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  • Writer's pictureBrad Gullickson

"I'd Love to Write Their...Hookup." Kelly Thompson and Marco Ferrari on Scarlett and Snake Eyes

Updated: Jun 10

We chat with the creative team behind the latest Energon Universe saga and get thirsty for a GI Joe ship.

Kelly Thompson Marco Ferrari Scarlett

Welcome to our Creator Corner, our reoccurring interview series, where we chat with the coolest and most thought-provoking creators in the industry. In this entry, we're conversing with Kelly Thompson and Marco Ferrari about Scarlett, the latest Energon Universe saga. Listen to the unedited audio HERE

 

By now, you've read the first issue of Scarlett. You turned that last page, saw who you saw, and immediately started anticipating the inevitable Energon Universe introduction of Snake Eyes. You're not alone. Writer Kelly Thompson and artist Marco Ferrari are right there with you, eager to bring the quintessential G.I. Joe ship into this new reality, but first, they're thrilled to define Scarlett without her romantic partner.

Scarlett has always been the coolest lady on the team (no offense to Lady Jaye). Too often, however, she's a narrative seasoning, not the main meal. Thompson and Ferrari are some of the first creators to stretch out and explore Scarlett's interior while providing exceptionally defined, frenzied action. This week's first issue dances back and forth between what's motivating Scarlett and the brutal results of that motivation. Her pal Jinx is hanging with the notorious Arashikage clan. Why? Chumps will get smashed on the way to the answer.


We chat with Kelly Thompson and Marco Ferrari about their unique G.I. Joe origins, how they pay homage to the original characters and designs while putting their own spin on them, and why Scarlett must hook up with Snake Eyes someday. And, hopefully, when it happens, Kelly Thompson is there to do her Rogue and Gambit thing.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

 

Kelly Thompson, Marco Ferrari, and their Scarlett Beginnings


Brad: I've read a little bit of Kelly's history with Scarlett and G.I. Joe. I understand that Kelly, you were a huge fan growing up. But Marco, I know nothing about your relationship with these characters. Can you fill us in a little bit?


Marco Ferrari: Yeah, it's pretty easy. I started with the movies, the recent movies. I came working on the series very fresh. I didn't knew much about the universe, if not for some of the character's name, like Snake Eyes. I was new, as I hope many peoples that will come to the shop, buying the first issue of Scarlett. I have to say, it's a very good way to get into the universe if you're fresh, like me.


Kelly Thompson: Marco is sort of burying the lead that he's very young and vigorous as opposed to us oldies who grew up with G.I. Joe. He doesn't really have it in his youth the same way, but we've been talking about it a little bit as we do these interviews, and I've come to the decision that I sort of love that we accidentally ended up with someone who has a lot of youthful nostalgia and also is someone who's coming to it pretty new, because when you're making a book like this, that's literally one of your top tasks. How do I appeal to the old fans and also make this new reader friendly? That is your number one goal with every new comic, and particularly with one that has a big history of IP.


So, I don't know, maybe people's response to it and excitement about it is in part coming from ... Well, it's coming from a writer who has a lot of nostalgic love for this, but it's coming from an artist who's pretty new to it, and is really thinking about it in a new way. Maybe that's part of why people seem so excited about it.


Brad: I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, Comic Book Couples Counseling, myself and Lisa, I think represent that. I grew up deeply in love with G.I. Joe and Transformers. Lisa's never read a comic of it or watched a cartoon. Both of us adore everything that the Energon Universe has put out so far.


Kelly Thompson: That's great.


Brad: And it's exciting to see, as an old head fan, to see the new people dig it.


Kelly Thompson: That's really fun. You guys really are the perfect test case for these new books. That's great that she's engaging with them because that was how I got called to Scarlett. I was super excited about it because of that. But part of what excited me was I'd read Void Rivals, and I was like, "Oh, okay, I see we're doing something interesting here." This is not what I expected, and that made me excited.


How Kelly Thompson and Marco Ferrari Defined Scarlett


Brad: And as the person representing the fandom on this podcast, or on this side of the podcast, anyway, it's exciting to see, as you write in your afterward, Scarlett being a keystone to this franchise, to these characters, to G.I. Joe. What are the challenges of making sure that this miniseries delivers on that aspect?


