In the 1980s, a collectible line could lead into a comic book and any number of other merchandizing options. For the most part, those days have passed -- until DC's Bombshells blew everyone away.
DC Collectibles' 1940s pin-up-inspired statue line kicked off with Wonder Woman in the spring of 2013, and hasn't looked back since. In the ensuing two years, the line has added over a dozen members to its line-up, inspired dozens of DC Comics variant covers, a legion of cosplayers bringing the designs to life and a plethora of licensed products. Now, there's even a comic book -- titled "DC Comics Bombshells" -- which is fleshing out an entire universe starring the retro-styled heroes and villains.
The story of the DC Bombshells is an unlikely one. The line was pitched and turned down several times, and when it was finally greenlit, the result was one of the more popular takes DC had seen on its characters in years. In order to dig into the line's history and unprecedented popularity, CBR News spoke with DC Collectibles Design Director Creative Services at DC Entertainment Jim Fletcher, statue designer Ant Lucia and sculptor Tim Miller, the "Bombshells" comic book creative team of Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage, and licensors from Tonner Doll, Icon Heroes and Trend Setters.
The Bombshells' Secret Origin
Like all success stories, DC Bombshells has a long and storied history leading up to its launch. This one involves repeated attempts at pitching the concept to the higher ups and finally getting approval.
Jim Fletcher (Design Director Creative Services at DC Entertainment): A lot of these things take longer than people originally think. We'd actually been mulling this line around before we even moved out here [to Burbank in 2011]: something retro, '40s, pin-up art inspired. Really what it took was the right kind of presentation and the right people to help us make the decision to go ahead and proceed with that. We pitched it out in front of [DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer] Geoff [Johns] when we came out here. He thought it was great and wanted us to start right away. That was obviously the goal for us, because from the very first one it's been an amazing experience. The sales have been great, there's so much other product coming out now.
Every year we present new ideas. Sometimes we dig up old ideas and see if anyone will like them this time. That happened to be the case with this. We'd put it down for a while and didn't really think about it. You really just don't know. In the toy and collectible world, some stuff is going to work and some stuff does not. I don't think any of us expected it to hit the nerve that it did to the extent that it's going now. That's always a great surprise, when that happens.
Putting The Team Together
Getting approval for a new sculpture line is just the first of many steps before they hit stores. To get from concept to final prototype, Fletcher and the DC Collectibles team, including art director Brian Walters, put together a team that included artist/designer Ant Lucia and sculptor Tim Miller.
Fletcher: We went from brainstorming some ideas around to pitching out very early rough versions of what the character designs would look like, and then moved on to find a real illustrator.
Ant Lucia (Concept Artist): I met Jim Fletcher a few years back -- I think it was C2E2 in Chicago. I just had an artist's alley table there, and he came over and liked my work. It kind of started the discussion on the line. We chatted back and forth for a few shows that we'd see each other at, and then I got a call, maybe a year or year-and-a-half later. We started discussing the Bombshells line. In the early stages, they had developed some concepts and shared those with me. We had talked about potential ideas for some of the characters.
Fletcher: We went through a number of people in the beginning. I think I'd met Ant Lucia at a Chicago show, probably four years ago, and I loved his work. I had no idea what we were going to do with it, but I got his information and had his artwork around the office. This thing came in and we saw that he'd be a perfect fit for it. Obviously, he has been.
Tim Miller (Sculptor): Jim Fletcher simply gave me a call and said they had an idea for a line, and it had already been in the works for some time in terms of the development of it. He said I would suit the line well. Then, when the first pieces of artwork started coming through E-mail, I was not only amazingly flattered, but absolutely thrilled. I found the designs very inspired and was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it.
Fletcher: Translating Ant's designs into 3D has been interesting because they're real looking people, but they're not hyper-realistic looking. There's definitely a style to them: their heads are a little bigger, the eyes are a little bit bigger and the body proportions are fuller than is typical. Ant's stuff is playful and has a different vibe all around. We've had to really work with Tim to capture this, especially in the first couple sculpts. He's been a great partner with us. He's done almost all of them -- he's done the bulk of the work on Bombshells, setting the tone himself for any other sculptors who have to work on it. He should be pretty happy and proud.
