Blogtor Who sat down at New York Comic Con with comic book artist Rachael Stott, creator of the interior art for the Twelfth Doctor Year Two series for Titan Comics.
Stott is a huge Capaldi fan, so she is thrilled to draw his portrait for the comics – luckily, she says, “he has good eyebrows,” which makes him a good subject.
Last year, Stott appeared at the NYCC in Artists’ Alley with her beautiful portraits of the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi. This year, she appeared with Titan Comics as one of their stars. Stott along with many other Titan talent were on hand at the con to talk to fans, sign autographs and complete a hugely successful panel. But before reaching the world of comic con Stott started like many others, at university. But how did her comic career begin?
Stott was a graphic illustrator and was drawing fan work on her Twitter account. Her excellent work soon drew the attention of IDW, which publishes Star Trek comics.
BW: That’s amazing. You were doing the fan stuff because it’s truly what you wanted to be doing?
RS: Oh, God. Yeah. Even if I hadn’t have done Star Trek or Doctor Who those would have always been things that I would want to do. The fact that I still do both of them within two years of breaking in was very lucky.
BW: What was your path towards becoming a professional illustrator?
RS: I went to university and I did do illustration but they have a bit of a stigma against American-style comic books. Maybe it’s just British universities. They prefer sequential illustration that’s more fine arts, abstract, things like that or just straight commercial illustration. That’s what I started out doing. I went into university with a portfolio of comic book stuff and when I left I was doing illustrations for British Gymnastics Association of gymnasts.
BW: How did you begin with comics?
RS: My real love, and what got me interested in drawing comics when I was young was drawing superheroes. I was working on my portfolio constantly, then in 2014 I took it to a convention in London and the editor-in-chief, Chris Ryall at IDW, saw it. He asked me if I wanted to send him some artwork and I did. Then it was a few weeks of email exchanges going back and forth. I’d send him sketches and things. Then he put me in touch with Sarah Gaydos, who is the Star Trek editor. [Ed Note: Gaydos is married to Michael Gaydos, the artist for Jessica Jones].
I was already working for Titan at that point because they had me doing bits and pieces on Tenth Doctor and Ninth Doctor and things like that. The reason they hired me was because I had done some fan art on Twitter and things. When I was on Star Trek they approached me and were like, “We can see that you’re a fan. Would you like to work on it?
Stott is a lifelong fan of Doctor Who. When she was a child, her father told her to watch the show, and she did so reluctantly. When she loved it, she joked, she said “Bugger! My father was right!” and she’s been watching the show ever since.
BW: So how did you begin with Titan and Twelfth Doctor?
RS: I was at a convention and Steve White approached me. I didn’t know who he was. I just thought he was a guy coming over to chat. He was like, “Do you like Doctor Who? What did you think of the Titan books?” I was like, “I think they’re really great and I think they’ve got really good production quality. They’ve done really good stuff with the license.” It was lucky I wasn’t like, “They’re terrible!” I was being very truthful. I think they’re fantastic.
Then he said, “Actually, I work for them. (He was senior editor at the time) Would you like to come in and chat to us for a bit?” Luckily they offered me the job working on my favourite Doctor too, so that turned out nice.
Creating the comics is a total team effort. Stott works closely with the rest of her team to help create the look of each comic as the writer is working on the story.
BW: So how do the comics get made?
RS: Robbie Morrison, who wrote my first arc, he’s so nice and he’s such a good writer. I can’t get over how lucky I was to work with him on Doctor Who. We just clicked together really well. I really like working with him. He’d always say, “Is there anything you want me to put into it? Is there anything you like drawing? Anything you want to see?” Most of the time he does stuff without me telling him I like doing it. We’re on the same wavelength.
BW: Do you get pages? Do you get a script or something? Or a story? Then someone else does the lettering?
RS: Yeah, someone else does the colouring as well. I just do the lineup work. The colouring is the hard part I think. The guy that I was working with before regularly, Ivan Nunes, I wish he came to American conventions but I think he might be South American maybe. His stuff is incredible. He’s a really beautiful colorist as well. Also, I think Titan are good at picking people and choosing colorists and stuff. They seem to be really good at that. Yeah, we’ve been very lucky.
BW: How does everything get from person to person? Is it all electronic?
RS: Oh, yeah. It’s all just email. It used to be that before computers people would have to send FedEx packages of pages. I do all my work on a tablet.
BW: What are some of your favourite things to draw for the Twelfth Doctor?
