Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You are currently working on the latest arc of Witchblade for Top Cow. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the series, how would you describe its premise?
Betsy Gonia: Witchblade is the story of Sara Pezzini, the bearer of an ancient artifact called the Witchblade, which balances the forces of light and darkness. Supernatural creatures and characters are ever drawn to the Witchblade and never cease to turn Sara’s personal and professional life upside down. That’s all I say for now – I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovering Sara’s character and world for any new readers out there.
BD: The latest arc of the series boasts an all-female art team, as you are currently working with artist Laura Braga. How did this partnership come about, and how would you describe the creative process amongst all of the individuals involved?
BG: Once Laura was locked in to work on Witchblade, Top Cow was still looking for a colorist for the book. Aspiring to color comics myself, I saw the perfect opportunity to take that leap of faith into professional creative work and colored Laura’s Witchblade test pages. I sent my sample pages to Laura to get her opinion and feedback, and based off Laura’s critiques, I developed the coloring style used in #170. Once we figured out that style, I sent the pages to Matt Hawkins and Marc Silvestri for review, and they both agreed to let me color the book. The creative process is pretty mellow and similar to how Laura and I figured out the coloring style for the book, only Ron Marz and Bryan are brought into the process. I’ll finish a page of colors, send it to Laura, Ron, and Bryan, get their feedback on the pages, make changes to the page as needed, and continue that process until the page is approved by everyone.
BD: What intrigued you most about working on this series, and what do you hope that readers will take away from it?
BG: Being able to work on one of Top Cow’s oldest, and currently longest running titles, really enticed me to work on the series. In addition, seeing Laura’s drawing style and storytelling really compelled me to work on Witchblade. I really adore her art! I hope that readers take away a new or renewed interest in the series after checking out Issue #170, and the revelation that picking up a jumping-on-point issue/story arc in a long running series isn’t as scary as it feels.
BD: Did you have a new idea in mind for the color of the book when you first read the scripts, or did you prefer to maintain the colors previously used in the series?
BG: I honestly approach my colors scene-by-scene rather than base them off previous colors used in the series. I like to base my colors off a mix of the emotional/psychological mood of the scene and how the lighting in each scene would look in reality. As a colorist, my job is to amplify the storytelling Laura, or any other artist, already has set up and to help keep the reader immersed in the story. If I did my job right, the reader shouldn’t notice the colors since they’ll seamlessly work with the art and help keep the reader in the story.
BD: As an artist, do you prefer working with a specific artistic medium (ie: digital, paint, etc.), and what can you tell us about your artistic process for Witchblade?
BG: At this point in time, I definitely prefer working digitally in Photoshop over anything else. If I had more time, I’d love to do more graphite work, but that’s neither-here-nor-there for comics. I approach each Witchblade page as I would any other comic page. First, I flat the page I’m working on with the true colors of each object. Then, I add the atmospheric color(s) to a layer set to “color” and lower the opacity of that layer until all the flat colors harmonize under that atmospheric layer. From there, I use various layers typically set to “multiply” and “overlay” to add my rendering, and add extra layers for any other effects that need to be added on the page.
BD: You have had a very interesting history with Top Cow leading up to your work on Witchblade. Would you mind sharing your previous work with the publisher?
BG: Not at all! I first interned with Top Cow over the summer of 2011 between my junior and senior years of college at SCAD. During the spring of 2012, I was able to move out to Los Angeles with my lovely boyfriend and two of our mutual friends and asked Top Cow if they would allow me to intern with them again which, thankfully, they did. I finished my last quarter of school remotely from LA while interning at Top Cow, and then continued to intern throughout the summer of 2012 after graduating. Matt hired me part time around the beginning of August that summer, and not too long after that, I was brought on full time. Since then, I’ve been working as the Production Assistant at Top Cow. Being in the Top Cow office made me privy to the creator shift in Witchblade, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try and color the book. Although, I do enjoy my job as a Production Assistant, coloring is ultimately what I want to do in comics.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
BG: There is another project I’m working on, but it’s still very much in its infancy stages and isn’t ready to be shared yet. In another few months, it should be ready to begin wandering out into the world. =)
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Witchblade and your other work?
BG: For general information about Witchblade, readers can check out the Witchblade page on the Top Cow website, and for current going-on’s in the series, readers can go to the Top Cow Facebook page. Readers can find my other work at www.betsygonia.squarespace.com.