DC's newest entry in their Middle-Grade story series is the utterly delightful Dear Justice League, which comes from writer Michael Northrop and artist Gustavo Duarte along with colorist Marcelo Maiolo and letterer Wes Abbott. The new book has children posing their questions directly to the larger than life heroes, and while we are talking about people who can lift mountains and move at the speed of light here, fans will be amazed at how human these characters can truly be. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Northrop and Duarte all about the new book, including where the idea for it originated from.
"I got the idea from, I used to work at Sports Illustrated Kids Magazine," Northrop said. "So one of the things I would do, you know, I interviewed a lot of athletes and it's pretty well known, athletes aren't always the best interview subjects. They have a tendency to use...they get the same questions and they give the same answers. Take it one game at a time and that kind of stuff. One of the things we did, because it was SI Kids Magazine was asked questions that had been sent in by kids and the difference between their answers when I was asking the question or their answers when the question was coming from the kids was really kind of eye-opening for me.
"They would sort of let down the defenses and think a little bit more deeply and answer a little bit more honestly," Northrop said. "I thought that same kind of dynamic could work with superheroes. Because they both sort of, you know, pro sports stars and superheroes, these larger than life characters who could be a little defensive, a little guarded. Only one who has a secret identity. Right? So I just wanted to sort of apply that idea of kids asking their heroes questions directly to superheroes."
Fans will get a chance to see Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Flash, and Green Lantern in action, and while Duarte wasn't sold at the beginning of the project on one particular hero, the hero managed to win him over in the end. That said, there was another hero who stole the show.
"The hero I most like to work with? I don't think it was in the beginning, but I love to work with Aquaman," Duarte said. "That is a character that I don't have a big relation to, but my favorite one was Wonder Woman because Michael wrote a story for her where she was a kid. For me, I can do an entire book like this. The little Diana at this year, it was very nice to do."
Fans will notice several charming call-out effects throughout the book, and those wouldn't have been as effective without Abbott and Maiolo.
"Well that it's like we need to get two more people on the Skype call because that was something that I had an idea for those," Northrop said. "I was thinking of it as sound effects kind of. That was something the editor Sarah Miller really liked the idea and she was like 'Let's go big with that.' Wes, who did the lettering, just an awesome job on the lettering. There are some panels where, I mean the lettering is just like, the last time I saw it before it came back it was just 12 point Times New Roman and then you get back what Wes did and it just knocked me out of my chair"
"Marcelo Maiolo did a job that ... I've been working with cartoon and comics for the last 20 years and it is my best colors in a comic book," Duarte said. "It was really amazing and Wes, and then Maiolo, they gave us a lot of good stuff in this book and changed the book."
"100%. Look at this," Northrop said. "That Joker spread, right? The lettering that goes around the Batarang rope and then look at the colors too. They just those classic Joker purple and green. They just totally pop and it's a white background. So this is all letters and colors. It's just awesome. Those two were amazing."
One of the many high points in the book involves Batman, particularly his love of eschewing tech and handwriting letters to his fans. So, why does old Bats dislike social email so much?
"You know, Batman's a mysterious individual," Northrop said. "I don't want to go too deep there, but you know, he's got resting gloomy face first of all. So that's kind of the default setting there, but it feels like a guy who lives in a cave, sets himself off from the world, and would want a little more distance, right? A little more control. I think, I mean some of my favorite stuff, in there, is Gustavo's expressions for Batman, which are so small. The differences between one to the next. The tiny difference makes such a huge change. When he is looking at Hawkgirl across the table with his jaw jutted out and gloomy, it's like so, so serious at the morning meeting. I just cracked up so much looking at that and it's...that's just Batman, right? We were not, neither of us were going to write a happy Batman.0comments
"The fact is, when we were kids Batman was the tech guy," Duarte said. "He has everything. He has computers when we didn't have a computer and now everybody has a computer and no, he wants to read a letter."