Miller: One of the biggest challenges for me is, there's a bit of softening of anatomy to fit the particular style. That's generally true of doing the female form anyway, but with the nose, art is just a little more stylized. I came out of a background of doing a lot facial anatomy for companies like McFarlane [Toys], and when I went on to do other pin-up stuff or good girl art, sometimes there was a heavier emphasis on the anatomy. For myself, it's reeling that in a bit and finding that happy spot in terms of really capturing the spirit of the art.
Lucia: I'm definitely no expert in [posing characters to be translated into statues]. I'm a 2D artist, and that was one of my concerns going into this project when Jim approached me. I said, "Am I going to have to do illustrations of every side of this thing? Because I will not be able to do that." I don't know if the poses I create would particularly work in a three-dimensional world. I think there's a little bit of give and take in that relation, because the Collectibles team are really the experts on that. A lot of times when I would start with ideas that would be cool, I didn't know how that would work with weight and balance, and they've coached me through some of that. There's been some adjustments, from some of the initial concept artwork to the final statue. You'll see that in a piece that's coming out soon that I can't mention yet. One, in particular, the balance of it needed some adjustments to make it work better for a statue.
Miller: Ant's designs are just so clear. There's a lot of nuance in his work. The full-color renderings from Ant actually fill in more pieces than you would think. I generally don't like working from just one or two pieces of artwork -- I like full turnarounds, but Ant's artwork falls into the exception to that because he does paint the picture so well, even with just the flat line art.
Lucia: I think Tim, who has been doing the majority of the sculpts on these, has just nailed the artwork. I'm blown away because, as I'm working on these, I think, "I don't know how he's going to be able to produce this." Especially when I was doing Poison Ivy's intricate vines, I kind of felt bad for him, but that's my inexperience working with 3D artwork. Luckily, I don't have to worry about a lot of that because it's in the hands of Tim and some of the other sculptors.
Strong Female Characters
Even though sex appeal is part of the Bombshells success, the team had very specific intentions to keep the female characters powerful in their poses and expressions, to appeal to both male and female fans.
Fletcher: One of the premises of the line is that they have to have an attitude that we like, but they mostly have to look like they're in control of what's happening. The DC women are very strong characters. We're super careful about the posing and what they represent. That's a very important part of this line. I don't feel like we've crossed any borders, and they're all clearly in control. They're not doing any kinds of crazy poses, they're clearly in control of the situation they're in, and that's very important for us.
Lucia: One important thing to the Collectibles team was to keep all the women in a power position. They're all fun poses, but we were really careful as to not cross over that line into something that portrays those characters as less than powerful.
Miller: You hear the term "good girl art" as it's brought up in reference to a lot of stuff like this, because it remains cheeky. But it's certainly not about painting the women as sex symbols, which was sort of the original intent, I think, of pin-ups. For us, it's not about sexualizing the characters; it's more about promoting the strength of them. For me, it's easier to approach from that perspective. I've never done something that was just an outright sex symbol type of piece -- it's always been about strong women.
Marguerite Bennett ("Bombshells" Writer): I loved the design of [Batwoman when I first saw her] -- she looked so capable and sly and brazen, all this lazy grace, like she could flirt with you or absolutely wreck you with her bat. The card that she had signed for Maggie was a brilliant detail -- she was looking at you, not the other way around. Ant Lucia is a wonder worker.
Lucia: What I've found with the artwork and everything on this line is that there are as many women fans as there are men. In some cases, I'd say there are more, based on the people I talk to and the fans I meet. It seems like it's tipping over more into the female fan base, which is really cool. I think [women] appreciate that the body styles of the characters themselves have a nice, new, refreshing take on the body styles, which aren't all [the same]. They've got more curves.
Fletcher: There are a lot more women at the shows, buying comics. When I was a kid, I would go to comic conventions and there was probably not a girl or woman in sight that I can remember. Now, it's very important to us, and seeing how many people are getting interested in it. The digital comic book has been launched with good success, so I think there's an audience out there. It appeals to men and women, and that's a key foundation to the line that's also making it work. It does not alienate anyone who might want to buy our stuff.
