After reading Issue #1 of The Powerpuff Girls Smash Up, my mind flooded with questions that I wanted to ask writer and illustrator Derek Charm. From IDW Publishing, The Powerpuff Girls Super Smash Up #1,is an amazing combination of classic Cartoon Network characters that many of us have loved our entire lives. Derek kindly joined me here on Bleeding Cool to answer some questions about his career and what it's like to work on a book like this.
Christine Marie: I'm so happy that you could join us on Bleeding Cool! I must thank you for speaking to the 90s kid inside of me with Powerpuff Girls Super Smash Up #1. I can't tell you how happy it made me to spend time with these characters again.
Derek Charm: Hi Christine, thanks for having me! I'm right there with you as a 90s kid, and it will always be surreal to get to work on these characters.
CM: What was it like writing and illustrating characters that are so well known by the Cartoon Network demographic? Did you have any concerns when starting the project?
DC: Well, this is my third series using these characters now, and I finally feel really comfortable with them. My main thing was looking at what I'd done in the past and sort of finding the next step. I really wanted this series to be brighter and faster, so my whole palette is cranked up to near-neon in places. I'm also trying some new stuff with the backgrounds, dropping the line art entirely and making it look a little more like a cartoon.
CM: Do you have any past projects, that you feel helped move your creative process forward when writing Powerpuff Girls Smash Up?
DC: Yeah, I feel like it's been a very direct line to this series. My first pro-published work was a two issue fill-in on the original IDW Powerpuff Girls series, and that led straight into Cartoon Network Super Secret Crisis War! with Louise Simonson, where I got to draw in a bunch of different styles all at once. And then this series, which takes all of that one step further and ties back into where it started. I'm very lucky to have an amazing editor like Sarah Gaydos in my corner, who believed in me enough to take me from variant covers to writing and drawing these huge crossover books! Also, as an aside, Sarah's gathering up an amazing group of creators for the backup stories in each issue, highlighting characters in their own adventures that we don't get to spend too much time with in the main story. They add a lot to every issue!
CM: I mentioned in my review of Issue #1 that I particularly enjoyed the small details that you added to the comic to enhance the experience for the reader. My example was the scene during the zoo attack where a side character states "Ugh! This happens every time I go to the zoo." Tell me the importance of these small details to you.
DC: Oh cool, I'm glad you're into those! They're actually my favorite scenes to write. I feel like those side-looks at the people on the street is a big part of the show's humor. Characters like the Talking Dog seem to exist primarily for crowd reaction, and he's one of my very favorite Powerpuff characters. I like the idea that the people of Townsville have seen it all and are mostly annoyed when something like a zoo rampage happens. That guy you mention is actually a character I've used before back in Powerpuff Girls #7, he was a jerk there too.
CM: Issue #1 featured characters from The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory. What inspired you to start out the story this way? Also, do you happen to have a favorite Cartoon Network Universe character?
DC: This story actually went through a lot of changes—I was working on the pitch while I was drawing Super Secret Crisis War—and at first it was way more episodic, with the Dee Dee/monster story being a single issue and involving the Secret Saturdays. But both IDW and Cartoon Network were interested in playing up the humor angle, and we sort of set the heavy-action characters aside. I felt like using Dee Dee as a catalyst for the dimension-hopping was the way to go. It made the whole story much tighter and more personal, in that they're trying to save a friend and having these team-up adventures along the way. Also, stylistically the Powerpuff Girls and Dexter are very close, so it felt natural to start there and then sort of get into the weirder art styles.
Having now gone through most of the Cartoon Network All Stars in these comics, I feel pretty confident saying Red Guy from Cow and Chicken is my favorite character to write/draw/watch. He's pretty much the star of issue 3!
CM: What are you most excited about for future issues of the comic? Can you give readers a little preview of what's to come?
DC: The thing I like best about in this series is that every issue has it's own look. Changing up the art style and background style is a lot of fun and keeps everything fresh. Issue 3 is my favorite issue so far, with the Powerpuff Girls meeting Cow and Chicken and getting to draw in that amazing, exaggerated style. Issue four has an appearance from the Justice Friends AND a team up with Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends! (Friend issue!) And then issue five goes full-on Crisis on Infinite Earths when the Girls turn to Mojo Jojo for help catching Dee Dee. I have a list of characters I can use, and I'm using them all!
CM: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me here on Bleeding Cool. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for our audiences!
DC: Of course! Thank you so much for checking out the book and spreading the word!
Christine Marie is a Staff Writer at Bleeding Cool, and bibliomaniac with a love for all things creative. She hopes to one day be a Superhero/Disney Princess/Novelist. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AWritersWay or on her blog writerchristinemarie.wordpress.com.