Smallville Vets Take On Supergirl
Interview by Craig Byrne
This Wednesday at finer comic book stores, DC Comics' 50th issue of the current volume of Supergirl hits stores. This bonus-sized comic - which features a cover by the late Michael Turner - should be notable to comic book fans as it features a story co-written by two folks with a Smallville past - Jake Black, who worked in the Smallville production office in the show's early years and also contributed to several tie-ins - with Helen Slater, who in addition to playing Supergirl in the classic movie of the same name, played "Lara" in two episodes of Smallville's seventh season.
Jake Black took the time to speak with KryptonSite about the anniversary issue, and offers some hints about some Easter eggs that Smallville fans should enjoy. KryptonSite's questions are printed in bold type; Jake's answers are not.
How did it come about for you to co-write a Supergirl story with Helen Slater?
A couple years ago, Helen and I were guests at the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL. At dinner, we started talking about Supergirl, and how the character has evolved over the years. As we finished that conversation, we both really wanted to tackle the character in the comics. We worked up a pitch, and sent it in to DC Comics. DC had just put a new creative team on the book, so our pitch wasn't picked up. However, as DC was looking at the 50th issue, and wanting to make it special, they approached the two of us, and asked if we were interested in doing the story now. Our new story, even though it's very short, has a lot of elements and discussion that were featured in that initial pitch.
I hear artist Cliff Chiang (Green Arrow/Black Canary) had an interesting approach to illustrating the story. Can you talk about that?
It's great! Cliff has done a beautiful job with the story. He set up what he thought was the most important image on the page, and framed it with the other panels. It's really slick. I like it a lot.
Is it true there are some Easter eggs for Smallville fans?
There's subtle nod to Smallville's Supergirl in the art, yeah. Like most Easter eggs, you gotta look pretty close, but once you find it, its a fun reference to Smallville.
How long have you been writing comics?
My first comic was the fifth issue of the Smallville comics released in 2003-2004. I co-wrote a short story with Clint Carpenter, who was a writer on the show at the time. It was drawn by Pete Woods who has since gone on to do some pretty big things in the Superman comics. I'm really proud of it. I have a copy framed in my office to this day.
What else may you have done that you might be known for?
I've been writing comics for several years, doing some indie titles, as well as some books for DC and Marvel. I'm also one of the main writers for the "DC Comics Super-Hero Collection." Those are the biographical magazines on DC super-heroes that come with a small lead statue of the featured character. I've written several books, and a bunch of shows for Cartoon Network. Done a lot of freelancing writing, so I may be "known" for any of it! :-)
You worked at Smallville in the early days. What did you do with/for the show?
I started with the show in season one as the writer's intern. I spent seasons 1-4 writing for the old Torch and Ledger websites (several of thost articles were reprinted in the "Official Companion" books). Like I said, I wrote the an issue of the comics. Since then, I've written and consulted on a couple of the show's DVD features on characters like Lois Lane, Green Arrow and Supergirl. I was a writer for more than 20 issues of the Smallville Magazine published by Titan. I wrote a set of the trading cards. It's been great. I still keep in touch with the Smallville family.
Would you like to do more with Smallville itself in the future?
Absolutely. I'm currently writing/consulting on a pair of the season 9 DVD features. After spending almost a decade associated with the show as an intern and then a freelancer, I have a great love for the show. I want to contribute to it however I can.
Honestly, pick a favorite - Helen Slater or Laura Vandervoort?
Wow. That's not fair! I can't do pick! They are both wonderfully. I think they both perfectly captured the comic book portrayals of their characters at their time. I, of course, have great affection for my friend Helen, and I thought she was beautiful and graceful as Kara in the movie. (There's an easter egg nod to that portrayal in our comic story, too...) I thought she was wonderfully classy as Lara on Smallville, too. Laura Vandervoort gave Kara such strength and confidence, and brought to the screen the attributes that made Supergirl my favorite character in the comics.
How did you first meet Helen Slater?
It was at that Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL. She's such a wonderful woman. So kind and supportive.
What is coming up next for you?
I'm working on a couple of issues of "CN Action Pack" for DC. I wrote an episode of "Ben 10 Alien Force" for Cartoon Network, and have been doing some the of comics based on that show. Those stories appear in "Action Pack." I'm also still working on the DC Super-hero Collection. Finally, I wrote an episode of "Batman: Brave and Bold" that will be airing later this year. In the meantime, I'm working on a few books, and some indie comics and some for Marvel as well.
It sounds like Supergirl #50 is a big book. How many pages and what is the price point?
It hits stores on February 17, and is $4.99. I'm not sure the total pages, but our story is 6 pages. The rest of the book is by the phenomenal team of Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle. They are doing such a tremendous job on the Supergirl comics. It's a great series to read, and this issue is a fantastic starting point. Plus there's a cover by Michael Turner. That was a cool bonus to me. I met Michael Turner a couple of times, and interviewed him for Wizard Magazine a few months before he passed away from cancer. In 2009, I also battled and beat cancer, so there's a lot of emotional connections to this book for me.
Supergirl #50 hits comic book stores on Wednesday, February 17. For more on Jake Black, visit his official site at jakeblack.com and follow him on Twitter @jakeboyslim.