Their Songs Are Better: Kelly Thompson & Ross Campbell Reveal Jem’s New Misfits
I think we can all agree that the announcement of a new Jem and the Holograms series by Kelly Thompson and Ross Campbell is the single most important comic book news of 2014/ever, but until now, we've only really had half of the equation. Sure, the book and the creative team were announced, but we only got to see the new designs for Jerrica Benton and her sisters. The Misfits, the rival group that bears no relation to the real-life Glenn Danzig/Jerry Only band of the same name, had yet to take the spotlight.
Now, though, Roxy, Pizzazz, Stormer and Jetta have been revealed in all their punk rock glory, ready to both make better songs and also commit seriously egregious felonies in the name of rock supremacy.
Like the Holograms, the Misfits are pretty similar to the redesigns Campbell produced as a fan a few years ago that we've talked about before, although they've been tweaked significantly more than their heroic counterparts. PIzzazz and Roxy in particular seem like they've been toned down a shade, with Roxy losing the anime demon wolf look that Campbell originally gave her, and Pizzazz seeming a little less like her hair was composed of green fire.
The biggest addition, though, is Jetta, the British sax player who joined the band back in season 2 of the show. According to an interview with Thompson and Campbell given with the reveal of the new designs on io9, Jem creator Christy Marx originally intended Jetta to be black, and the new design reflects that:
We can see from the exclusive cover image you gave us that there are some definite changes to the Misfits visually, can you talk about that at all?
Thompson: Yeah, as many fans will notice right away The Misfits have undergone some significant changes. In our research we learned that Jem creator Christy Marx actually originally created Jetta as a black character, which makes a lot of sense given The Misfits lack of diversity compared to The Holograms (and the show generally). So, we've gone ahead and corrected that. Additionally, in the original Jem, Jetta played the saxophone, which is clearly a mark of the time period. I mean you can't throw a rock at an 80's movie without hitting a sax solo, so it made sense for the time period. However, it's a bit out of place in a modern punk rock-ish band – certainly when you don't even have a drummer it's an odd choice.
Originally we just put Jetta on drums but Ross and I agreed that it was a little odd to have the two black characters on drums - it felt like it pushed them into the background a bit when it came to the visuals - so we ended up moving Roxy to drums and Jetta to Bass. Ironically there's some original canon to that move though! As die-hard fans may remember, in Season 2 (Danse Time) Roxy actually plays the drums. Anyway, I know all of that sounds like some crazy inside baseball stuff and maybe nobody cares, but I know people get attached to things a certain way and so sometimes I feel like explaining how and why we got there helps them understand the process and see that it's not stuff we're doing cavalierly — there's always a method to the madness — I promise! Meanwhile, Jetta is easily my favorite of Ross's designs so it was pretty easy to feel that was the right call.
Campbell: I love the Holograms of course but I loved designing the Misfits more! I went a little less futuristic with them than I did with the Holograms, they're more of a hodge podge of styles and less visually united than the Holograms are, and their look is of course more aggressive. I color coded the Holograms (Jem/pink, Kimber/red, etc.), but the Misfits all have more than one color so they seem a little wilder to me. With them I also strayed more from my fan designs I did a few years back than I did with the Holograms, I'm not sure why but I decided to almost start from scratch.
The first one I worked on was Stormer because she is my favorite Jem character, I wanted her to have small, more realistic hair to set her apart from the other characters and maybe suggest that she's more reserved or doesn't quite fit with them. I fussed a lot over her dress, too. As anyone can probably tell from my character designs, I lovvvve mohawks, so obviously Pizzazz had to have one! I wanted her to be more playful-looking than she is on the show, more mischievous sort of. I always thought Jetta was the most stylish character next to Minx, and I really loved whenever she was in plain old stark black and white, I love that look, so I did that with my design except for the little splash of color on one eye. Roxy was the one I fussed the most over, though, particularly her hair. Like all the characters, she'll have different hairstyles but I like each character to have a 'base' hairstyle, I guess, their default look, and that's what I got hung up on with Roxy. I'm excited to draw them all in the comic, I have a feeling they'll be really expressive and funny.
The redesigned lineup and the its shuffling of the instruments played by the Misfits solves my two biggest problems with that band:
1. They were a punk band that had no drums, and
2. They were a punk band with a saxophone player who had no songs with saxophones in them.
Oddly enough, I do not consider that time that they tried to murder Kimber with a volcano to be a particular problem. For the new version, Roxy has been shifted back to the drums, although poor Stormer still has to handle the bass line all by her lonesome on that keytar. Poor Stormer.
The interview also mentions that Thompson and Campbell will be drawing a lot of inspiration directly from the show, and while Thompson specifically mentions the Battle of the Bands story, I'm hoping that they go for a few more deep cuts, like they time Jem fought against an actual super-villain dressed like a Revolutionary War soldier who kidnapped the president, or that story where Techrat straight up invented a time machine and tried to murder them with dinosaurs.
There is, however, one element of the show that they're expanding on. Thompson has confirmed over Twitter that the series will feature Stormer and Kimber in the romance that was only hinted at subtextually in "The Bands Break Up," and that it'll develop naturally over the course of the series.
So basically, it's already the best comic ever.