The worlds of Cartoon Network's classic series collided last summer in the hit IDW Publishing crossover series "Super Secret Crisis War." Led by writer Louise Simonson and artist Derek Charm, the event saw Samurai Jack, The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory and more come together to defeat Aku and his League of Extraordinary Villains in spectacular style.
This month, Charm returns as writer and artist to deliver more cartoon crossover madness in a new six-issue team-up series "Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up." Issue #1 of the series arrives January 21 as Bubbles, Blosson and Buttercup pair with Dexter, of Laboratory fame, to take out his villainous, mutated big sister Dee Dee.
While "Smash-Up" spins out of the events of "Super Secret Crisis War," it will take a more "absurd" tone, Charm revealed to CBR News. Below the cartoonist explains how fans can also look forward to even more IDW debuts of popular Cartoon Network characters including a much-requested scaredy-cat -- or should that be scaredy-dog? - and another team of super powered do-gooders.
CBR News: Derek - how did "Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up" come about?
Derek Charm: Somewhere around the middle of "Super Secret Crisis War," my editor Sarah Gaydos asked if I would be interested in pitching a follow-up starring the Powerpuff Girls and featuring some of the other Cartoon Network licenses IDW has access to. I had such a great time writing and drawing a few fill in issues of "Powerpuff Girls" before "Crisis War," so I was really into the idea of getting back to Townsville for an extended period, and incorporating all of these other characters as well.
What sort of tone are you going for in this series?
Both IDW and Cartoon Network really wanted to play up the comedy aspect and make this lighter and closer to the tone of the show than the sort of end-of-the-world-epicness of "Super Secret Crisis War." I gravitate toward the absurd anyway, so I was all about it.
Who will the Girls be teaming up with in the series?
The main storyline that runs through the series, at least at first, is that Dexter's sister Dee Dee has been mutated into a horrible monster and, after trashing Dexter's lab, becomes lost in the multiverse. Being the good friends they are, the Powerpuff Girls jump into action trying to track her down, which leads them to other worlds and on adventures with other characters. So Dexter and Dee Dee play a huge part, we'll be seeing the "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" gang, "Cow and Chicken," "Johnny Bravo" and a ton more.
Will any new Cartoon Networks characters be making their debut? A certain group of friends who love justice perhaps?
Definitely! The main question we had since we announced Super Secret Crisis War was "Where's Courage the Cowardly Dog?" so we're getting to him right away. "Camp Lazlo" will also be making its IDW debut. As for the "Justice Friends" -- someone has to take care of Townsville while the Girls are away!
Which characters would you love to bring in in the future that we haven't seen before, if the series gets picked up after the sixth issue?
I do have a bunch of notes just in case. One of the stories I had planned for the first six [issues] that didn't make the cut was Ed, Edd and Eddy lost in Townsville and joining up with the Gangreen Gang. It didn't quite fit with this storyline, but it'd be cool to do in a possible future. It would be fun to do some villain team ups. As for characters we haven't seen before, I think it's probably too soon to say, but there's some deep-cuts I'd like to use.
You're writing, drawing and covering this series. Personally, I always like to bounce ideas off people. What's your process like when working entirely solo?
Well, that's where my editor Sarah Gaydos plays a huge part. We talk pretty much every day about some aspect of this book, and she's really good at being like "this doesn't work" but then leaving it open for me to come up with a better solution. This is our third series working together, and we definitely have a groove down at this point. Between her and Cartoon Network, it never really feels like I'm working alone. The main bonus of being a writer/artist is being able to write the scenes you want to draw, and being adapted from cartoons, these are very visual stories.
Which of the three Girls is your favorite? Which do you like writing the most?
I don't know if I have a favorite. I think they all complement each other really well (and were designed to). That said, writing Buttercup really comes easily to me, and I often focus on Bubbles, because she's the heart of the team. I also love Professor Utonium, I think there's a lot of comedy to be found in him.
Tell us about the back-up stories featured in "Super Smash-Up." Will you be involved in these at all?
The back-ups are unrelated solo stories, between four-to-six pages long and featuring rotating characters and creative teams. So there will be "Courage the Cowardly Dog" in issue #1 by Jeremy Whitley and Jorge Monlongo, which is going to be amazing. Issue #2 has "Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends" by Sean E. Williams and Paulina Ganucheau, and issue #3 is "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" by Rachel Deering and Christine Larsen. The covers all have little inserts in the bottom left corner letting you know who the back-up feature is. It's fun, and adds a lot to each issue. It's great seeing different takes on these characters.
You mentioned that this series will get into some of the Girls' more obscure powers. What sorts of abilities are these? Are you inventing any new powers for the series?
When I was researching for this series (watching cartoons), I was noticing just how many weird powers the Girls had. There's no upper limit, and you can tell the creative team was having a good time just being weird. So yeah, I'm definitely hitting on that aspect, playing up powers like their ability to duplicate themselves, enter dreams, shrink, and most importantly, to turn into a giant flaming kitten.
What's next on the horizon for IDWs Cartoon Network line-up?
Well, we have a whole list of characters to pull from in this series, and with the back-ups there's a lot of ground to cover. So fingers crossed that we get picked up as an ongoing after the initial six! Beyond that Jim Zub and Andy Suriano are killing it on "Samurai Jack" every month.
"Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up" #1 is available January 21 from IDW Publishing.