Interviewer: When you’re working on Big Questions, does the writing come first or the drawing? Do you write out a script, or does the story just emerge as you’re drawing panel to panel?
Nilsen: When I started Big Questions I would just draw the next page as I saw it. At that point it was still very much image-based, where I was just kind of generating these iconic images—the house with the shadow of the airplane cast over it, the birds pecking the bomb, the plane crashing into the house, the pilot falling out of the plane confronted by the birds—and then thinking about how to connect them. But it didn’t take very long for the basic plot points to crystallize. As it got more complicated, with more characters to follow and more intertwining of the strings, I ended up making plot diagrams, eventually actually sitting down to write a script, thumbnailing the entire story.