Fanbase Press digitally released issue #1 of the comic book series, The Gamma Gals, through ComiXology yesterday (with subsequent issues being released monthly).
The Gamma Gals is a creator-owned, 4-issue digital comic book series that features three RPG-loving teenage girls who awaken from a gamma-irradiated storm to discover they have extraordinary superpowers. Created, written, and illustrated by newcomer Stefano Terry, The Gamma Gals features a diverse cast of characters that aims to show all readers that everyone can be a superhero.
In addition, the series will be collected into a printed trade paperback featuring two bonus issues that will be released in late summer 2017.
I was able to ask Stefano Terry some questions about his comic. Read on to learn more about this fun new series!
How did you come up with the concept?
The concept originated from a lot of conversations with my wife about diversity and inclusivity, but also how women and minorities are portrayed when they are included in entertainment. The common thread between both women and minorities is that the portrayals are often one-note stereotypes or gender roles and tropes. Those stereotypes, gender roles, and over-sexualization of the characters in many films/television/books/comics/etc. is pathetic in comparison to the wide range of characterizations and depth most straight white male protagonists receive in that same movie/show/film/comic/etc. I wanted my first comic book series to be about non-sexualized and “real” teenage girls who are no different than their male counterparts in terms of the way they’re written and the hijinks they find themselves in. I wanted it to be a book that everyone could enjoy, but I especially hoped that women and girls would feel comfortable pulling the book out on the bus and not eye roll at turning the page and seeing gratuitous T&A.
Why a female-led team?
I initially wasn’t going to do a superhero book at all, because I didn’t feel like I had anything to say that the genre hadn’t already addressed a dozen times or hundred times before, but the topic of inclusivity, and treating female characters and minorities in superhero fiction with respect and consideration for their characterization drove me to explore a take on the superheroine trio that wasn’t designed to titillate teenage boys. Growing up, I had a lot of girl friends that were no different from my guy friends. They loved video games, cartoons, toys, comic books, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.: the things that we usually ascribe to being for boys. I was surrounded by women and girls that were just as interested in the same things I was, so I never had that mentality growing up that “This is for boys,” and “This is for girls.” I watched She-Ra, Jem, and Rainbow Brite with no thought as to it being a “girl cartoon.” I still loved the “boy shows” like He-Man, GI Joe, and Thundercats, but my girl friends watched those, too. Cheetara was my favorite Thundercat, and not because she was the pretty woman on the team, but because she had superspeed. (The Flash is one of my favorite superheroes, so people that can run fast are always high up on my list of cool.) So, when I decided I wanted to do a comic book about your average, everyday superpowered teenage girl, I figured a sole focus on three female leads made sense. As a writer, I also think it’s fun and challenging to put myself in the heads of people that aren’t like me. And not to get too spoilery, but The Gamma Gals aren’t the only super-powered people in Brightstone City…
The three girls are of different ethnic backgrounds, what made you choose to have a diverse group of characters?
It’s a few things, really. Artistically, drawing different characters from different ethnic backgrounds is a great exercise. And not just for drawing the main cast of characters, but the supporting characters and other background characters that populate the book as well. I’m always striving to improve as an artist, and studying different types of facial structures and ethnic backgrounds is one way I try to improve.
On a personal level, it’s because growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I would try to play superheroes with my white classmates, and they would tell me that I couldn’t be Spider-Man, or Batman, or Superman, or The Flash, or Green Lantern, because those heroes were white, and I was black. I remember going home and turning on the TV, and seeing countless shows, both live action and animated, that revolved around white male and female characters, and feeling really bad. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it had a profound effect on my sense of self-worth. As a society, we put a lot of stock in the fictional characters we see on television, or read in comic books, or see on the big screen in the theaters, and the almost constant reinforcement that I was receiving from entertainment, as well as my classmates, was that black people didn’t matter. That our imprint and effect on the world was negligible. We were either the sidekick buffoon, or the thug criminal. I couldn’t parse it then, but all I knew as a little black boy was that my people weren’t heroes. That I couldn’t be a hero like Batman, or Superman, or The Flash, and it was a horrible feeling for a 9-year-old to have.
The sad thing is that there are literally millions of minority kids and little girls growing up feeling the same way. Our entertainment, when it constantly reinforces the negative, or the gender roles and sexism and misogyny, sends those messages to those young people during their formative years. I wanted The Gamma Gals to be about creating heroes that those little girls and boys can see themselves in, and know that they can be a hero. The goal of The Gamma Gals isn’t to be inclusive by excluding whites, however. That’s never the goal of any inclusivity movement. There are, of course, white heroes and villains, as well as black heroes and villains, and Latino heroes and villains, etc. With the comic set in the United States, in a fictional west coast city, having a diverse trio of heroines was a no-brainer. It was very important to me to show that diversity visually.
How did you go about choosing their powers?
This was actually the hardest part of the whole creation process! I didn’t worry so much about the powers themselves (e.g., flight, super speed, super strength, etc.), in that pretty much every super power has been done to death, and I wasn’t about to break new ground with a never-before-seen power. Instead, I tried to focus on cool abilities that could complement one another as a team. Controlling the elements, being super strong and fast, and being able to shapeshift seemed to be a good combination, but also a set of abilities that could grow over time along with the girls. They start the series as teenagers in high school, but as the series progresses, we will see them grow up and into their abilities.
Did you have any particular inspirations?
My artistic inspirations range from Todd McFarlane, to J. Scott Campbell, to Katsuhiro Otomo, Masamune Shirow, Art Addams, Kazuo Koike, Sophie Campbell, Amanda Connor, and Becky Cloonan. Too many to list, actually!
What are some of your favorite comic books? (artist/art style/story/etc)?
Comic inspirations range from Spawn, Gen 13, Lone Wolf and Cub, Spider-Man, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, The Walking Dead, Invincible, and Jem and Holograms.
Batman: The Animated Series is one of my favorite cartoons of all time, and it’s my benchmark when it comes to creating entertaining superhero fiction. Other inspiring shows are Samurai Jack, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra, and one I recently started watching last year is Steven Universe, which has a lot of similarities to what I’m aiming to do with The Gamma Gals!
What are you looking to add to the comic book world with The Gamma Gals?
Hopefully, a fun comic book that boys, girls, men and women, whatever their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or anything else can just sit back and enjoy. The Gamma Gals is for everyone, but it has a focus on providing a place where women and girls can especially feel they are being represented in a way they don’t often see in mainstream superhero books.
Pre-Order Link (TPB): http://fanboycomics.ecrater.com/p/26117946/the-gamma-gals-trade-paperback
Founded in 2010, Fanbase Press (formerly Fanboy Comics) is a comic book publisher and an online community supporting other creators and fans through daily reviews, interviews, and podcasts that span the pop culture spectrum.
Fanbase Press seeks to provide an outlet for up-and-coming artists and writers with a desire to create new works and media. By facilitating in-house collaborations and providing support and empowerment, Fanbase Press hopes to enable the production of professional and marketable creator-owned works.