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Thursday, Sept. 22, 2000
SIMMONS TALKS STATIC SHOCK
Static Shock, the new animated series based on the Milestone Comics character, premieres on Kids' WB! on Saturday at 10:30 a.m (ET). The Continuum caught up with Static Shock story editor Chris Simmons - who wrote Saturday's premiere - on Wednesday for a question-and-answer session.
The Continuum: How did you become involved with Static Shock?
Simmons: My involvement on the show stems from a prior professional relationship, and budding friendship, with a senior-level executive at Warner Bros. Animation. After not seeing this person for awhile, we hooked up for lunch, just to shoot the breeze. She very casually mentioned that the studio was interested in developing Static into a series. I very nearly choked on my fettuccine! I was a big fan of Static the comic (and of course, comics in general), and often thought it would be perfect for animation. After a small amount of arm-twisting on my part, she offered my the chance to do a one-sheet write-up, which led to several pages, then a full-fledged series bible. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Continuum: How would you describe the show?
Simmons: Static Shock is the story of Virgil Hawkins, a 14-year-old African-American kid who, during a freak incident down by the docks in his native Dakota, gains electromagnetic powers, which he uses to pursue a career as a superhero, in a city desperately in need of one. Of course, Virgil learns that there's more to the superhero business than fame and adulation. The "R" word - responsibility - rears its head very often. During the course of Static's TV adventures, he'll find that he gets just as much out of helping people as he does tooting his own horn. Though Static is anything but your shy, self-depricating hero.
The Continuum: How does the TV show compare to the comic book?
Simmons: In ways that Static Shock differ from Static the comic book: the animated show is, by necessity, geared for a slightly younger viewing audience than for the comic. Thus, Virgil/Static is younger (14), the urban grit and emphasis on social issues has been toned down (but most certainly still present), and some of the relationships have been changed. For example, Virgil's parental unit is now his father Robert, reconceptualized as a dedicated social worker and director of the local community center. For the animated series, Virgil's mother Jean is now deceased - she was a paramedic who died during a gang war while doing her job. This was done partly out of a desire to focus on a strong, complex relationship between an African-American father and son. However, it's safe to say that Virgil's mother's presence is still a vital part of the Hawkins household. In ways that both entities are similar: Both the comic and the animated series wonderfully depict the sheer joy expressed by Virgil, who looks at his superpowers as a blessing and not a curse. Virgil treasures the relationships in his life with equal measure in both entities. And yes, his big sister Sharon still lives to torment him, and vice versa.
The Continuum: Are there new characters?
Simmons: There are a couple of new characters, as well as those who have been re-positioned somewhat. Perhaps the most important new character is Richie Foley, Virgil's best friend. Richie is essentially an amalgam of three friends of Virgil's from the comic. He's quick-witted, loyal and even more of a comic fanboy geek than Virgil. He is, so far, the only one who knows Virgil's secret identity. Theirs is a relationship that nicely transcends race. As far as other characters, Frieda Goren has been de-emphasized a bit. Though at the outset of the pilot, Virgil has a huge crush on Frieda, he quickly gets over that and sees her as another good friend. Later in the season, Daisy Watkins (also from the comic) makes her presence felt. She's a lot less shy than before, though just as intelligent and ambitious. And Robert, for all intents and purposes, is a new character.
The Continuum: What kinds of villains will be on the show?
Simmons: The villains are a blend of old (from the comics) and new, with the comic book villains all being re-conceptualized (there goes that other "R" word again!) to varying degrees. In fact, the very first supervillain in the animated series, Hotstreak, is an old baddie from the comics. The details of his backstory differ, as well as his look. Edwin Alva, the mysterious, sinister villain from the Milestone books, also rears his ugly head a time or two. As far as new villains, there is an underground group called the Meta-Breed, whose leader, Ebon (master of shadow and darkness), quickly becomes one of Static's arch-enemies. Then there are adversaries, such as Rubberband Man, who are not so much villainous as much as they're just "misunderstood."
The Continuum: How involved will Milestone be in the show?
Simmons: I'm very happy to report that Milestone creators represent very strongly on Static Shock. Denys Cowan, one of the co-creators of Static, is one of the three directors of the animated series, as well as being a constant symbol of the great legacy he and his fellow Milestone colleagues put together. Of course, he's a cool guy, and I'd say that even if he didn't pay me to do so. Dwayne McDuffie, another Static co-creator, has written several great episodes this season, just another way in which the series is blessed to have a vital link to its original source material.
The Continuum: Will there be any other Milestone characters in Static Shock?
Simmons: Beyond the use of Edwin Alva, who was more prominently featured in other Milestone comics like Hardware, none of the other Milestone heroes appear in the initial 13 episodes of Static Shock. But if there's a life beyond the first 13 shows, anything is possible...
The Continuum: What's Phil LaMarr like as the voice of Static? The rest of the cast?