Kelly Thompson: Honestly, I think Skybound sort of solves that problem for us by just giving her a miniseries. She doesn't usually get that kind of focus, even though she's one of the most popular Joes and certainly the most popular female Joe. I mean, there's a couple one-shots in the comics, but she doesn't get her own movie. She maybe gets to be in a scene in a Snake Eyes movie or in an ensemble piece or whatever. She doesn't usually get this kind of focus. And so, that was really exciting. I do think that, independent of Scarlett, the model is really working. I think your wife is a perfect example of that in that by breaking this up into these miniseries focused on characters, we're getting this very organic way of building the world without sacrificing whatever the core story is for that character.


And because the books have been really pretty good, and I'm not even talking about Scarlett here. I like Duke and Cobra Commander and Void Rivals and Transformers, they've all been really good books. And so, this method has really worked because of the sort of quality control on it. But yeah, I think our comic is really your best look at Scarlett that you've ever gotten? Because we're in her head, we're seeing how she reacts to these things, we're seeing what's important to her, what she cares about, and who she is at this formative time prior to becoming a Joe. It's exciting to get to carve that.


Brad: I think for me, the surprise of the first issue is how much inner life we do get to explore of Scarlett's, especially in terms of her relationship with Jinx.


Kelly Thompson: I think I'm pretty well known for leaning toward action pretty hard. That's the thing I do, I hope well, although never without a super capable artist. It'd be a whole lot of writing on a page and not a lot of action if we were reading the script. So, with the right artists, I tend to be really action-driven, and I knew that this pitch would be sort of very high-octane, both because it's a G.I. Joe book and because Scarlett is just like that. She is a woman of action. I felt like it would be really easy to lose her in that and to feel like she was just sort of a military automaton, which was not where we were going. So we really built out how capable and interesting and smart and gifted she is, but she's misplaced and discontent in how well and how effectively she's being used.


And while we built that side out, we also developed this sister bond with her colleague Jinx. They even lived together, but Jinx has been missing for two years, and nobody will talk to her about it, nobody will let her go rescue her or whatever, and it's incredibly frustrating for her. And so, the whole series is built through her mission and flashbacks to Jinx. And also something that helps lead us through the story are these codes, this code language that they've developed together that sets a rabbit trail to follow down into Alice Through the Looking Glass, I guess


Brad: Marco, getting to play with so many toys, and toys that are beloved by many people, and getting to put your own spin on them. Can you talk a little bit about the research process or maybe even the ignoring of classic designs and wanting to create something that looks like these characters, but not necessarily in the way that you've seen before?


Marco Ferrari: Oh, yeah. You said it correctly. I'm a toy collector, too. When I design a character, I tend to think how would it be cool if this character would have an action figure? So I created the character based on that. Mainly, of course, on Scarlett, but also Jinx and Storm Shadow. I thought, "Okay, they're very known and loved, they have a very specific design from the toys and the series. I should pay homage to how they are and how the fans want them to be."


I think the color palette is what helped me with that. But also, I had to put them in a new-century environment with all the cool gadgets that we have now. I had to keep a very recognizable silhouette while also keeping them full of cool gadgets, because when you have the toys, you want them to have all the weapons and all the tools, all the bags, all the stuff all together. That's been the challenge.


I had some back and forth with Hasbro and the editor for looks, but in the end, I try to stay as faithful as possible to how Scarlett is and what the character gives me from her classic look. I hope I achieved that.


Kelly Thompson, Marco Ferrari, Scarlett, and the De Luca Effect


Brad: And you also, as we've already discussed, deliver so much action in this book. You have various types of action already in this first issue, and I'm a little curious to talk about, without spoiling, the action in the back half of the first issue, your philosophy in communicating action, and how that came from the script, and how it came out of your imagination and landed ultimately on a pretty impressive double page splash.


Marco Ferrari: To talk on the second part of the book, I have to also talk about the first part, because you see, Kelly wrote the script without knowing that I would be the artist on the first issue. And so I came in very, very slow and quiet on the script because I was feeling like I was working on how I was supposed to represent the G.I. Joe and the action, how things should have looked like. As the pages go on and the action kicks in, I found myself in those pages, and that's how I delivered the last action scene. For the double spread you are talking about, I had to do choreography with friends to plan that out, because we know that Scarlett is a very talented military person, and she's a kick-ass, and knows how to get into action. And it's a bit spoiler-y, but she has a threat, and she has to find a way to not succumb to the enemies, so she has to be smart-


Kelly Thompson: Yeah, like overwhelming odds.


