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Kelly Thompson and Paulina Ganucheau talk a "timeless" take with new 'The Powerpuff Girls' series

Comic Books

Kelly Thompson and Paulina Ganucheau talk a “timeless” take with new ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ series

‘The Powerpuff Girls’ #1 debuts on July 17.

Recently, we had Kelly Thompson on the AIPT Comics Podcast for a proper creator’s spotlight. Among talk of Birds of Prey and Scarlett, Thompson also discussed the forthcoming The Powerpuff Girls series that she’s launching at Dynamite alongside artist Paulina Ganucheau. If you wanted even more of Thompson and The Powerpuff Girls, then you’re in luck as we recently spoke to her and Ganucheau ahead of issue #1’s debut on July 17.

Bit first, if you somehow missed the series’ announcement, this newest Powerpuff Girls comic promises a “bold and adorable (boldorable?) new take” on Townsville’s most tenacious titans. Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup will spend their time “fighting evil in every form — tirelessly defending their idyllic city from petty criminals, destructive monsters, and diabolical supervillains alike.” Whether you’re a fan of the The Powerpuff Girls TV show, or a franchise newbie outright, this book should fill your monthly quota for cuteness and overt action.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

Now, onto the interview proper with Thompson and Ganucheau. Among other topics and tidbits, the pair tackle the team’s lasting cultural impact, why they opted for done-in-one stories, how their past projects shaped and influenced this specific book, and even that most difficult query of them all, their favorite of the three Powerpuff Girls.

(Once again, The Powerpuff Girls #1 debuts on July 17.)

Dynamite sets 'Powerpuff Girls' #1 for July 2024

Main cover by Paulina Ganucheau. Courtesy of Dynamite.

AIPT: Kelly, you’d said you’d written some Powerpuff Girls episodes on your own just after art school. Can you share a bit about those — and is this now the ultimate level of fan fiction?

Kelly Thompson: I did write some shorts, but it was ironically not an attempt to get a writing job, but a storyboarding job, which I was technically qualified to do, but I think, in hindsight, it’s clear I would not have been great at that job. I will be integrating one of the characters from that storyboarding idea into issue #2 though! Dreams do come true, kids! It just takes a really long time! [laughs]

AIPT: Why did Powerpuff Girls resonate so well, and do you think there’s still a need for that kind of property in the current media landscape?

KT: Yeah, Paulina called The Powerpuff Girls “timeless” in a previous interview, and that’s just so perfectly true so I’ve been stealing it ever since. And it’s hard to find characters that transcend their origins like that. They’re terrific characters for people of all ages and for any decade — they don’t feel “1990s” to me at all. Writing them and seeing Paulina’s art come in, they feel perfectly modern and we didn’t change anything. And I think as a creator you’re always looking for properties that can transcend time like that.

Paulina Ganucheau: Agreed. Yeah, even as an artist stepping into this style didn’t feel dated or strange at all. It also really made me take stock on how much it reminds me of so many modern cartoon looks. That’s probably a testament to the lasting effect it also had on the landscape. It’s legendary!

AIPT: What’s the elevator pitch for this series of Powerpuff Girls? Does it lean more into the show or some of the previous comics?

KT: Because these issues are mostly done-in-one stories, it’s hard to do an elevator pitch for all of them, but I’d say the answer is that it leans into both the TV series and the comics because those things already lean very much into one another. All the comics I’ve read – the art, the stories, the concepts, the writing – they could all be episodes, and vice versa.

PG: It feels right and it’s so fun to play in the structure the creators already made so awesome.

Dynamite sets 'Powerpuff Girls' #1 for July 2024

Variant cover by Leonardo Romero. Courtesy of Dynamite.

AIPT: How much did you have to update (from a visual or story perspective) in order to make the girls feel more relevant and timely? Or is Powerpuff Girls eternal?

PG: Powerpuff Girls is eternal is exactly right and that’s the vibe I also brought with the art. I spent so much of my childhood life drawing them and loving them, so I just let that side of me come out. I think staying true to who they are while also injecting a tiny itty bitty part of myself was my goal. And I think I did that! Fans will be happy.

KT: I mean, I hate to keep pulling out Paulina’s “timeless” answer here, but it’s just so relevant. I think the girls have terrific designs and I don’t think either of us were keen on changing any of that. What I am interested in, is changing things up within the stories and playing with the narrative a little bit. What does Blossom look like as a private eye. What do the girls dreams look like – stuff like that, which gives us a chance to play with form and narrative and character, without trying to re-invent what makes them so excellent and… yes, eternal.

