"Supergirl" Interview with Sterling Gates & Jamal Igle

Supergirl #50 [Date: February 2010]

By Adam Dechanel.

Supergirl, Kara Zor-El returned to continuity in the Superman/Batman title and though she struggled for a while with misfired reboots and lost story threads, along came Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle. With their arrival they breathed new life into the legend of Supergirl with new concepts, characters and an integration with the Supergirl & Superman movies unheard of before now. Kara's title has recently reached a landmark 50th issue and the writer/artist team agreed to answer some questions for us in fandom! So without further delay...

In case any readers have been living in a cave tell us a bit about yourself?

Jamal Igle: My name is Jamal and I'm a cancer. I like long walks off of short peers and sunsets. Most of the time, I draw comic books exclusively for DC Comics, currently as head pencil jockey on Supergirl.

Sterling Gates: My name is Sterling, I'm a Pisces and a writer for DC Comics. Right now, I write Supergirl, and I'm co-writing Adventure Comics, Superman: Last Stand on New Krypton, and War of the Supermen.

Supergirl Movie Adaptation You're obviously both very big Supergirl fans. What was your first exposure to the character?

JI: Superman comics from the 1980's and the Legion of Superheroes, primarily during "The Great Darkness Saga."

SG: First exposure? It's a little fuzzy in my memory, but it was probably a combination of the Supergirl movie, the movie tie-in comic, and her death during Crisis on Infinite Earths. All of those made their way into my home at roughly the same time.

How many times have you watched the movie - be honest! (From all the teases in the book I'd guess a LOT!)

SG: Oh, geez. Yeah, I think "a lot of times" is a good answer to that. I honestly don't know if I can put a number to it. Obviously, I liked it when I was growing up and it made a huge impression on me.

JI: Over the years, probably 10 or so. Don't ask me about "Superman: The Movie" though, that's on permanent loop in my brain.

Helen Slater What was it like sharing a by-line with Helen Slater?

JI: Very cool actually, Helen is very talented and wrote a great story with Jake Black.

SG: Yeah, like Jamal, I thought it was really, really cool! I loved the story she and Jake Black co-wrote in Supergirl #50. I was also extremely excited when she agreed to write the introduction to the "Supergirl: Who is Superwoman?" trade. Helen's a very talented actress, singer, and writer, and I feel that we've been very, very fortunate to have her involved in the Supergirl books lately.

How does it feel getting to fifty? (not you two youthful fellas, obviously!)

JI: It's really nice, especially theses days, it's very had to get a series to sustain 12 issues, let alone 50 in this market. The fight for shelf space is extremely difficult and I hope people are enjoying what we do.

SG: I agree with Jamal, it feels great! I know fan's budgets out there are tight right now between the economy and all of the other great books out there, so we really can't thank readers enough for continuing to support our book.

A lot has been said about Kara's costume - of note she's sported it since the Superman/Batman intro - those old enough to remember the original Kara will know she was an avid follower of fashion. Will Kara be getting some new clothes soon?

JI: That's really not my call. I've pitched some alternate costumes, but the hoops you have to jump through with corporate are incredible.

You inherited the late great Michael Turners designs, how much have you been able to adapt them to your own style?

JI: Quite a bit actually. I lengthened the skirt a pit lowered the shirt, added bracer like bands to the sleeves, altered the cape attachment and of course added the infamous "Super- shorts". So on the surface, the changes such as they are are minor, but they are there.

Which characters are you looking forward to appearing/who do you want to draw the most?

JI: It's always fun when I get to draw Superman, I also really like drawing Reactron as well.

What's your art regime producing the book every month?

JI: I usually draw 12-16 hours a day 5-6 days a week.

Did you design Metallo and Reactron's new looks?

JI: No, that was Gary Frank.

You've truly made your mark as the definitive modern Supergirl artist, most superheroes are men and a fair share of the villians too, how challenging is it to illustrate a female and still make her mighty?

JI: Well, the key for me is to think of her as an indvidual and draw her the same way -- at least attitude wise -- as I would any hero. I draw to, in those moments, give Kara a bit of confidence in the fight. In the quiet moments, it's a different story. There I can change her body language so that she comes off a bit unsure, a bit younger than she does as Supergirl.

You came into the Supergirl title after many a writer had tried their own take on fixing her, was it hard to amalgamate all the loose threads?

SG: No, I don't think so. And I kind of disagree with the notion that Supergirl was a character who needed to be "fixed." I think everyone involved in the book before us did good work and we got some really great Supergirl stories out of them. Jamal and I just came along and pushed Supergirl in a slightly different direction, and then New Krypton got people really interested in our book.

Alura Supergirl has been swallowed up in her cousins big storyline literally just as Linda Lang came to life, one major criticism of modern Kara is that she has no solid cast of characters of her own aside from Lana and Inspector Henderson, often borrowing her cousin's cast, will that be changing soon?

SG: I think you could also say Alura is a strong supporting cast member, as well as Thara Ak-Var. If anything, we wanted to build up Supergirl's relationships with those two, as well as Inspector Henderson and Lana, so she would have people on both Earth and New Krypton. And I think both Inspector Henderson and Lana are important cast members to have around. As for the future, you'll see some familiar faces get close to Kara, as well as some new ones.

Linda 'Leesburg' Danvers, how do you feel about her, she was so integral to the Superman books and the DCU for a long time, will you be bringing her in or do you know what has happened to her post Reign In Hell?

SG: I like Linda Danvers a lot, but I don't know what DC's plans are for that character. Sorry.

Kara (Pre Crisis) and Linda were both heavily into art as did this Kara but after a sudden u-turn, why did you choose to have Kara join the Science Guild? Will it have future ramifications?

