Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge makes its way into stores this week, offering readers a fresh, fun, and timely take on one of DC Comics' most iconic characters -- ace reporter Lois Lane -- reimagined as a young girl looking to have the best summer ever as she pursues social media fame. The graphic novel, the latest from DC's line of young adult OGNs, gives fans of all ages a glimpse at what Lois was like as a whip smart and enthusiastic young girl long before she meets Clark Kent and before she even knows quite what being a journalist is, but still very much the Lois Lane fans love.
Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge sees Lois trying to balance her quest for social media fame, friendship, and a big mystery that threatens to hamper the biggest event of the summer: the big neighborhood barbecue and bike race. What's supposed to be the perfect backdrop for the "#friendshipchallenge" video Lois seeks to make with her best friend Kristen gets sent into a tailspin when the fireworks go missing. Part mystery, part adventure, the graphic novel comes to life thanks to its team, writer Grace Ellis, perhaps best known for Lumberjanes, and artist Brittney Williams, whose work includes Goldie Vance and Betty & Veronica: The Bond of Friendship. It's a creative pairing that's just perfect for young Lois' story, making it a must-read for any DC fan.
ComicBook.com recently sat down with Ellis and Williams to talk about Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge about what brought them to this unique and charming story, what it was like taking on such a beloved character, and how they approached the social media aspect of the story as well as what they hope readers get out of the tale.
ComicBook.com: Tell me how Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge came to be. Were you guys fans of Lois start with, or was this just a new adventure?
Grace Ellis: Oh man. Well, Brittney, I know your relationship with Lois goes way back, much. It's much more exciting than I am.
Brittney Williams: Yeah. Like I guess, yeah, I guess nobody ever remembers this show, The New Adventures of Lois and Clark. I really loved that show as a kid and I guess it started there. And of course, the Superman Animated Series, I loved her on there and it just like, kind of grew from there.
Ellis: I didn't get into Lois Lane until I was in journalism school. Oh, it's just, she's such an aspirational, journalistic figure. You know? She's just so tenacious. She's like the pinnacle of what you could be as a journalist. Obviously, I was super into that idea, even though I was like the world's worst, laziest journalist. Listen, it's just like so much easier to like make stuff up and like do all of that leg work. It's very hard to be a journalist. I really admire the fact that you can do it at all.
But I mean, what's not to love about Lois Lane, she's great. And the whole premise of this is what's Lois without Clark? It's like, has never really been explored before. It's just the whole world opens up to us.prevnext
With Lois being such an iconic character, I mean, everyone's kind of got their idea of Lois, even people who aren't familiar with comics necessarily thanks to Superman, the movie and all the fantastic things we've seen in live action and animation and all of that. Lois is iconic. We all know who she is. And for some readers, this book is going to be their very first introduction to her. Was it daunting at all for you guys to bring kind of a fresh take to this beloved character?
Ellis: No, because I mean, there's no wrong answer because we've never, Lois' personality has changed so much over the years, depending on like, she kind of like changes in terms of like, not only who's writing her, but how we feel about feminists at the time.
The book, Investigating Lois Lane is so interesting, I cannot recommend it enough. In that way, it was both not daunting and daunting because it's like, well, what do I think about, what do I want kids to think of when they think about what the journalist is? I want them to think that they could do it. I want Lois to be like all the things that journalist is, plus a very fun kid that they could project themselves onto, you know? Because she's like, all of the things you love about Lois, plus like a very flawed 12 year old. It's fun. What do you think, Brittney?
Williams: Oh, I feel like I had the easy way out in a ways because I guess it was a little less daunting because I've read, of course, every, the story and everything you've written. And I was like, "Okay, well this is perfect." You know? I was just inspired by the story you crafted and just the little Lois. You created it. I had a hand in it, but you were there first did it.
Ellis: Come on. This is like an absolute team effort.
Williams: It was, it definitely was. But it's just like, I always feel like, oh, I just got to read this really fun and now I get to draw it. That's I don't know. I know it's not that simple, but that's like, I always feel like, I'm just like, "Hey, I get to draw the writing, the fun stuff."
