When Shadowline editor Kris Simon put out the call for super-heroine pitches, Kat Cahill answered. Though she didn’t win the contest to pitch the Image imprint on a counterpoint series to Jimmie Robinson’s villainess Bomb Queen, Cahill’s “I Hate Gallant Girl” will be hitting the stands just the same. The book follows a young woman named Renée Tempete who aspires to be the next Gallant Girl, a legacy super-heroic identity whose host is determined every ten years by pageant. In “I Hate Gallant Girl,” the main character loses.
Cahill, Simon and artist Seth Damoose spoke with CBR News about what inspired “I Hate Gallant Girl,” how it struck a chord with Shadowline, and how the creative process came through in this unique situation.
“The question that the series asks is: why does Renée want this?” Cahill told CBR. “Does she want to be Gallant Girl just to be famous or does she truly care about helping people?”
“Gallant Girl is a pop culture super-heroine,” Cahill continued, “and the sole female member of The Fellowship of Freedom. Every ten years, the Fellowship holds a pageant to determine the new Gallant Girl. In a way, it is one of those small town girl moves to the big city and gets her hopes crushed stories. I’d tell you about Gallant Girl herself, but I don't want to spoil too much about this character, so I think I will leave it at that!”
Despite the fanciful premise, Cahill drew inspiration for “I Hate Gallant Girl” from real life. “The main inspiration for the concept came from my own experience in the workforce,” Cahill said. “Too often I have seen pretty faces promoted over talented, hard working women. I thought that if women actually did have super powers, beauty would still be amongst the chief criteria for success. Not that the book is a humorless feminist screed or anything.”
“I Hate Gallant Girl” took an unusual route to comics stands in that it was part of a contest held by Shadowline. “The contest was for writers, and we challenged them to come up with a concept that was voted on by the public,” explained Shadowline’s Kris Simon. “[Shadowline head] Jim Valentino and I sifted through over 5,000 paragraphs to ultimately pick five that were voted on. Contestants were allowed to use Bomb Queen as their villain (with Jimmie Robinson’s permission), but it was not required. We were looking for a counterpart to Bomb Queen. We weren’t getting in any super-heroine submissions that we felt made the grade, and this was a contest for writers that I came up with which no one, to the best of our knowledge, had ever done before. It seemed to be a way to let the public pick a successful super heroine book for us.”
What makes the book’s journey to the stands even more unique is the fact that it was not the winning title. “’I Hate Gallant Girl’ was actually a runner up! ‘Incredible Journey’ is the actual winner, and that book comes out in February,” Simon revealed. “However, there were clearly some fan favorites amongst the finalists, and Jim and I had been wanting to do a book with Seth Damoose for a while, since before he did a back-up story in ‘Bomb Queen’ Vol. 3. We thought this concept fit his style wonderfully and there was no way we could pass it up. Then I received an e-mail from colorist Kanila Tripp [from ‘Blacklight’], letting us know he was free for a short run if we had anything. He’d actually colored over Seth before, and it all just fell together like it was meant to be!
“I actually have known Seth for many years,” Simon added. “Since way before my Shadowline days, and I introduced him to Jim, who took notice of his work and just fell in love with it. Seth had been drawing ‘Bomb Queen,’ ‘Blacklight’ and ‘Editor Girl’ pieces over on the art thread at Jim’s forum, so we knew he could pull off what we wanted. Jim also was quite fond of the Gallant Girl pitch and thought it was finally the perfect vehicle for Seth at Shadowline. Seth has an energy in his work that makes his style very unique. Although he’s considered cartoony, his figures have a certain grace and he nails the expressions every time. He’s just different enough to stand out!”
Of his approach to the artwork on “I Hate Gallant Girl,” Seth Damoose told CBR, “I wanted to do something a little different from [my webcomic] ‘Brat-Halla,’ but not stray too far from my normal style.Â I think I was able to add a more mainstream comic book feel, but still maintain my expressive style.”
“Despite being a writer, I've always purchased comic books based upon the artwork,” said Cahill. “On a daily basis, I'm completely floored by the stuff that Seth turns out. His art is just so expressive and fun. I am very, very lucky to be working with him on my first book.”
As a new writer, Cahill got an assist from one of comics’ veterans, Jim Valentino. “As often is the case with new writers,” said Simon, “sometimes the core concept is good, and the writing is good, but there are problems with pacing and getting the book from points A to Z without wandering off track every now and then. What Jim Valentino did was take all of Kat’s elements that she wanted in the book and streamline them so that they all flowed properly. He broke her overall story down into useable plotlines for all three issues, based on the original breakdowns she provided. Kat then wrote the issues based on his breakdowns. It was pretty much the same thing that he did on the ‘After the Cape’ series. The goal is to make the series the best it can be, and give new writers a good guideline to learn from.”
With the hard work done, it’s now time for “I Hate Gallant Girl” to find its audience. “When I first came up with the concept, I believed that the target audience would mostly consist of teen girls and young women,” Cahill said, “but there has actually been a good deal of favorable response from the XY chromosome set. Which is great since they are the primary consumers [of comics]. I think that guys will definitely dig the third cover.”
“ I think that anyone could pick this book up and enjoy it,” Damoose added.Â “I think it was written in such a way that even a casual comic book fan could find something to connect with.Â This book has a little bit of everything for everyone; Action, adventure, drama, giant robots, heroes, villains, and hot women!”
Shadowline fans may have noticed a change in the series’ name since it was first announced by as “I Hate Galaxy Girl.” Why the name change? “Lawyers,” responded Damoose.
“Ha ha! No, there were no lawyers involved,” Simon said. “After the press release was sent out, we were contacted by Rob Liefeld and informed that he has an optioned character named Galaxy Girl that existed long before this series was created. So we needed to change the name and the reason was simple--if there are two title characters with the same name, one of us (Rob) wouldn't be able to make a comic, and the other (Kat) wouldn't be able to sell to movies or TV. This actually happens quite frequently. We also had to change the name of Captain Gravity in ‘After the Cape’ to Captain G and there were no arguments or bad feelings over it. It happens.“
With her first series in print, Cahill intends to stick around in comics. “Obviously, I have my fingers crossed for a second IHGG series,” she said. “Other than that, I'm working on a few new stories outside of the superhero genre, but nothing set to publish as of yet. Now that I finally have the proverbial foot in the door, I would hate to not take advantage of the opportunity. If a second ‘I Hate Gallant Girl’ miniseries is produced, it will depend upon the sales. But I would love to revisit IHGG in the very near future. Without giving away how the first miniseries ends, I believe that we left things wide open for a sequel.”
“As always, that’s up to the readers,” said Simon of the title’s franchise potential. “We do have a tentative plotline for another series worked out, but that only happens if fans support the book.”
The first issue of “I Hate Gallant Girl” hits the stands November 12 from Shadowline and Image Comics.