For twenty-six issues, readers have hung out with the coolest band in the known universe, but with the June 14 issue of Jem and The Holograms, the band is taking a bow. After launching with Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell and M. Victoria Robado as the initial creative team, the series quickly proved to be a huge fan-favorite as it prioritized female friendships and relationships with an unmatched sense of style and fun. Along the way, The Misfits and The Stingers have also shown their musical chops, while artists like Meredith McClaren and Emma Vieceli have joined in the ongoing jam session. But while the series’ grand finale is imminent, this won’t be the end of the characters as we know them – a six issue crossover featuring both The Holograms and The Misfits called Infinite is slated to debut shortly thereafter.
But before the band can step out on stage that one last time in issue #26, the group have a few issues to work out amongst themselves – Jerrica and Rio are on the outs, and Kimber was last seen trapped in a frickin’ lava pit. Will the band be able to reunite and get everything back together? That’s a question only the creative team of Kelly Thompson and Gisèle Lagacé can answer – but as luck would have it, they recently dropped by to talk to CBR News about their final arc of the series, and about what comes next in Infinite!
CBR: The band are together for the last issue… mostly. With Jerrica and Rio split up and Kimber trapped in a lava pit, what can readers expect from the final issue of the run?
Gisèle Lagacé: Kimber dies in the lava pit. The end.
I kid! Of course that wouldn’t happen. Kimber is too well loved for that! I don’t want to go into spoilers, but everyone comes together to try and find her. It’s quite the adventure.
Kelly Thompson: I think it’s safe to assume that since this is Jem and The Holograms and not some super dark dystopia comic, Kimber will not be burning up in a volcano. But Jerrica and Rio are definitely on the outs and while I think we bring them to a better place in the last issue than they are right now, they’ve still got a long way to go. Fortunately, nothing with Jem and The Holograms is really ending – it’s more of an evolution. And what’s next is pretty exciting.
Lagacé: And a final issue of Jem and The Holograms can’t end without a big show, so expect to see a wonderful performance in Maui. Jerrica and Rio will get to talk again, and well… I won’t give away the ending. If you’ve followed the series from the beginning, I’m pretty sure you’ll be pleased with how Kelly wrapped things up. Glad I got to draw it!
What do you feel has been the heart of the series over the last few years, since it first started? What, thematically, did you want to make the core of your run?
Thompson: I think sisterhood has certainly been one of the primary cores of the book, not just the literal sisterhood of Jem and The Holograms but less literal sisters like The Misfits, too. The book is also about identity in a big way – exploration of self, and self acceptance. And of course let’s not forget the ability to solve all problems via music.
As you mention, as the series has gone on, you’ve brought in The Misfits, The Stingers, and a supporting cast for all the characters. How important was it to grow the series over the last twenty-six issues, develop these new connections, and make this something new?
Thompson: I think the variety of characters and the sheer number of them is a wonderful strength of the Jem and The Holograms concept and something we’ve done a good job of interpreting and developing in the comic… but there are so many great characters it can sometimes be overwhelming. There was, especially from the core classic Jem fan base, a lot of interest in seeing their favorite characters in the book and we tried our best to bring in as many as we could. As a result I’ve spent a lot of time apologizing to my artists “I’m sorry there are fifty billion characters on this page, it’s not my fault, I swear!”
Lagacé: It’s fun, but also a bit challenging (and time consuming) when there’s a lot of characters on a page. With that said, it’s the final issue for this particular run, so it was important to include as many characters as possible.
Kelly, what have been your favorite parts of the series to write?
Thompson: I’m a sucker for jokes. Especially the sort of private jokes that build up over time thanks to the chemistry of close character relationships. I love that Jem and The Holograms, and The Misfits, and The Stingers all have their own private dynamics and complex relationships to one another that are somehow both fixed and also ever changing.
Have there been any parts of the series which have surprised you? Any characters who went in directions you hadn’t originally planned, any stories which developed organically into something else?
Thompson: I definitely never expected to fall so in love with Jetta and Roxy. They’re sort of these hilarious BFF thugs…and so it made their stories in Jem and the Misfits all the more rewarding when it came time to explore their pasts and dig deeper. Jem and the Misfits #4, Roxy’s story, is one of my favorites of all the Jem stories we’ve done.
