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Josie Campbell talks adaptations and Christmas fun in 'My Adventures with Superman' tie-in comic

Comic Books

Josie Campbell talks adaptations and Christmas fun in ‘My Adventures with Superman’ tie-in comic

Clark and the gang’s adventure continues this June!

While carving out a niche in comics (see The New Champion of Shazam and I Heart Skull-Crusher!), Josie Campbell’s first home will always be TV. And you can’t argue with the results: in addition to the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, more recently Campbell has served as writer/producer for My Adventures with Superman. While that series certainly draws on the comics to a major extent, it’s also very much its own thing with a funny and heartfelt take on Superman/Clark Kent and Metropolis at -large.

Now, though, Campbell (alongside artist Pablo M. Collar) has a chance to marry the worlds of TV and comics in an interesting way with a new limited tie-in series, also called My Adventures with Superman. Taking place between seasons one and two of the titular series, the story follows Clark as he “spends Christmas alone in Metropolis” for the very first time. Luckily, his pals Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are there to try and cheer him up — not to mention the threat of a “monster that can absorb anything it touches.” My Adventures with Superman is very much a perfect balance between comics and TV, and the story should appease anyone who loves Superman (and giant fights and Christmas, of course).

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My Adventures with Superman #1 is due out June 4. Season two of My Adventures with Superman debuts May 25 on Adult Swim. In the lead-up to both releases, we got the chance to meet up with Campbell for a Zoom chat. There, we talked about where the comics story came from, the many “versions” and portrayals of Superman, working with Collar and colorist Nick Filardi, and the possibility of even more stories, among other topics and tidbits.

AIPT: To begin, I’m curious as to why you think the first season My Adventures with Superman resonated so well?

Josie Campbell: It’s like you said a second ago — it’s the emphasis on Clark Kent’s humanity, on Superman’s humanity. It’s like the [Richard] Donner Superman movie; that’s been our North Star in a lot of ways, where this is a Superman that really cares about people and sometimes to, like, anxiety-inducing levels sometimes. But he really, really wants to help. He is the farm boy who moves to the big city and he’s not jaded, he’s not cynical. He just wants to help other people.

I think that that is really what’s resonating with people. I think that’s what’s core to Superman. There’s been variations of him in the past two decades; we’ve seen a lot of different versions of Superman. I think seeing the Superman who genuinely cares for people and sees himself as an earthling, even though he is an alien, is something we haven’t really seen in a long time. It also came out at a great time because you had the Superman and Lois show, which hits out on that a little bit. But I think it’s the time for nice-boy Superman to come back. And I think that really hit with people.

It’s the same thing with the limited series. I think one of the biggest emotional plot threads is going to be Clark’s compassion, and especially his compassion towards this character who’s coming in that is presented as a villain, but is more complex than that. I also think that the relationship between him, Lois, and Jimmy as basically the Three Stooges, the Three amigos, the Three Musketeers…is another thing that’s really unique to our show, but gets to the core of who they are. And it’s really fun because it’s fun to see Superman have support. It’s fun to see Superman bump up against his friends and it’s fun to see Lois and Jimmy laying themselves into danger, whether Superman wants them to or not.

Josie Campbell talks adaptations and Christmas fun in 'My Adventures with Superman' tie-in comic

Main cover by Carli Squiteri. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Growing up, I wasn’t really a Superman, but in recent years that’s started to change. And one of them is the show. It’s not just like, “Here’s Good Guy Clark Kent,” but he makes a lot of mistakes and he’s deeply imperfect. The fumbling is almost endearing.

JC: It was really important to us that he doesn’t get the crystal that explains everything of who he is and how his powers work.Like, he is a twentysomething, and all of us in our 20s and teenage years are fumbling. We’re making big mistakes, whether or not it’s like lying to a loved one or picking the wrong side or doing the wrong thing.

We wanted all three characters to be lovable but flawed. Lois has her own flaws. Jimmy has his flaws. So all three of them, they’re not perfect people by any stretch of the imagination, but you can see that they’re trying to be better people. And I think that’s really the thing that makes the difference and is why you’re rooting for them, even when they’re lying and flinging themselves off buildings or getting captured by robots and gorillas and lecturing each other.

AIPT: It’s obviously the same Clark between the two series, but do you feel like, because this is a different medium, play around with how you depict Superman?

JC: This limited series altogether is based on an idea for an episode we had in the writer’s room and then never really got a chance to like put in the show. So in a lot of ways, I was looking at this as the Christmas special; here’s the extra episode. But I do think this But the series, especially as you start getting into it in the next couple of issues going forward, is going to get a little bit more into Clark’s headspace and a little bit more into this question of, ‘If you’re created for war and if you’re created for destruction, can you really help people? Or is this a fool’s errand?

It gets into a lot of the themes that we have on the show that are very present there but it’s fun to explore in comics because it’s so much more direct in a way. You and the artist speaking directly to your audience and getting into Clark and Lois and Jimmy’s heads in a way you really can’t on TV just because we don’t do the voiceovers or there’s not thought bubbles popping up. So I think with this series, you’re going get a little bit more digging into the personalities of Clark and a little bit more into this question of like, ‘Can you choose to be a hero or are you destined to maybe mess things up?

