Interview: Beau Smith, Tim Rozon & Chris Evenhuis on IDW’s Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock

Beau Smith is the creator of Wynonna Earp and Cobb, and has written comics starring Guy Gardner, B’wana Beast, and others. Tim Rozon is the popular actor who portrays Doc Holliday on Wynonna Earp and has co-written some Wynonna Earp stories with Beau Smith. Chris Evenhuis has drawn Wynonna Earp, Monstro Mechanica, G.I. Joe, and more. Now all three come together for the original graphic novel Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock. Smith, Rozon, and Evenhuis recently gave Westfield’s Roger Ash the lowdown on this exciting new adventure.

Westfield: Is there any relation to the classic movie aside from the title?

Tim Rozon: Not on my part there wasn’t. Not that I have anything against Spencer Tracy. He was just a little before my time. I had been wanting to explore Black Rock Prison ever since I first heard of it in the Wynonna Earp comic universe. I mean prisons are bad places for bad people and Black Rock was built for the worst of the worst….. so it seemed like a good place to go.

Tim Rozon and Beau Smith

Tim Rozon and Beau Smith

Beau Smith: Nope, although the film is one of my favorites, there is not a real connection. The title is more of the inspiration I got from the film. I knew back in the early days of Wynonna Earp that there would have to be a place, a hard place, to contain the world’s most powerful paranormal criminals. Black Rock seemed to be the perfect name for such a “containment” center. This story has one of the wildest jail breaks ever produced in fiction, so when we say “Bad Day At Black Rock,” that’s just what it is… a very bad day. Probably a Monday to boot.

Westfield: What’s the genesis of the story?

Smith: Hard choices, good choices, bad choices, and the right choices. It’s a book of parallels between siblings on both sides of life’s coin. It’s a book of friendship and family, a book of the corruption of morals and how that affects not only yourself, but the entire world. It’s a jail break of evil and the good trying to contain it. It’s about flawed characters striving to do what is truly right without becoming what they are trying to stop. It’s about… time.

Rozon: This is a story about parallels above all else. Parallels between things and between people. What separates good from evil and heroes from villains is such a fine line and Beau and I have always been willing to explore that line. The best stories for me have always been when I feel for both the protagonist and the antagonist. I want people to relate to the book in both the positive aspects of their own self as well as the negatives.

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock preview page 1

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock preview page 1

Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the book?

Rozon: Action, humour, kick ass art, and a helluva lot of heart. It’s a Wynonna Earp story through and through.

Smith: An in-depth character study and parallel between The Earp Sisters, Wynonna and Waverly, and that of the Del Rey Brothers, Bobo and Mars. That’s just one of the many parallels that Tim and I address in this larger than life story of “not all is what it seems to be.” Double crosses are handed out like penny candy in this book. When Tim and I were writing this, we would purposely not inform the other of every detail of the scene we were writing. We would then turn it over to the other and let them, him or me, figure out a way to get the character(s) out of the jam. We shift a lot of gears in this book, from full throttle action, to comedy, to drama so dark you’ll think you’re on the wrong side of the moon.

Chris Evenhuis

Chris Evenhuis

Chris Evenhuis: Also lots and lots of paranormals gathered together, a grand comeback for a beloved villain, and the answer to probably the ultimate “who would win in a fight?” in the Wynonna Earp universe.

Westfield: Will you be introducing any new characters?

Smith: Multiple new characters, some here for the long haul, and others that may enter and exit in the blink of an eye. Mostly what Tim and I have done with characters in this is hearken back to the Marvel Comics Annuals of the ‘60s where every character you’ve ever seen in a book’s run comes back for one heck of wild party. In Bad Day At Black Rock, Tim and I bring back the bulk of all of Wynonna’s major villains… as well as throw in a few new ones.

Rozon: This book is also about rebirth. So be warned there will be consequences in this book. Someone or something has to perish for someone or something to rise from the ashes and take its place no?

Westfield: How much work went into the design of Black Rock Prison and the inmates there?

Rozon: As much as to be expected when you’re talking about a Super Max underground government run super villain penal institution. We talked a lot about it. We had a lot of villains we could use from the comic universe and we used almost all of them. The prison itself is as much a character as any of the inmates.

Smith: Tim and I sent Chris Evenhuis some reference of what we needed for this story as far as Black Rock. Chris took those references and ran like a thief in the night. He added layers of structure to what Tim and I already figured was a scary place. The cell that contains cannibal cowboy crime king, Boone Helm, makes Hannibal Lector’s cell look like day camp. Chris had a lot of artistic freedom to create a place you never want to end up in.

