School, Secrets, And The Sense of Being Supergirl

by Vince Brusio

Mariko Tamaki jumped on board the Supergirl train, and has her head hanging out of the window. She’s taking in all the extra oxygen blowing in her face, and imagining herself as the Girl of Steel, and what it would be like to have everyday normal problems … along with the ability to fly. In this PREVIESworld Exclusive interview, Mariko Tamaki isn’t going to be a writer for DC Comics. She’s going outside of herself to be a channel for the mindset of Kara, and give voice to what it’s like to be a teenager again. What its like to have teen spirit. And how even the ability to fly doesn’t exclude you from a life that is increasingly complicated.

Supergirl: Being Super #1 (OCT160256) is in comic shops December 28.

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Vince Brusio: Kara has a long history in the DC Universe. Before committing yourself to words on the page for this book, did you reflect on any previous works to get a feel for her character? Were there any previous books or stories that stood out for you? Or did you approach this book raw, and fly solo?

Mariko Tamaki: I did quite a bit of research before I started outlining and writing these issues.  When I started writing, I wanted to try as much as possible to create something that was true to the original vision, but also it's own thing.  Which is tricky, obviously.  Working on this project I had amazing editors, Paul Kaminski and Andrew Marino, who were an invaluable resource and kept me in the proper universe with all its qualities and boundaries.

Vince Brusio: Who are the people in Kara’s life? Who is her moral support? Is anyone encouraging her to do more, or telling her to pull back from stepping off that cliff?

Mariko Tamaki: Kara is pretty lucky.  She has awesome friends and amazing parents who love and support her.  Writing friends is one of my favorite things to do, and this comic is no exception.  That said, Kara lives a very complicated life, so even with all of that she has her own private struggles.

Vince Brusio: Who is Kara to you? How do you show her insecurities in “Being Super”? How do you show her identity crisis in her speech? In her body language?

Mariko Tamaki: Kara is a teenager who also happens to have the ability to do kind of mindblowing things, like, you know, fly.  So that element of the normal and the amazing is there all the time, to varying degrees.  I tried to think about how that would play out moment-by-moment in this comic: not the big picture, but what it would be like to be Kara in the various day-to-day life stuff that every teenager goes through.  In terms of showing, I try to just be in those moments, and be as true as possible to them.  In terms of speech, you kind of just have to hear your character's voice in your head.  In terms of body language, that's all the amazing Joëlle Jones.

Vince Brusio: How did you wrap your head around how to portray her teen spirit? How does her character change when she’s faced with the threat of an earthquake?

Mariko Tamaki: It wasn't hard.  Every teenager has a specific spirit, you just have to kind of hang out with them a bit and it shines through in the things you want to write for them.  

The sequence of events Kara faces in the first two issues force her into some big changes, and push some big questions on Kara.  So she'll be dealing with teen stuff and extraordinary stuff as well, because this is DC after all.

Vince Brusio: This is a four-issue series, so we’re expecting quite a bit of drama in “Being Super.” What scenes could you allude to that would make for a good movie trailer? What event might press the button, and let us see Kara’s true colors?

Mariko Tamaki: I'm not sure if there's one pivotal scene that shows Kara's true colors, I think those really evolve throughout the series.  I will say that there is a scene that always makes me upset when I read through it, which is odd to be gut-punched by someone you've written.  I typically have to take myself for ice cream after I work on that bit.

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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