Burning Bright: Jimmy Palmiotti And Amanda Conner On The End Of ‘Starfire’ [Exclusive]
When it debuted in June of last year, Starfire brought alien princess Koriand'r to the Florida Keys with a bright new attitude and a great new costume. Written by the Harley Quinn team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, the book includes beautiful lineart from Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy, with Elsa Charretier taking over lineart this week in Starfire #9, plus vibrant color work from Hi-Fi. All this comes together to tell the tale of a sunny-dispositioned superheroine making a life for herself in the strange land of Florida.
But in the last month or so, rumors of changes coming to the DC line has readers questioning what would happen to Starfire. We got together with Conner and Palmiotti to discuss female friendship, Kori's views on love and sexuality, and the fate of the book in the coming months.
ComicsAlliance: In the past couple weeks, there has been some speculation about Starfire’s future, including rumors of the series ending and Starfire moving to another series. Right off the bat, can you tell us about the state of the book going forward?
Jimmy Palmiotti: When we were offered Starfire over a year ago, Amanda and I committed to 12 issues total, nothing more and nothing less, and with the series ending with us. We worked out the year in advance, and now we are writing the last couple of issues. Nothing has changed for us on any level. What they’ll do with the character after us is in the hands of the people at DC Comics and we are good with whatever they choose.
We look at the series as spending time with a character we love, and hope that our version will continue in the books after. We did the same with our Power Girl series years ago. Again, that too was our choice. We feel a year on a title gives the reader what they want, and in the end a nice trade collection. Us ending on #12 had nothing to do with any re-launch or anything else going on in the DCU.
If we wanted to stay on for another six issues, we could have, but we have another project we are doing that will be announced later in the year right after this. That said, we love the character and, like any character we spend time with, they are bound to show up in another book of ours in the future.
Amanda Conner: Yes, most of the time I have about six to twelve issues of ideas in me, so that’s what I try to commit to. That said, now that we’re nearing twelve issues, we really love Kori’s character, and the series ending doesn’t mean you won’t see Starfire pop up in other places!
CA: Well, it's good to hear that you're leaving on your own terms, but it's still disappointing to hear your run is ending. But let's talk about the book --- nine issues are out and three to go. The focus and design of Starfire as a character has changed since her start in the New 52. How important has the art and color work been in keeping the right tone for the series?
JP: I like to think that the books Amanda and I work on stand out as something different than a lot of titles out there. Two things that give us this look are the incredible artists involved.
With Starfire, we were given a gift having Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy on board for eight issues, and having Elsa Charretier stepping in to finish the series out. The consistent factor that ties the look, feel, and mood of the series is the amazing color work from the Hi-Fi crew. They really set the tone of the series from issue #1 and we are so happy and proud to be working with them.
AC: When we thought of how we wanted to handle Kori, we wanted to give a big nod to when Marv Wolfman and George Pérez created her. We also love the Teen Titans Go animated series, so we wanted to bring in a little bit of that flavor in her character. Emanuella, Elsa, and the Hi-Fi guys have done a fantastic job of bringing that to life.
CA: Let’s talk a little about the supporting cast. Most of Starfire’s side characters are brand new, but Atlee is one of the established characters from your earlier DC work. How did that character choice come about, and what is it about the character makes her a good fit for Kori’s circle of friends?
AC: I think Atlee is a great complement to Kori, and when you look at Atlee in the Power Girl series, you can see that she was new to our world, and smart, but slightly naïve in the ways of our society. Power Girl sort of mentored her, and showed her how things work in our world. Now, Kori is the one who’s new to our world, and Atlee, with the help of Stella, is showing Kori the workings of our culture.
JP: We love Atlee and, I have to be honest, she will always appear in our DC work at one time or another because we feel she is a unique character in so many ways.
CA: One of the more appealing things about the book is the focus on female relationships, particularly the growing friendship between Kori, Atlee, and local sheriff Stella. What is your approach when writing the trio, especially with the next arc featuring their vacation together at Atlee’s home?
AC: It’s one of the aspects of character development that I find so fascinating and so much fun… What our favorite superheroes (and non-superheroes) are up to when they’re not battling the bad guys. And, when they are battling the bad guys, we can show how they work so well together. No matter how powerful you are, or the magnitude of the things you’re able to accomplish, it’s always a hundred times better if you’re able to share it with friends and those you love. I think that’s how things work in real life, too.
JP: For me, beyond the super powers and such, the appeal of their characters is taking three completely different people with different backgrounds and finding out that they all have a common ground together. I think as a reader, we can relate to each of them and their sense of discovery with the world around them. I always find that kind of story very appealing to write.
CA: Amanda, you draw the main Starfire covers, as well as co-write the book. Does writing the book give you a different perspective on how you approach the covers? How much fun is it to draw Kori being adorable?
AC: One of the things I’ve discovered about writing is that it really makes me miss drawing! My favorite thing is to draw interiors, but since we are juggling so much work, I don’t have as much time to do that, so doing covers keeps me really happy in the meantime.
And I love drawing Kori being her adorable self. One of the things that I always want to make sure comes through in a cover is a character's distinct personality. I always hope that comes across in the cover art.
CA: In the last few issues, Kori has started going on dates and getting romantic with Stella’s brother, Sol. Did you always have him in mind as one of Kori’s love interests?
AC: Yes, in the beginning Sol was a very emotionally pained person, due to the loss of his fiancé a couple of years earlier, and he had built a wall around his feelings. We wanted to show how Kori’s playfulness and way of looking at the world with new eyes, along with her incredible toughness, brings him out of his shell and allows him to open up his emotions again.
CA: You’re also co-writing Harley Quinn, whose title character has ongoing romantic relationships with a girlfriend and boyfriend. We know that Kori views love and sexuality in a very open way. While Starfire is pursuing a relationship with a man at the moment, did you consider having her pursue romance with other genders?
JP: These characters are so much more than the romantic choices they make, and our responsibility in a series is to get to know them on many different levels. While it is true Kori has a very hedonistic way about her, in our book she has an attraction to the beauty of everything and everyone. Dick was a former romantic liaison that showed up again in her life, and Sol is someone she is interested in romantically at the moment, but a lot of things will be changing and happening in the last four issues, so what I will say without ruining any surprises is to stay tuned.
AC: Starfire would pursue romance with anyone she finds full of beauty and life… She’s a total romance pursuer! She’s in love with love.
CA: Readers got to see Dick Grayson take a trip to the Keys and meet up with Kori in Starfire #7 and #8 --- can we expect more familiar faces that might show up in the book? Anything else you can tease about the upcoming arc?
JP: The last four issues have so much going on, from the visit to Atlee’s city, to a liberation of a friend and the usual fun and romance we have been peppering the series with since day one. We plan to go out in a big way with this book and if you know us, it doesn't always mean its gonna be an explosion.
Starfire #9, the first of the final four issues of the run, is in stores now.