Josie Campbell talks adaptations and Christmas fun in 'My Adventures with Superman' tie-in comic

Variant cover by Gavin Guidry. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: Do you feel like there was some kind of restriction in doing this series kind of between the two seasons? Like, ‘Oh, I have to write towards whatever’s going on in the second one.’ Or, do you feel like you had a little more freedom given the whole process?

JC: I was the one who pitched it actually being in between seasons. I didn’t want to spoil anything for season two.

But also, we have so much freedom on the show and in this comic, I have a lot of freedom as well. I’m introducing some new characters. I’m introducing some new locations and concepts. Some of the stuff that will be in the comic book series will inform season two. Especially like if you’re watching from season one, reading the comic [during] season two…Lois’s mind space a little bit, [that] has a little bit of an arc. We learned a tiny little bit more about Krypton.

But at the same time, I didn’t want this to be like homework. Like, ‘You must read this or otherwise you cannot watch season two.’ Like I said, I was really approaching it like here’s another episode of the show. Like, I know what happens in season two. So there’s things I’m going to avoid spoiling or avoid putting in, but overall, it’s a new space to explore characters and ideas that maybe will never show up in the show, but now live in this universe because of the comic.

AIPT: I want to talk about the work of artist Pablo M. Collar and colorist Nick Filardi, who did a really great job. Was it maybe a conscious thought to try and develop the story visually in a way that it aligned so well with the series, or was it kind of just like a happy accident? Because I feel like they definitely stand alone as two properties, but I think there’s a lot of like interplay and there’s a lot of kind of aesthetic commonalities that work really well.

JC: All of us working on the TV show are big, big anime fans. It’s influenced our work or writing or drawing. So for the comic, we wanted it to actually have a little bit of that manga influence to feel like it’s still part of our show and it still fits in. But then it still has its own vibe and still have its own flavor. So it’s not just, ‘Here’s exactly the images from the show just drawn more simplified on the page.’


Variant cover by Pablo M. Collar. Courtesy of DC Comics.

And Pablo really knocked it out of the park. We sent him over the first season for him to watch and we had a lot of designs and backgrounds and screenshots for him. So he could match the style of the show, but then also like he’s bringing his own stuff. The first images he sent, he was like, ‘OK, put screen tone all over everything and switch these images around.’ And it’s like, ‘That looks great, Pablo, we love this.’ I especially think interactions between characters he’s really nailed. And then the same thing for Nick; his colors are stunning and we sent him the palette for the show and really feels like, again, he really made it feel like the show, but again, there’s its own little twist to it.

We wanted this to be a companion that doesn’t overshadow or feel overshadowed, but feels like it’s its own distinct thing that really goes along with everything we’re doing.

AIPT: You touched on it earlier, but there’s a villain who may not be a villain. I love that thread. Can you talk about without maybe spoiling too much? I think it’s a really nice surprise, and I think it plays around with Superman lore in some cool ways. And it’s a thread of the show of Clark discovering who he is and he’s having to reevaluate what he believes and who is his friend and who is his enemy.

JC: You know, appearances being deceiving is very much a big thing for the show. I mean, especially when your first four episodes is a man deceiving his friends so they can write articles about him. But it’s something that I think goes along with a lot of the themes that we were playing with in the show and I wanted to get into even more so in the comic, which are these ideas of like, can you choose who you are? Like, what is nature versus nurture? What is inescapable from your past versus what you can change about your future? In the show,, Clark doesn’t quite have the answers. You see him through the eyes of a lot of other characters, whether it’s people talking about Superman…especially in season one where people ask, ‘Why is he doing that? He must have ulterior motives?’


Variant cover by Riley Rossmo. Courtesy of DC Comics.

And so we wanted to take that and put that in the comic as well, but sort of like flip it around. It’s like Clark’s the one.who has some preconceived notions that are going to maybe be blown apart and slowly learn more about these characters in the comic. What’s really interesting to me is that our Clark is a very literal self-made man, but like he’s learned that Krypton wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And can you really escape that? Can you escape terrible pasts to be a hero? Is there more to it? So that was a very long-winded way to say, it’s still about identity, but just now Clark is having to have those preconceived notions put on something else.

AIPT: It’s nice that he’s always learning; he doesn’t have a path forward and he’s figuring it out.

We have just a couple minutes left, so maybe some more rapid-fire questions. First, depending on the show, do you see more limited series between shows? Could this be a regular thing?

JC: It’s up to DC, but I’d love to. I think there’s enough story there to support as many seasons of comics as we want.

AIPT Last thing: we talked about this being the Christmas episode, if Clark had a favorite Christmas movie, what would it be and why?

JC: He’d be a sucker for [Miracle on 34th Street]. You know that that movie makes him tear up and like he makes Lois and Jimmy watch it And Clark is just crying at the little girl meeting Santa.

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