Into a land of darkness came a little girl with a mission…
You probably know the name “Rainbow Brite.” You’ve probably seen the cards, or the toys, or if you grew up in the 1980s, might dimly remember the cartoon. But do you know the actual story of Rainbow Brite?
You’ll get a new chance this October, as Dynamite unleashes the all-new Rainbow Brite series from writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Brittney Williams. Taking the character back to her roots off the original 13-episode 1980s cartoon (and its accompanying feature film, Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer),the comic book series starts with Brite as just a little girl named Wisp, who finds herself the only one who can stop color from being stolen from the world. And the adventure only gets bigger from there…
Newsarama talked to Whitley for a special sneak speak at the new series.
Newsarama: Jeremy, tell us about the story of this new Rainbow Brite series.
Jeremy Whitley:We're doing a big introduction to Wisp, our Rainbow Brite, where we actually get to cover a lot of the things that the previous iterations gloss over. We want to discover where Wisp comes from, how she becomes Rainbow Brite, and follow her first big adventure to save RainbowLand.
In the original show, Rainbow Brite sort of walks in super over-powered and beats up a hydra in the first episode. Our story is all about Wisp's path to become the hero that RainbowLand needs - something she doesn't think she's capable of.
Nrama: How did you come on board?
Whitley: I worked with Dynamite editor Kevin Ketner previously on my short run on Vampirella. While that was a very different book from Rainbow Brite, we had a great working relationship and really appreciated what the other brought to the table.
When Kevin got the chance to work on Rainbow Brite, he let me know they were taking pitches if I was interested. I thought it over and put together an idea for a pitch for a book I'd really like to write. As it turns out, both Kevin and Hallmark liked the idea too, and decided to bring me on.
Nrama: How familiar were you with Rainbow Brite prior to this? Tried rewatching the original cartoon and was kind of shocked how dark the first episodes were.
Whitley: I definitely watched it - and had the bed sheets - as a kid. I hadn't watched the episodes in a long time, until I started working on the pitch. Those darker first few episodes were actually a lot of my inspiration for what I wanted to do with the book.
Nrama: In doing due diligence, found there were at least five “generations” of continuity for Rainbow Brite. After staring blankly into space for several minutes, I was left with this question: Are you following any of these, creating your own mythology, or some combination thereof?
Whitley: It's closest to the first-generation continuity. That's the only one I was really interested in engaging with on any kind of story level. Some of the other stuff has some decent ideas, but as the record of their length shows, they didn't connect the way the first generation did.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about Rainbow Brite as a character. She's mainly defined by...being colorful, and...liking colors, and...there's a bit to build on there.
Whitley: Rainbow Brite, to my mind, is a lot like Wonder Woman or Moana. She is a hero that's defined not solely by her ability to punch or shoot magic at things, but by her empathy, kindness, and compassion.
Unlike Wonder Woman, Wisp is unsure that she is worthy of this power. She's not sure that she's the one who ought to be saving the day, but she's the one who's there and just because she doesn't think she can do a thing is no excuse not to try.
Nrama: Also tell us a bit about the other Color Kids. They're interesting in that they've typically been represented as having personalities and such across a spectrum relating to their signature colors, which takes on additional meaning given how much we now know about the spectrum of human behavior since the original cartoon aired.
Whitley: Well, the interesting thing looking at the original is how much the show seems interested in diversity, and how little the cast actually reflects it. We aim to change that up a little bit. Also, we're making a little bit of a nomenclature switch. We'll be calling them “Color Guardians.”
And, to answer your question specifically, they are going to have a range of personalities. We'd like to expand how they're represented from how they've been shown in previous generations. It'll take a while to get all of the Color Guardians in the same place, but it will be worth the wait.
Nrama: Given that my dad still has the Murky Dismal toy I gave him as a kid, I must ask if Murky and Lurky will be showing up. Lurky is kind of a nightmarish visual in retrospect.
Whitley: Murky and Lurky are slated to make an appearance in issue #2, actually. We might change up Lurky's look a bit and clarify Murky's motivations. In the cartoon, he always seems to be up to no good, but it's often not too clear why. They'll still be keeping their usual flunky charm, but we'll be giving them a little bit of a facelift.
Nrama: Tell us about your artist on the project, and what your collaborative process is like.
Whitley: Brittney Williams is doing interiors on this, which is super exciting. I am a huge fan of Goldie Vance and read all of Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. I love Brittney's work, and I think she's the perfect choice to draw this book.
While I came up with a lot of the new concepts, it's been great to have Brittney bringing cool visuals and great ideas to this comic. It's looking fantastic and I can't wait for everyone to get to see the great things I'm seeing right now.
We also have Paulina Ganucheau doing covers, and I couldn't be happier about that. I think she makes the book look both like the original Rainbow Brite, and new and exciting enough that I would be sure to pick it up if I saw it in the comic shop.
Nrama: How far do you have the series planned out?
Whitley: I have a pretty rough plan for the first three or four arcs, and a pretty solid plan for the first 10 issues or so. I actually already have the first three written. The third is waiting for approval from Hallmark right now!
Nrama: Nerd test - without Googling, complete the following song lyric: “Places that you thought were dreamlands...”
Whitley: You know, I wouldn't have known this until recently, but this lyric has my new favorite word that I learned from watching Rainbow Brite – “Believelands” as in “turn from dreamlands to Believelands.”
Nrama: [Pause] Nerdcore, good sir. Nerdcore.
Befoe we wrap up, is thee anything more you want to tell readers?
Whitley: Rainbow Brite has all the magic that made the original so special, with all the excitement and worldbuilding that you always felt like your 80's cartoons had, but when you try to watch them with your kids you're like, “Boy, I filled in a lot of holes with my brain, and most of this doesn't really make any sense.”
Or, put more simply, “This Rainbow Brite comic is the Rainbow Brite story you remember loving, more so even than the actual show.”
Nrama: What's next for you?
Whitley: Well, starting in October I'm writing Unstoppable Wasp, Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony: Nightmare Knights, Princeless Book 7, and I'll have a Raven: Pirate Princess Halloween Comicsfest book! What more do you want from me?!
Honestly, I have more stuff I'm working on, but nothing I can talk about yet, but I'm super excited for people to have all of these books in their hands!
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Whitley: Yes, Twink is in this comic! Everybody loves Twink!