Life’s Not Fair Is It?: Discussing `Scar’ With Writer Chuck Brown And Artist Trevor Fraley
by Tom Smithyman
Disney movies are known for their villains, and few are more menacing that Scar from The Lion King. In a new series due out in April from Dynamite, writer Chuck Brown and artist Trevor Fraley give this would-be king more backstory. The pair talked with Comicon and discussed the story’s expanded role of the mandrill Rafiki, their favorite Scar lines from the movie and whether the title character is pure evil or just misunderstood.
Tom Smithyman: Your story fills in some of the gaps between the scenes of the iconic movie. Is it also an origin story?
Chuck Brown: It’s not exactly origin story. Scar is already Scar in our comic. Although it is the origin of how he meets the hyenas and begin his coup to take the throne.
I saw the opportunity to delve into the character’s motivations and how the other animals of the Pride viewed and interacted with Scar, which I found fascinating.
Smithyman: It sounds like Rafiki is going to play a large role in this series. We don’t know much about him from the movie. What more can you tell us about him?
Brown: Rafiki has a lot of respect for Scar’s strategic intelligence and how it has benefited Pride Rock in the past. He can see the evil in Scar growing and does what he can to bring him back from the abyss. Of course, in the end he fails. Writing their interactions was one of the highlights of the book.
Trevor Fraley: To me, Rafiki feels as if his character has been expanded upon. There’s not a big deviation from what you see in the movie, but you can also believe in his actions in this story based on his original film outing. He still has the fight in him that you see at the end of The Lion King as well as the nurturing and caring side.
Smithyman: Chuck, you’ve written a lot of characters and situations that are decidedly adult in nature. When writing an all-ages book do you find yourself taking a different approach or is writing just writing?
Brown: I think this is my first all-ages book. I thought it would be challenging, but it wasn’t. These characters have been a part of my life for a long time. I just needed to flip a switch to write kid-friendly. I think we’ve created something everyone can enjoy.
Smithyman: Trevor, how closely do you feel you have to stick to the look and feel of the original movie when drawing Scar and these other iconic characters?
Fraley: This is something I asked myself when preparing for this story. The designs are basically tattooed to my brain since it’s been one of my favorite movies ever since I was young. But this is Scar’s story through a Scar lens. Things may look different, and familiar places may feel different when experienced from the “villain’s” point of view. However, my goal is to have you feel as if these previously unseen moments in the story of The Lion King could still visually weave in between the moments of the 1994 film.
Smithyman: Scar has so many great lines, memorably voiced by Jeremy Irons. Do you have a favorite?
Fraley: It’s very hard to choose one line from such a memorable performance. A favorite of mine is in the song ‘Be Prepared’ when Scar exclaims to the hyenas that “You won’t get a sniff without me!” It’s one of the most fierce and dramatic voice acting moments in the movie. Also, a fun fact I heard is that the line is Irons’ last part in the song before being taken over by Jim Cummings. I always listen for the switch just after.
Brown: That’s an easy one. “Life’s not fair, is it? You see, I…well, I shall never be king. And you…shall never see the light of another day.”
Smithyman: What was your first memory of the movie? Did you see it in the theater? Trevor, I understand you were born in 1994, the year the movie came out? Did you grow up with these characters?
Fraley: I can’t remember a moment in my life when I hadn’t seen this movie. It very well could have been the first feature film I ever watched, so it’s hard to remember my first experience with it. I truly did grow up with these characters. I have seen it so many times that I can basically recite it from beginning to end (imperfectly).
Brown: I think I saw it on VHS when I was in high school. That opening scene was one greatest thing I’ve ever seen at the time. I’m still in awe of it to this day.
Smithyman: Scar is a pretty bad dude in the movie. Does he have any redeeming qualities or is he just pure evil?
Brown: I think villains are more fun when they think they’re what’s best for the kingdom, world, universe or whatever. In my opinion, he’s not pure evil. Scar is a complex character with a troubled past, but ultimately, his actions are irredeemable. While one could argue that his motivations are rooted in insecurity and a sense of being overlooked, his ruthless ambition and greed drive him to commit terrible acts.
Fraley: I think that readers of this series may be able to pick out some redeeming qualities that they may not have been able to in the original movie. One thing I think that he has always had going for him is that he has a really cool scar!
Smithyman: Be honest, did you cry when Scar helped Mufasa fall to his death? And since the answer has to be yes, how ugly was the cry?
Brown: Oh yeah! It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t pretty either. When Simba tried to wake up Mufasa…
Fraley: I think I was unable to process the moment when I saw it at such a young age, but by the time I could, it was never the moment when Scar does the action. It’s the chilling silence after the stampede has left and Simba goes to the scene and screams into the void only to hear an echo.
As for the ugliness of the cry, I don’t think I will disclose it in this interview.
Smithyman: Fair enough. Thanks for taking the time, and best of luck with the series!