Tour De (Speed) Force: Scott Kolins

Over the last year, superstar writer Geoff Johns has re-dedicated himself to his all-time favorite superhero, The Flash.

Currently bringing Silver Age icon Barry Allen back to DCU prominence in the bestselling miniseries "The Flash: Rebirth" along with frequent collaborator Ethan Van Sciver, Johns is also scripting and executive producing a Flash movie for Warner Bros.

But that's apparently not enough for the man behind what is considered by many fans to be the definitive run of Wally West's time as the headliner in DC Comic's "The Flash." Johns is writing both the Barry Allen main feature and the Wally West co-feature in a new "The Flash" ongoing series, which he confirmed for CBR News will launch in April 2010.

Yesterday we spoke with Francis Manapul, who is illustrating the Barry Allen main feature, and today we check in with Scott Kolins about the Wally West-fuelled co-feature.

Kolins and Johns have collaborated on several projects in the past, including a long run on "The Flash" that lasted from 2001 to 2003, the "Final Crisis" tie-in "Rogues' Revenge" and the upcoming "Blackest Night" tie-in, "Blackest Night: The Flash," but the fan favorite artist said a new Flash series comes with many new challenges - including one from an über-intelligent, telepathic gorilla, if Kolins has his way.

You've done a bit of work with The Flash of late with "Rogues' Revenge" and the upcoming "Blackest Night: The Flash," but are you excited to be back with The Flash on an ongoing basis?

Yes, very much. Working with Geoff is always a dream job, but it feels really nice right now to be back in the Flash universe for a while. It's very exciting. I love drawing Flash and the supporting cast. And he's got some of the best villains.

You and Geoff have what appears to be a terrific working relationship. What is it about collaborating with him that works so well?

We do. I'm certainly not the best artist he's ever worked with, but I do feel like I bring something unique out of his pages onto the paper that others don't bring - something about flow and personality. And he does the same for me. I feel his excitement and dedication on every page, and drawings start popping out. I try not to box myself in with to many art rules - "do's and don'ts" - but a certain framework does come together when I work with Geoff. without trying, and it really seems to work well.

Have you been working with Ethan Van Sciver on Wally West's new costume? Or will you be re-designing his look once the new book launches?

I popped in a few early possible design sketches purely based off of what Geoff was thinking - but I didn't make or design the final version. DC sent me some of Ethan's pages with Wally's new costume. I'm just starting with Wally and his new costume in "Blackest Night: The Flash," and it's presenting a lot of fun challenges. I think it's a great choice.

What do you like most about drawing The Flash? Are there particular elements of his design that you like best? What's the trickiest part?

I love the heroics without it always being about punching or shooting a gun. That was why I made Wally run with an open hand. I love the speed vortex and running shots. And the science fiction root of his powers is really grounding and inventive. And there are all those speed tricks - very fun.

The Flash costume is genius - with its simplicity and yet sharp detail. The mask is completely iconic as are the ear pieces and chest symbol. [Carmine] Infantino really earned his spot in comic history with that design, as well as the Rogues. I guess the ear pieces can be the trickiest part. That and knowing when to go crazy with speed lines and when to draw less.

How do you draw "speed? "And have you come up with any novel approaches to illustrate "speed" in the new series?

I just keep playing. I spent extra attention, back when I was drawing Wally every month, to try different running poses and try different ways to see him run across or into Keystone [City]. I still feel that sense of wonder - which is great. Can I try this? Will it work? And this is all balanced around what the story asks for. Should we see Flash - or should he be a blur? A stretched out blur - or multiple image blur? Or should the city behind Flash be blurred?

You have a long history with the Scarlet Speedster, and while there is understandably a new costume, will your fans notice any other changes to the way you draw The Flash?

I kept thinking I would get to draw Flash now very similarly to the way I drew Flash back then, but as I draw the pages now, I see the difference. It's still me, and people tell me they can pick my style out very easily - but as "Rogues' Revenge" was not the same as it was before, I think my new Flash stuff will also be me as of today and not five or more years ago. It'll be interesting to see how readers react. My fans have been clamoring for more Flash stuff - so here we go. I'm having a great time.

You're known as a fast-working artist. Does that help when you're drawing The Flash?

It certainly does these days working with Geoff. He's a fast writer too - but he's also got many projects he's working on, in comics and out. I don't get the extra lead time like I used to get when we worked on "The Flash" years ago. So I've got to keep on my toes and spend a few extra nights here and there making sure I meet my deadlines.

Are you inking and coloring your pages, as well?

I haven't been inked traditionally in years. I scan my tight pencils into the computer, adjust the line to black, and make sure they are exactly how I want them. In the end, they look inked for the book. Mike Atiyeh has been coloring my work since "Solomon Grundy," and doing a fantastic job, so he's coloring "Blackest Night: The Flash," as well. "The Flash" monthly is with another editor, so the job will be assigned by him, but I'd guess Mike has a pretty good chance at coloring the Flash parts I draw.

Of The Flash's rogues do you have any favorites to draw and will we be seeing him during your run on the book?

Grodd's always been my favorite and Geoff has planned a special Grodd story for me somewhere along the line. But really, I like them all. I'd love to do another Weather Wizard story. And of course Cold and Zoom are incredible so anytime to draw them is special. Geoff even mentioned another Cicada story he'd like to get to sometime. And there are others I haven't really gotten to, like Computron, or even bring in other aliens, like the Dominators.

Will you get a chance to draw multiple Flashes in of the issues? Or maybe you have already?

Yes and yes.

What else are you working on these days?

I'm also finishing two issues of "Superman/Batman" that I'm writing and drawing, #66 and #67 with Bizarro and Man-Bat. And another villain I used to work on, Solomon Grundy. Total monster fest, which is pure fun. And it's a "Blackest Night" story, so it's really a monster story. Black rings and hearts pulled out of chests. Lights out in Gotham and terror is on the loose. Check it out.

"Blackest Night: The Flash," written by Geoff Johns with art and cover by Scott Kolins and a variant cover by Francis Manapul, hits stores on December 2.

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