DC’s Bombshells Explode With Creativity! An Interview With the Artists of DC Comics Bombshells #2 and an Exclusive Cover Reveal!
Also, three out of three artists prefer Wonder Woman.
It’s no secret the DC Bombshells detonated fandom with excitement since their cover stunt in 2014. Now in their own ongoing digital and print series written by Marguerite Bennett, the DC Bombshells have every artist in the biz vying for their attention. The lucky three who drew DC Comics Bombshells #2 sat down with the Mary Sue to talk about this exciting project. Also, we’ve included BONUS EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL ACTION with the amazing variant cover for #3 by Kate Leth!
RACHEL GLUCKSTERN (THE MARY SUE): Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you get involved with drawing this project?
LAURA BRAGA: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to draw comics or cartoons.
I attended: the International School of Comics in Florence, the Disney Academy in Milan and the school of Comic-Animation at Montimages in Bassens and La Salle. All of them had been very positive and constructive experiences for me, especially because they were very different from each other. As a child, I used to claim that I wanted to draw cartoons, but, over the years (and maybe also thanks to the animation courses I took) I realized that I was more keen on comics and illustration.
I started working on comics in 2000 for some Italian publishers. My works for American comics started in 2013 for Top Cow and Madefire. I immediately loved to draw American Comics, because of the storytelling and the spectacular design.
I then recently was offered the great opportunity to be involved in this wonderful project called DC Comics Bombshells. While I was working on Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, the editor, Jim Chadwick, asked me if I would like to work on a chapter of Bombshells – specifically the chapter featuring Wonder Woman. It was wonderful news for me, I love the character of Wonder Woman and working on it is a great joy and inspiration
STEPHEN MOONEY: I’ve been drawing comics professionally for about eleven years now. I’ve only been at DC for about a year now. How I got onto Bombshells specifically was through Marguerite [Bennett] the writer. I was one of the seven million artists who was drawing Furiousa from the Mad Max film and stuck it online. She saw that picture and liked it, and then inquired if I would be available for the story. It was great. I’m such a fan of the material.
TED NAIFEH: I’m an independent creator mostly known for my books for teen and tween girls, such as Courtney Crumrin. My latest one, Princess Ugg, is about a barbarian princess going to princess finishing school. I enjoy working with Jim Chadwick and wanted to do a little something in between projects, so I called him up and asked if he had anything, and he said, “I have just the thing for you,” and he presented me with Bombshells. I was very excited about that and immediately did a couple of pinups of some of the characters and sent them over, and Jim said, “Well, you’re in.”
RG: Which part of the story did you draw? What was your favorite moment?
LB: I drew the story with Wonder Woman and Mera, as I said before. I really love the character of Wonder Woman – she is a strong and motivated woman. My favorite moment is in an upcoming chapter where I had the opportunity to draw a great sequence of two double-spread pages of a battle with tanks, scary weapons and lots of explosions…I really loved working on this sequence – thanks to the amazing story of Marguerite Bennett!
SM: My story is Supergirl. It also has Stargirl, but it predominantly features Supergirl. There are so many good moments. The two of them are pilots, Russian World War II fighter pilots, and there’s a nice bit of action there, which I really enjoyed drawing. The whole “faster than a speeding bullet” thing, which is on every artist’s checklist. And then these nice moments with Supergirl. There are these horrible, idiot men oppressing her at every turn, and she’s trying to break free and protect her half-sister, who’s Stargirl. There are a couple of points where she just has to force through them and give them some of their own medicine, which is always enjoyable.
TN: I did a story about Zatanna, which was very exciting. I got to do lots of magical stuff, and I got to draw this young John Constantine, which was fun. They have this little scene inspired by Inglorious Basterds, which I thought was very amusing. That was my favorite moment to draw for sure. I got a sample of one of the Wonder Woman chapters, and I started getting this terrible desire to draw the whole book, but of course, I’m sure they much better, more diverse artists who are more appropriate to draw the whole thing, because it does look like a super-exciting, really fun book.
RG: What’s the best part about drawing the Bombshells in general?
LB: To me, it is the opportunity to draw the classic superheroes in maybe a little more modern perspective, with new stories and new costumes all the while maintaining the vintage Bombshells look. It’s all very exciting for me!
