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Catching Up With Todd Nauck

by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean – 03-07-2006 – courtesy of

Todd Nauck has drawn practically every version of DC’s next generation of super heroes. From the comic book version (Young Justice) to the animated version (Teen Titans Go!).

Last month, he returned to the Teen Titans where he pitted Superboy [Conner Kent] against Superboy Prime, showing a more detailed picture of the fight from the perspective of the Teen Titans.

This month, his second go at the current Titans ongoing series will be seen in the pages of issue #33 where he gets to illustrate Nightwing and Superboy’s assault on Alex Luthor and the Tower.

In the coming months, his name will appear in DC’s 52 as well.

On top of his already increasingly hectic work load, he’s also continuing his work on his creator-owned WildGuard.

We caught up with Nauck for a chat about it all.

Newsarama: You’ve handled all of DC’s teen heroes, dating back from a start with 1998’s Young Justice: The Secret to a majority of the Young Justice ongoing series, and then from Teen Titans Go! to the regular Teen Titans series (#32 and #33). Has it come to a full circle for you at this point in your career?

Todd Nauck: It seems that way, doesn’t it? My DC work has consisted mostly of drawing the DCU teen heroes. Spending 5+ years on Young Justice, I really grew fond of those characters. Now to revisit them (Superboy, Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl) with some Teen Titans guest issues, it’s kind of like a homecoming. I’m really happy with my work on Teen Titans #33 guest starring Nightwing. Geoff Johns and I have even talked about the possibility of doing another Teen Titans story arc. But nothing’s set in stone just yet. I guess the circle just keeps rolling!

NRAMA: Of the various versions/incarnations of the Teen Titans/Young Justice characters that you’ve had a hand in drawing/designing such as Secret, Superboy, Robin, Impulse, Wonder Girl, Empress, Ray, Slobo/Lil’ Lobo, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, Aqualad, Terra, Speedy and related characters such as the Doom Patrol and others), which are your favorite characters?

TN: From Young Justice, Robin and Wonder Girl were my favorites to draw.

In Teen Titans Go!, Beast Boy is fun. But Cyborg is growing to be my favorite.

NRAMA: Why? What makes these characters so interesting and challenging to illustrate?

TN: When I first started on Young Justice, Robin was my least favorite overall. So I had to be very deliberate to not ignore the character. I invested special attention in him. That, coupled with Peter David writing him as the straight-man amidst a crew of craziness (like Martian Manhunter in Justice League International), Robin was all of a sudden my favorite.

I really liked Wonder Girl because we got to see her grow a lot from Young Justice #4 to #55. She went from awkward newbie to confident team leader. And it was fun to redesign her costume here and there every so often.

Once I started Teen Titans Go!, I was initially drawn to Beast Boy. He was more light-hearted so the art allowed for a more playful approach. I could really exaggerate his gesture and movement.

Over the course of the series, I’m finding I enjoy Cyborg. His design is more detailed and I feel more comfortable drawing it. He has been the most challenging to get right artistically.

NRAMA: Other than Teen Titans/Young Justice, you’re also the creator of WildGuard, your very own reality TV-style comic, or as PAD called it once, “Justice League of American Idol.” Now, are you trying to become the 21st Century’s George Perez or Alex Ross?

TN: I’ve always enjoyed super teams from when I first discovered the Super Friends and Fantastic Four cartoons of Saturday mornings in the 1970’s. I love all the colors and designs of the costumes, the varying sizes and powers of the heroes, and the different character personalities and their interaction. It just provides so much to look at and experience.

I loved creating my WildGuard: Casting Call mini-series because of that reason. The more the merrier!

When people think of creators who can handle and enjoy drawing a large group of characters, I hope to be counted among that list along with George Perez and Alex Ross. That would be an honor!

NRAMA: Speaking of other artists, who’s work influence you as a creator? How much do you learn from their work or how do you draw inspiration from their work and make all the various styles your own in the work that you do?

TN: I’m still a comic fan and go into my local comic shop to check out the latest week’s arrivals. My initial influences were Art Adams, Walt Simonson, Alan Davis, Mike Zeck, and Rick Leonardi. When I decided I wanted to be a comic book artist in 1985 (my freshman year of high school) I couldn’t get enough of those artists’ works.