We made them really accessible. Even if you don't know anything about our characters -- which is a shame, because you should -- but if you didn't, you could still like the Black Canary one. You could pick up and buy it and it doesn't scream out that you're a comic book person, because that's not what that says. They're just beautiful looking statues.
Personal Pin-Up Histories
Without a doubt, the Bombshells line reflects the classic pin-up or nose cone style of artwork that featured powerful women, rendered by the likes Gil Elvgren, Alberto Vargas and ZoÃ« Mozert. As it turns out, all of the creatives involved in the line have a longtime love for the art form.
Lucia: I think [I first discovered pin-up art] when I was studying art in college. Before that, I'm sure it had some influence from watching old Tex Avery-style animation. After that, as I developed my own illustration style, I was drawn to some of that pin-up imagery. I always refer to [George] Petty; he's one of my favorites, just because the style of his illustrations are a little more exaggerated in a more graphic style. The linework he uses and the poses just have a more graphic quality. To me, that's appealing. When I started out, I was influenced a lot by vintage pin-up art, but also vintage movie posters and things like that. I think a lot of my style developed from being a fan of those types of things, along with comic book artwork. The dynamic poses are definitely an inspiration for me.
Miller: I can't honestly say when I was first aware of nose art. I was aware of classic pin-up work in the vein of Vargas or Elvgren as early as 14 or 15. Pin-up and nose art weren't necessarily distinct for some time because a lot of time the nose art was simply the artwork that had been borrowed from Elvgrin, Vargas or the like. In that context, probably mid-teen years.
Marguerite Sauvage ("Bombshells" Artist): I am universally a big fan of old illustration styles, from the '40s to the '70s, including, for sure, pin-up art. Some of my biggest influences were Gil Elvgren as much as Al Parker or Robert McGinnis, and of course ZoÃ« Mozert, one of the few female pin-up artists of the times!
Bennett: I've got a stack of coffee table books of pinups -- Elvgren and Vargas, but also ZoÃ« Mozert and Mabel Rollins Harris and Joyce Ballantyne Brand, and modern artists like Olivia de Berardinis. My favorite, of course, being Duane Bryer's Hilda -- she's always so happy and independent. Getting to see artists like Marguerite Sauvage, Laura Braga, Bilquis Evely, Ted Naifeh, Garry Brown, Stephen Mooney and more work in this style was a delight.
The First Four
Once the line was approved and staffed-up, it became a matter of taking those pin-up influences, mixing them with classic DC characters and building a new world starting with Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.
Fletcher: For the first ones, we really had some specific things we wanted to see with them so we would basically look through reference and say, "We think this is cool," and we would send him a drawing of stuff mashed up together. Ant would compile the information, add his own twist to it and send us back sketches.
Lucia: Wonder Woman was the first one that we tackled. We had a group of four: Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, but Wonder Woman was the first one. They wanted to harken back to one of her earlier poses with her breaking chains. That was the concept from the beginning. They had developed an early concept of that and, basically, my job was to take that a little bit further and push the design elements of the costume. I've got a graphic design background, so some of those elements were fun for me to work on like the details in the belt and the stitching of the shirt and things like that.
Fletcher: Early on there was a lot of back and forth to get the right vibe, especially the facial expressions. We really wanted them to convey a different attitude than a lot of other things that we'd been doing.
Lucia: Supergirl was next in line. We really didn't have as thought-out or developed a concept for her, so I did a couple concept sketches for pose ideas. Once we nailed down the type of pose we wanted then we worked through the costume ideas. On that one, I really wanted to use a Superman symbol that reminded me of the early Superman symbol on his chest that was mostly a floating "S" with more of a crest look to it.
The other thing we really wanted to push was having a lot of the core elements from the character's costume, but how can we use them in a different way? We didn't want to do a cape with Supergirl, but we thought that something along the lines of the scarf would be a nice tie-in. It kind of resembles what the cape was, just treated in a different way. Using the Superman symbol for the belt are was another way to incorporate her core elements, but push it in a different way.
Poison Ivy was another early concept I received which was in a similar pose and similar outfit style. It was my job just to push those design elements further and add in some of those intertwining vines and things like that.