SM: In general, I would definitely say it’s the [time] period stuff. The whole very romantic Americana, 1940s Hollywood curls, the clothes are fantastic, everyone looks fantastic and even though it’s one of the worst periods in history, they all have amazing hair and clothes, and they all live in beautiful houses. I grew up on all that stuff, movies and TV, and everything all second-hand, and I’ve always been a big fan. My own series, Half Past Danger, is completely based on that era – World War II and the Bombshells. So, I was really excited to be on board. I think they’re some of the best-looking comics out there. Ant Lucia did such an amazing job with the covers, And then Marguerite Sauvage is the main artist on the book and is incredibly good. It’s intimidating to work with people like that, but it’s also invigorating. And it’s great fun to be part of such a good team.
TN: I’d been drawing books for tweens and teens for a while, so it was fun to draw sexy adult women for a change. But I found that I don’t have the instinct for Bombshell art, not like the masters of the craft, Adam Hughes and Frank Cho. I found that you have to consider what’s sexy and specifically feminine about every pose, every panel. It felt like it was going against my feminist instincts. But then again, what’s so un-feminist about being sexy, or feminine? It might not be right for the typical rough-and-tumble girls I tend to write, but when the story and aesthetic of the book calls for it, it’s completely appropriate.
RG: Tell us about working with Marguerite Bennett.
LB: I’m very happy to have the opportunity to work with Marguerite! She is an amazing writer and I immediately felt a part of her story. I love how she recounts her characters. I have a great empathy with her script and story.
SM: It’s very new still. It’s my first Bombshells story, so we haven’t had that much interaction. When I came on board, I got sent the whole bible for the series, and I got to read it. There are loads of really amazing stuff yet to come, and getting to see how cohesive and together the whole storyline is, and it ends up in a really nice place, so that was really impressive to me. When I got that, I sent a tweet off to her saying, “hey, I’m really excited to be working with you,” which is a hundred percent true. Hopefully, there will be more coming down the line once I’m finished with Midnighter. Really looking forward to working on it again.
TN: The script she wrote was just fantastic. We didn’t work all that much directly, but working on her script was just a delight and a lot of fun. I got to run some ideas on character design and character approach by her, and she was super fun and supportive, and she came up with these really great, creepy ideas. The other character I got to draw in this story was Joker’s Daughter, which, in this book, is basically just the Joker of the story. There is no other Joker as far as I know. She’s just called the Joker’s Daughter because she’s the daughter of the playing card. In the story, she runs this underground cabaret, and I start her off looking very va-va-voom and sexy, like Marlene Dietrich, and then by the end, she starts looking really creepy and Joker-y, and I had a lot of fun with that.
RG: Tell us about what it’s like drawing for digital platforms in mind, instead of print.
LB: Working for a digital comic is not so different from working for a printed comic, for me. We are imagining the scenes for a comic that will be also printed, so, the template of the page is a bit different because the page is divided into two equal parts. But Marguerite leaves it so I can choose how many panels I put into each part of the page. So, it’s very clear I have a lot of freedom to draw the story and the panels.
SM: Yeah, it’s interesting. This is my first time, and I was wondering if it would be a major difference or simple little tweaks on the dimensions. Basically, you do any normal DC books, you get the same page template, 11×17, lead area, live area, etc. Whereas when you start on the Bombshells, the digital books, they hand you a new page template, which is basically each traditional page halved, and one page of traditional artwork is two pages of digital, because they’re formatted for the screen and in landscape format. Once you wrap your head around the fact that there has to be a midpoint in every page of traditional artwork, it’s pretty easy-going. Jim Chadwick is a great editor, and he was very hands-on to help. Storytelling-wise, there might be something that you want to carry through from one panel to the next like in a traditional book, but you might have to curtail that and finish it a bit more neatly halfway through the page as opposed to two-thirds down the page, because there needs to be a theoretical page turn at the point for the screen acts like the next chapter. So it’s simple logistics once you keep it in mind.
Double-page spreads were a trickier aspect. There was a double-page spread in my first story, and when it got printed digitally, it was on four separate screens. But the problem being that in digital format – if you’re thinking of it as a double-page spread – it goes top left to bottom left, as opposed to to if you were reading it on paper, it would go top left to top right. So that storytelling had to be tweaked. It’s the one tricky aspect of the whole enterprise.
