Monday, July 13, 2009

Cosmic Adventures: Supergirl Production Info

We continue to get some behind the scenes look at the evolution of Supergirl:Cosmic Adentures in the Eighth Grade on Landry Walker's blog. There have been a couple of posts about the Supergirl character and her design.

From the first post ( ) Walker talks about writing a pre-teen girl who isn't overwhelmed with angst. He also writes about the design of the character that he and Eric Jones came up with ... from age to emotion to their version of her costume. As always, it is better to read these things in their entirety so make sure to visit the blog itself.

Here are some parts I really liked and my usual retorts..

One thing Eric and I knew as soon as we got the job was that Supergirl had to be played large, emotionally speaking. Her excitement and her stress, all had to be bigger than life. That way, when we would bring her emotions down to a quieter level, it would have more impact. More gravity.

So this works in a couple of ways for me. One, by having Supergirl ride a roller coaster of emotions in the series it makes it easier to understand how she has grown over just 6 issues of story.

I also agree that when you see powerful quiet moments (like when she scoops up the injured Lena in the last issue) they resonate that much greater when you compare to the more over-the-top emotional scenes of the book (like Linda cringing at her desk when Belinda plays secretly taped conversations over the intercom.

And lastly, since this is drawn in a more animated style, Eric Jones was really able to let the characters emote ... as seen in some of the pics above.

Point is: Teenagers aren't just overcome with negative emotions. They're overcome with positive emotions as well. They're easily excitable and easily embarrassed. Imagine you're just as you are now, but you've never known sorrow or joy. You feel those things for the first time, you can barely contain yourself. It's overwhelming and amazing and horrible. That's being a teenager. And so we attempted to instill this in the character of Supergirl.

My guess is that Sterling Gates had a similar take on his Supergirl as well even though that Kara is about 5 years older. Supergirl doesn't need to wallow in negativity or angst. Yes, those feelings are part of life experiences but you don't need to perseverate over them.

When we first meet Supergirl, she's still 12 years old. We wanted her in 8th grade, but still not quite a teenager when she debuts on Earth. Some people (mostly those who did not read the book) suggested that this was an attempt to make the character more "kiddie". Not the case. We brought Supergirl back to her roots. If you read her earliest adventures, she is portrayed as 15. But she acts significantly younger than any 15 year old I've ever known. A modern audience would have some difficulty accepting a 15 or 16 year old girl acting as young as Supergirl was when she was introduced. So we felt we could remain truer to the origins of the character by making her a bit younger.

I didn't really pick up on this way to mirror Kara's early stories until I read this post. It is true.

When you read those early Supergirl stories, she does act younger than the average 15 year old. I always think of the story where she dresses like a fairy godmother and grants 3 wishes (using her super powers) to make sure that the younger kids in the orphanage continue to believe in fairy tales. I don't know too many teenage girls who would do that as happily as Kara does in that issue.

The second post about the Supergirl design talks more about costume decisions ( ). Given the recent conversations about the costume in the main title, I thought it was timely.

There were websites chock full of outrage over the tights (though mostly over her lack of boobs). But it wasn't as bad, mainly (I think) because our Supergirl is younger. Therefore people felt a little creepier vocalizing their outrage. Also, there is the out of continuity aspect. People were less offended as the "real" Supergirl wasn't the one wearing tights.

I can remember the outcry about Cosmic Supergirl looking too much like a boy and not curvy enough. I definitely cringed when I read those comments where people were asking for more feminin definition in a 12 year old girl.

Our Supergirl is young, inexperienced, insecure and unsure. A short hand to show this lack of confidence is for her to cover herself up a bit more modestly. So with that in mind, it was a very conscious choice to have Belinda Zee fly around without tights. The choice in uniform for a character is not one of fashion.

The tights are a subtle way of showing Kara's insecurity. I also think it is 'easier' to explain the presence of the tights as simply part of the majorette costume she came to Earth in. But it works so well in contrast to the sassy brash confident Belinda zipping around in just a skirt.

The uniform should reflect the psychology of the person behind the uniform. Therefore advancing the story. Writing isn't just the placement of words or even the construction of a plot. It's everything. Every nuance. Every camera angle. Every expression.

I do my best to look at comics and films critically in this way and hopefully it comes out a bit in my better reviews. I am always trying to figure out what the director/writer/artist is trying to convey with panel size, angle of the shot, composition. In this book, you could see the small details like body language and costume evoking the feeling that Walker and Jones were looking for.

Thanks again Landry Walker and Eric Jones.


TalOs said...

Thanks again for the behind the scenes insight in to the making of S:CAIT8G, Landry and Eric! :D

I have to admit, originally I was a tad wee bit upset to see that this titles overall Supergirl character design would apparently be including her wearing her cousin's blue tights - that was until I had realized that she was intended to be the actual age of that of a mere KID and not that of a mature 16+ year old (which I assumed the latter was to be the case instead) where in after having realized this just made total sense to me that DC and Eric now having a younger kiddy aged Kara Zor-El/'Linda Lee'/Supergirl to be dressed in a more appropriate way suiting one of her age bracket.

Gene said...

These behind the scenes posts by Landry have been quite enjoyable. How he and Eric got the green light for this series from DC at Wondercon is an incredible story in itself. I'm looking forward to the TPB this December.