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Hire This Woman: Writer Erica Schultz

In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Writer Erica Schultz has worked on her creator-owned crime comic, M3, as well as The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary with previous Hire This Woman featured artist Claire Connelly. Next up she has Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne coming out for Marvel and ABC Studios, which readers can see a preview of at San Diego Comic-Con next week.

 

“Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne” cover by Dustin Nguyen

 

ComicsAlliance: What is your preferred form of creative output?

Erica Schultz: I’ll say, “I’m a writer! That’s what I am!” But I do enjoy doing digital art, lettering, and design.

CA: What’s your background/training?

ES: I took art in high school, but I have a BA in English. I guess that means I’m qualified to do nothing. I’ve soaked up a lot of the “comic biz” from my experience at Continuity Studios. I also used to be an art director at a New York advertising agency.

CA: How would you describe your creative style?

ES: What people see as the final product on a page is very carefully groomed. It starts in the beginning stages as ideas written on scraps of paper and shoved into my purple book which was recently retired. So now, scraps of paper will be shoved into my black book with purple stripes. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, and so I just write it down and save it for later. My “creative style” is chaotic with a dash of anal retentiveness and a pinch of insanity.

CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?

ES: Recently I finished writing Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne for Marvel and ABC studios. It’s an original graphic novel based on the hit ABC TV series, Revenge. That’ll be in stores September 3, and there will be a preview of it at San Diego Comic-Con in a week.

Most people know me from the creator-owned crime comic, M3, co-created with the amazing artist Vicente Alcázar (Jonah Hex, Moon Knight, Conan). We’re finishing up the 11th issue on that, and hope to have volume two (a trade paperback collecting issues #7-12) by the end of the year. I also pulled off a one-shot comic with artist Claire Connelly (Black Eyes, Down With The Ship) called The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary. We’ve been tweeting about that a lot.

I have a one-shot from Bluewater that came out a few years ago (Venus & Valkyrie), but they haven’t released the Judo Girl miniseries I wrote yet.

 

Page from ‘M3′ by Erica Schultz and Vicente Alcázar

 

ES: Through my “day job” at Neal Adams’ Continuity Studios, I’ve racked up quite a few design and art credits. I was a colorist, digital artist, and animator on The Astonishing X-Men motion comic “Gifted.” Also with Continuity, I’ve had the fortune to assist on inks for Batman: Odyssey, The First X-Men, and Blood, as well as helping out with the coloring duties on Batman: Odyssey and Blood. I worked on the re-release of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali a few years ago, and I lettered Blood for Dark Horse Presents, as well as Neal’s “Batman Zombie” in DC’s Batman Black and White #1.

I’ve lettered several stories in both Shakespeare Shaken and Unfashioned Creatures for Red Stylo Media, and done design and editorial work for them.

I’m also working with Joey Esposito (Footprints), Kris White (Father Robot), and Adam Pruett (Captain Ultimate) on an anti-bullying anthology that we’re talking to publishers about. I’m one-fourth of the editorial team with those boys, as well as a writer of one of the stories (“Brothers in Arms”), and the letterer.

I helped my friends at Megabrain Comics by lettering American Dark Age #2, and I lettered the Free Comic Book Day version of Midnight Tiger by Ray Anthony Height and DeWayne Feenstra.

Um, yeah, I do a lot of odds and ends here and there.  Then there’s the myriad of pitches and half written scripts sitting in various forms of completeness on my desk.

CA: Approximately how long does it take you to write a 20-page issue?

ES: Usually, if I stick myself in my bedroom with the door closed I can bang out a decent draft in a weekend. Sometimes it takes longer. I wrote the Churchill book in three hours. Then there are always revisions and more revisions until it’s fine-tuned. And my husband usually gives everything a pass to remedy my abysmal comma placement.

 

Page from “The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary” by Erica Schultz and Claire Connelly

 

CA: What is your dream project?

ES: You mean, what comic would I love to write? Captain America! Hmm… There are a few properties that I have been working on that I’d love to see on the screen, both large and small. I’d love to write Captain Marvel, but Kelly Sue [DeConnick] rocks that already. Maybe Batman, but I think Snyder and Capullo are doing a great job on that. I’d love to write X-Men comics, but I know Bendis has that locked up, and no complaints there. I’d love to write any number of the “mainstream” comic characters (hint hint one shots or limited series, editors).

CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?

ES: Any creator who busts her/his ass to get the work out there is inspiring. I know what it takes to get the work done and to make it good, so when I see other people do it, I think, “YEAH! There’s more awesomeness in the world!”

I can play the “sister” card and talk about great indie ladies like Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly), Gail Simone (Batgirl, Red Sonja), Becky Cloonan (The Mire, Demeter), Tess Fowler (The Rascals), Enrica Jang (Red Stylo Media), and ton of other fantastic ladies out there in the comic world.

Jamal Igle busted his ass to get Molly Danger out on his own terms, and it’s fantastic. He’s also a really sweet guy and I adore him. I mentioned Kelly Sue already, but she’s an amazing writer, and an amazing woman. She is always so nice when I email her in the middle of the night with what probably sounds like the ravings of a lunatic.

Bill Sienkiewicz is not only an awe-inspiring talent, but he’s one of the sweetest people I know who is literally on my speed dial. I adore him.

I read a lot of Claremont growing up, and I always loved his work on X-Men. Ed Brubaker’s work is terrific, too. I liked both Fraction’s work on X-Men, as well as his current work on Hawkeye. Mike Carey’s X-Men work was great, too. Gah! Too many people to name.

 

Page from “The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary” by Erica Schultz and Claire Connelly

 

CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?

ES: The Dark Phoenix Saga was burned into my psyche. So was A Death in the Family by Starlin, Aparo, and DeCarlo. Brubaker and Epting are my dream team, and I loved their work on Captain America. I also think their series Velvet is fantastic. I guess I’m inspired by too much. Is that possible? Sure it is.

CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?

ES: I don’t know if this is professional, but any job I can do lounging on my bed in my pajamas is pretty ideal. If that’s not available, I would like to work with people who respect creativity, and respect the creative process. A team that allows me to do what I’m good at is preferable.

CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?

ES: Despite my somewhat relaxed manner, I’m very focused on the work. The work is the treasure, and I treat it as such. I put every bit of myself into whatever I’m doing, whether it’s writing, lettering, designing, whatever the task. It’s a dangerous thing to be so invested in something, but, when it works, the rewards are immeasurable. When it doesn’t, the disappointment is pretty awful. But that’s the life of a creative.

CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?

ES: M3 is available digitally on Comixology and Amusedom.com. You can also check out M3Comic.com or Facebook.com/M3comic for the latest in M3 work. Churchill has been submitted to Comixology and is available digitally on Amusedom.com. Both M3 and Churchill can be purchased in print at VicesPress.com, or at a convention. I can also be found ranting and raving on Twitter. Or shoot me an email at ECarlsonSchultz-at-gmail-dot-com.

 

Unlettered “Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne” page by Vincenzo Balzano from a script by Erica Schultz

 

If there is a woman you’d like to recommend or if you’d like to be included in a future installment of this feature, drop us a line at comicsalliance-at-gmail-dot-com with “Hire This Woman” in the subject line.

 

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