Building a New Girl-Powered DCU in AME-COMI GIRLS

Eduardo Francisco (art) Wes Hartman (colors) Eduardo Francisco (art)

Wes Hartman (colors)

When Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray started writing the weekly fem-filled digital series Ame-Comi Girls for DC, they battled the perception that, because the main characters were all female, these were "cheesecake" comics, or they were "girly" stories.

But readers have quickly found out that's not true.

"In reality, [Ame-Comi is] a superhero comic that never slows down, never apologizes and turns the DC Universe completely upside down," Gray told Newsarama. "It has action, crime, science fiction, fantasy and everything else that we love about superhero comics — all featuring dozens of familiar heroines."

The once digital-only series has been hitting the shelves of comic stores in print recently, and the writers are hoping print readers give the comic a chance.

Ame-Comi Girls is based on the popular manga-inspired collectibles that DC has been selling for the last few years. But the comic series has added a butt-kicking attitude to the girls of the DCU, as they fight alongside female versions of DC's superheroes, against other female versions of villains.

Although Ame-Comi is just starting in print, the comic has been released digitally as part of an initiative announced last spring by DC Entertainment to release digital comics every weekday. A different, short chapter of Ame-Comi Girls comes out digitally every Monday for 99 cents. All stories are written by Palmiotti and Gray, with art by well-known artists like Amanda Conner, Tony Akins, Sanford Greene, Ted Naifeh, Mike Bowden and Santi Casas.

In the series, the heroines must unite to stop an invasion by the female Brainiac, who is aided by a group of “bad girl” supervillains.

Eduardo Francisco (art) Wes Hartman (colors) Eduardo Francisco (art)

Wes Hartman (colors)

Newsarama talked to Palmiotti and Gray about these new, tough female heroes and what they hope for the comic's future now that it's being released for print.

Newsarama: Jimmy and Justin, now that you've had a few digital chapters of the different Ame-Comi Girls titles coming out, as well as the start of print, what's been the reaction to the Ame-Comi Girls comics? And what do you hope happens as they're now moving into print?

Justin Gray: The social media reaction to Ame-Comi has been fantastic, and we’re hoping more people pick up the print editions, because everyone involved feels like this is the kind of superhero book that can appeal to everyone.

Jimmy Palmiotti: We've been getting a lot of mainstream fans giving the series a shot, and they're all enjoying what we're setting up in this universe. The feedback has been great. And we're continuing to take what comic fans know and love and put our twist on it. The designs of the new characters are just amazing.

This whole project has been a blast and continues to grow in size. I always have to remind people that this is one of the few books you can read digitally each and every Monday…and now with the print, this should expand the audience in no time.

Nrama: While there's plenty of villainous activity in the comics, they have a style that feels more upbeat and action-oriented than most of the more mainstream superhero comics. What tone were you hoping to achieve with Ame-Comi Girls?

Gray: You know when parents go away and leave their teenage kids home and the kids throw a massively insane party? That’s what Ame-Comi feels like. DC is out of town, left us the keys to the 1961 Ferrari GT California and we can do anything we want. The idea from day one was to give people more action, adventure and superhero fun per square inch than any other comic on the stands. You have no idea what to expect and as soon as you get comfortable we blow everything up.

Nrama: Reading the comics, I was pleased to find that these aren't at all childish and cartoony, or damsel-type interpretations of the characters, but instead they're portrayed as super-confident, kick-ass young women. Was that a conscious choice? For them to break the expectation for "sweetness" or victim when you've got a female-only comic?

Gray: I feel like we constantly have to combat the perception of what Ame-Comi is in order to convince more people to give it a shot. I mean you get 99-cent comics every Monday, which is a bargain, but people started out and maybe some still feel like this is a cheesecake, soft-core comic featuring the great female characters in the DCU.

Santi Casas (art) Randy Mayor (colors) Santi Casas (art)

Randy Mayor (colors)

On the flip side because it is fun and bright and can be read by anyone, then it is viewed as a kid’s comic and we all know how well those do. In reality, it is a superhero comic that never slows down, never apologizes and turns the DC Universe completely upside down. It has action, crime, science fiction, fantasy and everything else that we love about superhero comics all featuring dozens of familiar heroines.

Palmiotti: We treat these characters seriously and at the same time are able to do things that the mainstream books cannot do because of continuity. We do not write down to an audience ever, and just because on the surface this line of characters might seem aimed at younger people, there is no reason to treat them as that. When we say all ages can enjoy these books, we mean it.

Nrama: For people who might not be reading these comics yet, can you do a quick run-down of the main characters in your story, and what they're like in the Ame-Comi universe?

Gray: Like I said, Ame-Comi is full of surprises and twists. We start out with a younger and less refined Wonder Woman, a Power Girl who is openly Kryptonian and using that technology to improve the planet, Batgirl and Robin who are chic, stylish and very far from the “Dark Knight” interpretation. The Batgirl version is in print this month, while in digital we’re wrapping up the Brainiac arc and heading into another arc called "The Chosen," which introduces Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and other space-oriented characters as they prepare to face a threat to the multiverse.

Nrama: While you're incorporating several supervillains into the comic, the big bad of this first story is Brainiac. How does your Brainiac differ from the ones we've already seen?

Gray: The idea was that Brainiac not only consumes knowledge, but has to establish an ecosystem to sustain her throughout time and space, so she creates seed worlds to be harvested. This means that Brainiac created Earth, Krypton and several other planets in the universe. Every few million years, she returns to feed when a civilization reaches a certain level of intelligence. I don’t want to spoil it for print fans that are playing catch up with digital.

Nrama: What are the plans for the Ame-Comi comics going forward? What would you like to see done with these characters in the future?

Gray: Our hope is to keep building this universe and showing different versions of well-known characters — and not just the ones that already have statues. We've already started stories for reimagined Teen Titans, New Gods and beyond.

Sanford Greene (art) Randy Mayor (colors) Sanford Greene (art)

Randy Mayor (colors)

I’m telling you, this is a book in digital and print that constantly challenges itself to go bigger and bigger.

Palmiotti: We would love to see these properties expand, stand on their own, and maybe make the natural jump from the page to the screen. The energy and excitement in this whole project is very contagious.

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the series?

Gray: We have over 30 weeks of scripts, and we haven’t even scratched the surface, because we have all of DC’s history and events and stories to remix, change and play with.

Characters that people want to see and unexpected versions of characters that retain the core of what makes them great, but you don’t have to know a thing about them going in. We introduce characters in 10 pages Like Mera and Hawkgirl, that tell you everything you need to know and love about them.

The other fun thing is that if you’re a long time DC reader, you’ll see familiar things presented in a fresh way because we look at this as an opportunity to bridge the gap between loyal fans and the elusive new readers. It is the same thing we’re doing with All-Star Western: accessible stories that don’t ask you to sit in front of Wikipedia for hours.

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