July is Image Month here at TFAW.com! We’re big fans of Image Comics, one of the largest independent comic book publishers in the industry, so we’re peppering our blog this month with exclusive interviews with Image creators, as well as preview art from upcoming comics!
We decided to kick things off in style with an interview with Jane Wiedlin and Bill Morrison, co-creators of the new Image series Lady Robotika! What happens when a founding member of the Go-Gos joins forces with the co-founder of Bongo Comics? A whole lot of awesome, by the looks of things. Read on to learn how Wiedlin broke into the comics biz, why she and Morrison chose to work together, and what they’re up to next!
BREAKING NEWS! We are also running a Lady Robotika contest! Order a copy of Lady Robotika #1, #2, or #3 (or heck, order all three) and you’ll automatically be entered to win a page of Bill Morrison’s original art from the comic. See details below!
TFAW.com: What’s Lady Robotika about, in a nutshell?
Jane Wiedlin: I, Jane Wiedlin, get alien-abducted after a gig. The ETs implant me with nano-technology in an evil plan to enslave me. But I thwart their wicked scheme and eventually become Liberator of The Oppressed: Lady Robotika!
TFAW.com: So how did you two meet, and how did you come up with the concept for Lady Robotika?
JW: I was appearing at Super Con in San Jose in 2007 to do autograph signings. Bill was assigned to interview me for a panel, and we just fell in like with each other immediately! He is an amazing artist, writer and friend and I was honored and thrilled when he suggested we work together on something fun.
Bill Morrison: Once we decided to do a comic book together, I quizzed Jane about her interest and found that she’s really into science fiction in all its forms, and has been since childhood. She has always been a rabid Star Trek and Star Wars fan. My childhood obsession is Batman, so I wanted the book to be about a rock star who’s agent is murdered before her eyes by a shady lawyer. She dons a costume, fights an endless stream of wacked-out lawyers and concert promoters, etc. etc. In the end, Jane’s childhood obsession won.
TFAW.com: What led you to make Jane herself the main character?
JW: This was obviously my big chance to become a superhero; I think anyone would have grabbed the opportunity!
BM: I just wanted to draw Jane over and over and over again.
TFAW.com: Obviously, music plays a big role in Lady Robotika–do you have any plans to expand on that? I read that there might be a stage musical.
JW: We’ve been working on Lady Robotika and her Universe for three years, so I’ve had her on my mind a lot. This led me to write a bunch of Lady R-inspired songs which I will be putting on an album (or CD or record, or whatever the kids call ’em now). We want to include that group of songs in a special package with the graphic novel (first six episodes chronicling the Origin of Lady Robotika). A few months ago, while stuck on a plane, it suddenly occurred to me what a bitchin’ musical Lady Robotika would make. I sketched out the outline including the songs and their placement on an airplane barfbag (I didn’t have any paper) and now we dearly hope to see that project through to fruition as well. As far as it being on a barfbag, it is absolutely NOT prescient; it’s just funny . . . to me.
TFAW.com: Jane, what has it been like breaking into comics, after you’ve had such a successful and varied career in other media?
JW: It is scary and intimidating attempting to get in, especially in the current economic climate, and the predilection of publishers for established characters. I hope Lady Robotika will be given the chance she so clearly deserves!
TFAW.com: You’ve shown many facets during your career: musician, actress, writer. Do you find a lot of common ground between these roles? Which do you like best?
JW: They all blend together for me. The times I get to be creative are the most fulfilling for me, but I wouldn’t trade jumping around a stage in front of a crazy-loud Marshall amp for the world!
TFAW.com: There have been a lot of comics in recent years written or created by musicians: what do you think attracts musicians to comics, and vice versa? Why now?
JW: Musicians = Permanent Teenagers. Comics = popular with Teenagers. Therefore: Comics = popular with Musicians!
BM: I also think the fantasy aspect has a lot to do with it. A lot of rock and roll is about living out a fantasy life on stage. Jane and I are both big fans of David Bowie, and he’s a perfect example of a rock musician who creates characters for himself and acts them out on stage and in his recordings. We’re doing sort of the comic book version of that.
TFAW.com: Bill, what has it been like working with Jane as not just a writer, but as a lead character?
BM: It’s been incredibly fun! We’ve become close friends over the past few years, and when we’re together I make mental notes about her personality, her interests, her catch phrases, etc. When I write dialogue for her, I really try to make it sound like something she’d say. If it’s not, she lets me know, but I’ve gotten it right a good percentage of the time. Of course, we trade back and forth on the writing, so when Jane writes her own dialogue, it almost always sounds like her.
TFAW.com: At the same time, you’re also collaborating with artist Tone Rodriguez. What is the process like between the three of you?
JW: I haven’t gotten to hang with Tone at all while he has worked on Lady R. I got to know him through Bill because they are such good friends, and I think of him as one of my Comic Book Masters. I am but a Padawan. Tone is a big guy with a huge heart and an even huger talent; I can’t believe he helped create issue #1! I bow before his magnificence.
BM: Tone is freakin’ awesome! I needed help getting the art done on the first issue because I’m really slow, and I also have my day job at Bongo, and Tone answered my desperate call with “Sure, boss! Whatever you need!” There’s a point in the first issue that has a distinct visual break, and I thought Tone’s style would really be perfect at that point. So basically I drew everything up until Jane gets abducted, and Tone took over for the space ship and aliens scene.
TFAW.com: Bill, Lady Robotika has a great look–what was your inspiration?
BM: Mainly Jane herself. She loves corsets, so I knew I had to incorporate a corset into the costume. Jane asked for a cape with a hood, which I think is a Star Wars reference. We both love Star Wars, so there’s a lot of that influence in there. Ziggy Stardust, I’m sure. In fact, like Ziggy, and other rock icons, Lady Robotika’s look will constantly change. She won’t always be in exactly the same costume you see in the first story. Her hair will probably change too. That’s how rock stars are. You can’t just keep them in the same outfit all the time or they get bored.
TFAW.com: Does Jane give you any tips when you’re drawing her rocking out?
BM: Not so far. She does give me art notes though. Usually they have to do with the fact that I often draw her head too big. It’s a problem that’s developed from years of drawing animated characters who have a much bigger head-to-body ratio. If you notice that Lady Robotika’s head occasionally looks too big, please bear with me. I’m trying to work it out.
TFAW.com: What are your future plans for Lady Robotika?
JW: Well, we hope to complete the Origin story in six issues, then bind them into a graphic novel in a variety of formats, at least one of which will include music! I’m trying to wrap my brain around the idea of “LADY ROBOTIKA: A SPACE OPERA” becoming a reality and not just this insane vision inside my head!
TFAW.com: Do either of you have other comics coming up?
JW: Ha, that’s a good one! (No.)
BM: I did an adaptation of the song “On Top of Spaghetti” which appears in a really cool new Shadowline/Image book called Fractured Fables, and I also wrote a story in Dark Horse’s Creepy #4 that was drawn by the amazing Michael Kaluta. Other than that, Lady Robotika occupies my days and nights. She’s a demanding mistress, but she’s worth it!
TFAW.com: Thanks again, guys!
You can pre-order the first three issues of Lady Robotika here at TFAW.com! Plus, if you do so by July 31, 2010 (or send us your name, mailing address, and email), you’re automatically entered to win a page of original artwork from Lady Robotika by Bill Morrison! This is a great time to pre-order, as issue #3 is 35% off in July as part of our Featured Discounts!
So what do you think of Lady Robotika? Are you excited to see Jane Wiedlin getting into comics? Post your comments below!