Thursday, November 13, 2008

Interview With Landry Walker

Over at there is a great interview with Landry Walker about his upcoming Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade comic. Here is the link: . As always, the whole interview is worth reading but I pulled out the pieces I think were most pertinent or intriguing and added some comments.

First off, it is clear that Walker has a love and respect of the Supergirl character. He also seems to have an idea of her history and her fan base, all of which makes me pretty excited for a title aimed for tweeners. I also am pretty excited to give the issues to the little supergirls at home, as they are the target audience for the book!

THE PULSE: I've always been a big Supergirl fan, prior to getting the chance to work on this new series, what was it about Supergirl that you found the most intriguing as a comic book reader?
WALKER: As she was portrayed from her initial appearance up until her death in Crisis, Supergirl always struck me as a very empathic character. Where Superman might punch a bad guy, she seemed more likely to ask the bad guy if there was something she could do to help him so that he would stop being a bad guy.

It is that empathy and care that first made me interested in the character as a young reader. Of course, that also made me totally frustrated to see the early stories of the current Supergirl where she usually seemed to care for only herself. Contrast that all throughout her prior incarnations leading to her ultimate sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths. At the very least, for a Johnny DC title, Supergirl should be caring and empathic.

THE PULSE: When you had the chance to kind of reinvent Linda Lee/Supergirl for a whole new audience, how did you decide what elements of the hero were essential to keep? What familiar defining Supergirl characteristics are going to be present in Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures?

WALKER: Supergirl is a character that has been all over the map, so nailing down the essence of the character is not a simple proposition. You have to decide first what iteration of Supergirl you're starting with. We looked to her 1950s self as the definitive model. So, as mentioned above, her empathic nature will feature prominently; she is a very compassionate character. That's something I think was laid out very early on in the history of Supergirl. She's an optimist, and she's also very idealistic, sometimes to the point of being naive.

How many creators actually understand that Supergirl has been 'all over the map'. In the pre-Crisis world, who was she? Timid young girl? College student? News reporter? Guidance counselor? Soap opera star? Grad student? All of the above?

The truth is though that despite those changes in her character, the foundation of Supergirl's character - heroism, self-sacrifice, compassion - have been a constant. So I think Walker has a good handle on Kara. Given the age of Kara in his book, it makes sense for him to base her personality on the girl from those early Action Comic issues were she was helping orphan's perform magic so they could get adopted, trying to earn Superman's respect, and eager to become a hero.

Additionally, she's a bit neurotic. Superman, back during the early years of Supergirl, really put Kara under a considerable amount of stress; she was absolutely terrified that Superman was judging her at every turn, and that she would be penalized in some manner if she failed him. This wasn't paranoia either, I mean, Superman was very likely to stop by unannounced and declare that because Kara had inadvertently revealed her secret identity to a goldfish she was forever banished to the Phantom Zone. That's a bit of hyperbole there, but only a bit. The point is, the specter of Superman hung over the early years of Supergirl, and we are keeping that aspect intact.

I have never heard it called the 'specter of Superman' before, but that is exactly what it was in those early issues of Action Comics. I couldn't help but include the cover of Action Comics #258. I mean that was 6 issues after her introduction! Reading those stories now, seeing Kara purposefully ruin chances of being adopted so she can remain Superman's 'secret weapon' ... seeing her try to be a hero only to be chastised by Superman ... it's frightening. It is amazing she didn't turn evil with that amount of judgmental brow-beating.

THE PULSE: What areas did you decide to modernize or update for your target audience?WALKER: For the sake of the stories I wanted to tell, I put Kara in a boarding school rather than an orphanage. I also made her younger, but I don't really view this as a change -- Supergirl was 15 years old when she was introduced originally. But by modern standards, she was portrayed as much younger, so I scaled back her age a bit to help keep with the spirit of the original material

THE PULSE: Why the eighth grade for Linda Lee? Out of all the ages/grades you could have chosen, what made this Junior High one stand out from the pack?
WALKER: There's also a nice transition to the Junior High age. It's an age of physical and emotional uncertainness. In my mind, the sudden development of superpowers is a nice analogy for the awkwardness of the pre-teen/tween age group.

Part of the reason I followed Supergirl as a younger reader was that I could relate to her character much more easily than I could to Superman's. There was that feeling that she was growing as a person, developing her own ideals and thoughts, that she might try and fail and try again and succeed. So I can completely see how junior high is the perfect setting for that growth period. Junior High was (gulp) about 25 years ago for me but I can remember starting to think more critically about things in the world, start to think read more books, expand my horizon ... all as I was a seething cauldron of hormones and emotions. Wouldn't that be more explosive with super-powers?

I will be interested to see how this idealistic Kara deals with the natural pitfalls of early adolescence.

THE PULSE: Obviously it's fun to see someone with all the powers of Supergirl struggling to get through a day in school or a situation with peers, especially when she could flick her pinky and destroy the building! What kind of problems does she face as Linda Lee that she doesn't have to worry about as Supergirl?
WALKER: In some ways, not accidentally destroying the building with said pinky is one of the difficulties. She's a gangly twelve-year-old girl who would be awkward under normal conditions. Add developing superpowers to the mix, and the normal problems of adolescence are compounded.We're also keeping the 1950s model of Kryptonian society. That's where Supergirl comes from: a somewhat more idyllic place -- so the cynical backstabbing cruelty of Earth is very hard for Linda Lee to understand. Making and keeping friends, understanding who her enemies are, and why they are her enemies, these are very complicated issues for Linda.
She is a super-powered starnger in a strange land and she is put into one of the most tempestuous Earth experiences there is. My guess is that she will come through it all still smiling and optimistic rather than having her shine dulled by the 'Mean Girls' around her.

