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SDCC: Meredith & David Finch Discuss Finding the Core of “Wonder Woman”

by  in Comic News Comment
SDCC: Meredith & David Finch Discuss Finding the Core of “Wonder Woman”

In late June, DC Comics announced that writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang’s acclaimed run on “Wonder Woman” would come to an end after three years. Their collaboration saw Diana embark on a voyage steeped in mythology, focusing on her status as a demigod and exploring complex, and sometimes devious relationships, in her family of Greek Gods.

This November, husband-and-wife team Meredith and David Finch will lasso Wonder Woman closer to the Justice League with a more mainstream approach. Although David is a well-known artist, having worked on high-profile projects such as “Batman: The Dark Knight,” “Justice League of America” and, most recently, “Forever Evil,” Meredith is tackling an ongoing superhero series for the first time.

Meredith, David Finch Discuss Taking “Wonder Woman” More “Mainstream”

CBR News met with the pair during Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk more about the series, including how their personal relationship has prepared them for a professional collaboration, their ongoing discoveries about the title character and David’s approach to interpreting Meredith’s vision of who Wonder Woman is and will become during their time on the book.

CBR News: How’s your con going this year? Meredith — is this your first time?

David Finch: This is the best convention I’ve ever had. I’m not in Artist’s Alley. I had a panel yesterday, one today, nice lunches — it’s been great.

Meredith Finch: I started coming, I think, right after I met David in 2008 or 2009. I’ve been the table-sitter, table-watcher, schedule holder. Normally when I come, I’m just making sure he gets to where he needs to be, so obviously this is my first San Diego where I actually get to sit on a panel instead of in front of a panel. People want to include me in a photo instead of asking me to take it! When people take pictures of David, I’m always stepping out of the shot. Now I have to step in. 

And he always takes fantastic pictures. If you look back through pictures of David, he has the same perfect smile every single photo. I do not. I’m going to have to work on my photo face, I guess.

I’m curious to find out how you work professionally with one another — how do you manage conflict and communicate unique points of view on the series?

Meredith: I feel really fortunate because I’ve been so involved in David’s career in terms of a managerial point. I get to hear when he’s frustrated about drawing 15 pages of panels that have 15 panels on a page, I get to hear what he really loves drawing — so going into writing and working with him, I already have an insight on what he does best and what he loves to do. That helps me when I’m writing the story. When he loves doing what he’s doing, his best work always comes out. I’m writing a story for my best friend, to make him happy, but I’m writing a story that’s also going to make me happy because I have a point of view that I want to tell. We’re very fortunate because we’re so different that it’s been a great balance. He’s the yin to my yang. Where I might tell a story that’s too character focused, he might stop me and say, “I need some action here, now!” And we can incorporate that. I think it’s going to add a great balance and dynamic to the book.

David: Not just with this, we fight, sure, but we really don’t step on each other’s toes. She’s much more responsible than I am, and much more organized. I know what I do: I like to draw. It helps me to have somebody put parameters around that, and that’s kind of a writer’s job — dealing with flakey artists. This is not a stretch for us at all.

Meredith: I think if you have a good balance with resolving conflict in your marriage, hopefully that will translate into a good balance for resolving conflict in your work.

How are you balancing your personal lives?

Meredith: We have three kids. I have my desk and right now, Thomas the Train weaves his way under it. I have an enormous track under it. My office is in the playroom. David’s is down in the basement, in front of the X-Box. I’m not sure what that means, but I think that’s a good reflection of who we are.

We’re very fortunate that we’re both at home and we’re able to work from the house. When the kids go to school, that’s when we sit down and do our work, and when the kids get home, we’re able to step away and spend time with them. I’m usually done for the day, and after the kids go to bed, David will work again.

It’s a full day. Sometimes he’ll yell at me because I haven’t written for a week, and I’m like, wow, that’s because I’ve got doctor’s appointments and school trips —

David: I kinda forget that I’m downstairs working with the door closed while she’s upstairs, especially at summer vacation. Kids are a lot of work.

Meredith: You do want to eat, don’t you? Somebody’s gotta get groceries! [Laughs]

Meredith, this is a really huge, new endeavor for you. What has the community support been like — have you built relationships with other writers or artists outside of your relationship with David, who are giving you balance in a professional way?

Meredith: I’m very fortunate because I’ve met a lot of writers and artists, professionals in the industry, with David prior to my taking on this book. I’ve developed those relationships on a personal level already. DC set me up with an amazing editorial team, Matt Idelson and Darren Shan. I’ve got so much support for the writing process and my career in the industry.

