Stan Lee once said that he created Spider-Man because he saw a spider on the wall of his studio. Frankenstein’s Monster was dreamed up over a rainy weekend in 1816. The lead character of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures was conceived in a comic’s podcast forum project and born out of a father’s love for his daughter.
The Comic Geek Speak Podcast is made up of a bunch of great guys that love comics. I have listened to them for several years and am still an active member of their forums. It was on those forums that I learned about a proposed prose anthology, which would be written by the listeners of the podcast. I wrote a story called the Return of Power Boy, a story about a middle aged accountant, who may or may not be a superhero. (The anthology was never produced and the story was later featured in A Thousand Faces, the Quarterly Journal of Superhuman Fiction and won the 2010 Haller Award for Best Writer from the Comicbook Artist Guild and presented at New York ComicCon.) The story was a very dark tale of what happens when a super villain wins. One of the very minor characters was the accountant’s four-year-old daughter, CeeCee.
Sometimes writers don’t create their characters, they channel them and that’s what happened with CeeCee. After the story was finished, I kept coming back to that little girl. What kind of life would she live, would she develop her father’s powers, and what would she do if she did? Well, CeeCee became DeDe, and the character of Sky Girl was born.
By this time, I had a daughter of my own, Elizabeth. And I can’t help but think that this is what converted the very dark Power Boy story into the light-hearted story of Sky Girl. It is also why DeDe is a strong teenager and not defined by the men in her life. Don’t get me wrong, she is not your typical one-dimensional stereotype. Like most of us, DeDe is bold and confident when she is with her best friend and family, yet she is shy and insecure in public, especially when it comes to her crush, Adam, and rival, Nicole. This trilogy tells a complete story for Sky Girl; the first book deals with her origin, the second book sets up a major conflict for her, and the third book resolves that conflict. The series is really about DeDe’s journey to find herself. My hope is that Sky Girl represents a strong female role model who always tries to do the right thing. She isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes. But, she learns from her mistakes and, most importantly, she never gives up. In Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, Sky Girl has to deal with some heavy emotional things like the death of her father, the fact that her mother is moving on with another man, and the ever-changing relationships around her. But, just because she allows herself to be emotionally open and vulnerable, that doesn’t mean she is weak. Dealing with adversity makes her that much stronger when she triumphs over it. In short, she makes a lot of good decisions, but she also makes some bad and selfish ones. But, ultimately she ends up in the right place. I hope she inspires my daughter to make good decisions.
At one point in the evolution of the story, someone had suggested that I make the main character into a boy (because comic readers are predominantly male). That idea never caught on because I think women and men handle conflict differently. I wanted to explore how superheroines react to conflict differently than their male counterparts and show how those different reactions turn comic book conventions on their head. A great example of this appears in the current book (Sky Girl the Superheroic Adventures) when Sky Girl meets Penny Pound, another heroine. The typical comic book convention is that the two characters would fight first over a misunderstanding and then team up to take on the real villain. As you will read, Sky Girl’s resolution to that conflict is unique and therefore less clichéd. Another example of the distinction between how girls and boys resolve conflict plays out in the third book, which is coming out next year. In one scene, a villain wants to prove he’s the best by challenging Sky Girl to a fight. Sky Girl responds, “Let me get this straight, you’re not going to hurt anyone or steal anything? You just want to fight to prove you’re better than me?” Bad guy nods. Sky Girl says, “Okay, you win. I’ve got better things to do today.” Then, she flies off, leaving a dumbstruck villain alone in the street. Faced with the same situation, a Sky Boy would probably take the challenge, fight, lose, and eventually emerge victorious in the inevitable rematch (probably with a new costume and chromium cover). The books explore these conflicts in a comedic way, because of course, Sky Girl’s best friend Jason (a diehard comics aficionado) finds her responses quite frustrating. Does that make women better heroes–absolutely not–but it does allow an outlet for more creative storytelling.
At the end of the day, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, and the character of Sky Girl is the culmination of reading far too many great comics, finding far too few strong female characters and loving my daughter just enough. I would like to thank you for letting to talk about the secret origin of Sky Girl.
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Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available at www.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.