THE PULSE: What's coming up in the first few issues of Supergirl?
WALKER: It's a struggle for Kara/Supergirl/Linda: she is a stranger in a very strange land. Junior High is not a place where the majority welcome strange new students with open arms. So the stories follow a logical progression as Supergirl figures out how (and if) she belongs in this world. We quickly see the introduction of a social circle for Linda. Well, it's not much of a circle, really: we have Belinda Zee, an extremely popular, overly confident and petty individual who is, in most ways, the total opposite of Linda Lee; there's a somewhat familiar supporting character from the depths of the DC Universe with initials "L. L."; Streaky, of course. I heard tell of Comet appearing -- I haven't written that yet, but I'm not ruling it out.

Hmmm .... an L.L. character from the depths of the DCU. Luma Lynai? Lori Lemaris? Anyone else with guesses?

Linda Lee ... and Belinda Zee. I think Belinda Zee is sort of the Bizarro Linda Lee, the mirror image. Belinda Zee even sounds like Bizarro Lee a bit. Coincidence?

THE PULSE: Will Superman play a role in this series? I'd imagine he'd be very interested in Supergirl .... What other heroes are going to guest star?
WALKER: That said, if something occurs to me that includes a notable character just stopping by, I'll use it. Never say never. But generally speaking, there are no current plans.Superman is not heavily involved, but as I mentioned earlier, his specter looms over Supergirl as her school year progresses.

While I think Superman has the capacity to be a great catalyst for growth in Superman, it has to be as a nurturing big brother and not a controlling father figure or a bullying older sibling. I had to include the cover of Adventure Comics #382. This comic was out a decade after her introduction and one issue into her solo run on the title and Supes is still berating her!

THE PULSE: I know you've worked on a lot of all-ages characters before both in and out of comic books, but how is working on one with the S-Shield different than any of your other projects?
WALKER: The biggest difference is that Supergirl has the greatest volume of back-story to draw from. That's a lot of fun, playing with the toys left behind by all these incredibly talented creators. But because I'm not limited by continuity, I can pick and choose which of these pre-existing aspects to utilize to a larger degree than I might otherwise. I'm very lucky in that regard.

Of all the things I read in this interview, I liked this the best. The fact that Walker recognizes and appreciates all the great Supergirl stories that have proceeded his take on her makes me think he is 'one of us' ... a friend of Kara. Anyone who is excited about putting Streaky into a comic and calls the prior creators 'incredibly talented', I just get the sense this series is going to be a nice respectable corner of the Supergirl lore.


TalOs said...

Man this is truly sounding SO kewl!

As a longtime HUGE Supergirl fan I just thank DC from the bottom of my heart for giving us not only Mr. Gates and Igle on the regular DCU proper main Supergirl title but now that of Mr. Walker and Jones soon for Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade too! :D

I really am very much looking forward to seeing this continuities Superman embracing his Kryptonian/Argonian cousin Supergirl and hopefully being more that of a 'big bro' rather then a 'Super specter' who is more then willing to get to know his cousin and watch over her as she grows in to her own as Supergirl with her time on Earth too!

This so called "Belinda Zee" big bad girl on campus character sounds like she just might have a few secrets of her own come her very own origin. For some reason I think she may secretly be another alien survivor of some other planet who rebels against Earth and it's rules un like Supergirl who'll be intrigued to the point of being actually willing to embrace them instead. Maybe she might even turn out to be a Supervillian when not disguised as "Belinda Zee" self! Now that would be cool too!

I also love the fact that apparently Supergirl will be getting not only Streaky yet Comet now too included amongst her very own "Super pets". Heh.

I'd love to see maybe even Wonder Woman and Batman show up eventually to teach Supergirl how to operate as a Super hero when Superman can't be around. (Although I doubt Bats will be able to teach her anything but that of the art in brooding. Heh.) Actually, I'd love it if Superman asked if Wonder Woman could become her god mother and she agreed to it. Just how cool would that be right there!

Anywho, I think this sounds more and more set to be one heck of animated style title aimed at tweeners but I think it will please all aged Supergirl fans regardless of who it's meant for when said and done. :D

P.S. As for who the mysterious 'L.L.' will be? How about Lucy Lane! Perhaps it's her who she ends up rooming with and eventually becomes BFF with just like the 84 Supergirl movie tried to portray at the time. Heh.

Gene said...

I think this would be an excellent concept to base a Supergirl TV show on.

It would be like "Smallville" as Kara discovers her abilities and place in the world, but she would change into her costume when the action occurs, just like the "Superboy" series.

Superman would make occasional cameos to offer advice and guidance, but would not dominate the show like Martin Sheen eventually did to Rob Lowe's character in "The West Wing." This would also satisfy viewers who would be wondering where Superman is while Supergirl is battling evil doers by herself.

I would start her off in junior year in high school so the show would not be plagued by too many "90210" or "Gossip Girl" plot lines. After the second season she can move on to community college that would allow her more time to save the world.

Laura V. would be my first choice to play the lead...

Anonymous said...

Sniff....I KNEW she'd come back someday...not even the "Crisis on Infinite Irks" could truly stop her!


John Feer

Anj said...

P.S. As for who the mysterious 'L.L.' will be? How about Lucy Lane! Perhaps it's her who she ends up rooming with and eventually becomes BFF with just like the 84 Supergirl movie tried to portray at the time. Heh.

Thanks for the post.

Lucy Lane is a great thought!

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that Kara's Kostume doesn't quite fit...the skirt swims on her and her sleeves are a bit baggy.


John Feer

Anonymous said...

"I think this would be an excellent concept to base a Supergirl TV show on."