IDW Publishing pays tribute to one of Cartoon Network’s most beloved shows this September with the debut of “Powerpuff Girls,” a 6-issue mini-series by writer/artist Troy Little. Little, a self-professed fan of the property, also worked with IDW on both of his previous comics projects, “Chiaroscuro” and “Angora Napkin,” the latter of which also lives online as a webcomic.
Created by Craig McCracken, “The Powerpuff Girls” originally aired 78 episodes on Cartoon Network between 1998 and 2005, as well as a 2002 film. The series featured the adventures of three young girls with superpowers named Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. IDW’s “Powerpuff Girls” is not the first comic book series for the property; DC Comics published a “Powerpuff Girls” title between 2000 and 2006, which lasted for 70 issues.
Little spoke with CBR News about “Powerpuff Girls,” dishing out plot details, revealing why the book made him rethink his career trajectory, discussing the difference between working in animation and comics and more.
CBR News: Troy, what’s the general idea behind your “Powerpuff Girls” story?
Troy Little: The story is called “Second Chances” and is a 6-issue story arc that begins in typical Powerpuff Girls style with Mojo Jojo attempting to destroy Townsville. Naturally, the girls clobber him. Having suffered more then his fair share of humiliation at their tiny hands he finally decides it’s time to throw in the Super Villain towel and elects to be administered “Antidote X” and revert to his primal state to live out his days in ignorant bliss.
I don’t want to give away too much, but suffice to say a good number of the classic villains show up along with giant monsters, a sinister plan and monkey mayhem! More fun and action then you can shake a banana at!
How did you get involved with a “Powerpuff Girls” miniseries?
Pretty much a case of “Right time, Right place.” I was actually pitching a monthly “Angora Napkin” series idea to Ted Adams or the possibility of taking on some service work. I wasn’t even sure if there would be an IDW title I would be a good fit on when out of the blue he dropped the option of taking on “The Powerpuff Girls!”
It seriously blew my mind. I’m not sure there’s a more fitting project for me out there! My very prompt response was a resounding, Yes I would love to work on that!
I take it you were a fan of the show?
Very much so. I went and saw the movie back when it was first in the theaters and even bought some of the episodes on VHS. I love Craig McCraken’s stuff; “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” was fantastic and I’m totally looking forward to “Wander Over Yonder.”
Your series is not the first to feature Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. Did you read any of the old DC Comics “Powerpuff Girls” series?
I didn’t pick up the comics at the time but when this project fell into my lap I snatched up a bunch from eBay to check out and have on hand for quick reference. I read them to my kids and they’re lots of fun. I got in contact with Phil Moy (the main artist on the old series) and asked for some pointers and he suggested many large ellipse templates and French curves! I’m sadly short on templates so a steady hand is the best I can offer.
Story-wise, they’re short and snappy, most of them seem to be 11 pages long. That’s fine and all but I think most people who grew up with these characters might not care too much to go back and read that style anymore, so I wanted to do a larger story with subplots and all that grown up stuff, more along the scale of the movie.
You choose your comic book projects pretty selectively. What was so appealing about “Powerpuff Girls?”
I’ve been working a day job in animation since 1997 and decided not long afterwards I’d rather be making comics. I started self-publishing my own books in 2000 with the idea that I’m beginning my exit plan into comics now! 13 years later, I decided my exit plan needed a swift kick in the pants.
I have established a good working relationship with IDW. Having published my last three graphic novels they were naturally my first choice to bring my next project to, and as much as I’d love to be making “Angora Napkin” comics for them, I think the opportunity they presented me supersedes that one for the time being.
What sorts of animated projects have you worked on?
Mostly kids stuff like “Franklin the Turtle” or “Justin Time.” Now and again, I got work on some really great projects like “Ren & Stimpy” and “Untalkative Bunny,” where I got to work directly with the show’s creators. Most times it’s just service work doing backgrounds, storyboards, posing or whatever is available.
