Super hero stories tend to get a lot of flak these days. It seems everyone has a gripe about the genre, from the stunted characterization to the lackluster story arcs. And for the most part, these complaints are valid; the industry tends to be flooded with super hero stories, each one almost as indistinguishable from the others.
This is why when a fresh super hero book comes along, it tends to get noticed. For example, Supurbia from BOOM! Studios. Admittedly, this is a title that took me by surprise. However, I was hooked just after reading the first issue. Writer Grace Randolph has created a series starring super heroes but not about super heroes. Supurbia takes a hard look at the lives the super heroes impact, which aren’t just their own.
Grace was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule and answer a few questions about Supurbia, her history in comics, and a few of her other side projects.
My parents! They started buying me comic books when I was a kid – stuff like Archie and Uncle Scrooge. I love Carl Barks and Don Rosa comics. But then, one day I simply outgrew them. Well, not Uncle Scrooge really, but we’d been going to this quaint comic book store in New Jersey and the main part of the store really started to catch my eye. So I started to pick up the major Marvel and DC titles.
Your newest project is Supurbia from BOOM! Studios. Where did the concept for that series come from?
The idea came from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’d never watched any Real Housewives shows before, but my mother and sister decided to give the Beverly Hills version a shot. When they sat down to watch the teaser, they invited me too. I was reluctant, but I ended up really enjoying the episode! Also, it was pretty interesting how each city was able to change the flavor of the show so dramatically. Jokingly, I thought about how a superhero version would play – and then I started to take the idea seriously! I’d been trying very hard to get a creator-owned book but had yet to find the right hook, and this one just clicked.
Originally Supurbia was meant to be a limited series but has been expanded into an ongoing. How has that affected your overall goals for the series?
Well…I’ll be honest. I’d secretly always hoped Supurbia would become an ongoing. And if it didn’t get made into an ongoing, it was going to have a lot of loose ends! I really want Supurbia to be realistic, and life doesn’t happen in four issue chunks. So I went for broke telling as rich and complex a story as I could, and hoped readers would be interested enough to read beyond four issues. And thankfully they were! Reader support for Supurbia has been really wonderful, and I am extremely grateful for that. I read every comment, tweet and review I can find. As someone on YouTube, I’m used to – and enjoy – feedback and a dialogue with viewers.
I’d say the nicest thing is that I’m free to go against the grain and do something fresh. Of course, I understand that companies need to protect their brands and maintain a certain image, yet I do feel it’s important to mix things up. With Supurbia, I can do that. Also, I must admit that because the characters in Supurbia are archetypes, I can also use the book to “fix” problems that, as a reader, I have with some mainstream books and characters.
You host your own webshow, Think About The Ink. Tell us a little about that.
As I just mentioned, I really value my relationship with my viewers and I have them to thank for Think About The Ink. I’ve been doing a YouTube show called Beyond The Trailer since 2008, and based on that channel’s success Marvel had hired me to host and write The Watcher for their YouTube channel in late 2010. I had that gig for about a year and was very proud of the work I did – both creatively and growing The Watcher‘s audience. So I was quite surprised when I was suddenly fired. Out of professional courtesy I don’t want to discuss the details, but I didn’t agree with their reasoning and certainly didn’t appreciate their making it look like I just abandoned the show.
But the viewers were so wonderfully supportive of me and, as it became clear that Marvel was sticking by their decision to fire me no matter what, a number of people began suggesting I start my own show. And when Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston, who’d also been very supportive through the whole ordeal, offered to host a new show, I decided to take the risk and start Think About The Ink. It was scary and difficult at the beginning, but I think the channel is beginning to turn the corner and stand on its own two feet. And just like with Beyond The Trailer, a really nice community of viewers is starting to develop.
Nope. I am a HUGE believer in the jinx and never like to discuss future projects.
And finally, because it’s a question everyone in the industry should be asked, if you could be any super heroine or hero, who would you be?
Ooooh, that’s a tough one. Y’know, I read once that the Invisible Woman is actually the most powerful superhero out there but she just doesn’t really flaunt it. I’ve always found her to be an interesting yet underdeveloped character, so I guess I’ll pick her. Also, what woman hasn’t wanted to be invisible now and then – especially on a bad hair day?
On behalf of Comic Booked I’d like to thank Grace for taking part in this interview. I certainly can’t wait to see what she has for us in the future, both in Supurbia and beyond with her other, unspoken projects.