RS: I really like it when drawing the Doctor in different costumes, I think that’s really fun. All through Robbie and I’s first story line he’s dressed as a sailor and then he’s dressed like a deep sea diver. That was really fun to do. Yeah, I don’t really get a say in the storyline but I know if Robbie’s written it there’ll be something really fun artistically for me to sink my teeth into.
BW: What is going to be happening next? Do you have any sense where the storyline is going?
RS: I know in the comics Hattie has left. I don’t know if you’ve read them but Hattie was like a shaved headed punk guitarist that the Doctor picked up in Mariano’s story with George Mann called The Twist. She’s just left the TARDIS now. I don’t actually know who they’re going to put in next. No hot gossip I’m afraid!
A brand new series of Doctor Who is currently in production with a new companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie) appearing alongside Capaldi’s Doctor.
BW: What presence, if any will she have in the new comics?
RS: I hope so. I think I’m on the book for the foreseeable future. Touch wood! I’ve drawn her a couple of times. The night she was announced as the new companion, I did a sketch of her and Pearl Mackie put it up on her Instagram account. I was like, “Oh my God.” That was really nice. Yeah, basically what happens is the books come out in years. That was Year Two. It had Clara in it and things like that. I’m guessing with Year Three they’ll introduce Bill. Although, by the time Year Three starts the new series won’t have started yet. Because we don’t know what her character is like or how she comes into the show it would be impossible.
BW: What did you think of her [Pearl Mackie] appearance at the Doctor Who panel at NYCC?
RS: I’m so in awe of her and how at ease she is. Even walking into the foyer here there’s a massive poster of her and Capaldi. She’s gone from being this really talented London stage show actress, and fairly out of the spotlight, and all of a sudden she comes here to Comic Con and everyone knows who she is. She seems to be taking it with loads of grace and calm and chill. I think she’s going to be amazing. Sometimes they’ll tell you people are going to be in the show and I’m like, “Cool” but it doesn’t get me wanting to draw them. With her, for some reason, I’ve drawn her loads already and it’s just for no reason. I’m like, “I just fancy drawing that outfit she wore” or ‘I wonder what she’d look like wearing this!’
She said she’d gone to her first reading for the role and she was in a very posh hotel and she was just like, “Oh my God. What is this? What’s happening?” Then she said Peter was running around pretending there was a TARDIS console there. She was really confused. The three of them (Mackie, Capaldi, and Matt Lucas) seem to have a really good chemistry going on. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing what that’s going to be like.
BW: Stott has a regular day job like any other artist. So when she’s not attending conventions or other events, what is daily life really like?
RS: I’ll get up at 7 normally. I like getting up early because if I get up the middle of the day I feel like I’ve wasted half the day or something. Then I’ll just work through until night time. The thing is that with most people’s jobs they do the 9 to 5 and then they come home and they do something to relax. The problem is my job is the thing I find fun. How are you meant to take a break from something you’re enjoying?
BW: Besides Titan, are you allowed to draw for other people or does it take all your time?
RS: Definitely not. I am able to do other work. Have you spoken to Mariano Laclaustra? He’s the other guy that draws Twelfth Doctor. His stuff is incredible. I’m going to see him today because I only ever see him at New York Comic Con. Because we alternate it means we each get time to work on different stuff. This year I did a little bit of Ghostbusters and I did a little bit of Star Trek as well. Loads of covers as well. Some stuff for Archie Comics and things like that. Yeah, I’ve been able to dabble here and there which is nice. I went from working in a shop on minimum wage to drawing. I really love it.
Finally, what’s one of the most exciting things you’ve gotten to do?
RS: We got to do a set visit. It was about two months ago. I was doing workshops in Cardiff with Cavan Scott. They invited us over to Roath Loch to go visit the set and have a look at it and stuff. We got to meet Peter and he knew who we were which was crazy. Yeah, it was really nice.
Also, I’ve had to draw myself in a book once and it was because the writer asked me to do it as a little cameo. I found it really weird to see a two dimensional version of yourself on the page. It was really strange. I can’t imagine what it must be like for the actors because it’s like I’m giving them the performance. I’m drawing the movements and the facial expressions and stuff. I think that must be really weird because they’re looking at themselves but it’s not them. They’ve never said that though, which is nice.
Many thanks to Rachael for taking the time to talk us and giving us such a great interview.
For more on Titan Comics huge range of comics head over to their website.