I was so excited every time I got a new chapter. I was like, "Yes." And I was just like, okay, what kind of, what can I bring to it, too, so we can make it like the ultimate fun book, you know?prevnext
Brittney, specifically for you, I am familiar with your work largely thanks to the absolutely fabulous Betty & Veronica: The Bond of Friendship. I was so excited to see your name pop up with, associated with Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge. How was approaching, creating the visual for Lois Lane different than working for Betty and Veronica or similar? Because, I mean, I see a lot of like visual similarities. Obviously, artists have visual similarities across their work,. but there's also like between the two books, there's also kind of some elements that are the same, too, the friendship situation, girl power, things like that. What was your approach to Lois and how was it different than perhaps Betty and Veronica?
Williams: I guess with the Lois book, I kind of just wanted to really draw just a fun summer story is that's an easy, I've taken a way to describe that. I was a little more, I felt like in a way I had a little more freedom because there's just with the bikes and like, I'm not going to, I don't want to spoil anything, but I feel like with this character, even though of course she is such a classic, well known iconic character. From this perspective as her, as a kid, I felt like I could, I guess maybe do a little more. And as opposed to with Betty and Veronica, since they are so... It was more so, I was more so sticking to Betty and Veronica in a way, like I didn't stray too much or anything. I'm trying to figure out. I never really thought about this. You know, of course I drew it in my style. Both stories are in my style, but I don't want to say rigid, but this one was Betty and Veronica was a little more, let's, yeah. Let's just stick to, this is Riverdale. Let's stick to this world. And I guess it was, yeah, it was more so just, yeah. It was more so just a Betty and Veronica story instead of me with the Lois Lane story. It was more of a fun and... Well, they're both fun. But more like a new adventurist, you know?
I feel like at least from the visual perspective, with Lois, you had a whole world to work in that was much bigger than just the city.
Williams: Exactly. Like I could create more there. We had like a town we could just like create from scratch more so than like an already, like a Riverdale, you already, you know?prevnext
Grace, your Lois is something else. Like I've said, I'm a huge Lois Lane fan, but I don't think I've ever really thought about what she must have been like as a kid. Did you have any specific process or inspiration and going to make little so absolutely Lois?
Ellis: Well, I think that I started with like, what is the essence of Lois Lane? Like when you think about Lois in the abstract, what is she like? She's really tenacious, she's really passionate. She never gives up on anything. We took all of that and we cranked it up to a thousand and then just kind of let that happen. She ended up being one of the like touchstones for us was when I was writing.
It was I'm thinking about Leslie Knope and that was actually a really good comparison and really helpful sometimes. Because Leslie Knope is a lot of those things but we love her anyway. We love her because she's really can be abrasive sometimes. She can be a steamroller, but like how do you write those traits in a way that is like charming, you know? And I think we did a pretty good with little Lois. I mean, she's just 12. She hasn't quite figured out how to be like a pleasant person. She only has figured out how to be herself very much all the time.
I think there's one spot in the book where she's asked about Batman and she mentions she's a Batman fan, but she's the better detective. And I thought that was a perfect encapsulation of her absolutely knowing herself. Because you've got that, the same attitude we're going to see eventually when she's an adult. In every version, she's always very self assured and always knows that, "I've got this." And I thought that was such a beautiful way of just presenting that even little Lois already knows who she is.
Ellis: Yeah. She's awesome. Why wouldn't she know it? I think that's something I try to feel, you know? I try to feel like I'm doing a good job. I feel like I'm lying to myself, but you know, Lois is a role model for me, too.prevnext
One of the other things I really love about this book is that it takes on the beast that is social media and Lois' obsession with being a VidMe star. It is so timely. I mean, we've seen how popular TikTok is and while that's not necessarily bad, I mean, I spend more time than I should on TikTok, watching fun videos. It really can be for some people. Tell me a little bit about how you approach this story that is honestly so timely and so important.
Ellis: Well, first of all, I think really funny that TikTok is the big thing now. Because back when I was originally pitching it, TikTok was like a twinkle in the Chinese government's eye. It was all YouTube all the time. And I was thinking about like, I mean, I am 29 and I have a hard time being on social media in a way that is like healthy.
