Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Writer Erica Schultz

We have another great interview to bring to you. A few weeks ago, I had a chance to have a conversation with comic book writer and editor Erica Schultz.

In the past couple of years her writing credits have really started to pile up. She has written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Red 5 Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, her own label Vices Press, and more.

Erica also has taught lettering for Comics Experience and is currently an instructor at the Kubert School.

Her creator owned comic series Forgotten Home, with art by Marika Cresta, was published as a Comixology Original, and she is currently writing The Legacy of Mandrake, the Magician for Red 5 Comics.

We talked about her process and her latest projects. It was a fun interview and Erica is a fantastic storyteller.

We transcribed a good portion of the interview below, but there is plenty more in podcast.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below. We hope you enjoy the conversation.


PopCultureSquad: Let’s start off with the newest book that you have released. The Legacy of Mandrake the Magician. You are writing with art by Diego Giribaldi was released on October 28th. It is wonderful. Can you tell us how it came about?

Erica Schultz: Actually Stonebot Comics approached me. In the summer of last year, I was approached by Matias Timarchi, and he wanted to know my availability for a possible project about a “legacy” character. Like with a lot of projects, when people reach out, they don’t give all the details of the projects that they are planning because of NDAs and stuff like that.

He asked if I was familiar with Mandrake, and I said that I was familiar with the character, but I am not like a super-fan or anything, and I would have to do some research. He mentioned that they were going to be updating the character. It wasn’t going to be a reboot of Mandrake. It was going to be a legacy character.

PCS: What type of framework did they give you for that?

ES: They actually had been working with another writer prior, so I was given kind of a story bible. I was told to use it as a guide. So I came up with some stuff. Some of it we used in the final story, and others they pushed back on because I think that there was a specific direction that they wanted to go with.

I had a lot of fun working on the character. I read a bunch of the old strips so that I could get an idea about the world. Also, in the original series, Mandrake’s powers and abilities aren’t really defined. It is almost as if he has whatever ability he needs at that particular time.

PCS: Right, well, back then the didn’t worry about people going on blogs and complaining how things didn’t match.

ES: Exactly, so I wanted to set some parameters and a framework. The fact that the main character Mandy is just learning her abilities, that helps. She is not able to just snap her fingers and everything gets done. She has stops and starts.

I think that having a teenage girl, who is dealing with not just trying to get a handle on these abilities, but also trying to get a handle on life, is fun, and there is a lot of potential there and a lot of different avenues that you can go down.

PCS: What is the publishing plan for Mandrake? Is it a limited series?

ES: Well, there is a #0 issue that is free on That is the digital only intro. It is a one and done, but it introduces the character. As of right now, this is a mini-series. We have discussed more, but we are not technically doing more at this point. The #0 issue and the four-issue mini-series will be collected in a trade, for now.

PCS: The opening issue is a great set up, and it feels like there will be some serious hurdles for Mandy?

ES: Yes. High School sucks! She and her mom both really love each other, but they are very strong personalities, and that tends to cause conflict. Her mom has very specific things that she wants for Mandy. Mandy is first generation American, and coming from an immigrant family myself, this idea that you have to go to college and be better than I did, is sort of sticking point between Mandy and Mabel, her mom. Mabel has a more traditional tract that she want Mandy to go in. Mandy is wondering if she wants” the normal life.”

Check out the audio for some exploration about how expectations of maturing are changing and what Erica thinks about how it works in Mandrake.

PCS: One of the main reasons that I wanted to talk to you was about Forgotten Home. It was nominated for five Ringo Awards and deservedly so. I have to say the world building that you did in that book is amazing and expansive. {For those who haven’t read it yet. The entire series is available on Comixology.} How long have you been working on this story?

ES: Ok, When Frozen came out, I came up with this idea as a joke that I want to write a story about two sisters that hate each other and want to kill each other. That story ended up being something else, and I am still developing that. But I sort of scraped together some of the bits and bobs that didn’t fit in with that other story, and that became the starting seeds for Forgotten Home.

