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Teenage Paradise: Talking Wonder Woman with James Tynion IV and Noelle Stevenson

Teenage Paradise: Talking Wonder Woman with James Tynion IV...

By Tim Beedle Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Have you ever wondered what Diana of Themyscira was like as a teenager?

We have, and so apparently has James Tynion IV and Noelle Stevenson, the too-awesome-for-words creative team behind today’s new chapter of SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN. “Wonder World” is a two part chapter written by Tynion and drawn by Stevenson that makes its digital first debut today. Focusing on a teenage Diana as she explores our world for the very first time, it’s a uniquely different take on a Wonder Woman story that explores how Diana’s unique worldview begins to take shape.

But equally interesting is the story’s creative team. Tynion is well established in the world of DC Comics, with stories and runs in many of the Bat-books including the core Batman title as well as the weekly Batman Eternal. Stevenson, on the other hand, has built her reputation working outside the super hero genre, gaining popularity and a sizable fanbase through webcomics, licensed books and her work on the critically acclaimed comic Lumberjanes. This is her first foray into the DC Comics Universe.

We were curious about how this unique team came together and how they felt about tackling such an iconic character in an original way, so we spoke with both of them. The results were…well, wonderful.

JAMES TYNION IV

Let’s start with the easy question first. Tell us a little bit about your Wonder Woman story…

“Wonder World” is the story of a younger Diana escaping Paradise Island and going off to explore the modern world for the first time. Diana is 15 years old in this story, and makes friends with a group of girls her own age from our world, and joins them on an adventure through the Boardwalk Arcade and the city at large. It’s the story of a young woman who has been raised to believe that the modern world is broken and wrong, even though that idea has never really felt right. She believes that there is wonder in this world, that there HAS to be, and this is the story of her going out and seeking to experience it herself (all while evading the pursuit of her Amazonian bodyguards, who are trying to drag her back home).

It is also a story that features Wonder Woman rocking out on a DDR machine in an arcade, a dumb boy named Elbow, and a stuffed cat named Mr. Pudding. So yeah. Basically it’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a Wonder Woman story.

So how did you two wind up partnering up on this project? Have you worked together before?

I’ve been a fan of Noelle’s since her work started catching everyone’s attention on Tumblr a few years ago (Two years ago, I’d even tried to get a Robin commission out of her at Emerald City, but her slate for the con was already filled up!)... We got to know each other over the course of the last convention season, and frankly, I never had anyone else in mind for this project. In the same email that I pitched it, I said that I wanted to reach out and see if Noelle had room in her schedule to take the project on. I shot her a message that night, and the rest is history.

Was there any back and forth between the two of you? Did you two communicate directly with each other while working on this?

I think it’s fair to say that it was a pretty open process from the start. I hit Noelle up with the kind of story I was looking to tell, and talked about the pieces of that story a bit as I broke it down. Noelle is an incredible writer herself, so I am pretty sure I had the caveat “If there’s anything you want to include, or anything you see that could make it better, I trust your instincts” written a few dozen times in each email. There were a few pieces that changed in discussion, but we were on the same page from the start, and the story developed pretty directly from there. But yeah, this whole process has come from direct communication between the two of us.

Wonder Woman has been written and drawn by so many talented people. She’s been on TV, both live action and animated. I’m wondering, is there a particular version of Wonder Woman that you consider your favorite?

For me, it’d probably be the Diana of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, because that was the Wonder Woman that I grew up with more than any other… That’s still the voice I hear for Diana in my head, although maybe with a touch more fire. Another key Diana for me is Darwyn Cooke’s take in DC: The New Frontier, which I felt totally nailed the core of the character in a very simple, direct way. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and read it, but the scene where she’s blown off by trying to address the crisis of refugees in front of congress is absolutely definitive Wonder Woman for me. Someone who will get into the fight, regardless of whether people want to deal with the politics of it, or if it’s inconvenient to them.

James, at this point, you have quite a lot of experience working within the DC Universe. Have you always wanted to write a Wonder Woman story?

Absolutely. Obviously, I’ve had a lot of experience in Gotham City, and I’ve gotten the chance to write Superman briefly in my backup story “Ghost Lights” with Alex Maleev, but Wonder Woman is a character I’ve cared about for a very long time, and one who I’m thrilled I’m finally getting a chance to make a little mark on. Especially being able to approach it in this way. I wanted to tell a Wonder Woman story that got to the heart of the character, her true essence, but tell the story in a way that could speak to a wider audience. The kind of Wonder Woman story you could put in the hands of a young girl, to show her why Diana is so freaking amazing. She’s such a powerful symbol, but unlike her counterparts in the DC Trinity, there hasn’t been the same opportunity to explore Wonder Woman stories in a YA or all-ages format. Sensation Comics has been tremendous at offering the chance to do just that, and I’m thrilled I got to work with someone as immensely talented as Noelle to bring that story to life.


NOELLE STEVENSON

Noelle, I know most of your work has been outside the super hero genre. Were you a Wonder Woman fan? Did you ever think you’d be drawing a story like this?

I was obviously aware of Wonder Woman, but I never ever thought I’d be drawing her. Most of what I’ve done with super heroes involves doofy fanart, and Wonder Woman is in this pantheon of heroes who always seemed untouchable to me. I mean, I’ve drawn Batman in a Hawaiian shirt while Catwoman in a coconut bra steals his wallet, but my style isn’t really something that seems on-brand for the DC A-list heroes. So when James asked me to draw this story, there was kind of an attitude like “well, now you have to do this before anyone realizes they’ve made a huge mistake.”

Wonder Woman is such a beloved character. What would you say is the single most challenging aspect of working on an iconic super hero like this?

I think Wonder Woman has a reputation as a tricky character because she’s been portrayed a number of different ways, and fans tend to gather into camps as to which version is the ‘right’ one. Honestly, I didn’t even worry about that much, to be honest. I think between James’s script and my drawing style it’s pretty clear that this is not a typical Wonder Woman story and it was kind of refreshing to throw out all that baggage and just make something fun and sweet, a little bit outside of the canon.

Finally, would you imagine the Lumberjanes are fans of Wonder Woman? Do you think they’d like your story?

I think Jen in particular would be a HUGE Wonder Woman fan. I bet she has a “WWWWD” (What Would Wonder Woman Do) bracelet.


"Wonder World," by James Tynion IV and Noelle Stevenson, kicks off today in SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #23.