Williams: Me, too.
Ellis: I literally cannot imagine being like 12 and trying to like form my brain and my personality while also having the self control to be on social media. In addition to the fact that there's so much kid's media about trying to be famous. There's a lot of it. I kind of wanted it to be like an antidote to that. But at the same time, I was really conscious of not making it a like phone's bad story. Because I don't think that's true, either.
I hope that by the end of this book, Lois has gotten to a place where she sees her phone as like a tool of connection. And that it's like maybe a little bit scary. Because I think phones are a little bit scary.
Williams: I feel like in the same category. Anyone's who unfortunately follows me on the internet and social medias anytime, like, you know, I don't know though. I feel like I could be better at posting, I don't know.
I think their definitely has to be a happy balance.
Williams: Yeah. I haven't figured it out yet. It feels like I'm not doing it enough. And I don't know. That's a weird one.prevnext
One of the things that kind of gets woven into the story is there's this idea of the assumptions that we make about others. And for specifically with Lois, it's an assumption about [new kid] Izzy. How meaningful was it and important was it for you guys to put that element into this story to kind of maybe make people think about how they consider others based on appearance?
Williams: I guess when I read the character description. I don't know. That's kind of instantly what I saw, like to just like, cool kid who is really good with the bikes, so I automatically went to like, growing up, there were some kids in my neighborhood who were just like, they had like these cool, BMX type bikes. And I thought they wore like the cool clothes and like they were always doing wheelies and stuff like that. And I was like, hm, I'll just draw, it'd be cool to draw, take inspiration from those kids.
And it's like, there was like always an air of mystery. Because it was just like, they'd just ride by, just like, just popping wheelies and stuff. And you're like, "Oh, that's cool." But I was like, hmm, what is if? It's just like, "Who is that kid?" You know?
Like they're just always just there and not there just doing their thing. And I was like, it'd be cool. Let's just, it'd be cool to draw, those kids.
And Grace, in terms of story, we get some elements of that. Don't make assumptions about people throughout, as well, because we've got the bike store owners making assumptions about one another. We've got Lois and her best friend making assumptions about each other and what they really want. Tell me a little bit about building that kind of sub-message into the story.
Ellis: I think that that typically comes from thinking about journalism, that which was like kind of the bedrock of that whole idea. Because I as I said, went to journalism school. I feel like I would like everyone in general to engage with the idea of journalism a little bit more. What it is, how you do it and what's the point of it all is.
I was thinking about like what would be a good place to start in terms of introducing the idea of journalism to a kid? And I think that a very friendly place to start would be don't jump to any conclusions and just you have to come at it from an honest place of not knowing anything. And be willing to ask questions and actually engage. And then, taking that idea and extrapolating it out into like characters, and what that would look like just on a like a based every day sort of level for a 12 year old. And that's how you end up with like assuming that Izzy would do a bunch of bad stuff, despite there being literally zero evidence that she did.prevnext
I have to ask, whose idea was the cat?
Ellis: That was mine. That was mine. I will take the full credit for that one. It wouldn't be half the cat it is if it weren't for the way Brittney drew her. Oh, my God.
What is it you hope people come away from this book with? Like, what do you hope the kids take away? And perhaps even their parents, if they're reading it, too? Or any reader really
Williams: Oh, okay. Maybe just overall, like I'm a huge fan of like the things that inspired me, the books that inspired me growing up, there was always a sense of adventure. And just doing things with your friends and just not being afraid to go out and just but just be yourself and have fun. I just, as a kid, I loved that kind of thing. Just neighborhood adventures and mysteries. And I don't know if that's necessarily a take away, but just don't be afraid to have adventures. And do the, with the people in your life, your friends, just don't lose your sense of adventure, I guess.
Ellis: I think that's right. I think that that's my top take away hope, as well. Which is, I hope that people read this and I mean, this is like maybe not right now, but like go outside and be with people and reading in addition to just being an active participant in your community, you know? Like your physical neighborhood. Because it's great. It's really rewarding. And I think it makes you a better person and it's much more fun than just like talking crap on the internet.0comments
Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge goes on sale Tuesday, August 11th.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.prev