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If you spend anytime on this blog you know I am a huge fan of Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl v.2. Miller also did double duty while on Batgirl and was a writer on Smallville, the long running television program focusing on the pre-Superman years of Clark Kent. Smallville ended last year and now Miller is writing the show’s 11th season as a comic. And I can’t wait. The first digital issue debuts on Friday. You can buy it at Comixology or the DC Comics app for $.99. New chapters will be released each Friday and then offered in groups of three as printed comics. The first of those hits May 16. Miller is working with artist Pere Perez who he also worked with on Batgirl. Cat Staggs will be doing some of the covers.
I chatted with Miller this week about what we can expect to see in Season 11, the challenges of writing TV vs. comics, the relationship of Clark and Lois (and how it is like Batman and Robin) and … waffles. For those who didn’t read Batgirl (WHY?) waffles played an important role in Stephanie Brown’s first appearance as Batgirl and became a bit of a meme.
DCWKA: So what kind of waffles does Clark Kent like? (Just kidding)
BQM: The kind that haven’t been forged from Kryptonite-infused batter. The episode is called “Mix.” It exists in my head. Shelby is not in it.
DCWKA: Smallville had a devoted audience for 10 years and survived every night of the week on television. What do you think it was about the show that appealed to people so much and how do you see that translating to your comic book?
BQM: Aside from all the impossibly beautiful people? It had just as much of a focus on the “super” element as it did on the relationships between the characters. In the early years, those came in the form of high school teen angst. In the latter years, the conflicts and interactions became more adult. In a weird way, the show grew with the viewer. Those relationships, as well as a new level of super, live on in the comic.
DCWKA: You’ve written comics, you’ve written TV but you’ve never written television characters for comics. How is it different? Was it an adjustment?
BQM: The big disconnect, trying to the bridge the two (for me, at least), comes down to narration captions. In comics, it’s a great way to get inside of a character’s head. On the TV, shows like Dexter or Burn Notice have voice over (which is roughly the same thing). Smallville (with the rare exception of certain episodes written by certain writers) didn’t do that. In print, narration captions do a lot of the heavy lifting that dramatic pauses and verbal intonation do in television — both help to frame the action and dialogue that you’re seeing. The Smallville comic will not have narration captions. Pere’s facial expression work has (hopefully) worked to bridge that gap as we hit the page.
BQM: Wow. I walked RIGHT into that one, didn’t I? If one were to foolishly draw comparisons to the dynamic duo dynamic between Clark and Lois, I think Lois would have to be the Robin. She’s the grounding element for Clark that helps keep him connected to humanity. As for WHICH Robin… I think she’s probably Stephanie as seen through Grayson colored glasses. Have we gotten lost in the analogy yet? I know I have!
DCWKA: The women of Smallville were always essential to the narrative and were arguably heroes in their own right. What do you admire most about Lois Lane? What do you admire most about Chloe Sullivan? Do you miss Tess?
BQM: Lois Lane is, in a practical sense, the voice of the audience. She’s your audience surrogate. The woman on the street perspective, if you will. She fierce, she’s loyal, she’s honest, she’s smart, she’s sexy, she’s fallible. She’s human. Regarding Chloe, she’s got a lot in common with Lois (she was even an analog for Lois before Lois actually arrived on the show). I think where Chloe differs is that Chloe operates on a very cerebral level — she’s more prone to appeal to her own sense of reason and logic (especially at this point in her life), rather than emotion. She’s been through a lot. Both are terribly strong women — they just express that strength in different ways.
And how I feel about Tess (who was always my favorite lady to write on the show)… that should be made clear within the first 30 pages of “Guardian.”
DCWKA: This is still very early Superman? Any idea where Batman would be in his career at this point? Chloe mentions having met him, is that still true?
BQM: Well, you see WAITNOYOU’REAWITCH! Nice try. To the first part, Clark’s been in the cape for 6 months, but he’s been a hero for MUCH longer. As far as other heroes, age will come into play, with regards to what kind of lead they have on Superman’s “arrival.”
DCWKA: If DC gave you access to three characters for the comic who would you pick?
BQM: I’ve already picked one of them (technically two of them - it’s a bit of a package deal) - they show up in Episode 2. Then, of course, Diana Prince. Then… that may require further thought. I have a laundry list of people I want to visit and feature as the season goes. But I think (secret guests) and Wondy round up my priority list. Luckily, the show left a healthy selection of characters to return to, as well as the possibility to meet new people entirely.
DCKWA: Okay. And finally: Team Clois/or Team Chlollie?
BQM: You know, I was one of the big backers of starting up Chlollie in the first place — not everyone was on board, at first. We took a chance, and it worked out very well. So there’s a little bias there. And, come on, you can’t beat Clois. You just can’t. It’s peanut butter and chocolate. There is, however, a third relationship that presents itself in the comic. Not a romance. It’s a bromance. It isn’t with anyone you’d expect, and it’s one of my favorite things ever.
The first digital issue of Smallville: Season 11 goes on sale Friday, April 13.