Harley had a concept sketch with her hammer in it and the more we talked about it, they liked the idea of seeing a bomb with it. We went down that road. Brian Walters has been the art director along with Jim on this whole line and we talked through the bomb concepts and some of the elements we wanted to see with her. The fun part for me on that one were all these tiny elements that played back to the character on the bomb and on the concept itself. We didn't go with that one for mostly budget concerns, but it was fun.
Fletcher: The process isn't that different, it's just that now we all know what we're aiming for and don't have to have quite as much specific direction. We send a few ideas and the vibe and he comes back with great stuff like he always does.
The Unusual Suspects
After the first batch of Bombshells hit and proved to be incredibly popular, the team got together to build up the rest of the line. Some translations came with a quickness while others led to many a civilized argument.
Fletcher: Weirdly, one of the toughest ones that we've produced so far is actually the Catwoman one. It's funny because she's such an iconic character. We really had a hard time figuring out what to do with her. We ended up with that kind of spy deal, but we had a lot of concepts for that before settling on what that one should be.
Lucia: One of them that was challenging was Mera. We had a few concept ideas, we liked them all and weren't really sure which direction to go, so that's inspired having the fans vote for it.
Fletcher: There was the swimsuit one we produced, the full-on naval version and then the hybrid, in-between one. I'm actually glad we didn't go with the in-between one because I'd rather go full-blown either way. I'm not complaining about the result, either way it's a beautiful piece, I think they both would have been good. It was a fun process. We were really monitoring the boards.
It's a very successful piece and it came out very well, but it was funny watching the voting go up and down. I can't say I didn't vote, because I did. I definitely voted, but it was a pretty clear, decisive victory that people liked the big hat over the sailor hat which was the main point of contention. It was a really funny discussion around here.
Miller: Every one presents its own unique challenges. Mera is perhaps one of our favorites. When I say "ours" I'm referring to my wife as well. She watches the craziness happen from our kitchen table. Trying to convey the motion with Mera was a challenge, especially with the hat blowing off her head. I was thrilled at a convention when she was on display and said, "Wow, Dad, look, her hat's blowing off her head." Thank God they got it! Every single one always has one challenge or another, it's just praying that the team at DC has the patience to deal with it -- and me -- in the process.
Fletcher: I don't remember anything being as polarizing as that particular decision. Actually, Black Canary was a close one because she's probably the least instantly recognizable of them. There's almost no remnants of [her costume]. You take the big plaque away and it's mostly about her attitude with the microphone. There are elements of the costume colors, the little canary she's wearing and the fishnet stockings, but it's probably the furthest afield from what her character actually looks like. The rest of them you can probably figure out who they are. That one, if you weren't familiar with the character and you took the plaque off, I don't know. It was one of the most popular ones, which is funny.
The rest seem to jump out to us pretty easily like Lois Lane with the newsie type of feel. Supergirl was another easy one, Hawkgirl. A lot of them, we knew as a team it would be this type of thing.
Miller: When I first saw the [Stargirl] artwork I kind of thought about it for a little bit. I'm always trying to do the math in my head in terms of the engineering, how well things are going to fit together and how it's going to work out. That was definitely one where it wasn't just the lean on my end, but her leg tucked up underneath. There's like six pieces that all have to lock in in a very specific way. The engineering on it was kind of like "Oh my gosh," but it still remains one of my favorite designs of Ant's. We don't always have everything out on display [at home] but Stargirl hasn't gone back in the box. She was a definitely a unique challenge.
Lucia: The Joker-Harley one that was recently announced, that was a really fun concept that they came up with. The challenge was that we wanted in that popular "Kiss" pose, but how do we translate that to the Joker and Harley? The fun idea that they had come up with is that Harley is dipping him. The challenge for me was balancing that weight between holding this guy in her arms and the figure of him, which is much more tall and lanky. I think it was a challenge for Tim as well and there might have been some time constraints on that one that made it even more challenging.
Fletcher: [Batwoman] was an immediate one. We jumped right to that and it had almost no discussion. That's one of my newer favorite ones, that's a great piece. Ant turned that one around really fast because we didn't have a lot of discussion about it.
