore scripts who would sometimes send an intricately detailed script of up to 120 pages for a twenty-two page book. Grant's scripts tend to be a little more abstract with lots of illustrations attached. I asked my editor, 'What am I supposed to do with this?'" Morrison and Paquette had an interesting way of working on the book. "Grant would send me ten pages and then I would draw them and then I would get ten more." He hesitatingly admitted it took him two years to draw, and not because he was slow per se, but he wanted to make it look as good as possible and was working on other projects simultaneously. "Conversely, I recently drew Batman #49. That only took me a month, and I don't think the art suffered for it."
Paquette also mentioned his working relationship with colorist Nathan Fairbairn. "He's my guy. I have worked with him for the past several years. If I get an assignment, he's coming with me. Nathan is as much a storyteller as he is a colorist and has as much invested in the book as anyone else." Paquette's work is done completely digitally now, and he said this makes it easier for him and Fairbairn to achieve the look they are going for by placing different aspects of the art on different layers for varying degrees of effect.
You'd be surprised to learn that Yanick didn't have many thoughts of Wonder Woman before working on her. Being French/Canadian, he wasn't exposed to many American superhero comics and was more used to the aesthetic of the lengthy Eurpoean graphic novels. He also admitted to never having seen the Lynda Carter TV series nor did he always long for a career in comics. When he was young he was more interested in pursuing biology and classical music. He started his career in comics at a small company in Quebec that did different versions of Marvel's characters, citing Alan Moore's Swamp Thing as what really drew him back into comics. Paquette was a little coy when I asked him if he'd be back for more Wonder Woman: Earth One. "I'd like to. A lot has been all ready laid down. Grant has envisioned it as three volumes, and we have barely scratched the surface by only introducing the world to Wonder Woman's home."
So, until then, what's next for artist? "I can't really say right now, but I will be doing some covers including some of the design for the new Birds of Prey."
Well, whatever he does, I'll be sure to be there. Yanick Paquette is an amazing artist and a heck of a nice guy. I owe him my deepest gratitude for such an insightful conversation about my favorite Amazonian Princess.
I guess that's all for this week's Wonder Woman Wednesday. Until next week, be sure to pick up your copy of the white hot Wonder Woman: Earth One and, as always, check out and like, share, and post on the "I Am Wonder Fan" Facebook page.