Evenhuis: We’ve already seen bits and pieces of Black Rock in Wynonna Earp Legends: The Earp Sisters, so some of those will make a return, but this time there was much more room to explore other parts of the complex as well. It’s all very futuristic/maximum security, but with a dose of retro sci-fi tech mixed in. I like to imagine – instead of holograms and glowing touch panels and such – an old-school guy like Smitty would prefer to have CRT-screens, buttons and levers, pipes and heavy machinery around. And then there’s Waverly trying to introduce flat panels and very carefully updating the place while he’s not looking

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock preview page 2

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock preview page 2

Westfield: Beau and Tim, you’ve written a few other Wynonna Earp stories together. What’s your collaboration like? Who does what?

Rozon: It’s simply that. A collaboration. We make a good team. We both love the process and we always have the same purpose. We want to tell a good story above all else and we want the readers to have a heck of good time along the way. He’s been a great teacher and mentor. I’ve been lucky to have this opportunity. Who does what is a different question all together. I’m pretty sure I do most of the grunt work and he takes all the glory or maybe it’s the other way around

Smith: I’d best describe it as Eddie Brock and Venom. You figure out which one of us is which depending on what pages you read. Both Tim and I talk about a general route we wanna take with a story in the beginning and then we outline it on paper. From there, we start writing in chronological order scenes and trade off trying to give the other a cliffhanger, large or small, and as I said before, a double cross or two. I always wonder and worry who Tim is gonna kill off. Once he did in five characters and didn’t tell me. Tim can be the Charlie Manson of comic book writing at times. Our main goal is to make our writing seamless so that Chris, our editor, and the readers can’t tell who wrote who. Melanie Scrofano and I did the same thing when we wrote our issues of Wynonna Earp: Legends. It worked. Chris still thinks Melanie wrote scenes that I wrote and the other way around. Being able to do this makes for what Tim and I think are One Voice stories from multiple minds. (If you figure out what that means, then let me know too.)

Westfield: How does this expand out to your collaboration with Chris?

Smith: Oh, him? We try and leave him out of everything…. KIDDING!! Both Tim and I write with Chris’s art in mind always. Because Chris is one of the best emotion and expression artists in comics, we are able to give our characters range they wouldn’t have with other artists. Chris also is a master at mannerisms and gestures. He adds so much of his own vision to the characters that Tim and I just get all pop-eyed when they come back to us. We are so lucky to have him. Tim and I will send reference to Chris on important props and items to be used in the story, but Chris is like Google with hands; he knows so much about everything and how it works, we wonder sometimes why he needs us. Y’all should check his comic book series out that he does with Paul Allor and Sjan Weijers called Monstro Mechanica it’s incredible historic adventure and science fiction. Beautifully done.

Rozon: Chris is an actor’s artist. We’re lucky to have him in my opinion. I know I can write a tender scene between to two Earp sisters, the Del Rey Brothers, or the WayHaught characters and his art will give it the realness and heart that the panel and/or page deserves.

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock preview page 3

Wynonna Earp: Bad Day at Black Rock preview page 3

Westfield: Chris, you make the characters look like the actors on the TV series, but they aren’t photo realistic. What’s your process for capturing a likeness but still making it “you”?

Evenhuis: Sure! Yeah, when I did my first issue of Wynonna Earp with Beau (#3), the show had not premiered yet, so I worked mostly from promotional photos. But as soon as the episodes went on air, it became much easier to fine-tune the likenesses because you can figure out unique features much more clearly, and you get to pick up the acting styles as well. So this might sound a little Dr Frankenstein-y, but I then kind of try to boil all that down to the bare essentials. Just the unique stuff needed to sell the character in as few lines as possible, so I can then put the main focus square on their (inter)acting.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Rozon: Par•al•lel


1.a person or thing that is similar or analogous to another.

Smith: Well, yeah…. These days everyone talks about bringing fun and easy access to comic book stories. Well, pick up any issue of Wynonna Earp and you’re gonna get that and much more. We promise. Find me a character(s) with more likability than that of Wynonna Earp and I’ll stop making you look less smart than me. (Again, figure out what that means, and then let in on it.)

Evenhuis: Thank you so much for having us. I hope you’ll enjoy Bad Day at Black Rock!



We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!