Bennett: Her self-possession is the first thing I noticed. Her grace and beauty and appeal are secondary to that sense of power and confidence that radiate from her. She is hers, and you look at her on her invitation only.
Researching The Past To Build The Present
Everyone involved in the Bombshells line tries to keep everything from boots to jetpacks as in-line as possible with real and fictional elements of the past while forging ahead with something new. For that, research and references are key.
Miller: Usually, yeah, [I use reference]. Hawkgirl's outfit is a direct nod to the outfits that pilots would wear, the type of jumpsuit. I'm looking at stuff like that all the time, making sure that what we're doing is in step with the materials that would have been used, trying to get the right flow, the right weight of the fabric. Generally not for any kind of editorial content, unless there's something I've talked with Brian Walters who's one of the unheralded members of our team. He and Ant really nail down the designs along with Jim Fletcher. They're really looking at what needs to go on the outfit. If there's something that isn't included looking at the back for instance, the line up the back of Zatanna's stocking, I'll reference that constantly.
Lucia: I think we all spent a lot of time research elements for each character. We break down each character by what we think they can be, then the research starts. What did this particular piece of clothing look like in that time period? We weren't afraid to throw in some modern elements when we thought it would work. The illustrations harken back enough that they have that vintage quality, but the other fun thing about it was adding in a few modern elements that we just thought were a fun take. This developed into an Elseworlds scenario anyway. It was a little bit of both. Every time we started we would gather imagery of old goggles or shirts or shorts or skirts styles or any elements we thought we might be able to incorporate.
Bennett: I send darling Marguerite Sauvage these documents packed with links and articles and photos, sometimes more blue hyperlink than black text.
Sauvage: I initiate my work on each chapter of "Bombshells" by an intense and arduous search of graphic and historic references for costumes, hairstyles, backgrounds, engines, everyday paraphernalia, etc.
Bombshells Blow Up
Unlike many other statue lines in the collectible world, Bombshells have taken on a life of their own by branching out onto everything from bathrobes and mugs to playing cards and high end dolls. It's been quite an experience for the creatives to see the work all over the place, but also for other companies to get involved with this increasingly popular line.
Fletcher: After we noticed the success we were having with the statues -- which was pretty quick and furious -- we put together a mini style guide for [Vice President of Creative Services] Kevin Kiniry who does a lot of our relationship work with the Consumer Products people at Warner Bros. He gave it to them and they've been going out and presenting it and they've been coming in from all over the place. The more products that are out there that people are seeing the more interest that's generating for other people to jump in and do more. The more stuff other people make, the better it is for the statue line. It's a great synergistic thing.
Lucia: When we started this, Jim had mentioned the potential of it, but in my mind I didn't know where it was going to go. When I really realized the popularity of the line was being at the conventions and having people come up to my table and tell me how excited they were for the statues and products that were coming out and actually wearing them to my table. It was just a real change for me from where I was to where it is currently. It's still kind of surreal that it's taken off this well.
Miller: It's crazy seeing the fan reactions to it and I'm thrilled to be part of the team. My wife and I were just on vacation with some of her family in Oklahoma at this place that's just absolutely in the middle of nowhere and someone that was in our company shouted over and said, "Hey, Tim, are these your Bombshells?" We look over and there are DC Bombshells playing cards. Seriously, we're in the middle of nowhere and there are the Bombshells. I'm thrilled that I get to work on some really cool designs.
Bennett: My favorite piece of merch, beyond the statues, is a deck of playing cards. My magnificent editor Jim Chadwick gave me a deck at a con over the summer and I was over the moon, playing with them my whole flight back. I recently moved from NYC to LA, driving cross country -- I stopped in a middle-of-nowhere gas station in New Mexico, and they had these faux-vintage playing cards, and right there, in the middle of a 3,000 mile drive, was a deck of Bombshells playing cards. You could've knocked me down with a feather.
Miller: It's like they're omnipresent. We have a set of glasses that are Bombshells. I think we did get the playing cards. You see them on T-shirts in some stores and passing by a Hot Topic in some of the windows. It's crazy.
Sauvage: I'm not surprised the merchandising is so successful, vintage and pin-up art is very appealing, specifically when it's done that cleverly. The figurines and their design are amazing, they are my favorite!