TN: You know, I’m still getting the hang of it. Marguerite Sauvage has figured it out so easily, making these really great
double-page pieces. You have to design a page that works as a single page, and also works as a top page and a bottom page. And I just couldn’t quite figure out how to bleed the top or the bottom panels, so I just did my best. At first, I just did panels, and then my editor comes back and says, “These are good, but they’re not as dynamic as they could be. They’re just boxes against white, and we were hoping to get a little bit more than that.” I like to keep my work very simple and boxed-in, and I kept white as something I liked because it’s very simple, and very graphic, and tells a story easily. But I went back in and redesigned some of the panels as bleed panels, although I always kept the gutter between the top and the bottom. And of course, Marguerite comes along and just shows how you’re supposed to do it. Which you can see in her pages; they’re just amazing. So now I’m thinking if I ever get a chance to do one of these again, I’m going to reinvent how I do the top and bottom panels. I think it’s a fun challenge, and clearly, I have a long way to go before I master it.
RG: Who’s your favorite Bombshell design?
LB: Again, I can’t deny…my favorite Bombshells design is Wonder Woman (for this reason I feel very lucky) but I also love Harley Quinn! She is my favorite next to Wonder Woman.
SM: I like the Wonder Woman one a lot. Maybe I’m biased, but the shirt and the shorts, the almost mechanic look, like she works in a garage or something. Harley Quinn, she’s fun in any iteration. Supergirl’s great. The designs are excellent across the board, I have to say. They’re really well done, really faithful to the period. But Wonder Woman’s probably my favorite look.
TN: Well, I’d say I’m still partial to Wonder Woman. But I think my close second would be Zatanna. To be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the Zatanna design until I got a hold of it, and I did one simple little thing, which was to take the top hat that she wears and just move it forward on her head a little bit, like in the style one wears a fascinator. In the original design, it’s just this tiny top het sitting on her head like an afterthought. All it needed was a coquettish little tilt and then suddenly, she was this great character and a lot of fun to draw, and now I want to see someone cosplay that character.
RG: What other projects do you have coming up?
LB: I have some other projects coming up, but I definitely hope to stay with this great DC Comics team on this particular project for a long time!
SM: I’m doing an arc of Midnighter. My issue #4 is out the same day as Bombshells actually. It’s a Grayson arc. I was on Grayson for a while last year. He’s my favorite DC character, so that was nice. I’m getting to do kind of a buddy movie. Midnighter is so tough and moody, he’s the most masculine guy in comics right now. He just doesn’t give a…fig, let’s say (laughs). Then you’ve got Dick, he’s being the straight man in this scenario. It’s kind of like the Batman and Robin thing where Grayson’s Robin, and obviously, Midnighter’s the Batman type, and yet, he’s so much not, so that’s been a great opportunity. Hopefully, more Bombshells, although I’m not sure yet.
TN: I have been circling with my publisher (Oni) to get them to choose a new project, and it looks like they’re going to say yes to something I designed and created called Umber Knights, which is a cross between the Avengers and a fantasy-set crime noir story. It’s a crime noir, set in a fantasy city, that turns into the Avengers.
RG: What else would you like to say about working on Bombshells?
SM: It’s been such a great honor to be working with all the main people. I was giddy when I found out I was going to be doing some of it. It’s a pure pleasure to be part of the team. They’re such genuine people, which I’ve found with DC in general, I have to say. Everyone is great to work with, so I’m looking forward to it, and I’m ready to continue on this book.
TN: To me, stuff like Bombshells is the most exciting thing DC is doing. I love these radical reinventions of the DCU. I used to love Elseworlds books like Gotham by Gaslight and that sort of thing. I know they’re not to everyone’s taste, but I’d like to see more books like this in longer form. I’d like to see this universe grow.
DC Comics Bombshells #2 hit the stands on 9/2, so rush out and get yours if you haven’t already. And get ready for next month’s issue featuring a knock-out variant cover by Kate Leth, exclusively revealed here at the Mary Sue!
Rachel Gluckstern is a New York-based editor and writer. With over ten years editing experience for DC Comics, including DETECTIVE COMICS, BATMAN AND ROBIN, and CATWOMAN, her nerd cred and love of Batman are unshakable. Wears a lot of black. It saves time.
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