I started building on the idea of doing what you are “supposed to do”. In Forgotten Home, what Lorraine is supposed to grow up, be a general in this army, take the throne, and lead her people, and she has absolutely no desire to do that.

So, she literally runs away from her destiny. Years and years pass, and she thinks that everything is going to be ok, but you can’t really run away from your destiny. It comes back to sort of bit her in the ass. When she does return to her homeworld, she is not only left with the wreckage that she left in her wake, but she is left with an acrimonious relationship with her mother. I wanted to show how complex people’s decisions were, and how there are ripple effects to deciding to just up and leave.

In the audio, Erica and I have a fascinating discussion about her process for developing the amazing language and nomenclature that she uses in the book.

I had the whole story done by the end of 2017, and it just took a while to get the pitch together. Then it was at one publisher, and they wanted me to change it to five issues instead of eight. That was tough. One thing that I noticed that if I had done it in five issues, I could have done it, but I would have taken out a whole lot of backstory, and I didn’t want to do that.

PCS: I agree. It has the room that it needs to tell a complete story.

ES: I really thank the Comixology people. My hat is off to them for just believing in it. A lot of publishers want four or five issues for a nice trade paperback. I thought to myself that this story would have to be eight issues even if we had to do it ourselves.

We really feel that if we had to take out things like the relationship between Trodaire and Karel, it would have made the story too matter-of-fact. It wouldn’t have the same richness to it.

PCS: I wanted to touch on your teaching. You teach the Kubert School. What do you find most rewarding about that?

ES: I teach Writing to the third year students, and I teach Story Adaptation and Narrative to the second year students at the Kubert School.

It’s funny, because I never really thought that I had anything to say. I am in my forties now, and I figured that I guess I finally have something to say. I have enough authority and experience to be able to say it, and people actually listen.

I find it rewarding because I have the ability to talk to the students and share with them and help them look at where their strength and weaknesses are.

Having a career in comic books is difficult, but it is doable and it is rewarding. It is damn hard work, but it is work that I love doing. I always tell people “If you can picture yourself making a living at doing something else, then go do that thing.” People who work in comics as a career do it because we feel there is nothing else we can do. It’s like a compulsion.

We get into a discussion about what drove Erica to comics and her personal perspective on her storytelling style. It is really in-depth stuff that needs to be heard.

PCS: You have done a lot of fantastic work with your own creations, is there a property that is your dream project to write for?

ES: I want to write Moon Knight. I have had two separate pitches with Marvel that were being considered. One was pitched without an artist. The second was pitched with an artist named Chris Campana, who was also nominated for the Ringos for The Adventure of Parker Reef. {You can find out more about Chris Campana at his website.}


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A post shared by Chris Campana (@campanaart)

Chris is also a huge Moon Knight fan, and he and I met at a convention last year. It was funny because we had just met and began going back and forth about how much we loved Moon Knight. We ended up just sitting in the hotel lobby, in the most inconvenient spot, right by the elevators. We were just riffing on Moon Knight, and I’ve got my notebook out and he has his sketchpad out. Then we realized it was 2:00 in the morning, and we had to get up for a convention in a few hours. We had a really great pitch, and he had some awesome sketches. It really worked. Unfortunately, it didn’t go anywhere, but I still hold out hope for it.

I would also love to write Winter Soldier or Rogue, and I think on the DC side of things I would love to be able to work on Hawkgirl again and also Martian Manhunter. I think he has a really great emotional story.

More bonus material in the audio SquadCast about Erica and my thoughts on Oscar Isaac in the Disney+ TV Series.

PCS: Thanks so much. I am so glad that you did this.

ES: Thank you.

You can find Erica’s work at her website

She is followable on Twitter and Instagram as EricaSchultz42

The Legacy of Mandrake the Magician is currently in release at your LCS or wherever you buy comics.

Forgotten Home is available at Comixology and will be published by Dark Horse Comics in 2021.