In late 2012, renowned artist Jamal Igle conducted a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund production of Molly Danger, an original creator-owned all-ages superhero graphic novel. Now, one year later, Igle has partnered with publisher Action Lab Entertainment (publisher of such acclaimed kid-friendly titles as Princeless and Skyward), and is preparing for the wide release of Molly Danger Vol. 1 – so we jumped at the chance to speak with him about this book, his inspirations, and his plans for the future.
MTV Geek: So right off the bat, for our readers who may not be familiar with her yet, who IS Molly Danger?
Jamal Igle: Molly is the world’s most powerful 10-year-old superhero. Operating out of the formerly sleepy town of Coopersville, New York (just up the transit on the Metro North), She’s a superhumanly strong force for good. Molly has been protecting the citizens of Coopersville for the last 20 years…
Wait…did I say TWENTY YEARS???
Yes, Molly only looks and acts like a 10-year-old girl, when in fact she’s nearly 30 years old. The world at large has been told all we know.. Molly is an alien form a planet called Gamma 7, whose ship crashed on Earth in a freak accident. Trapped, with no way to return to her people, Molly works with the members of Danger’s Action Response Team (or D.A.R.T. for short). Incredibly powerful, and possibly immortal, Molly protects Coopersville form a team of cybernetically enhanced villains called Supermechs.??However, while Molly is a beloved champion of good and loved by people worldwide, he world is not an entirely happy one. She doesn’t have a secret identity, or any friends of her own. She’s kept in near constant isolation by D.A.R.T. and not allowed to fraternize with their members. Molly is looking for a life outside of being a superhero.
Geek: Why an all-ages book? Why this story, and why now?
Igle: I wanted to create a book that harkened back to the types of comics I enjoyed reading when I was a young comics fan. When I was reading comics back in the 1980’s I was a fan of the Post crisis Superman books and Chris Claremont’s run on the X-men, Giffen and Dematteis on Justice League, that sort of thing. They were books that dealt serious subjects including murder, racism, sadomasochism, international politics, but they way they were handled made them accessible for readers of any age.
When I was at D.C. Comics, I had the opportunity to work on Supergirl for two years with a talented writer named Sterling Gates. While I was working on the series I had the opportunity to speak to and communicate online with many female fans, both women and young girls. It really helped me shape how I wanted to approach Molly’s story.
I wanted to create a book that I wasn’t seeing on the stands, one that my daughter would want to read. I wanted to create a book that parents and kids could read together.
For me, Molly has become almost a backlash against the gradually darkening tone that a lot of superhero comics. I began to think about it in terms of younger readers, particularly female readers. What was the story I wanted to ultimately tell? One about a strong, capable young girl with real emotions. A hero who didn’t need to be attached to the hip of an older male hero to be seen as viable.
Geek: Was this an idea you had in the works for a long time? Were there many revisions between the initial conception, and the final version of the story and characters?
Igle: I originally created Molly with the help of my friend Rich Maurizio back in 2001 as a possible animation pitch. Back then, Molly was much more ambiguous, her power set and her world were not as fleshed out. D.A.R.T. was always a part of the story, but Molly had a secret identity and was jumping between dimensions. The Supermechs have remained pretty much the same as well as Molly Herself visually but the current version of the story is much different than what I originally wrote back then. The original story was much more cynical and satirical and I think a lot of that is that was based on my inexperience as a person. I was writing from a much different place then. I’m much more focused and centered as a person and I think it shows in the book.
Geek: What is it about this project that demanded you step away from the grind of turning out work for other publishers, and setting out on your own?
Igle: When I ended my exclusive contract with D.C. I found myself at a creative crossroad. I was trying to figure out what the next phase of my career was going to be. I was busy, working, but a bit unhappy. Was I going to continue to be an “Art shark”, moving from project to project, hoping not to drown? One of the difficult parts of being an in demand artist was that I had very few opportunities to prove myself as a writer. I knew that I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. It really was divine providence actually. I had several ideas for projects, but Molly was the one I kept coming back to as being the right project to tackle.
