In addition to its ever-popular and constantly growing statue line — of which Teen Titan Bumblebee is the next available piece — DC's Bombshells have spread to action figures, busts and comics, as well as a variety of other licensed products from other companies.
With the recent reveal of "The Art of DC Comics Bombshells" book, it seemed like the perfect time to catch up with DC Collectibles' Jim Fletcher and "DC Comics Bombshells" writer Marguerite Bennett to see how the statue line continues to grow and inspire everything from coffee table books and comics, to action figures, costume patterns and more!
CBR: We talked just over a year ago about the history of this line and its growing popularity. It seems to just keep on growing. Has that popularity change how you approach the line from picking out characters to the number of statues released each year?
Jim Fletcher: That’s a great question! The popularity of the line was tested early on with statues like Stargirl, who was not as well known as some of our other DC heroines. Stargirl’s design was so compelling and resonated with the Bombshells audience, that she paved the way for more interesting choices like Batwoman, Killer Frost, Katana and Vixen. We are trying to keep a more or less consistent number of statues during a given year, to not overwhelm collectors…but this line is so fun, I’d do one month, if we could! We also have an action figure line coming out in 2017 for the Bombshell fan who either likes to pose the figures themselves and/or doesn’t want to invest in the higher price point of the statue series.
Since you mentioned testing the market with the Stargirl piece, was there any concern about Bumblebee's overall popularity when including her in the line?
Fletcher: We are so happy to put her in the series, her wonderful design is so exuberant! As I mentioned earlier, as long as the concept is great, we think sales will follow even if the character isn’t that well known. AND the fact that Bumblebee is featured in DC Super Hero Girls doesn’t hurt. We aren’t too concerned.
The pose on Bumblebee is fantastic and really captures the strength of a cheerleader mid-leap. How did you nail down not just this take on the character, but the outfit and pose?
Fletcher: As with all the Bombshells, we first meet and discuss what their "hook" will be to tie them into a recognizable character, while redesigning them in the Bombshells style. The origin for the cheerleader motif was derived from her hairstyle as seen on the Teen Titans animated series. It reminded us of cheerleader pompoms! Once you start studying the characters, you never know what kind of inspiration will hit you. The clothing is well researched by Art Director Brian Walters who is now our resident expert on 1940s styling!
The "Art of DC Comics Bombshells" book reveals the Vixen statue at the very end of it, which looks amazing, but different from the cover image. What made the final version, with the clawed hand and yellow dress, make the most sense?
Fletcher: We switched out the black dress for an orange one to more closely match Vixen’s standard costume to create a visual tie to the character. I absolutely love the Illustration of Vixen on page 205 of the art book, one of Ant’s best, in my opinion!
Were there any designs or ideas you dug up while putting the book together that you'd forgotten about?
Fletcher: Well, there were some earlier character designs that would make for some good statues. It was fun seeing all the different expressions that Ant worked out for the characters!
In addition to the statue line, there's the line of action figures debuting next spring. Is there potential to debut characters in the Bombshells style over there before they hit the statue line?
Fletcher: If the action figure line resonates as well as we hope, the answer is a solid... maybe? We are so deep in the statue series with over 25 characters — and busts combined, plus more new ones planned for 2018 — it doesn’t seem likely that the action figures will catch up anytime soon.
The bust line which definitely has a different look. What are the guiding principals behind those pieces style-wise?
Fletcher: The busts were based off of an Emanuela Lupacchino cover. We thought is would be a nice nod to represent three branches of the military: Army, Navy, Marines. We’ll see how these perform and may possibly do more if the fan reception is solid.
The comic is also packed with interesting characters. How closely do you work with Marguerite and the crew to keep the feel of the whole line cohesive?
Fletcher: Marguerite and the crew have been fantastic collaborators! We started this statue series before the book was planned, so there was some catching up to do from editorial. I still remember when we got the first over-aching story draft, the collectibles team was blown away. The world Marguerite has imagined is way beyond anything we had thought out.
Marguerite has seamlessly woven the characters into story arcs faster than we can make statues. A great example is our Halloween Batgirl, who was written into the series right after we showed her the illustration! I had a fantastic time recently working out character designs for Big Barda and Enchantress with Marguerite and am starting a new one I can’t talk about yet or editorial will kill me!
Marguerite, when we talked about a year ago about all things Bombshells, the comic was still fairly new. Has the process of developing this world changed as the popularity continues to grow?
Bennett: The popularity and growth of Bombshells continues to be something that humbles me without end. I know I say it so often that everyone must be sick of hearing it, but this series exists because of the fans. Their enthusiasm and response to Ant Lucia’s artwork sent a message to DC that this was a world that readers would like to explore.
In that exploration, we’ve begun to grow with the world. When we began, the heroines were scattered and each chapter featured them separately, with different genres and different artists. Batwoman was a cheesy radio serial adventure, Supergirl was a propaganda film, Zatanna was a horror movie, Catwoman was a spy noir, Harley was a Looney Tune, Mera was a romance, and on. Now, the heroines have met and begun to influence each other, and single arcs may take on a specific tenor, in addition to single chapters. The world — and its storytelling — is evolving.
Given that you're so involved with this franchise, do you have more input as to which characters make their way into the statue, bust or figure lines?
Bennett: Charmingly, I was just in the DC Offices yesterday to speak with Jim Fletcher about the next wave of the line! We’ve certainly begun to work more closely, particularly with that exquisite Vixen character that was revealed at San Diego this past summer. I had been batting my eyelashes for her since the very inception of the series. [laughs] It’s such a delight to talk with Jim. He’s wickedly funny and so inventive and I’ve been thrilled to retroactively engineer from his designs. Working together on the next wave is certainly a watershed for the series.
Does working on a multi-media project like Bombshells feel any different than your other comic work?
Bennett: Oh, definitely! Things must translate at so many levels: must work in digital, then in single print issues, then in trade; must look good on a flat design, then on a statue, then in motion; must function as part of an era, then part of the DC Universe, then part of the requirements of the plot at hand. BUT. I have the most delightful, supportive, creative team to work with, from all the fantastic artists and designers in the DC Collectibles department to Jessica Chen, my brilliant editor, and the many, many artists who have worked with us—Marguerite Sauvage, Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, Richard Ortiz and more.
Have any of the Bombshells characters surprised you with how they've grown or evolved in the process of writing the series?
Bennett: Absolutely. Zatanna surprised me quite the most. I had enjoyed her character as a fan before, but something clicked in "Bombshells" where I fell madly in love with her and delight in writing her. She developed so much pathos and gravitas through the series, coming from a place of trauma and fear and a world that had turned on her, and rising up as a self-possessed and protective heroine in the rebellion in the ghetto of Berlin.
"The Art of DC Comics Bombshells" is in stores now; the Bumblebee statue is available for orders, and "DC Comics Bombshells" is available regularly via digital and print release.