Since I heard about ‘Dear Justice League’, I have been poised and ready to read it! I had my first taster from the preview that was released as part of Free Comic Book Day, but it left me hungry for more. The book was FINALLY released earlier this week, and I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing it’s writer – Michael Northrop.
What made you want to write a book based around Superheroes and seeking advice?
I used to work at a magazine called Sports Illustrated For Kids. I interviewed a lot of pro athletes, and the questions that got the best responses were often ones that had been sent in to us by kids. Even the biggest stars—Michael Jordan and people like that—would take a little more time with those. The answers were more open and revealing. When the question was from a kid, the athletes weren’t as defensive or guarded as they were in a regular interview. And when I was coming up with ideas for DC, it occurred to me that superstars and superheroes are a lot alike. Larger than life, but also private and guarded. It made sense to me that questions coming straight from kids might allow superheroes to let down their guard in a similar way. That was the seed of the idea, and it just took off from there.
How important do you think that is to children – to be able to seek advice from their heroes?
Well, we all know that little kids have lots of questions. They have a whole world to figure out! So I think what’s important is 1) that they’re comfortable asking those questions—no matter how big or small—and 2) that they get honest answers from people who know what’s what. Superheroes have been around the world—literally. They’ve seen the good, the bad, and the really bad. And no one’s more honest than a superhero!
What was it like to use such iconic characters to tell your story?
It was incredible! At first it was intimidating. Like: I’m writing dialogue for Superman? What? How? But it actually became pretty comfortable once I got started. I realized right away that I’ve known these characters my whole life, from cartoons and movies and comics. We all know these characters so well. We understand how Superman would react to a tricky situation. His selflessness, his willingness to sacrifice, his determination to do the right thing. And we also know how differently Batman, for example, might react to that same situation.
Which character were you most excited to work with? Why?
Superman. He’s just such an icon. I think a lot of us are Aspiring Kryptonians! That combination of power and purity is so aspirational.
Do you have a favourite Superhero in particular? If so, why?
I have always been fascinated by Green Lantern. The ability to turn ideas into reality is so compelling to me—maybe because it is so much like what I do as a writer.
The artwork for the books is by Gustavo Duarte, who approached who on the project?
That was all DC. I pitched the idea for Dear Justice League to them, and they found the perfect artist to make it a reality. They have a real super-power for matching the right artist with the right (or at least the lucky) writer.
What was it about his artwork that drew you to choose his work to accompany your writing?
Gustavo is an amazing artist. He’s so good at so many things—action, physical comedy, you name it. But he has a really rare and amazing talent for expressions, for using the faces of the heroes to show what they’re thinking and feeling. It lets readers inside, and that is perfect for this book. It communicates the theme—superheroes are people too—in a single glimpse.
What was it like to work together?
It was awesome. First of all, my scripts got less detailed as the book went on, because I began to trust Gustavo more and more to know what I was getting at and to find the best way to communicate it visually. I also loved being surprised by each new batch of pages, by his inspired interpretations of these heroes and these scenes.
It has been announced that there will also be a Dear Super-Villains! Congratulations on that. How will you use those villains to encourage and advise children in a good light?
Thanks! I am so excited to explore that fascination we all have for really good (i.e. bad) villains, that little thrill of danger and unpredictability we get when they appear. But you’re right: It is going to be a very safe walk on the wild side. We’re going to see bad choices leading to bad consequences. We’re going to see the contrast between villains out for themselves and heroes working together. There’s a 100% chance of villainy, and a 100% chance that, as the saying goes, crime doesn’t pay.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Michael and his team for allowing this interview to happen! Dear Justice League is out NOW from all local comic and book retailers. You can order your copy here if you are based in the UK, or here if you are based in the US! I highly recommend you pick it up, and keep your eye out for Dear Super-Villains!