The people of Townsville have plenty to celebrate these days. While Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup might look and sound a bit different than they did when Craig McCracken created them in the mid-1990s, some things never change as Cartoon Network’s new “The Powerpuff Girls” animated series that debuted earlier this week still has the same awesome energy fans have always loved about the superpowered trio.
Of course, IDW Publishing made sure the Girls’ revival didn’t stop there, announcing at Emerald City Comicon that a new ongoing comic book series will debut this July. Two of the show’s writers, Jake Goldman and Haley Mancini (who also voices Princess Morebucks!), will steer the new comic, teaming with artist Derek Charm who drew the previous IDW comic series as well as the Cartoon Network crossover “Super Secret Crisis War!” and wrote and illustrated “Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up!”
CBR News has the exclusive first interview with Mancini, Goldman and Charm about the new outlook on the series, the problems with running out of crimes to fight and how they first came to experience Buttercup, Bubbles and Blossom.
CBR News: Before we get into specifics about your new comic, I wanted to ask if you remember the first time you saw “Powerpuff Girls” or encountered the franchise. What stuck out to you then and captured your imagination enough to want come back as adults?
Jake Goldman: Well, you never forget the first time you [see] someone’s hair turn to meat. I actually remember watching it back when it was on “The What A Cartoon Show” when I was a kid. I remember really falling for what I considered to be “Big Three” that came out of that show: “Johnny Bravo,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and, of course, “The Powerpuff Girls.” My bedroom was stacked with comic books, so any new superhero show always popped out to me. And it was funny too? I was hooked. In fact, I wouldn’t even say I “came back” as an adult as it’s more like “I never left.” Cartoons and comics are my jam.
Haley Mancini: I remember catching them at my best friend’s house because she had cable and I didn’t. “The Powerpuff Girls,” “Ed, Edd, n Eddy” and “Courage the Cowardly Dog” became our regular shows. We particularly loved “The Powerpuff Girls” because I had two best friends at the time (one with black hair, one a redhead, and I’m a blonde), so naturally we identified with them. The fact that it was hilarious and packed with action didn’t hurt, since I’m equal parts comedy and Godzilla obsessed.
Derek Charm: The original “Powerpuff Girls” was one of the first times that I noticed a deliberate attention to art and design in a cartoon. Colors would change in this expressionistic way, things would be distorted and twisted to match the vibe of a scene or push a joke. It definitely made you pay closer attention.
The new “Powerpuff Girls” animated series just launched on Cartoon Network, but can you give potential comic fans an idea of how the new series differs from the original?
Goldman: The short answer is, “Not that much, really.” The line that I’ve been using a lot is, “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re just adding more spokes.” The original created such an amazing world, but I always felt there was still so much left undiscovered. So we’re all about digging a little deeper into the characters and the villains. Finding out what makes them tick both as people and as horrible evil genius supermonkeys. But of course, sometimes you just really want to see some little super-powered little girls punch monsters really hard in the face.
Mancini: Storytelling has changed over time, and they require a bit more of a character-driven arc. So you’ll see much more of that as well as an expanded world, a la “The Simpsons.” The more places and faces (both friends and foes) you can add, oftentimes, the further you can push your character’s personal journey.
As far as the comic series goes, will you be working in arcs or more in the one-and-done style?
Mancini: As of thia moment, we’re going one-and-done, but that’s very much open to change.
Goldman: I’d love to work in some long arcs (Dark Blossom Saga? Age of Mojo Jojo? Townsville Civil War?) but I think that’s something you have to build to. For starters, we’d like to stick to some fun one-shot stories about mirth and mayhem.
This book starts when the Powerpuff Girls actually have down time from being so efficient when it comes to crimefighting. What do three super powered little girls do when they don’t have villains to fight?
Goldman: If they’re anything like me, they’re watching their favorite show! In the Girls’ case, it’s the cosmic adventure space epic that is “Space Tow Truck.”
Mancini: The girls love playing the L Cube and watching their favorite show, “Space Tow Truck” — something you’ll see a lot of in the series. Besides that, they love to kick it and go out and play, and just like any kids, sometimes their boredom gets them into trouble.
Speaking of villains, Mojo Jojo won’t let the Girls fully enjoy their down time. What does he have planned for them?
Mancini: Oh, they’ll see… quite literally. They’ll see him on their TV. And it goes from there!
Goldman: Mojo Jojo, master of all evil and purveyor of things that are most assuredly not-nice, has planned a plot so heinous, so wicked, so gruesome that it could only involve the greatest terror of all: Daytime Television.
Are there other villains and characters you’re excited to bring into the comic series as well from a story and artistic perspective?
Mancini: HIM, Morbucks, all the classics, plus a few newbies that we’re excited about like Man Boy and Allegro the Panda Bear.
Goldman: HIM! 100%. All HIM. All the time. What’s life without a little chaos?
Charm: Everyone has a slightly different look, even if it’s just super-subtle like in the case of HIM or Mojo. I’m looking forward to making them stand apart from their original versions, and especially to bringing in some of the new characters.
Derek, how is it for you returning to these characters you’ve worked on before?
Charm: I’m trying to think of this as a brand-new thing, and not rely on anything I did before. The original was really rooted in that mid-century UPA style: lots of thick shapes and dry-brush backgrounds, which I love, but I’m really embracing the bright, sharp look of the new series. Everything from the characters to the backgrounds have a new look and I’m trying to reflect that as closely as possible.
Haley and Jake, the two of you also write for the new animated series. Have you encountered any hurdles switching gears to write in the comic format?
Mancini: Jake’s a big comic book nerd, and I’m a big math nerd/amateur artist, and strangely those powers work pretty well together in converting from one medium to another.
Goldman: The biggest hurdle has been figuring out how to properly gloat to my mother that all those comics I read instead of doing my homework has paid off.
Bubbles, Buttercup, Blossom and the others have specific looks in the series. Derek, how are you able to utilize that style while also bringing your own into the book?
Charm: One thing I’ve learned from working both on “Powerpuff Girls” and IDW’s Disney comics is that your own style and sense of humor will kind of come through no matter what. Even just looking at the variant covers by different artists where everyone is 100% “on-model,” that individuality comes through; which I think is really cool and something I never really appreciated before I started working on these kinds of comics. I love looking back on older licensed stuff and trying to pick up on what makes certain artists stand out.
IDW Publishing’s new “Powerpuff Girls” series debuts in July from Haley Mancini, Jake Goldman and Derek Charm.
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