Exclusive Interview: Lauren Beukes on Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman
Fables fans may recall Lauren Beukes as the writer of The Hidden Kingdom” storyline in Fairest. But outside of comics, Beukes is an award winning novelist of The Shining Girls, Zoo City and Moxyland.
This Thursday, Beukes has a full length story in Sensation Comics Chapter # 22 alongside fan favorite artist Mike Maihack. It’s a Wonder Woman story unlike any other.
I recently had a chance to interview Beukes about her new Wonder Woman story, which is paired here with an exclusive preview from Sensation Comics # 22.
CraveOnline: Tell us what Wonder Woman means to you.
Lauren Beukes: Wonder Woman was my mom’s favourite super hero when she was a kid and she aspired to be her when she grew up. I think she kinda did—she ran a trucking empire, designed shoes, made African dolls with a women’s workgroup, could parallel park an 18 wheeler, had a Porsche she bought herself when she was 26 and once got hit on by Clint Eastwood in Italy. She’s a powerful hero with a fierce sense of herself and of justice.
Do you remember what your first exposure to Wonder Woman was?
I do remember. It was a plus size book that came with an LP. I must have been five or six—when my mom’s jewelry was stolen (possibly by Catwoman), she used the insurance money to take me and my brother to America for a holiday and we stocked up on all the cool things you couldn’t get in South Africa, like Star Wars figurines and Disney gear and cool superheroes books. The story featured the invisible jet, which I loved, absolutely.
Which Wonder Woman era is your favorite?
American comics were so hard to get hold of here in the ’80s and ’90s because of apartheid and sanctions (and rightfully so). That’s a hard question to answer, because I think I missed a lot of it.
This Wonder Woman story felt very personal. What inspired it?
I wanted to do a uniquely South African take on Wonder Woman that was also a story I could read to my six-year-old daughter. It’s about the power of the imagination and our own innate heroism. My six year old is my hero and she’s brave and smart and funny. Oh and she LOVES Greek mythology, so Circe and Medusa were a must-have.
Mike Maihack’s art was an inspired choice for this story. Did you suggest him or did the editor make that assignment?
When Kristy Quinn asked me if I had any artists in mind, I asked for Mike Maihack right away. I love the online comics he’s done. They’re gorgeous and playful and perfectly kid appropriate. I’d love to see more superhero comics I could read my daughter.
Did you ever play with Wonder Woman and DC toys when you were young? That opening sequence certainly suggested that.
I did! Also He-Man and She-Ra and the Golden Girls and I’d DIY toys when I didn’t have the figurines. When I was super into V, the series about the reptilian aliens, I would rip one of my Barbie’s heads off and replace it with a monster head from another playset so that she could be Diana, the evil leader alien.
I loved Superpig and the Batman statue, especially when we see what they really are.
Oh my gosh, when I saw Mike’s illustration of Super Pig, with the little forelock curl and that befuddled expression, it made me so happy. And did you see his cat? The cat is adorable and all the action adventure—that scene with the invisible jet. Amazing. That’s what I love about working in comics, when the artist comes up with something cooler than you could have imagined.
Mike was also really interested in getting it right. I sent him hairstyle references for the girls and photos of Orlando West, which is the middle class suburb of Soweto. I wanted these to be ordinary kids and not play into any of the stereotypes about Africa.
Your story illustrates one of the ways that Wonder Woman can change the world even though she’s a fictional character. Have you ever experienced any real examples of this?
Last year, a woman in Zimbabwe emailed me to say that thinking of my survivor, Kirby, in The Shining Girls, and her strength and spirit, helped her to escape a mugger with a knife. I’m sure she would have used something else to summon up the courage to get away, but the book was what came to her mind. It was humbling. I’ve also had a survivor of violence come up to me after a reading and tell me she was very nervous about reading my book because of what it would bring up in her, but I did it right and she appreciated that.
If you have a chance to revisit Wonder Woman, would you prefer to do it out of continuity or within the New 52?
Out of continuity. I’d love to do a kid-friendly superhero comic. Ideally with Mike.
Aside from Wonder Woman, what other comic book characters would you like write for in the future?
I loved Amethyst growing up, although I only had ten or so issues (I may have mentioned comics were hard to come by in South Africa) and I loved the recent animated shorts. Otherwise Catwoman is wonderful. Black Orchid — although I don’t know how you would beat out Neil Gaiman’s take on that.
What other comic work do you have on the horizon?
My friend Dale Halvorsen (aka cover designer Joey Hi-Fi) and I wrote a short together for the Strange Sports Stories anthology called Chum about a post-apocalypse ice hockey game, which I think is coming out in March, with art by Christopher Mittens.
Where can fans find more information about your other novels and projects?