Eisner Award winning writer and illustrator, Jill Thompson, has a handful of notable works under her belt, but recently she’s been making headlines with her new take on the classic Wonder Woman stories. Thompson’s newest graphic novel, Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, gives us a glimpse into the spoiled young life of Amazon Princess Diana, and the life-altering events that shaped her into the iconic superhero we know as Wonder Woman. Keep reading and get the inside scoop from Thompson herself about what went into creating this original comic book!
Q: What inspired you to take on such an established superhero like Wonder Woman?
JT: I didn’t plan to sit down and write a Wonder Women story at any certain point in my life. I think it was a perfect storm of things that sparked the initial idea. I originally had a lot of questions and people have said, “Well, Wonder Woman must have been your favorite character as a little girl, right?” Honestly I would have to say no, because she was too perfect. I really liked her, I thought she was great, but the characters I related to were more human in their make-ups. They had problems, they had to overcome things, and they had to fight harder to win. Then I started thinking about it and thought, “Well, why did it bother me?” If I wrote this, what would I have done to it? Then, boom.
Q: What motivated you to create her very spoiled beginning, and why did you choose for her main character flaw to be “spoiledness”?
JT: Some of my favorite fairy tales and fables have been the stories of “The Prince and the Pauper” or some very strange, obscure fairy tales that my grandmother used to read to me. There was a spoiled princess, because they grew up without any problems or cares. They had to learn how the other half lived. I thought this would be perfect, if you were the only amazing, magical child on an island of doting aunties and grandmas. What would happen? If everyone wants to please you and is amazed that you exist, you might accidentally grow up to be spoiled. I did want to establish that she is incredibly smart, super-strong, brave, all of the great qualities, but there’s a standard she has that she just expects.
Q: Being both the author and artist, did you find that the story drove the art or the art drove the story?
JT: It’s kind of a mix. When I start writing an outline, sometimes it comes out in story form and then I start seeing pictures. I think I started by drawing the Wonder Woman costume the way that I would like to see it, and it kind of helped push me along with the story. It is 50/50 when you are doing both jobs yourself.
Q: Normally, the superhero outfit is a symbol of hope and worn with pride, yet Wonder Woman must wear hers out of punishment. How can she inspire hope doing so?
JT: It’s an homage, because she is wearing something that did symbolize hope, from the other character. Some of it is out of punishment, but I wanted it to be more of a Greek-mythology take on something where there is always some tragedy mixed into the hero’s story. I also thought it gave her a moral compass. She’s never had to weigh the consequences of her actions. This would remind her. The way the story ends up, I leave her exactly where we expect her to be, which is in Man’s World, where she will be a hero and will do all the amazing things everyone has ever written about her: be part of the Justice League, and protect people and seek out amazing causes. But like everybody, she has a history that maybe not everyone knows about.
Q: What do you hope the consequences Diana faces for her actions will teach the audience?
JT: Well, I hope that it will move them. In all fairy tales and fables I’ve enjoyed, you take something away from it, where you know to apply it to your own life. The story, it might look like it’s about how Wonder Woman became who she is, but it’s about how you use your power, how you use your gifts, how you treat other people.
Q: What would you like to convey to an audience of students and academics?
JT: You can always do better, be better. You can be critical of yourself and move forward.
What are your thoughts on Jill Thompson’s take on Wonder Woman? Share your feedback in the comments below.
And, make sure to snag your copy of Wonder Woman: The True Amazon!