Piper Parajo is an upbeat, popular girl from East Gotham who spends her afternoons stopping crime as a superhero. Sloane MacBrute is a quiet, brilliant outcast who supports her family by stealing for her super-villain grandfather. When a mysterious device causes them to switch bodies, they each have no choice but to try to live as one another while they figure out how to switch back.
One girl’s a hero. The other’s a villain. What could possibly go wrong?
Anti/Hero is DC’s first graphic novel for kids to feature completely new characters and is the brightly-colored brainchild of Young Adult writers Kate Karyus Quinn and Demitria Lunetta. With its mix of Freaky Friday-like hijinks, poignant family drama and thrill-a-minute crimefighting, Anti/Hero may be new now, but we suspect it’s a DC classic in the making and is worth a look whether you’re a kid or kid-at-heart. After all, who’s never dreamed of being someone else?
To discuss how their new book came together and learn more about Anti/Hero’s two main characters, we invited Kate and Demitria to answer a few questions…and discovered that the dynamic duo behind Anti/Hero’s panels is almost as entertaining as the one within them.
Anti/Hero is the first of DC’s middle grade books to feature completely original characters. How did this project come together?
Kate: We’re number 1! We’re number 1! We’re number—
Demitria: Okay, that’s enough. Put away the foam finger.
Kate: Sorry. Got a little excited there.
Demitria: So, the idea for this book actually started years ago with Kate. She wanted to write a young adult novel that had a villain and superhero switch places.
Kate: And I was super excited about writing this villain who was a super-genius and in constant eye-roll mode at how dumb everyone around her was.
Demitria: And I came up with Piper and her super strength and that she would call herself the Hummingbird.
Kate: We both loved the project but ended up shelving it after we got busy with other things. But then fast-forward a few years and we heard through our agents that DC was starting a new middle grade and young adult line of books. Demitria wanted to pitch Anti/Hero, but I thought there was no way DC would go for original characters.
Demitria: But I knew the idea was awesome and anyway, why not try? The worst thing they could do was say no.
Kate: But they didn’t say no! They liked the idea and thought it could work great for a middle grade audience.
Demitria: I was so excited when we got the call. I’ve been a Batman fan my whole life, writing for DC is a lifelong dream of mine.
The characters are about as opposite as they could be, but what would you say Piper and Sloane both have in common?
Demitria: They have so much in common! They’re both carrying this huge secret of having powers. I think a lot of kids at that age feel like they’re abnormal or not like everyone else. But for Piper and Sloane—it’s true!
Kate: They also connect in terms of parent problems. Sloane’s mom works all the time and has no idea who her father is. Meanwhile, Piper has an amazing support team with her Abuela and Uncle, but there’s this huge hole in her life while her parents are far away working in Antarctica.
Piper really wants to be seen as a superhero and gets frustrated that people don’t see her that way. Do you think wanting to be taken seriously is something lots of children can relate to?
Kate: I distinctly remember listening to my mom talk on the phone with my grandma, telling her something funny I had said that I did NOT mean to be funny. I think the reason I really love writing for kids is because even though I can’t remember the specific memories, I have a super strong recall of the feelings. Hey! Maybe that’s my superpower! Super Feelings Memory Girl! What do you think, Demitria?
Demitria: That sounds like you…but—sorry to break it to you—that is not a superpower.
I love that Sloane is a closet Batman fan. Do you think that she’d prefer to be a hero like him? Does she dream of being part of the Bat-Family?
Demitria: I think Sloane sees Batman as a loner like her. And probably also misunderstood. He’s a hero to her, but not everyone sees it that way.
Kate: Also…the square jawline doesn’t hurt.
When did Maca Gil get involved with Anti/Hero? Did she come up with the designs for Piper and Sloane?
Kate: Maca was brought in as we were finishing up the script. We immediately LOVED her designs for Piper and Sloane. It’s such a cliché, but she really did bring them to life.
I’m definitely more of Sloane type of person. Which of the two girls do you relate to the most?
Kate: Oh, Sloane for sure! Brainy. Awkward. Last picked in gym class? Also, she’s obviously hurting, but she tries so hard to look tough on the outside.
Demitria: I’m a Sloane for sure…but there’s something about Piper that I’m drawn to. I love how she’s popular and athletic, but also so nice.
What lessons do you hope kids might learn from Anti/Hero?
Kate: Don’t do experiments on lab rats. You’ll feel bad if their butts get stuck together.
Demitria: You’re not defined by one character trait, everyone is so much more complicated than that!
And finally, if you could switch bodies with any DC superhero, who would it be?
Kate: Oh, Wonder Woman for sure. I love her grit and humor and kindness. Also, the costume.
Demitria: I love me some Batman, but if we’re switching bodies, I would choose Supergirl. It would be so cool to be able to fly!!!