Some current artists that I’m enjoying are Frank Cho, Olivier Copiel, and Chris Bachalo, to name a few.

It’s fun to see how other artists approach their work. It’s just enlivening to look at an artist’s work. You see something cool, then you get inspired to create something cool on your own. There’s an energy there. I think that’s why so many comic readers draw. Whether it’s professional work or fan art, we’re all feeling that excitement and energy!

NRAMA: Do you draw influences from manga creators and their work? What about anime?

TN: Not directly. I know people have seen a manga/anime look to my work in the past. The only anime I’ve enjoyed was Battle of the Planets and Starblazers as a kid in the 70’s. That stuff blew me away as a kid. I had one manga comic in the late 80’s. It was called Grey, I think. Then I saw Akira in the theater while in art school in the early 90’s. But I just never got into anime or manga enough to follow it regularly. I have an appreciation for it, certainly. But it has not been a current influence on my work. Maybe if I had cable, I’d watch more Cartoon Network/adultswim and find some anime series to get into!

NRAMA: Is there a ritual that you follow when starting on a new assignment? What ground rules do you set for yourself?

TN: I can’t really think of any rituals when I start a new gig. I’ll dig up the reference I need from my back issue collection or grab pics from online.

My only ground rule is to have fun and don’t blow the deadline!

NRAMA: What goes into every page that you draw? You’ve worked with Peter David, Todd Dezago, Geoff Johns and more. How do you realize a writer’s ideas when you’re on the drawing boards?

TN: My main focus is to tell as clear of a story as possible. I also try to find a cool shot/panel for each page (if possible). When it comes to realizing a writer’s ideas, I try to give them everything they put into the plot. I try to stay as true to their storytelling as I approach it visually. Plus, I’ve worked with some amazing writers. So, it’s not too difficult to get excited about their stories and create the best visuals I can.

NRAMA: You’re also an accomplished writer in your own right. What went into the creation of WildGuard? Back then, what made you think that this was something that you’d like to do and how has the process changed over the years that you’ve been writing and drawing WildGuard?

TN: I created WildGuard while still in art school. I was really into the show COPS at the time and wanted to create a superhero version of that. Giving it the reality TV spin made for a fun way to tell stories. I could use the testimonial sequences of the characters’ opinions or recounting of the situation to move things along. It also allowed me the chance to let the characters’ personality to come out as they broke the 4th wall by speaking directly to the readers.

NRAMA: The initial mini-series was followed by Fire Power. And then Fool’s Gold. There’s also the (almost) weekly online comic strips at What’s in store for WildGuard fans? Didn’t you plan to collect the first 57 web strips and include a new six-page story and a four-page “Where Are They Now?” story in a one-shot special called WildGuard: Insider? There’re also plans for a second trade paperback, WildGuard: Hot Shots (collecting the Fire Power one-shot, Fool’s Gold #1-#2 and Insider) and a four-issue limited series that promises to reveal the origin of WildGuard team member, Ignacia, correct?

TN: That’s the plan. DC is keeping me pretty busy though. But I have been making lots of notes and getting some writing done. I’m also trying to get four more webstrips done to fill out WildGuard: Insider. It’s quite the juggling act! But I’m always keeping WildGuard on one of the front burners. My dream is to put out a series of mini-series. And if I could find the time and resources to put out a WildGuard regular series, then Pedro would make my
wildest dreams come true!

NRAMA: Speaking of DC, you’re also one of the many artists involved with 52. Tease, not spoil, about your story in issue #11 of the weekly series that provides a bridge between Infinite Crisis and the One Year Later stories?

TN: I’m not allowed to say anything! I wish I could. But I can let you know they have me on Week 13 now.

NRAMA: Week 13 it is then.

What else is in your future? Didn’t you draw a three-page Monster Girl story as well as a pin-up for Robert Kirkman’s Invincible and you did express your desire to get your hands on Marvel Team-Up?

TN: I did draw that Monster Girl story. I drew a pin-up for Robert’s Invincible. Then he asked if I’d pitch in on his Invincible #25. It’s one of my favorite reads, so there was no way I would turn that down.

Robert and I have talked a little about some Marvel stuff. But we’re both so busy with our other projects; it’s just something we haven’t pursued. But you never know. Things happen/change very quickly in this industry!


End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author