How far into the series are you?

Meredith: We’ve plotted through #6, so the first arc is completely plotted. Issues #1 and #2 are written, and #1 is finished.

David: I’m just starting Issue #2. Obviously, I’ve never been late in my career before! [Laughs] But the first issue comes out in November so we’re in pretty good shape right now.

So you’re fairly early in the actual creation of the series, but it sounds like you know where it’s going. From the time you signed on to this project until now, when you’re putting pen to paper, have your perceptions of who Wonder Woman is or how you’re going to tell her story changed at all?

Meredith: Yeah, prior to taking over “Wonder Woman” I would say that she was a new Wonder Woman. I’d watched Wonder Woman as a girl growing up, and she was my first exposure to a superhero, but I hadn’t really followed the comics. The first thing I did was, I grabbed Brian Azzarello’s run, because I knew that’s the universe we’d be picking up from. In reading what Brian has done with the character, and how he’s developed her, has definitely modified it — I never really thought of her that way, or I never thought of approaching something that way. It’s really fleshed out the character for me. He did such a fantastic job with that run, and now, as I write her — I think every writer brings a little bit of themselves to whatever they’re doing. I do feel like that’s happening as I get to know her. I’m definitely getting to know the character in a different way as I’m writing her. Now, I really understand a voice and a personality of all of the characters; it’s really come alive for me, now that I’m two issues in. The first issue is always a little bit about feeling out an idea in your head as you put it on the page. By Issue 2, I’m really into her and who she is for me. It’s definitely been an evolving process. She’s going to be a combination of that little girl ideology and the full-fledged superhero that Brian has developed, and then a little bit of me.

What is the little girl ideology?

Meredith: Lynda Carter! You didn’t really see women like that back in the 1970s. Women were just getting out into the work force; it was still a really big deal if your mom wasn’t a stay at home mom. You really didn’t see women in that heroic, stronger-than-a-man kind of way. For that, she really had an impact on a lot of people. As time goes on, the great thing about Wonder Woman is that she can evolve and become whoever you need her to be for the time that she is in.

You’d said in previous interviews that your approach is going to be a bit more mainstream. In thinking about that evolutionary quality of Wonder Woman, what are some qualities that you’re excited to include in your run and how are they contributing to her as a mainstream character?

Meredith: When I say we’re bringing her more mainstream, its more that she’s coming into the DC Universe. We’re bringing the Justice League in and incorporating some of the other aspects of her life that Brian didn’t touch on, because he had a much more complex story. For me, the center to who she is is love, caring and an advocate for humanity. So that’s really what we’re going to be bringing.

David — there were some previous comments you’d made about your version of Wonder Woman not necessarily being a feminist character, and being more grounded in beauty and strength. I’m wondering how that point of view has changed as the series progresses? What are you thinking about when you’re defining Wonder Woman for this new arc and how are you bringing in Meredith’s point of view for this loving, grounded, humanitarian character?

David: It was really Meredith’s take on the character that made me feel like it was the right thing for us to do. I thought she had a really great grasp on her, and I love it when a character has an easily definable core. That seems to be the most true. So, talking to Meredith and her saying who she thought Wonder Woman was — it was like, that’s a great approach.

Wonder Woman is a feminist icon, and its something that has been important to me from the beginning. In drawing it, I wanted to make sure that I approach, in a respectful, inclusive way — [David trails off]

My question is not coming from a defensive point of view. I know that the word “feminist” can mean different things to different people, depending on the context. I don’t think you meant anything negative by that comment, and I was hoping to hear more about what was important to you, as an artist working on the series, and how you’re defining the character.

[At this point in the interview, a DC publicist interjected, saying, “I think part of it is what you were talking about earlier is her body type and how she doesn’t have to have these big, huge muscles and you’re putting her into everyday situations and actions. You can talk about that.”]

Meredith: That’s what I’d said earlier — you look at Kacy Catanzaro right now, who was the first woman to make it into the “American Ninja Warrior” finals. She is 5 feet tall, 100 pounds, and she did things that, for me, are superhuman, and for a lot guys are superhuman. I look at that, and when people get hung up on Wonder Woman having a specific body type — go tell that to Kacy. Women are strong, whether they have big or small muscles. It’s not the size of your muscles, but obviously [it’s] the size of your heart that really is what’s important. That, for us, is going to be central. Its what I want people to get out of the book. It’s about heart.

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