Robert Tonner (CEO, Founder Tonner Doll): The minute I saw these I knew they would make fantastic dolls. There wasn't ever a doubt in my mind. There was a lot that appealed to me about the Bombshells take on the classic characters -- the art is just brilliant. It's also a cheeky take on the characters and how fans look at them. I love the "naughty but wholesome" take -- and the details are just fantastic. Again, though, I have to go back to how well they were done. Each and every Bombshells drawing I see is more amazing than the last. I'm sure you're getting this, but I am a huge fan of both the concept and the art!
Sam Topley (Product Development Manager, Trend Setters Ltd.): We had a chance to review the Bombshells images as part of our licensee contract. We have been a licensee for many years, making a wide range of products with titles from the DC Universe. The designs that the Bombshells brought to the table were exciting and new. We were thrilled to have the chance to utilize them on our own products.
We felt these were an exciting and fresh way to present the female characters from DC Comics that could appeal to both male and female audiences. To me, the images show the characters in a more up-to-date style but at the same time looking very classic.
Pat Wang (Vice President, Icon Heroes): We just see the demand is there and we want to do our part to fill those wants. I think there is an increase in demand for female characters, especially when the designs and sculpts are beautifully done. There are many other Bombshells characters out there so we hope to do them all! We would love to bring the Bombshells characters to our statue paperweight line which has been getting great feedback from our fans and retailers.
Tonner: So far, the reaction to our Bombshells line has been terrific. The figures are selling out to the piece and I think that's because we have both doll collectors and DC fans buying them.
Topley: The Bombshells have been very popular across the board. We have had several exclusives that have sold out, featured at Comic-Con, on Entertainment Earth and more. Our most popular character has always been Harley Quinn, closely followed by Wonder Woman. We hope to branch out to include the Bombshells on our latest products -- MightyPrint Wall Art, the print that is made to last.
Creating The Comic World
Thanks to the great success of the statue line and subsequent licensing deals, DC decided to create a digital-first "Bombshells" comic book written by Marguerite Bennett and drawn by Marguerite Sauvage that also gets collected as a monthly series in print. Set in an alternate reality, the comic offers stories based on the versions of the characters seen in the statue line.
Fletcher: Jim Chadwick was the one leading the charge on this one. We actually showed him the exact same thing that we gave to Consumer Products. There's a lot of decisions that get made over there that I'm not involved in, but we gave them what we were doing and he went out to find talent he thinks can bring to the table what we're trying to do with it.
We got to meet Marguerite Bennet when she came in and we had a nice conversation with her. She's super excited about the line. She was on our panel at San Diego; she's very, very enthusiastic about this project.
Bennett: It's a fantastic concept for a line, but many fantastic concepts wither on the vine, and I was overwhelmed and humbled by the fan love for these designs, thanks to Ant Lucia and Emanuela Lupacchino.
The [character] groundwork was in Ant's wonderful designs. They already existed, and so we retroactively grew their life stories out of the designs. What could've made Batwoman pick her weapon of choice, if it's not evoking a creature of the night? What is the mask that Joker's Daughter carries [from the "Batman" #32 variant cover]? How did Harley get on that torpedo? It's great fun.
Sauvage: [Developing the characters] was a combination of referencing the Bombshells figurines and variant covers, that have already been done, as well as using my imagination to fill in the gaps.
Bennett: Each heroine has her own senses and her own limits, though. No two will have the same feelings towards the nature of power, beauty, modesty, self-actualization, sensuality, etc. They don't need to. We don't have a team of all men with one or two women thrown in, who must then represent the story of all women everywhere. They don't have to be role models, love interests or archetypes. They get to be real, complete with flaws and failings and joys of their own. When you have enough women, the world feels real.
Sauvage: The uchronia specificity for "Bombshells" is an open door allowing us to twist the historic accuracy a bit and leave room for more creative freedom. The challenge is to find the right balance, specifically when the story makes references to real historic events, battles, ambiance or characters.
Bennett: "Bombshells" is actually an alternate history of WWII, though, not a period piece, so we do have some freedom.