Geek: Is this your first creator-owned work?
Igle: No, actually I also co-created a series called Venture with writer Jay Faeber (Noble Causes, Dynamo 5, Near Death) for Image Comics back in 2003. That series ran 4 issues and was a buddy action comedy about a super being whom tabloid reporter blackmails into becoming a costumed hero.
Geek: Tell us a little about your experience running the Kickstarter campaign for the book… Was this a one-man operation, or did you have anyone assisting with the day-to-day of fundraising and spreading the word? Were there unforeseen difficulties? Would you do it the same way again, if you had to do it over?
Igle: The opportunity of taking a project to Kickstarter to secure funding was too great to pass up.
I had to put my fears aside to do it. I didn’t take anything for granted and worked on the campaign for months before I launched. No one was more surprised that I got the funding, and I will be eternally grateful. I ran the campaign myself, handled all the social media, PR and marketing for the campaign. I was doing this, while working on full time doing comics work. The only thing I would have done differently is carved out a month of time to just handle the campaign and not be distracted by other work. It got to be a very heavy load everyday. It was the most stressed I’d been in quite some time.
Geek: And how did you end up partnering with Action Lab for the release?
Igle: As soon as I made the decision to go to Kickstarter, I knew I wanted to take Molly to A.L.E.. I’ve been friends with the principals of Action Lab since before there was an Action Lab. I pledged to their Fracture campaign on Kickstarter, saw the quality of the books and knew I wanted to help them move forward as a company. I just thought that whatever attention my name draws from comics fans would help boost Action Lab’s profile as a publisher.
Geek: The D.A.R.T. ID cards are a particularly wonderful piece of merchandising/promotion… How did you come up with that idea?
Igle: I just love that kind of stuff. Again, going back to being an old school comics fan, I remember when Marvel would give out Avengers I.D. cards at comic shops. I loved the idea of creating a fan club that kids could, eventually be a part of and I thought that as an incentive it would be a small, inexpensive piece that people would love to have.
Geek: Are there any particular creators or works you'd cite as inspiring your work on this book?
Igle: James Robinson and Paul Smith’s “Leave it to Chance”, Todd Dezago and the late Mike Wieringo’s “Tellos” are probably the biggest influences, but I’d be remised if I didn’t mention Jeff Smith’s “Bone” and “Nexus” by Mike Baron and Steve Rude.
Geek: And are there any other All-Ages titles or creators out there that you'd especially recommend?
Igle: Wow, so many, people like Raina Telgemeier, Katie Cook, Paul Storrie , Love and Capes by Thom Zahler, Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, Cooper by Kaz Kibiushi, Princeless by Jeremy Whitley, Skyward by Jeremy Dale, and Missle Mouse by Jake Parker are great examples.
Geek: Is 'Molly Danger' planned as a finite story, or are you simply having fun creating, setting up the characters and the world and seeing where they take you?
Igle: I consider the first four books the “origin” of Molly Danger, or who Molly will become. After that, the sky really is the limit.
Geek: Now that Volume 1 is hitting shelves, what's next on your agenda?
Igle: Well, New York Comic-Con is going to be our official launch event. We’re having a party of JHU Comic books on 32nd Street, Saturday October 12th from 9 pm-12 am. That’s being sponsored by Jerry’s Artarama, Strathmore paper, and Artograph. I’ll be doing panels all week and you can get more details at my website.
I’ll also be attending Superhero Weekend in Flemington, N.J. on October 5th, Detroit Fanfare on October 26th and 27th, and NC Comic-Con on November 9th and 10th. I do have other projects coming up, including drawing issue #9 of G.I. Joe Special Missions, and a soon to be announced miniseries.
Geek: And lastly… Without dropping too many spoilers, any hints about what's next for Molly?
Igle: Like I said before, this series is going to be about self-discovery and there are hints to where things are going at the end of book one. We’ll learn who is behind everything, what they’re connection to Molly is and how things will proceed as going forward. I’m excited about Molly, and I hope to be creating her adventures for a long, long time.
Molly Danger Volume 1 hits comic shops in mid-October.