On a week when America was preparing itself for Independence Day and what it means to fight for your rights, Wonder Woman’s new look nearly broke the internet. Who knew satin tights were so vital to the American dream?
Debuting in a special 600th issue anniversary of “Wonder Woman,” the Amazon warrior princess made her first appearance last week wearing black leather pants, a red bustier and a short blue jacket, causing online forums and message boards to erupt – both positively and negatively.
That’s good news for DC Comics as the title’s numbers have never garnered top-flight sales figures and the amount of press the new look generated surely had Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, Geoff Johns and the rest of the folks at DC Entertainment grinning from ear to ear.
The design of the new costume was the brainchild of Lee, one of DC’s two co-publishers, and incoming “Wonder Woman” writer J. Michael Straczynski (“Thor,” “The Brave and the Bold”) was also heavily involved in the overall concept but it’s artist Don Kramer who has been granted the historic honor of guiding Princess Diana through her first true wardrobe change since she first appeared more than 69 years ago in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941).
Created by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman is arguably the world’s most recognizable female superhero so it’s no surprise there was such strong reaction either way.
CBR News spoke with Kramer about the new look and the artist of such hits as “JSA” and “Batman” said he’s thrilled to be involved in such an important stage of Wonder Woman’s history and that the change was not only for practical reasons but more importantly, crucial to the upcoming story in “Wonder Woman,” which begins July 28 in #601.
CBR News: To say the reaction to Wonder Woman’s new look has been heated would be an understatement, as readers have come out very strongly either for or against it. Were you surprised the new look received such attention?
Don Kramer: Totally surprised. I knew it would get a lot of attention within the comic community, but was shocked to see the amount it received from the mainstream media outlets. It’s kind of cool for me to see my art in the “New York Times.”
From what you’ve gathered, what do you think people are finding most upsetting? And do you understand the concerns?
People never react well to change. The original costume was iconic, and any deviation – let alone such a drastic one – will garner some dissent. I understand that. I was a little hesitant at first, as well, but if people give the story a chance, the changes are very understandable.
Does this type of reaction fuel what you and JMS do with the character and make you want to prove haters/doubters wrong, or do you approach it like any other assignment?
I expected the reactions. Don’t you read message boards? [Laughs]. But people are talking about it and giving it a look which, unfortunately, they weren’t doing much before. I can’t say I’m approaching it like just another assignment. After all, it’s Wonder Woman. And JMS. How can you treat it like just another assignment?
What’s JMS like as a creative partner?
A very busy man. Very hands on. He has a specific idea and it’s up to me to create that idea. He cares about how his story is portrayed and wants to make sure specific design elements are there, and I understand that. Otherwise, I haven’t really talked to him except through emails. Ironically, he spent some time living in my hometown years ago. It’s kind of a small area, so not many can say that. It’s kind of an odd coincidence. I’ve been a huge fan of his work since “Midnight Nation” and “Rising Stars.”
When you signed on for “Wonder Woman,” did you know that the change was coming or did you think you would be drawing her as she has been presented more or less since the forties as William Moulton Marston and H. G. Peter first presented her?
I learned of the change when I signed on, but I didn’t know what the costume was going to look like until some time later. I talked a little with Jim [Lee] about it at C2E2 and he added a couple of the elements I envisioned, but there was a lot of input from JMS, as well.
What elements of the new look do you find best epitomize Wonder Woman’s strength and intensity?
I really prefer the black pants. They make so much more sense from a practical standpoint. I made a few tweaks on her headband that made it feel to me a bit tougher and stronger. Adding so much black to her outfit seemed to visually augment her darker personality and give her a ferociousness that the red, yellow and blue didn’t have.
Do you feel like she’s lost any of her sex appeal? Or perhaps you feel she’s gained some?
I really never thought about it. Comic characters are always idealized versions of the male and female anatomy. Her body hasn’t changed, so I don’t see why her sex appeal would change any.
While her look has changed, she’s still Diana. Did you go back and look at any artists that have worked on Wonder Woman in the past, like Mike Sekowsky or George Perez, when preparing for this assignment?
Always. I’m a big fan of a number of these artists. George Perez, Nicola Scott, Terry Dodson, Adam Hughes, Rags Morales, Drew Johnson. They all sit by my art table.
Do you feel the new look makes Wonder Woman a more marketable character in terms of film or TV?
Not really. I don’t think that really matters as much. The attention Wonder Woman gets makes her a more marketable character. The more attention people pay to the character means the more likely a movie or TV show will be made.
For example, look at what Geoff [Johns] has done with “Green Lantern.” Hal was dead 10 years ago. Now they are making a movie about him.
Do you have any Hollywood actors in mind when you’re drawing Wonder Woman?
Not really any single actress. Kind of a montage of a few, perhaps. I did kind of envision Kristen Bell with a dye job as The Oracle, though.
“Wonder Woman” #601, written by J. Michael Straczynski and featuring art by Don Kramer, is scheduled to be released on July 28.
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