What’s the difference between drawing for animation and drawing for comics?
Working in animation, you’re generally just a cog in a big machine. Originally when Nick Cross and myself came up with the idea for “Angora Napkin,” it was a pitch for an animated series, but when push came to shove it became apparent that we weren’t going to have the kind of control over our creation that we wanted and so we shelved it.
Around that time I came across “Cerebus,” “Bone,” and other self-published creator-owned comics and saw that there was a way for an individual to be able to write and draw their own books. Once I started down that path it quickly became clear to me that this is a medium I really love working in.
There’s a lot of crossover between the two and working in animation taught me a lot about timing, structure and being adaptable to different styles of drawing. Interestingly, I was on a panel at TCAF a few years ago about animators who make comics and it was almost unanimously agreed upon that comics were more fun to work in but in many cases animation pays the bills. I guess that’s why it took me so long to make that leap into comics. Hopefully this is just the beginning because I’m having a ball!
Have you spoken to “Powerpuff Girls” creator Craig McCraken about the series at all?
I’ve not spoken to Craig but I would love to pick his brain sometime, given the opportunity. Who knows better then the original creator what cool directions we could take things? As the moment I’m flying blind but giving it my all! As a fan myself I wouldn’t want to let other fans down and as a creator myself I want to bring my own flair and sensibilities to it as well. But I would be all over getting his feedback into the series if I get the chance!
This is your first time writing and drawing a monthly comic book. Have you had to adjust your creative process at all?
I’m coloring the book too! It’s quite a task trying to keep on top of all these jobs but thankfully I had a bit of lead-time to get my legs under me. Bobby Curnow was a big help getting me rolling and then Sarah Gaydos came on as series editor and it’s just the best working relationship you could hope for.
It’s definitely a jump from doing my own books, having to write proper scripts and submitting all the various stages for approval to the Cartoon Network but so far they’ve been very hands off and most everything I send in gets the green light. I guess I must be doing something right!
Stylistically they naturally want to keep the look of the comic “On Brand” so where I really get to put my stamp on it comes in the writing, design, layout and coloring of the book. Hopefully a bit of my vibe bleeds through and it feels fresh and not stuck in the ’90s.
What are some of your favorite “Powerpuff Girls” episodes?
It’s funny going back and re-watching some of the old episodes, they’re a lot rougher looking then I remembered. I’m a big fan of the film because they just nailed it all in there – the colors and design is just top notch, so for me that’s my main point of reference.
But there are also just so many fun shorts too. “Meet the Beat Alls,” “Bubblevicious,” “Speed Demon,” and “The Powerpuff Girls Rule!” special were all really great! You really can’t go wrong with any episode.
Which girl is your favorite: Blossom, Bubbles or Buttercup?
Blossom is my personal favorite, probably because I like her design. Most people I talk to seem to like Bubbles the best because she’s so sweet, but Buttercup is a ton of fun to write because she’s so temperamental. It’s hard to have a favorite because they all work so well as a team!
Heroes are only as good as their villains — what’s your take on Mojo Jojo and how will you be utilizing him in the series?
I really wanted to doing something a little unexpected so taking Mojo out of the game right away is just the tip of the iceberg. Who will take his place as the next top Super Villain or is there some sinister plot in the works? Does Mojo even deserve a second chance? HIM doesn’t think so and when he’s involved you just know things are going to go South! (Pun intended)
What’s new with your webcomic “Angora Napkin” lately?
For the past year I’ve been updating a weekly web action/mystery/comedy strip called “Angora Napkin: The Golden McGuffin.” I managed to build up a good slush pile of comics and boy I’m glad I did because “The Powerpuff Girls” rule everything I do these days! So hopefully I’ll be able to keep on top of that as well as the monthly series. Wish me luck!
“Powerpuff Girls” #1 by Troy Little is out this September from IDW Publishing.