I’m a huge fan of The Blacklist. While I’ve been suffering through this long hot summer without it, Titan has come to my rescue with their miniseries. I loved #1, as it felt like an episode of the show, with enough originality to make me want more.
Issue #2 comes out this week and I had the pleasure of being able to pose some questions to the talented writer of the comic and script coordinator of the show, Nicole Phillips.
What, if any, guidelines did you get from the showrunners or network when it comes to writing the comic?
The goal from the beginning was to make the comic feel like an extension of the show, like reading an extra episode of the series. Blacklist has a very particular, offbeat tone (it’s a criminal helping catch other criminals, after all), the characters all have distinct voices, it was important that the comic felt authentic. But it also had to stand on its own for readers who had never seen an episode before. The aim was to make the story accessible to everyone whether they knew the show or not and hopefully new readers would fall in love with the characters.
How is the format for writing the comic different from writing an episode?
On the show we have an hour per episode, so roughly 50+ page scripts. With comics, you have 22 pages per issue, so you have to structure things differently. Every word/panel has to count. But the magic of comics is playing with those individual panels. You guys know, there’s a craft to designing them (our artist Beni Lobel is a master), juxtaposing them for maximum effect, all of which shape the experience for the reader. There’s a whole subset of comic theory I’m fascinated by, the idea of the “gutter” or space between panels being as important as the panels themselves. It’s just a fun medium to work in.
When you’re writing an issue do you consciously try to write in the actor’s voices or do you have your own feel for the characters as their own individual selves?
I’d suspect it’s a little of both. But our entire cast is so brilliant at portraying their characters that, for example, it’s almost impossible for me to write Reddington’s dialogue and not hear James saying the lines.
How does the book work within the continuity of the show? Is it all things that could have happened off screen between episodes or are we going a bit “off script”?
The comics are canon, with the first five issues taking place as a “side adventure” during the second half of Season 2. Basically a “lost episode” of the series. Issues #1-5 are one story arc with a single major Blacklister — then Issues #6-10 will be a whole new story that ties in with Season 3 (which premieres September 24th).
Are you enjoying writing comics? Is it fun? More difficult than you expected? Would you want to write more, maybe something original or not television based?
I’ve been reading comics since I was 12 – so it’s a dream to be writing them. I’m still pinching myself. I’d love to keep working in comics however I can. The other week it was pouring rain outside and I spent the whole day by my window, drinking coffee and writing comics. Doesn’t get better than that.
It sure doesn’t get better than that. Thank you to Nicole for answering my questions and for writing such an entertaining comic. If you are a fan of the show definitely pick up the comic as it will feel like you’re weekly visit with Red. If you don’t watch, give it a try anyway. It is absolutely accessible if you’re not familiar with the characters. Who knows it may even make you want to watch the show when it comes back in September.