Lagacé: I don’t think I have any particular favorite character to draw but I was probably most comfortable with characters like Jerrica and Minx from The Stingers. Somehow, I could get into their skin and sort of act out the scenes (don’t know what that says about me though!). And being a musician, drawing the music scenes were probably the most fun for me.
The series has become famous for the way every artist has drawn the songs themselves – what was your approach to bringing the music to life on the page, Gisele?
Lagacé: Honestly, I tried to follow what Sophie Campbell had set in place. At least inspired by it. Differences one might see is stage and instrument design, and how characters held and played their instrument. Since I know how to play those instruments (some more than others,) I approached it with how I would play that particular instrument. So I guess what you’re seeing on the page is me in various roles when the girls are playing their music. Sophie might’ve done the same thing.
You started with Sophie Campbell, who returns for a cover on this last issue, and over the course you’ve had artists like Emma Vieceli, Meredith McClaren and, of course, Gisele Lagace to work with. What have you most enjoyed about getting to see the visual style of the series come to life in the hands of the various female artists who’ve joined the band?
Thompson: Sophie set the bar so impossibly high from the very first page with the smart modern visuals she brought to the book and all the character re-designs… it was a really hard act to follow. But we got incredibly lucky overall with an incredible roster of artists. I felt very lucky, including finding Jenn St-Onge for The Misfits spin-off series. She’s also joining us for the Infinite crossover event this summer and her pages just constantly blow me away.
And Gisele, how have you found working with Kelly?
Lagacé: From my end of things, I’d say it went well. I’d show Kelly the roughs, and if I missed anything, she’d mention it, or if I didn’t understand something correctly, she’d point it out.
Overall, I think it went pretty smoothly!
But also, colorist M. Victoria Robado has been so hugely important to the series over the last few years. How have you enjoyed working with her on the book?
Lagacé: Victoria is a pro who’s been on the book from the beginning. You can tell she tried her very best, with her choice of colors, to make the book have a consistent feel throughout the run. Even though artists would change in regards to the line work, you could always count on the book to have nice and bright colors. She should be congratulated for that.
Thompson: Having a colorist like Victoria with us for the entire run to define the signature look and feel of this book, even as new artists came on board, was an amazing opportunity. We were so lucky to have her, she became a fantastic buoy that we could all cling to, even when things were shifting all around us.
The readership of Jem are a passionate one, especially over the course of this run – how important has that fan base been in the way you’ve approached the series?
Thompson: Overall the fans have been so great. The long time Jem and The Holograms fans have such a deep and passionate love for the property and for the most part they have been incredibly open to us breathing new life into these characters and stories.
Lagacé: It’s been pretty positive overall. It’s never easy to follow someone else on a series, but I think I was accepted by readers. It’s nice as my duty was to bring this run to an end. I hope readers can say they’re happy with how this series ended on both the writing and art front.
You’ve told CBR that this isn’t the end of the road, though… so what’s coming next?
Thompson: Yeah! We’ve got the first-ever Jem and The Holograms crossover event coming up this summer – it’s called Infinite and with it we’re taking the opportunity to go a little more sci-fi than we usually get to and I think the fans are really going to enjoy it. The event starts in June with Jem and The Holograms #1 and it’s six issues total, three Jem issues and three Misfits issues that together make a complete story. I hope people love it, I’m pretty excited about it.
The series has been this really positive, female-focused piece of work. How important do you think it’s been to have this book created by women, featuring female characters, and telling stories, which will hopefully inspire new female readers to want to make comics themselves?
Thompson: Thank you! You know, we didn’t set out with an agenda to have only – or even mostly – female creators on board, but it just worked out that way. There is simply so much young upcoming female talent out there in comics it just happened really naturally.
And I do hope that this book has not only been something loved and something inspiring during the last two years but that it will continue to be that – both the new stuff we have coming up like Jem and The Holograms: Infinite and also as people discover the “older stuff” in trades and at their local libraries and digitally. I see people discovering Jem and The Holograms all the time and it’s pretty much always with a squeal of delight.
Jem & The Holograms #26 arrives June 14 from IDW. Jem & The Holograms: Infinite #1 and Jem & The Holograms: Misfits Infinite #1 will be released later this month.