Sauvage: It was fun [integrating my style into the book]. I do have my own style so this was helpful in being accurate to the references without losing too much of myself.
Bennett: I am standing on the shoulders of giants, really. Their foundation is why this series exists. Readers fell in love with their art and ideas, and that enthusiasm made DC take notice and entertain the idea of a series. In the realest, truest sense, this series exists because of the fans and because of Ant and Tim and their brilliant work.
Why Are Bombshells So Popular?
The biggest question about the line is also the hardest to answer, but everyone gave it a shot anyway.
Lucia: It feels like when these came out we hit a chord. I think a lot of the popularity of the line is that we hit at the right time, that fans were just ready for this type of take. That's crossed my mind a lot. Why is this so popular? Maybe the comic culture has changed a bit and they want to see their favorite characters in these different scenarios. I think everyone has that nostalgia built into them that harkens back to something older. I guess it could be a little of all of those things.
Wang: I think there is an increase in demand for female characters, especially when the designs and sculpts are beautifully done.
Topley: The Bombshells look is classic and fits well into the world of pin-up designs. When you combine such a distinctive style with characters that are already well known among a broad range of fans, you end up with a look that catches the eye of fans everywhere. Those looks translate well on a variety of products that are able to reach a wider consumer market.
Sauvage: I think vintage style is globally very popular, within and outside of the comic book community. So the fans of comics who also love vintage, can now love vintage and comics together by reading "Bombshells" -- isn't it great?!
Tonner: To me, it just shows how the characters can be just a starting point for all the creative people out there. There was something that really struck me about the art -- the dead-on pin-up look -- that took the characters to an entirely different place. We've done Wonder Women a million times and for me, as probably many other licensees, it gives us a way to get even more out of a very popular group of characters, an expansion of the brand.
Miller: Wow, God only knows. I would say we've got a really fantastic team that we work with. Who knows? Maybe we're doing something that hadn't been tapped into yet. I've said this so many times, but it's a wonderful, fun line to sculpt on. If you do anything for long enough, sometimes it can suck the life out of it, but I haven't had this much fun sculpting in I couldn't tell you when. Every single time a design comes across my desk, I say, "Oh my God, this is going to be so cool," and then I think, "Oh, this is going to be a lot of work." But we all love it and we love what we do. Maybe that bleeds into the product whenever we love something so much. We all want to see each other succeed so much. Maybe? I don't know. Or, I'd like to think it's because it depicts women in a powerful way and it doesn't have to be about anything negative, it's just fun, cool characters. Maybe all of the above.
Fletcher: We're always looking out for that aesthetic that we think will work and sometimes it's just about timing. It's right place, right time. That's all I've got. If I could make up a formula where I could predict it all the time, that would be awesome. It's the right place, it's the right look and this is how people wanted them. Part of me is glad that when we first pitched this out that we didn't do it because I don't think we would have the success we're having now.
The Big Plan
The DC Collectibles team has Bombshells figured out for the near future and hopes to continue on down the line with plenty of new offerings for fans, potentially even male additions, though there was no official announcement in that department just yet.
Bennett: I do have insights into what is coming, but the creative team behind the collectibles handles all designs for the line. Characters who are not slated for the line, however, are up to Marguerite Sauvage, Jim Chadwick, myself and our wonderful art team [to integrate into the comic].
Fletcher: We've planned the line out for years. We've planned them out until 2017 and a lot of it is based on other initiatives that we're trying to help promote here. There's a lot of characters that the company puts first and foremost depending on what's going on in the world. Sometimes we switch them around and move them, but basically we know exactly what we want to do. We just give them the list and the reference, not that he wouldn't be great at doing that if we wanted him to, but we have a very specific list that we want to get to and that's how we've been working on this line.
Pretty much everything is on the table now because of the popularity of the line. We've batted a lot of ideas around. Let's just see where it goes.
It's been a great run for us. We're super excited. I hope this line goes on for another five years. We'll see how it goes. There's so many good characters we have left to do and nothing will preclude us from going back and doing different versions of the same characters.
Lois Lane, the latest entry in the DC Bombshells line, is in stores now along with digital and print versions of the "Bombshells" comic book.