Simmons: Phil LaMarr is awesome as Static! But then, Phil is a terrific all-around talent (in my opinion, the best thing about MAD TV), so no one affiliated with Static Shock is surprised by his level of performance. He and Jason Marsden, who voices Richie, have developed a wonderful chemistry. Their many scenes together bear that out. Gotta give props to Kevin Richardson as Robert Hawkins. His rich booming voice is more than matched by his versatile acting skill. A tip of that hat to Michele Morgan as Sharon, as well. Aside from the main cast, we have great guest voices this season. Telma Hopkins, Dan Lauria, Jean Smart, Neil Patrick Harris and Garrett Morris are just a few off the top of my head. Kudos, big time kudos go to Andrea Romano, the best voice director ever created, and Leslie Lammers, casting director par excellence!
The Continuum: How does the series look?
Simmons: Static Shock is brought to you by the makers of Batman, Superman and Batman Beyond, so you know it's gonna look fantastic. Static Shock's specific look is faithful to any modern-day, urban city you see in real life. It's a colorful, bright world, with much of the action occuring during the day. Most of all, the world Static lives in is a fun one, one where anything can happen. Kids of all ages will love it.
The Continuum: Any word on a second season yet?
Simmons: No word on a second season as of yet. I'm just pleased that our studio likes what we've done so far, as well as the network. Most important to me, the truly gifted and generous Alan Burnett expresses his satisfaction over Static Shock quite often. Trust me, that's high praise. The rest of it is up to the audience. If they like it, their voice speaks higher than anyone else's, as it should be.
Look for more on Static Shock in Friday in The Continuum.
IMAGE, DC SOLICITATIONS UPDATE
The Continuum has updated its Image Comics and DC Comics solicitations with artwork from both companies.
Go to Monday's and Tuesday's reports for the covers.
CHAOS! COMICS' BAD KITTY
Chaos! Comics on Wednesday announced its newest character, Bad Kitty, will premiere in Bad Kitty #1 in January.
The book is written by Brian Pulido, with art by Adriano Batista and colors by Drew.
Here's how Chaos describes the character:
"Bad Kitty is a one woman renegade who will deliver sure fire action and suspense. Not to mention she is one of Chaos!' sexiest characters to ever hit comic shops. With a non-traditional raw-young female lead, Bad Kitty #1 will broaden the appeal of comics that portray young vixens in a lead role.
"Bad Kitty #1 is a good old homicidal tale of bullet-ridden, gut-wrenching action steeped in bad mojo and voodoo. The story depicts Bad Kitty, once a good cop gone bad in the heart of corrupt New Orleans. Since then, she has renounced her criminal way of life, gotten married and retreated to the comfort of northern Louisiana. Fate deals Kitty a bad hand as a supernatural force robs the life of a loved one and draws her back into the black heart of the Big Easy."
Bad Kitty #1, 32 pages, will ships on Jan. 12 and cost $2.99. Chaos! announced that the first issue will also come in an "erotic premium cover" edition, which will cost $9.99.
WINICK'S FRUMPY ONLINE, COLLECTED
Oni Press begins a Frumpy the Clown strip by Judd Winick beginning this Sunday at www.onipress.com.
"Back in March, when we first started our Sunday Comics, we knew that it would be the perfect way to bring Frumpy back into the spotlight," Oni Press editor-in-chief Jamie S. Rich said. "This will give fans the same opportunity the Alison Dare strips did, to get a small taste of a great upcoming project."
"Frumpy was a lot of fun to do," Winick said. "Unfortunately, it was a little too irreverent for your run-of-the-mill newspaper, and after a couple years, it ran its course. I look fondly on the work, because it's what got me going, and I am happy that Oni has decided to give the clown a second chance at notoriety."
"This material is the first stuff we read of Judd's," Oni Press publisher Joe Nozemack said. "When he gave me a packet of the material at Comic Con three years ago, I wasn't even remotely prepared by how funny it was. It's a shame it didn't get more chance to find an audience, as newspapers these days are too safe and sanitized. I guess his brand of irreverence is something that only the comics market is prepared to handle."
A printed collection, Frumpy the Clown: Freaking Out the Neighbors, will ship on Jan. 12 from Oni. The 136-page book, presented in a 9-inch by 10-inch format to preserve the original size of the comic strips, will cost $15.95.
FIRST LOOK: ACTION COMICS #771
Action Comics #771 ships on Wednesday from DC Comics. The issue is written by Chuck Dixon, with art by Pascual Ferry and Alvaro Lopez.
Here's how DC describes the issue:
"Nightwing guest-stars in an issue written by Nightwing's Chuck Dixon. Intergang's been trying to spread its corruption into Blüdhaven, but Nightwing is trying to stem the tide at its source: Metropolis. But soon both he and the Man of Steel are fighting for their lives against the metal might of Cyber-assassins."
Scott McDaniel provides the cover. Action Comics #771 is 32 pages and costs $2.25.
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