DC's Middle-Grade line of graphic novels continues to be one of the biggest bright spots in DC's lineup, and Diana: Princess of the Amazons continues that stellar trend. The new graphic novel introduces fans to a young version of Diana far before she becomes one of the biggest heroes of all tie, and is brought to life by writers Dean and Shannon Hale and artist Victoria Ying. A story of friendship and family is told through absolutely charming visuals, and we recently had the chance to speak to all three members of the creative team all about it, including what the team wanted to get across about Diana through their story.
"I think where Dean and I started was how, what a fascinating situation to be the only child in your world and it was something we hadn't seen really explored a lot with Diana," Shannon Hale said. "Not only is she the only child in her entire world, but everybody else are these adult, immortal, amazing warriors who have lived for thousands of years and how hard that might be, how lonely that could be, how she might not really be understood, how much she'd be wishing for a friend. So we really wanted to start with the human aspect of Diana, where young readers who could also be feeling lonely, could also be feeling unsure of their placement in their particular world, and unsure of their friends, could really relate to this amazing person who grows up to be Wonder Woman."
"Dean and I have four kids and of various ages obviously, and it's been interesting as a parent to see," Hale said. "Sometimes our kids will say that they miss being a baby. Like, I remember one of my kids when she was like six said, 'Oh I wish I was still a baby. I was so cute and sweet and now I'm older and less lovable.' That really struck me that even at a young age kids could start to feel like they lose what makes them special as they get older because I think adults forget. We get used to the kids and suddenly they get to this age where they're not adults yet, but they're not little babies and suddenly the expectation is they should be acting more adult, but they are still kids."
"Personally I was interested in exploring that," Hale said. "You know, where adults really let kids down too and not allow them all the years they need to really keep changing and growing and developing and still being amazing and awesome in their own way."
"Honestly it's nice to... as a parent, I feel like oftentimes a book like this can help conversations happen," Dean Hale said. "You know, like where a kid can say, "Hey look Mom, you're acting just like her," and to have the distance that happened but also the love that is still there, just not communicated as well as it could be."
Victoria Ying's artwork is so vibrant and fun and brings a lightheartedness to even the more poignant moments of the story. That lightheartedness extends to the character designs, including Diana's friend Mona, who ended up going through some changes before a final version was decided on.
"There was one character who changed a lot and that was kind of a story point where I wanted the big reveal to kind of have like a visual connection too," Ying said. "So that was one character who changed. But I really did enjoy drawing Mona, which is Diana's friend because I just love drawing those little scenes of the two of them together and just having that like friendship and that intimacy between girls, which is just so special. It was just really great for me to be able to really just use their expression and the little body language things that just make me feel like, okay, these are real people and these are like real kids with real feelings."
Fans eventually discover that the book's antagonist has been hiding in plain sight, and there's an important reason why it isn't really revealed until later in the story.
"Yes. I think we always wanted that big reveal to come pretty late in it," Shannon said. "We wanted to give Diana a chance to have a friend, experience friendship with someone her own age, and her own interest and then build that around this story of how friendship can also come with betrayal and lies and all these things that she'd never experienced before."
"Yeah. I think we started with the idea of her," Dean said. "I mean we didn't have a villain, so much as the villain of solitude, like being the only child, and then it developed into a specific villain that we could use and I thought this worked out perfect."
We eventually see a monster-filled battle take place with Diana right in the center of it all, and that scene had its own share of challenges.
"Oh my gosh. I mean that was definitely like the most difficult just to wrap your head around because you had to keep track of where all the characters were, and when there were story points, you're seeing it from this character's point of view," Ying said. "Then I'd have to backtrack and actually like move where she is physically so that that shot makes sense. So it was a lot of back and forth, just kind of like trying to stage it, and I think very cinematically because my background is animation."
While we know Diana grows up to become Wonder Woman, the book doesn't make that a focus of the story.
"When we watched the new Wonder Woman movie, both Dean and I just loved the Themyscira scenes so much and our kids were crazy about it," Shannon said. "All of them were just crazy about seeing young Diana, and for all of us, we just wanted more. We wanted more of that. We wanted to see Themyscira through a kid's eyes, what is that like? So we were not ever in a rush to push her to be Wonder Woman. We want to make sure that she resonates as a character. There should be a clear straight line from this Diana to the Wonder Woman that we know, but we always wanted to really respect that time when she's a kid and allow her a story of just being that little girl before she grows up to be who she'll become."
"I always envisioned it being as one of the experiences that helped shape her to become the woman that she would," Dean said. "So it's just like one ingredient in the recipe that becomes Wonder Woman."
As for the future, Dean and Shannon would love to reteam with Victoria for more Diana adventures, but they also have some other things in the pipeline.
"We would love to do another Diana with Victoria," Shannon said. "We have some ideas. One especially that we're super excited about. So we're hoping to be able to do that. And Dean and I are also doing an Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld middle-grade graphic novel with DC. I don't think that has a release date yet, but yeah. But we've written the script and it's moving onto an artist now. So that's actually a character we were wanting to write for 20 years. So it was very exciting for us to get to do the first middle-grade graphic novel about her."
"As far as other characters go, I have so many, but I love Blue Devil," Dean said. "But in terms of like a prequel story kind of like this, I'd love to do like a kid Darkseid."
"I think you would kill that Dean," Shannon said. "I think you would kill it. I would love to see what you did."0comments
"Yeah. For me, I think that there's definitely a lot of female characters I'd love to see explored at this young age too, just because it is so formative and we always kind of gloss over it with superheroes. So I'd love to see like maybe Starfire, would be really fun to do. Like I love the Teen Titan stuff, especially like the cartoon Titans GO stuff, they make it so fun and I'd really love to kind of explore that. And also a Harley Quinn, like she's a very complicated character and she's somebody that, you know, again, I'm like, where does she come from? What was her upbringing like? I think that would be really interesting to explore."
We are definitely up for all those, but you can read the team's work on Diana: Princess of the Amazons right now.