The premiere issue of "Jem and the Holograms" hits the shelves in March and the creative team hitting the promotional circuit to discuss what's new. Like, say, an attraction between members of the same gender.
The IDW comic creative team Kelly Thompson ("Story Killer") and Ross Campbell ("Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") want fans to know this isn't your childhood “Jem and the Holograms.” For one, some characters will be introduced later on and others still find new homes. And sexuality isn't necessarily linear.
Don't Miss: Nintendo Switch: Everything You Need To Know
Thompson and Campbell opened up to the Advocate about the release of “Jem and the Holograms” #1 this month and what to expect.
Right now, 1980s nostalgia is in and Hasbro is banking on the millennial love for older properties. Thompson chimed in that "Christy Marx’s original Jem is such a unique and cool property" and that tends to make the cycle more focused on what worked in the past. Campbell added that while "not every '80s property has returned or deserves to return," he was still "surprised Jem wasn’t revived sooner."
When asked about the appeal to both girls and boys, Thompson wanted to emphasize the binding tie many kids discovered.
"I think Jem and The Holograms was really unique to the landscape of shows in that it was about a lot of things and covered a lot of bases. It was definitely about women and it was about music and fashion and fame, but there was also a high-octane adventure aspect to it."
She also pointed out the magic in attracting children to the product while leaving a long-term passion. Fans "found something that spoke more powerfully to them than a lot of the other stuff they were being offered."
And the team are banking on those same fans to not be upset with changes in the characters. After all, 29 years is a long-time to stay in the same personality. For instance, some of the original Hologram members will be added later on due to story constraints.
The duo reveal that Jetta plays the drums in the beginning, but not Raya. Instead, the Latina character will play an important role since she's the first to "outside the immediate family to know" Jem's true identity, where as Jetta's background is negligible at the moment. Thompson believes "we just need a bit more time to make room for it to be told right" and do the story justice.
Justice seems to be a running theme for the creative team. “Jem was always really diverse, but it was of course a bit limited by the time period and by being a children’s cartoon. It’s only natural that a modern Jem includes additional diversity.”
Diversity will include LGBTA+ characters, representing modern times and original fans who didn’t quite get recognition desired in the 1980s. “Kimber and Stormer are indeed both out gay characters in the comic.” Teasing a romance storyline between the band rivals, she also wanted fans to know that “we have some other plans for LGBTA+ characters as well but it’s still early days.”
Justice isn’t just what’s done, but what appears on the page and what it represents. Just like Jem is the star, but Jerrica Benton is the woman. How can someone find a peace with such different capacities?
During an interview with ComicBookResources.com, Thompson opens up on why the series made an impact for so many people. “It was just wall-to-wall with female characters –– even most of the supporting characters were female, and that was really refreshing. These were strong independent women that had real ambition but also huge affection for one another.”
For a show aimed at little girls, the message was clear: you can do anything if you really work for it and you don’t need a boyfriend or man to succeed. Diversity, indeed. She also pointed out that Jem fulfilled the role of superhero for little girls, showing the duality of nature in being a successful woman in today’s world.
“There’s a very narrow standard of beauty that women especially are held to, and Jerrica’s response to those insane demands seems a little extreme on the surface but actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it.”
Thompson described the characters to the comic site, too. Jerrica’s younger sister Kimber provides backup vocals and keyboard for the Holograms while remaining “the most boldly ambitious and energetic of the group.” Jerrica and Kimber’s tomboy foster sister Aja plays guitar as the fourth sister of the bunch, Shana, rocks on the drums. And like the cartoon series, Shana’s the resident fashionista.
In the battle of bands, there’s the Holograms and there’s the The Misfits, led by Pizazz and backed by songwriter/keyboardist Stormer and Roxy on bass and backup vocals.
Thompson explains why she prefers to call the rival band “antagonists” of villains. “I don’t love calling The Misfits villains because I think they are a bit more complex than villains sometimes get credit for being.”
She also points out why the band finds the instant success of another band annoying and undermining personal efforts to be successful in a cutthroat industry. “The Misfits are a talented and hardworking band, and Jem and The Holograms kind of come out of nowhere and are instantly beloved.”
And turns out fan favorite Synergy may end up with a whole new style and personality. A “modern spin” on Jerrica’s technological fairy godmother.
Thompson mused on the idea of reinventing some elements to fit the IDW brand. “I’m thinking that I might have her look different every time she shows up. She’s a hologram after all, so she could look like anything or have any outfit or hairstyle she wanted.” No one said she has to look Peg Bundy aftertrying to cook dinner for class credit.
Campbell’s artwork doesn’t resemble the 1980s cartoon or the upcoming motion picture. Instead, he focuses on quick, vibrant movements with bold colors to attract the reader’s attention. The base of what the original series possessed is there, but the style belongs more to Monster High than Barbie. As a fan of Marx and Hasbro’s work, the desire to stick with some of the same elements, like color coordination, pay homage to what came before.
The boxy dress designs of the days of old are gone. Instead Jem and the Holograms wear more fitted, clothes to fit each character’s personality. “The Holograms (and The Misfits) were cutting-edge women –– forward thinking, fashion risk takers, ambitious and talented career women who were constantly changing and evolving” and the comic is looking to continue the tradition.
The sky’s the limit with the latest IDW incarnation of “Jem and the Holograms.” Hopefully fans will enjoy the series aimed at presenting independent, complicated women with a love for music and family. Catch a sneak peek of Campbell and Thompson's work released on Chris Ryall's Tumblr, IDW's editor-in-chief.
Don't Miss: iPhone 8: Everything You Need to Know