Cartoon Network's Steven Universe is full of magic and otherworldly events, but at its heart its about the personalities - and BOOM! Studios' new ongoing Steven Universe title is aiming directly towards that heart.
Newsarama is Beach City bound, talking to comic book series' writer Melanie Gillman and atist Katy Farina about the Crystal Gems and their "little brother," and what exactly they're up to in this new ongoing.
Newsarama: Katy, Melanie - what can fans expect in the new series?
Katy Farina: Each issue is a self-contained look into the life of Steven and his friends/family. The stories are all very dense in the same way that the cartoon is, so each issue feels like watching an episode. Melanie is so incredibly talented and all of their scripts fit so well with the tone of the show!
Melanie Gillman: We’re approaching the comic book series as little side stories about various characters in the show. There won’t be any huge reveals or drastic plot changes—all the really big stuff gets saved for the show itself! Instead, these will be fun little vignettes about the characters’ day-to-day lives and their relationships to each other.
Nrama: What made you want to work on this?
Gillman: I love Steven Universe! It’s my favorite show on TV right now, and I’m thrilled I get to be a part of the comic series. Positive representation of LGBTQ characters in kids’ media is really important to me, and this show is one of the best on that front.
Farina: I’ve been a fan of Steven Universe since day one! As a queer woman, being able to have a hand in this property is a true joy.
Nrama: How is doing an ongoing different from something shorter-term with Steven?
Farina: There’s a ton of time to perfect how to draw each character! Character acting is something I always want to push further, and the characters in Steven Universe really lend themselves to that experience!
Gillman: Beach City has a huge cast of characters, and doing an ongoing means we’ll get to spend more time telling stories about lots of different people who populate the show. I’m excited to see how the comic series can grow over time, too, as the show goes on and we learn more about the Gems.
Nrama: Who are your favorite Gems? I see you have Lapis and Peridot in the first issue...
Farina: This is a pretty tough question, since they’re all special in their own ways! Garnet has always been my number one fave, but Peridot is a close second. Although I can’t deny that I really do enjoy drawing Peridot quite a bit...
Gillman: [Laughs] I relate to Peridot and Amethyst on a deep, spiritual level. Also, Gems aside, I really love a lot of the human cast of Beach City! I’d probably watch an entire show about the Pizza family.
Nrama: What is your collaborative process like? What do each feel the other brings to the book?
Farina: I mentioned above, but Melanie is such a wonderful writer. I’ve been a fan of their work for a long time! I really love their perspective on all these characters - the show is well-rounded, but Melanie brings an extra layer of depth that I really appreciate as a Steven Universe fan. I’ve reached out to both Melanie and Whitney Cogar (our amazing colorist) for Easter egg ideas, and I trust Melanie to consistently deliver great content!
Gillman: The collaborative process is pretty easygoing so far! I try to always make my scripts flexible enough that artists involved can add their own narrative touches to it - because anyone who draws comics is a writer in their own right, too. I love Katy’s art - it’s warm and sweet and fun, and a perfect match for the show. Whitney Cogar’s been knocking it out of the park as a colorist, too!
Nrama: What can we expect as the series goes on?
Farina: I’m going to make it as queer as humanly possible.
Gillman: No spoilers, but right now there’s stories in the pipe about Stevonnie, Mayor Dewey, Amethyst, Peridot, and hopefully Jamie!
Nrama: What, to you, is the fundamental appeal of Steven Universe, the series and the titular character?
Farina: There is so much to appreciate about Steven Universe. I could write an essay about any number of things! I think what stands out to me most about the show is that it addresses difficult topics, like mindfulness (in the episode “Mindful Education”), patience and forgiveness (such as in “Catch and Release”), and abusive relationships (like in “Alone at Sea”). These are handled in a way that both kids and adults can understand without diluting the message. I think it really taps into a very human and empathetic part of us when these problems are faced head-on as they are in Steven Universe.
Steven (the character) is a perfect vehicle for this story. He’s consistently understanding and empathetic, and his willingness to give people chance after chance, yet not lose any ounce of hope, is admirable. He brings out the best in the people he surrounds himself with, and that is really special!
Gillman: For me, the show is a lot about building unconventional families, and the way people in those families grow together and love and support each other, even through tough times. That, and cool monsters and magical extraterrestrial warrior women?! Frankly, what’s not to love?
Nrama: Why should readers check this out?
Farina: They’re fun, dense, and full of emotion - any fan of the series will be a fan of these comics!
Gillman: If you’re a fan of Steven Universe, or if you just like kids’ comics with adventures and silly jokes and lots of positive LGBTQ representation, I think you’ll like this series.