They've been one of the most popular lines of DC collectibles, but now they have a comic series and universe all their own: DC's "Ame-Comi Girls" features a female-centric version of the DCU blended with all the energy and excitement of an action manga. A DC Digital First, new installments are available every Monday at the DC Digital store.
On September 10, a landmark chapter will be released, with all five of the lead superheroines teaming up for the beginning of a brand-new story arc. MTV Geek caught up with "Ame-Comi" writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray to discuss where the series is headed next. Plus: some exclusive art to feast your eyes on!
MTV Geek: How did you get involved with the "Ame-Comi" titles?
Justin Gray: Roughly over two years ago we were asked for our take on the "Ame-Comi" characters and told the format would be digital exclusive. Both ideas were immediately exciting in content and how the story would be delivered. I think it is safe to say we were drawn to the freedom of working outside existing continuity.
Jimmy Palmiotti: That and the idea that we could take just about every female character in the DC universe and team them together was a fun challenge. I have never seen anything like this happen before and being offered to become part of it and the digital format was too good to pass up.
Geek: Since the comics are based on a line of collectibles, did you have to create their world, backgrounds, and personalities from scratch?
JG: Some of it was preexisting and we tweaked it here and there. In other cases we branched out in different directions. We wanted to create an entry point to these characters that could appeal to a wide audience and yet felt familiar enough to keep long-time fans interested. Part of the beauty of building these characters was overcoming the preconception that the book would be nothing more than an excuse to show hyper-sexualized variants of the DC Universe’s super heroines.
JP: The crew working on the collectibles had some awesome ideas and we did some world building in the process. We also got the green light to create some new characters and to take this bunch to places the regular books haven’t gone before. For us, the personalities are the key to writing these characters and giving them different voices allows us to explore some interesting story ideas in the process.
JG: Part of the idea was trying to see the world from a different perspective. Obviously there are problem solving techniques and psychological differences between men and women. It’s the difference you can see between the way boys and girls resolve conflict. When boys resort to establishing physical dominance over each other. Girls tend to be more psychological in their approach, but because everyone is different we tried to cover as many personality types as possible. That’s all behind the camera stuff though. The fun is in the world and the things we can do with Ame-Comi that we can’t do in the main line.
JP: We have a lot of experience writing female characters and understand that this world will be a little different on some levels and embrace the concept with pen arms. Overall, we try to get across to the reader that we understand who they are and how they fit into the world we created and go from there. The key words here for us are fun and excitement. Anyone that has been following the series gets the humor of what we do, but also understands that we can flip a switch and make this an earth-shattering event at the same time. I find the most interesting parts of the series are when the characters are themselves and interact between them. A lot of the attitude the Powergirl series with Amanda Conner had is present here.
JG: I think that’s a mistake a lot of anime or manga inspired American made comics make. You can do much more with the artwork, but a lot of true manga and anime fans scoff at western attempts to capture the same flavor. Our purpose was to tell enjoyable stories about hyper real characters in a hyper real world. We did think about ways to present humor, action and science fiction that mirrored some of those sensibilities.
JP: Not in the storytelling so much, but some of the artists are using some style nods here and there that work just fine.
Geek: In this newest installment, the story that has been steadily building through the various solo titles is about to come to a head. Can you give us a preview of what we might expect when the various Ame-Comi supreheroines come together to have their epic clash of the titans?
JG: As we head into the “team” book, you’ll see that the Ame-Comi Brainiac has a much bigger impact on the mythology of the entire DC Universe. She is more than a traditional villain. Brainiac is the catalyst for some of the most familiar aspects of the Ame-Comi version of the DCU. The second storyline introduces Green Lantern and some of the familiar elements that fit that mythology. Green Lantern from Earth is a Chinese citizen who also happens to be blind so we got to expand on some of the ideas that were introduced with the character of Rot Lop Fan. We introduce the Atom and several other characters in the process.
JP: We have been working hard towards the bigger storylines this past year and we do have a planned direction that we think is spectacular. All of these smaller chapters have been introductions of the characters, and then pieces of a bigger puzzle. It was important for us to keep the new readers approachable and the established ones super happy. There is so much madness coming…its all so exciting.
Geek: Some Ame-Comi characters, like Duela Dent, have developed quite a fan following. Is there any possibility that we might see some version of the Ame-Comi Duela in the regular DCU titles?
JG: I couldn’t say. It would be great to cross over with the DCNU, but it would have to be something with a solid backbone and important to the characters. We’d hate to do a throwaway just for the sake of doing it.
JP: We would love to get someone like Duela and spend some time with her in any format, so we shall see how the print versions do and go from there. We have some ideas how to cross over everything we do…and always plan ahead.
Geek: Can you speak to the differences between making digital first comics like Ame-Comi as opposed to "traditional" comics? Pros and cons?
JG: The pros are the weekly format where fans can get a new issue every morning of the week as opposed to the traditional Wednesday. The instant access, the visuals are better and more vibrant. The difficulty is in trying to find a way for retailers to benefit and be able to sell the product. Obviously we’re moving it into print as well so that helps, but the digital model still has room for improvement. One problem in moving between digital and print is formatting. I dislike how splash pages are presented because they don’t translate the same way. Also the double page spread has to be eliminated in digital format. I have a lot of ideas for enriching the digital experience, but lack the resources to implement them.
JP: Agree totally. Another pro is getting to explore the characters … given the weekly format. The major con I see is that the digital format and delivery is in its beginning stages in my eyes, and there are so many opportunities to deliver these chapters that have yet to be explored. We look forward to when they are cross promoted across the line and to other medias.
Geek: You've got some great artists on this series, such as Ted Naifeh and Sanford Greene. What is it like working with the different art teams on this project?
JG: It’s always a great experience to work with so many diverse and talented artists. I think we’ve been blessed, between Jonah Hex and Ame-Comi, to collaborate with dozens and dozens of unique voices in the medium. In this case it gave each character a unique feel that translated well to readers.
JP: Art fans love this series and who could blame them. We have always had some great talent working with us, and our editor Jim Chadwick keeps delivering some of the top talent in the field to the project.
Geek: Some people refer to the Ame-Comi line as "for girls". Is that too simplistic? Who would you say is the audience for Ame-Comi?
JG: Actually I think that’s funny because the initial reaction was – stay away girls this is just another exploitation of the female form comic! The reaction was very negative before a single page was published. That was the absolute last thing we wanted because the larger the audience the greater the success and we want this line to succeed on many different levels. I love that the cosplay community has embraced the designs and that in some way we can be a part of launching new statues like Brainiac.
JP: The Ame-Comi line of stories is for everyone. Cos-play people, die-hard DC fans and anyone who loves a weekly blast of superhero madness. I just did two major shows and the feedback has come from male and female alike, so the reception is a good one and a diverse one. We have also fond that fans of our work are giving it a shot and liking it, even though they had some pre-existing ideas of what it was.
Geek: Any hint as to the future of the Ame-Comi line of comics?
JG: We’re not holding anything back, you’re going to get big superhero stories with the introduction of dozens of familiar characters unencumbered by the laws of the established line. There’s an open door to these characters for any age and yet it isn’t a “kiddie” book. In fact we’re taking an old school approach that anyone who loves superhero fiction should be able to enjoy these stories. We truly want people to feel a sense of joy and adventure in following these characters.
JP: If you are someone that loves a certain female character in the DCU and haven’t seen them in a while…stay tuned.
The latest chapter of "Ame-Comi Girls" hits DC Digital September 10th!