Posted - 02/05/2015 : 1:59:42 PM
Writer for Jem and the Holograms
Published by: IDW
Interviewed by: Richard Vasseur/Jazma VP
Rich: Who are Jem and the Holograms?
Kelly: Jem and The Holograms are a fictional band and the lead characters of a cartoon created by writer Christy Marx for Hasbro in 1986. Jem is the alter ego of Jerrica Benton who, as Jem, and in concert with her sisters Kimber Benton, Aja Leith, and Shana Elmsford, make up The Holograms. They have a fantastic nemesis in a rival band called The Misfits.
Rich: What sort of adventures will Jem and the Holograms have?
Kelly: I think in the pitch we said something like “revisiting classic adventures in a modern 21st century way” and that’s still largely the plan. I mean, we’ll do new things too but I’m really interested in seeing the old stories – like a classic battle of the bands storyline – revisited in a new modern context. What looks different about a story like that thirty years later? What do celebrity, fame, the music industry, and fashion all look like 30 years later, what are the challenges and concerns facing talented and ambitious career women making their way in the world.
Rich: How do the Misfits fit into the comic "Jem and the Holograms"?
Kelly: The Misfits are a huge part of the comic the same way they were a huge part of the original show. A protagonist is only as good as their antagonist and in The Holograms case, they have a great antagonist in The Misfits. In our version, like in Marx’s original, The Misfits are an already established and upcoming band while Jem and The Holograms are the new kids on the music block. But Jem and The Holograms are rising fast and creating problems for The Misfits, though certainly not intentionally. This creates a natural rivalry that the more aggressive Misfits are quick to perpetuate.
Rich: How has Jem and the Holograms been updated since the original cartoon aired?
Kelly: For the most part we have just modernized Jem to fit into a 21st century world. Back in 1986 Jem and The Holograms were ambitious, talented, forward thinking career women and the height of being modern and forward thinking at the time was to be magnificently 1980’s, but now they live in 2015, so to be those same ambitious, talented, forward thinking career women, they have to be magnificently 2015. And so that’s most of what we’ve done. The characters, so wonderful then and now, are left in tact as much as possible, just updated and modernized.
Rich: What do you think of Ross Campbell's beautiful art?
Kelly: Ross is a huge fan of the original Jem and a fantastic designer that really excels at forward thinking fashion design so he’s really the perfect fit for this project. But beyond the incredibly innovative design work and updating he’s doing is the stuff fans haven’t even seen yet which is his stunning storytelling work. Ross’s work with characters and laying out an emotional and engaging story is just exceptional and I can’t even accurately express how lucky we are to have him.
Rich: What is the biggest selling point of "Jem and the Holograms"?
Kelly: Probably Ross Campbell! But hand in hand with Ross I think is the chance to see something really different in comics. There are a lot of great female led comics these days but it’s still rare to read a book that’s filled with women – just wall to wall with interesting female leads – all of them different and complicated in their own ways. I hope exploring the layers of those women will be the biggest reason that both old and new fans tune in…and keep tuning in!
Rich: How excited were you to find out you were writing "Jem and the Holograms"?
Kelly: Since I’m a writer I should probably be good at describing something like that, but words, or at least original ones, really fail me. I was over the moon. It’s not only a huge break for me professionally but they are characters and ideas I really care about and am interested in. IDW and Hasbro giving me the opportunity to interpret them for a both a new generation as well as old fans is a real honor. I hope I can do justice to the original show, the fans, and of course original creator Christy Marx.
Rich: What is "The Girl Who Would Be King" about and will it become a major motion picture?
Kelly: The Girl Who Would Be King is my first novel. It’s a novel about two teenage girls with superpowers on a collision course for one another that will change everything for them, and change the world around them too. It has been optioned to become a film and while an option is by no means a guarantee of a film I’m really optimistic that we actually are going to get a film, or a television series.
Rich: Why will people like "Storykiller"?
Kelly: Well, Storykiller, my second novel, is deliberately a more commercial book than The Girl Who Would Be King so I think it’s a little more traditionally accessible than TGWWBK. I usually describe Storykiller as Classic Fiction meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer for a new generation…so if you like those things then maybe you’ll like it? I hope so!
Rich: Do you prefer comic books with strong female characters?
Kelly: Well, I think “strong female characters” has gotten a bit of a bad rap as a catchphrase. When I (and most people I know) say “strong female characters” they don’t mean anything as simple or as literal as “strong,” it’s just a short hand for a more detailed answer—i.e. complex, realistic, varied, and layered, basically female characters that are given the same consideration as male characters. In that regard, of course I want strong female characters, I think we all want and deserve that.
Rich: What does a comic loving feminist trouble maker do for fun?
Kelly: I’m sort of a workaholic at this point in that so much of the stuff I love to do for fun crosses over into work as well—going to movies, reading books and comics, that kind of stuff. I’m very lucky—to be doing something I love so much as an actual job, but it can be a little difficult to separate those things and make sure you’re getting some down time so you don’t burn out. I’m definitely still working on figuring out that balance out.
Rich: What comic book world and characters that you have worked on would you most like to visit?
Kelly: I haven’t really worked on any comic book worlds or characters yet except JEM, but I would love to visit the Jem world. I’d probably fit in better with The Misfits as I’m a bit sarcastic and prickly but I confess that the supportive loving environment of Jem and The Holograms is hugely appealing to me. Other characters I’d love to work on (and thus inhabit their worlds) would be Hawkeye (the Kate Bishop Hawkeye especially), and I like the darker side of the old Jessica Jones/Alias private detective world. A Cass Cain as Batgirl world would be an amazing treat to discover again for a new generation. I love the Harry Potter meets Batman world of Gotham Academy. I’d also of course love to swim around in the X-Men universe as those are the characters that first got me into comics and my love for them has never waned.
Rich: How can someone contact you?
Kelly: Tumblr or twitter are probably easiest. My tumblr is: 1979semifinalist.tumblr.com and my twitter handle is @79semifinalist People can also always just email me and my email is available on my website: 1979semifinalist.com
Rich: What would you like to say to all your fans?
Kelly: Just to thank them for their support and to say that I hope they love what we’ve done with these women because I’ve really fallen in love with them all over again.