Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sterling Gates Interview
There is a great interview with Supergirl scribe Sterling Gates over on Living Between Wednesdays, a great website about comics. Here is the link: http://livingbetweenwednesdays.com/?p=1257
Of course, I recommend going to the site and reading it in its entirety. But I have to put some parts here with a little commentary. One thing that's clear (as far as I am concerned) .. gates just 'gets' Supergirl.
1. How did you get the gig of writing Supergirl?
Was she a character that you specifically wanted to write?Well, I liked Supergirl a lot when I was a kid. Like, a LOT. The "Supergirl" movie came out when I was very small, and I was really, really drawn towards Helen Slater and her interpretation of Kara. DC published a comic adaptation of the "Supergirl" movie around that time, and I read it enough times the cover fell off. So she’s always been a character I was interested in and enjoyed.
I work as Geoff Johns’ assistant when I’m not writing, and over lunch one day I was telling him all these ideas I had for Supergirl, and what I would do with the title. He gave me some great advice over that lunch, and told me I should just go away and write my first issue.
I spent a weekend writing an issue on spec and a series proposal and emailed them off to Geoff. Geoff really enjoyed the script, and he sent it off to James Robinson (who writes Superman) to check out. He liked it, too, so the pair of them approached Superman Group Editor Matt Idelson with it.
Matt and the other super-editors at that time, Nachie Castro and Tom Palmer, Jr., had been actively looking for someone to take over that book. They responded to what I’d written, and a few days later, Matt called me and asked if I’d be interested in being the new Supergirl writer.
I love 'right place at the right time' stories like this. But the main thing here is that Gates had a love for the character of Supergirl for some time and that is pretty evident in how she has been written by him.
I think most comic book fans have always had ideas for their favorite characters and how they would portray them. I once wrote a story about how Wildfire from the Legion was actually an energy elemental. So it must have been an absolute thrill for Gates to be handed to keys to Supergirl's future, the dream of any fan.
2. It seems that Supergirl’s return, starting in the Superman/Batman title, has been awkward and only very recently have we seen her find her place in the DCU. I feel that in the past year or two, DC has really thrown a lot of support behind Supergirl as a character and as a title, and including her in this crossover New Krypton event is a good example. Do you find it to be an exciting time to be writing Supergirl as a character, and have there been a lot of discussions about the future of the character?
And yes, I’m thrilled that DC has put so much support behind Supergirl. Jamal and I have been working hard to make sure Supergirl’s as good a book as we can possibly make it, and I’m grateful that DC has been so supportive of us.
I have always noticed how much publicity DC has given Supergirl since the reboot with #34. With her inclusion in 'New Krypton' and guest shots in other books, it is clear the administration realizes how popular and powerful Kara can be as a character.
At the end of the day, I want Supergirl to not only be an iconic superhero in the DCU, but also a good role model for kids and adults alike. Jamal and I’s take on the character is a little different from how other writers and artists have interpreted her, I know. But in my head, she’s a member of the Superman Family, so I’m going to write her as such, y’know?
That isn’t to say we’re going to tell “boring” or “safe” stories with her, which are accusations I’ve seen leveled against Superman before. What I mean is: Supergirl’s a hero, and I’m going to write her as a hero. A hero that makes mistakes, sure, and lives and learns from them. Her flaws can be very noticeable, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Supergirl should be someone we can all identify with and support and root for and learn from.
I think this has been the knock against the new team from the folks who enjoyed the Loeb/Kelly issues. That somehow Supergirl has become 'safe' and not edgy. I don't mean to pick a scab ... but I just didn't like the Loeb/Kelly Supergirl.
But I think in places on this blog I have written almost the same thing that Gates states above ... Kara is a hero, she makes mistakes and learns, she is someone we can identify with. As a fan I am thrilled that the creative team of my favorite character has the same 'take' as me.
3. New Krypton seems like a very tight crossover. Are there regular meetings or discussions between yourself and the rest of the New Krypton team (Geoff Johns, James Robinson, Greg Rucka)? Have you found it challenging to write a series that ties into a larger story?
It can be a challenge, yes, but it’s also part of the job, taking into account what’s going on in the bigger picture as you write.
James and Greg and Geoff are really a blast to work with, and I feel that I’m very, very blessed to be working alongside such talented writers.
It can be a madhouse on the phone sometimes, but I think all of us really want to make the Superman Family of titles as strong as possible, and we’re working hard towards that goal.
Plus, there’s a HUGE endgame in mind, which you’ll start to see the first few strains of in August’s big Superman crossover. It’s not going to be an easy couple of years for Kal or for Kara.
I keep wondering about 'August's big Superman crossover'. Could it be that New Krypton cannot sustain itself so the Kryptonian's decide to invade Earth? It might be tough to have the story run concurrently with Blackest Night.
5. What other projects are you working on now, and what have you got planned for the future?
Well, today I’m working on Supergirl Annual #1, which I think is scheduled to come out in September. As I said before, we’re doing a month-long Superman crossover in August across the four main Superman titles, and we’re producing a pretty extensive Superman Secret Files to go along with that story. It won’t quite be on the scale of the Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Secret Files that Geoff and I wrote, but it’ll be a really great resource, with extremely detailed maps and profiles and stuff.
I'm glad to see that Gates is the writer of the Annual. And I am sure there will be plenty of Supergirl related material in the Secret Files.
I love that there is a stability to the title now and a long-term plan to where it is going.