Wynonna Earp creator and TV series stars on their 'dream' job of co-writing the comics together
Wynonna Earp creator Beau Smith has been writing his comic about the titular descendant of famous lawman Wyatt Earp and her demon hunting ways since 1996, when he first created the character. But with the character of the comic getting her own TV series on Syfy, now in its second season, Smith has gotten to experience something not many comic book creators have: writing a comic with the people who bring his characters to life.
For the latest collected volume of the series, titled Wynonna Earp: Legends, Smith teamed up with both Melanie Scrofano and Tim Rozon, who play Wynonna and the immortal (and infamous) Doc Holliday, respectively, and both penned two issues each. As Smith tells it, it’s just one gift the show has given him in the last two years.
Now that Wynonna Earp: Legends is available to purchase, EW hopped on the phone with Smith, Scrofano, and Rozon to discuss what it’s like writing not just for your characters, but with the man who created them, and vice versa. Also, get a first look at Waverly Earp’s (Wynonna’s younger sister) first appearance in the comics.
RELATED: 5 High-Grossing Page-to-Screen Adaptations
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The comic kind of incorporates certain aspects of the show, but it isn’t entirely like the show. How did each of you approach that?
MELANIE SCROFANO: [Showrunner Emily Andras] talked about that from the beginning before we even knew we were writing the books: “There’s going to be some crossover, but then there’s going to be a deviation.” It’s not like you want to just rehash everything you did on the show because then why watch the show if you can just read it in the book, or vice versa. So that was cool. And like Beau always says, “There’s no budget.” So whatever crazy idea pops into your head you just write it and you don’t have to justify it to the producers. And it’s not like they’re completely separate entities. If you read one, you can watch the other.
BEAU SMITH: You’re able to do things in the comic book that you can’t on the TV series. Mel and I came up with some incredible villains in this prison break issue of Wynonna Earp: Legends. And like, right now with the latest series, “Season 0,” Tim and I are having this battle between the good guys and the bad guys on the southwest desert floor in an old fort that would cost a fortune.
SCROFANO: Every time you talk about writing with Tim, I feel like you’re cheating on me. I get jealous. I’m like, “Don’t talk about it in front of me.”
TIM ROZON: I just went through that.
SCROFANO: Isn’t it funny? Did you feel like he was cheating on you?
ROZON: Yeah. Because I know how great it is, and how fun the experience is.
SMITH: Talk about your surreal moments. This is a dream come true in a really weird, sick way.
Tim and Melanie, did you guys talk about your writing processes or ask each other for feedback?
ROZON: I know we were both overwhelmed at different times. I had to go first and even though I knew acting well and I knew how to read comic books, but when it actually came down to doing it, it was a very overwhelming process. I’m pretty sure I spoke to Mel. Mostly we just talked about Beau and the process of writing with him. Eventually, a comic book comes out and it’s a real experience of having your words and pictures that you’ve described on paper. But it was the experience of writing with Beau that was the most magical, most memorable, and most valuable to me.
SCROFANO: I don’t know about you, Tim, but for me, it was like, “I may suck real hard at this, but if I’m going to fail at something I’d rather fail with Beau’s support.” Because he’d be there to catch you. So you’re safe no matter what. So it was a fantastic opportunity to try something new.
Would the three of you write something together?
SMITH: I would love to have the three of us. In fact, that would be a dream come true. Tim had the mechanics down. He understood because of his history with comic books how you have to meld panels with pages, and words and dialogue. So when it came to the script, he had the form. That’s the strength he brought to the table. That and his spur of the moment ideas that just come into his head. What Mel brought is her mastery of dialogue. It’s like being a quarterback of a team. She not only knows the plays, but she knows everyone’s part and was able to voice those characters with effortless wonder. If it was Doc or Waverley, she just stepped right into it. So each writing experience with both of them was wonderful and on different levels, it was like a kid in a candy store. They were both bringing all these great gifts to the party. It was just a really neat experience and one I don’t want to give up… And even though she’s not here, I’ve got to admit that before Tim and Mel, I had been begging Emily, the queen of all queens, to co-write one with me from Day 1. So I do want to say that. She was never left out. I hate to say it, but she was always first choice.
SCROFANO: Oh, I don’t blame you.
ROZON: Me neither.
Has this experience helped all of you? Melanie and Tim, you’re both playing Beau’s characters, and Beau, you’re writing with two people who literally get to be your characters?
ROZON: For me, it really helped to just come right off playing a character, because we are so immersed in them. It’s just so fresh on my brain that it’s always been really nice that while we were doing the books, I was kind of already in Doc mode, so it actually made it a little bit easier to try and portray the characters, ’cause I was already living them.
SCROFANO: I second that. Tim and I, especially, just really love the stories, and the backstories of not just our characters, but all the characters. We really just love the world, and so we’re not really writing it from an outside-in perspective. We’re already living in the world, so the chance to write it is just another way to live in that world.
SMITH: I’ve been writing Wynonna Earp for 20 years. That’s when I created it. With the TV series, Emily has just opened up this whole new world of ideas and Tim and Mel are part of it. She soaked them into it. They’re able to bring not only their ideas but Emily’s universe at the same time. So it’s a real gift for me because after 20 years it’s something new. The comic book is a hybrid of what has come before, and what Emily has created on the television series. It’s a supplement of just some really wild and funny but yet action-packed and heartfelt stuff. With the issue that Melanie wrote, within probably the first five pages we had humor, heartbreak, and action, all within the first 5 pages. If you can give the reader or the viewer that much emotional range within a short distance, then the long ride is gonna be just really something special.
Has this process changed the way you guys look or think about these characters now? Like was there a side to your specific characters that you wanted to feature in your writing?
SCROFANO: It actually makes me look at all the characters more deeply. As an actor, you tend to just look at the script till you get to your stuff. But then when you’re writing, it just really makes you go, “What does this do for them?” It deepens your appreciation for all the characters, which, in turn, just makes you appreciate the whole of the story that you’re telling more. It makes you less selfish, in theory.
ROZON: On my end, when we talked about doing the first book, it was called Wynonna Earp Legends: Doc Holliday. But Beau and I were in complete agreement from the beginning that whatever we were doing, at the end of the day it needed to be a Wynonna story. That was important for me. She’s the best character. They’re all great characters, but it’s Wynonna Earp. So for me, it was really important to do a book that would have some sort of struggle for Wynonna and move her character forward, in a direction that she hadn’t gone before.
SCROFANO: That’s really brave because I was really intimidated about writing the Doc character. I probably underwrote him and Beau would’ve had to fill him out. I was like, “What if Tim reads this and goes, ‘I would never say that’?” I was really nervous about taking on Doc. I didn’t want to do wrong by him because he has such a handle on that. So that was the scariest part for me.
How would you advise fans of the show who want to read the comic? Is there an order they should follow?
SMITH: There’s not a Wynonna Earp comic you can’t pick up and jump right into. That’s always been a stress point. Especially when you’ve got a TV series because you’re constantly going to have new readers. If a comic’s going to be someone’s first I want them to be able to enjoy and remember it. But I can suggest reading the current comic book, which is going on because there are Easter eggs in there that relate to the show. Wynonna Earp: Season 0 is 5 issues and it answers 3 questions Emily brought up in season 1: Wynonna rode with a biker group called the Banditos; there’s the key she wears around her neck; and there are hints about what Lucado told her she did, which is supposedly a pretty bad thing. That’s only going to be revealed in the comic series.
You can purchase Wynonna Earp: Legends here. See Waverly’s first appearance, below.