Skottie Young, His Latest Project And Working With Aaron Conley
A short time ago I sat down to talk with superstar writer and artist Skottie Young about his new series Bully Wars. After the sudden end to fan hit, I Hate Fairyland, fans were left with an empty hole in their hearts. Almost immediately after the end to I Hate Fairyland, Skottie announced the release of his newest project, Bully Wars. Teaming up with artist Aaron Conley, Bully Wars turns the tables on your usual bully tale.
Here’s what Skottie had to say.
BB – Tell us a little about Bully Wars.
SY – It’s a story about Rufus, the biggest bully in Middle School looking forward to all the new kids he’ll rule over on his first day of High School. But he finds out quickly that he’s no longer king of the hill. And There’s Spencer, Edith, and Ernie. The kids Rufus has been bullying since kindergarten and what’s it’s like to prepare to survive their first day of high school.
BB – Was Bully Wars something you had planned before I Hate Fairyland?
SY – I wrote a full-length graphic novel for Bully Wars in 2010 and thumbnailed it all out. But something just didn’t feel right and I wasn’t fully happy with it. So I put it away until I could figure out the missing pieces. All these years later, it turns out Aaron Conley and his awesome visual point of view was the big missing piece. his designs and energy and passion for drawing comics is what helps bring this back to the table.
BB – How was the transition from I Hate Fairyland to Bully Wars?
SY – Well, I was writing this alongside of IHF (I Hate Fairyland) so it was interesting switching up my mode from project to project. I think it helped me from writing down to little kids. IHF was hardcore and over the top and some of that would bleed into Bully Wars but in a safe way. It kept my brain on its toes. Haha.
BB – Did you draw any inspiration from I Hate Fairyland?
SY – I mean, just in that they’re both humor books so writing one is like exercise for the other. Writing a few books at the same time keeps my mind pivoting and thinking and questioning. You may find some fun Easter eggs from IHF in there as well.
BB – Were you the bully or the bullied in school?
SY – Neither. I was the “artist” haha. Aaron and I share that aspect. We realized we existed somewhere in the middle because everyone likes the kids who draw. So we’d just draw our way into everyone hearts. Hahaha.
BB – Which one of the Bully Wars characters is most like you?
SY – I don’t want this to come off like I’m a bully, because I’m super not, but probably Rufus. In the way that Rufus is confident that he’s going work everything out even when he has no idea what he’s getting into. I’m a little like that. Fake it till you Make it, you know. I don’t feel that way about bullying people, but I often step to a new situation and decide it’s going to work until the world tells me otherwise. Then I regroup and get back to it. There’s a healthy amount of that in Rufus, but he’s just using the power for bad instead of good… for now.
BB – Why did you decide not to do the art on Bully Wars?
SY – I was still drawing IHF and I knew I wanted to write something for Aaron at some point. Once I started looking at all the projects I want to do in my life, I realized i”m never going to be able to get to even 1/4 of them if I have to draw them all. There’s just not enough time. Aaron and I were creating a different project but then Stranger Things came out and it was WAY too close to what we were already doing. So we pivoted. I thought, I wanted to draw this but I think Aaron might crush it. I was right. Sometimes you just have to know when someone else might be the right fit for the job.
BB – What do you have planned for this new series? Will it last longer than Fairyland?
SY – That always depends on if people show up at the stores and buy the book. If everyone goes well, we already have ideas for at least 3 arcs/books. We’re treating each arc like its own story in the bully Wars world. Think Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Captain Underpants. The next book doesn’t pick up the next day. You could read this out of order if you want and still enjoy them. The second arc will take place at Summer Camp… but not like one you’ve ever imagined.
BB – How does working with Image differ from working with Marvel?
SY – Marvel is like going over to someone’s house who has tons of really fun toys and they’re going to let you play with them. You’ll have a blast while you’re there. They’re not YOUR toys so there are few rules to abide by but that’s easy because they’re really fun toys. Image is like going to someone’s house and they say “We don’t have any toys here, but you can invent whatever toys you want and play with them as long as you want and in any way you want.” Both are really fun in very different ways.
BB – Having been on both sides of the creative process, do you prefer writing or art?
SY – It’s not about which I like better, they’re just rewarding in completely different ways. Drawing is like climbing a mountain. It takes a long time and sometimes you like “why am I’m climbing this mountain?” But when it’s done, you’re like “hell yes! I did it!” Then you repeat that mountain again next month. Writing is like thinking up a crazy mounting, asking someone else to climb it and then you get to be in awe of them as they conquer it. And then you repeat that again next month. Both are rewarding and both are challenges in their own way. I love both because at the end, there’s a comic book and I love making comic books.
BB – How is it working with Aaron Conley?
SY – It’s perfect. I love it so much. he’s such a nice, happy, positive guy and insanely talented. This has been such a smooth project. It’s really what you hope making comics is going to be like. I’m lucky that this guy wanted to team up with me.
BB – What brought the two of you together on this book?
SY – His work on Sabertooth Swordsman was so good. Once we finally met I knew I wanted to work with him. I brought him onto an issue of Rocket Racoon and Groot and he just smashed it that. That was kind of our test to see if we dug working with each other and we did! After that, it was just a matter of finding the right book.
BB – If Bully Wars were made into an animated series, who would you pick to voice Ernie and Edith?
SY – I have NO IDEA. I’m so out of the loop on the younger generation of actors that I’m completely lost on that front.
BB – Can you give us any spoilers from upcoming Bully Wars issues?
SY – You will laugh! (hopefully!) Other than that, we’ll see you in the funny books!
BB – One last question…Chicago or New York style pizza?
SY – This is not an easy answer. I don’t like just straight up Chicago Style pizza like Giordano’s. That’s not my jam. But there’s a place called Pequod’s Pizza that is like Chicago style but their own way and it’s bonkers good. Ultimately though, I did New York style pizza… but it has to be GOOOOOOD. It just can’t be any old slice. it needs to be tasty, not just flat and greasy, you know?