Marco Ferrari: Yeah, so she had to be smart and overcome the force.


Brad: I mean, it's an incredible sequence.


Kelly Thompson: It's a great spread. It's a great spread. I don't know how much you know this about me, Brad, but I know you are familiar with some of my other work. I love De Luca Effects in comics, which for those at home who don't know, first of all, look it up, because you'll see a lot of really cool examples of it in comics. But it's basically when you've got multiple versions of the same figure on a page but no panels. So the spread they're talking about is all these ninjas and Scarlett sort of moving through them. And one of my favorite things about writing De Luca spreads for artists is seeing how different artists interpret it. And I'm rarely let down. This was no exception. This has so much energy, and it's controlled chaos on the page. It's really fun.


Brad: Yeah, every time I see one, I feel like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood meme, and it brings me so much joy.


Kelly Thompson: Thank you. That's awesome.


Kelly Thompson, Marco Ferrari, and the Scarlett/Snake Eyes Ship


Brad: I would like to go back in time a little bit, Kelly, with your origin with G.I. Joe and Scarlett in particular. What was it about that character when you were younger that you connected to, and how has that connection evolved since you've been writing the character?


Kelly Thompson: Well, some of it, for Scarlett, I mean, let's be honest, it was just that she was the female character among the male characters. I was a kid who was figuring out that I liked a lot of boy-coded stuff more than girls did. I was more interested in action movies and things like that in general. So a lot of times when you would get that token female character, she would suck. And that would be the only one that, if you were trying to imprint on someone or see yourself in the property, that would be the only option you had. But Scarlett was not like that. Scarlett was arguably the coolest one on the screen most of the time because she was the cutest and the brightest, and she had the best costume, and she had the cool crossbow, and knew all the coolest characters. She was great. How could you not think she was great?


I think the only issue I had was I hated Lady Jaye for a long time because they'd never let those characters play together. If you got Lady Jaye in a cartoon, it meant you weren't getting Scarlett. And I was always mad when I got Lady Jaye, which is not really fair because that's a great character, too. She's really grown on me in later years. And I hated, when I was a kid, that she had short hair. But as an adult, I love that she has short hair. The short hair is amazing. Anyway, I think that that was a lot of it for me.


You say this in a glib way, but it's incredibly weird and cool and rare for you to really, genuinely love something from your youth and have people come along and be like, "Hey, we'd like to pay you to reinvent that thing for modern people and really, really build her something beautiful." And it's an honor, honestly. It sounds a little ridiculous to say, but I love this shit.


Brad: I can only imagine. So, I'm going to get out of here, but before I do, we are Comic Book Couples Counseling, and again, we're not doing any spoilers, so I'll phrase the question this way. Scarlett has a very significant relationship in the past with a particular G.I. Joe character named Snake Eyes. It's a relationship that I love so much that I am so excited to explore someday on Comic Book Couples Counseling, but we haven't gotten there yet. So, looking back at past iterations of that relationship and possible future ones, what is the appeal of Scarlett and Snake Eyes?


Kelly Thompson: I mean, Snake Eyes stayed in the helicopter to rescue her and destroyed his face and vocal cords to save her life. It's incredible. It's the greatest origin of a relationship ever. I hope we get there. I truly cannot wait. I would, if there's any way to throw my hat in the ring for the eventual Scarlett/Snake Eyes book, please let it be said, I'm doing it now.


I mean, I would love to write the super deadly covert action version of Rogue and Gambit. I mean, they're not. They're very different. But I like writing relationships. Their relationship would be really fun. It would also be really tricky. I think you'd have to develop some sign language. It would be so hard on the artist. Not being able to show Snake Eyes' face and having him not speak is an incredible challenge. How to get that right? But I think there are a lot of ways you could do it. That would be super cool.


So after he gets whatever amazing debut he gets, which I am expecting, Energon Universe, I'd love to write their eventual hookup. Did I say hookup? I meant team-up. Team-Up book. That's what I meant. They're an incredible couple. It's one of the best.

 

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