AIPT: You’ve both created for some strong leads in Captain Marvel, She-Ra, Birds of Prey, etc. Do any of those filter into this book — do you see Powerpuff Girls in the same kind of vein?

KT: In my case I’d say I just am really comfortable with writing female superheroes and that’s what Powerpuff Girls are, so yeah, I think there’s a ton of crossover in the kind of stories we tell and the kind of characters they are. This is obviously a more kid-friendly approach than some of my other stories, but Powerpuff Girls is “all ages” and not “for kids” for good reason — at its best it tends to work on multiple levels.

PG: Absolutely. I also think Powerpuff Girls were a huge part in paving the way for the stories I’ve worked on and my career in general. They’ve had a huge influence on me. So it’s really a full circle moment. It’s pretty great.

AIPT: Paulina, this is more for you: how much do you try and “recreate” the cartoon versus trying to do something new/different visually?

PG: The Powerpuff Girls are very much a part of my creative blueprint. So it’s hard to say that it’s a recreation or strained in any way. When I was a kid, I would make Powerpuff Girls original characters and comics. I even joined an online art site where all we did was draw in the Powerpuff style. So a lot of this is just waking up that 10 year old girl and letting her go to work — haha. I do think some of my modern sensibilities with finishes and colors still definitely come through. It’s kind of like a team up with my younger self.

Powerpuff Girls

Variant cover by Nicoletta Baldari. Courtesy of Dynamite.

AIPT: The Powerpuff Girls have a pretty deep rogues’ gallery (even compared to Batman). Who shows up here, and why is that baddie a good choice?

KT: You know, a lot of people have asked some version of this question in our interviews and podcasts – and I truly think they maybe have the strongest rogue’s gallery of any character I’ve written? Which is just an awesome thing to realize. My favs are Mojo Jojo for pure joy and insanity factor, HIM if you genuinely want to be scared, and the Rowdy Rough Boys in the right story are just perfection. HIM and Mojo Jojo definitely get some major page time in the first two issues.

PG: The baddies are incredible. They do such a good job of making them funny, cool and buffoons all at the same time so they’re a blast to work with. It’s a great dynamic. But yeah, we get a good look at HIM in my issue which is a win for me as he’s my favorite.

AIPT: The show always balanced kid-friendly and adult humor. Does this book retain that same balance, or can you have a little more free-flowing fun with it?

KT: Yes. The short answer is it does – because that’s always what I’m aiming for. But I think how successful we are is always a question mark. I think in our first story there is some more adult humor and some narrative ideas that will probably go over the heads of younger readers but that I hope older readers will appreciate.

PG: I think it does. There’s flavor for everyone!

AIPT: From a story or visual perspective, are there challenges or opportunities with an adaptation of a cartoon like this one?

KT: I mean, for me it’s a chance to tell big bright superhero stories with some of my favorite characters – there’s no downside. I think my biggest challenge is to come up with stories that people haven’t quite seen before, and to get the IP right as far as voice and tone goes. And then it’s just about trying to tell the best story you can within those guides.

PG: I just want to do right by what The Powerpuff Girls are. So I did try my hardest to honor its legacy. Like I said previously though, it never felt hard. It’s already so a part of me.

Powerpuff Girls

Variant cover by Karen S. Darboe. Courtesy of Dynamite.

AIPT: Do you have a favorite moment or page that speaks to the heart of this book?

KT: I don’t know if this is a cop out of an answer. But there’s a robot that Paulina designed for issue 1 that I just love. It sort of felt like the perfect Powerpuff Girls character to me. He should get his own spin-off I say!

PG: Oh gosh, thank you Kelly. That’d be so fun. For me, there’s a 3 page spread section Kelly wrote that is hands down my favorite. I don’t want to give it away, but I got to play with different costumes and color coordination and those are a few of my favorite things. I’m very proud of how they turned out.

AIPT: What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve discovered in developing this title?

KT: I think just how fun it’s been. I pretty much never take on projects that have IP I’m not interested in – and I was very excited to be offered Powerpuff Girls – but despite my love – I was still shocked by how fun it has all been – some of the most joyful “research” I’ve done in years.

PG: I feel the same. It’s like lighting up a dusty joyous part of my brain that has been dormant for a long time. It’s been such an honor and such a blast.

AIPT: Final question: who is the best Powerpuff Girl and why?

KT: Bubbles. No explanation needed. ;D

PG: This is always a hard question for me! I love both Blossom and Buttercup a lot. I can never pick between the two. It’s always been an issue — haha. Something about their dichotomy in general too I just love so much. I truly just love them all though. The girls!!

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