SG: Personally, I think art and science go hand in hand. They're both ways of looking at and analyzing the world around you. I think in the future you'll see Supergirl be interested in both disciplines.

All the Supergirl's past had a plethora of magical villains - will you consider bringing in Selena, Nigel, and Bianca?

SG: Y'know, we looked into Selena and Zaltar at one point, but I think the Salkinds -- who produced the Superman movies and the Supergirl movie -- own the rights to those characters, so they're off-limits to us.

Ariella, daughter of Kal L and Linda Danvers is still out there somewhere with an immunity to Crises thanks to a deal struck with The Spectre, will she be popping into the book?

SG: No current plans for her, sorry.

Peter David once said that he had wanted to create a version of the 'Batman universe' Birds Of Prey with Superman's family Young Kara/Linda/Powergirl/Ariella... how does that sound to you?

SG: I think it's an interesting idea! I love Peter David's work, and would've been onboard to read that book, had it come out.

Batman and Wonder Woman were adamant they were to be parental figures to Kara as much as Clark was but aside from training, they haven't really been around - will that change?

SG: No, not at present. I think like all good pupils, Kara has reached a stage in her career where she's going to try to fly without the parental figures of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman around. We'll have to see how she does.

Insect Queen Can you share any sketches with us?

JI: Sure. Here's the concept sketch I did for Lana as the Insect Queen for issue 50.

Conner has Krypto, Kara has Streaky, but the little kitty is powerless... Wednesday's Comics teased us with the Powerful Pets...She'll be able to give Krypto a run for his money right?

SG: Oh, man. I have a killer Streaky story to tell. Maybe someday. Maybe someday.

JI: I think it could be fun, actually.

Karsta, the Third Kryptonian... where is she?

SG: Off in space, nowhere near New Krypton. In other words, somewhere safe.

Superwoman... spill, well ok, you probably can't say but any clues as to her future?

SG: I've got a long-term plan for Superwoman, and she's very heavily involved in the War of the Supermen. That's all I can say for now.

Xenon stated he was able to kill every Supergirl in existence which means he'll be turning up sometime to kill Kara & Ariella that isn't for a long while yet it is?

SG: I hope Xenon stays far, far away form Kara Zor-El. I think she'd kick him in the throat!

You once mentioned that Linda Lang was introduced as quickly as possible before she was enveloped in the New Krypton saga in a quicker fashion than you had planned, are there any plots that never made it to print you can reveal?

SG: No, we always knew that New Krypton was coming, so I didn't spend a lot of time concentrating on stories I knew would never see print. Do I have Linda Lang stories? You betcha. Will we see some of them? After the events in issues #50, I'd say keep reading and see!

The previous incarnations of Supergirl (Linda & the animated Series Kara In-Zee) made a conscious effort to make Supergirl a stand alone character - tied to but not glued to Superman, modern Kara hasn't had that chance yet - will she?

SG: I think as long as Supergirl wears an s-shield, in some ways she's tied to Superman. As for what happens after the war, I don't want to spoil it. But Supergirl will go in a different direction than Superman for a while. You'll see her explore what the s-shield means in a very, very different way. More what it means to her, rather than what it means to the world.

Smallville Have you watched Smallville? Have you taken anything from that adaption of the character and brought it into the comics?

JI: I watch it, but no. I consider Smallville to be its own universe.

SG: I watch Smallville, and I thought they did a great job in reflecting who Supergirl was in the comics when Kara was an ongoing character in the show.

When Kara first arrived due to never using her powers and being under yellow sun lamps for countless years it was mentioned quite extensively that Kara was more powerful than Superman but her lack of training was her Achilles heel - that's all changed as she is a more than capable fighter - have her powers faded or is she still stronger than Clark?

JI: Well, it's the combination, you have to remember she was suffering from kryptonite poisoning as well. Once that was drawn out of her, she went back down to her normal power level. That doesn't mean she's a push over by any stretch of the imagination. We'll see very soon where she stands in comparison to her cousin.

SG: Exactly. And I'm pretty sure Jeph Loeb covered this way back in Supergirl #5. According to that issue, Superman thinks he's stronger of the two of them.

What are your plans for the Maid of Might that you can reveal?

SG: Y'know, our editors have asked us to be very tight-lipped as to our plans, Post-War of the Supermen. So, unfortunately, we can't announce them just yet!

How long are you thinking of sticking around on the title?

JI: As long as they'll have me.

SG: I've got a few big stories up my sleeve, so yeah, I'm willing to stay as long as they'll have me.

What are your plans for the future? Any other projects?

JI: Next up for me is War of the Supermen #2 and then back on for Supergirl for issue #53.

SG: Right now, I'm writing four different titles, so I'm pretty busy! But barring any unforeseen plans, I'm on Supergirl for the long haul!



The Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.

Question and Answer Interviews:


Krypton Club Interviews:

Lois When “Lois & Clark” started production in 1993, there was an obvious relationship between the comic book people and the Hollywood people.

A trade paperback “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, was published, with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher on the cover. It included reprints of comic book stories that were the inspiration for “Lois & Clark”, helping to define the characters. Comic's included are: The Story of the Century (Man of Steel miniseries #2), Tears for Titano (Superman Annual #1), Metropolis - 900 mi (in SUP #9), The Name Game (SUP #11), Lois Lane (in ACT #600), Headhunter (AOS #445), Homeless for the Holidays (AOS #462), The Limits of Power (AOS #466), and Survival (ACT #665).

A number of comic book writers and artists had roles as extras in the episode “I'm Looking Through You” (Season one, episode 4). Their presence was immortilized in the Sky Trading Card #34.

Craig Byrne, president of the online “Lois & Clark” fanclub The Krypton Club, carried out a series of interviews with comic book writers. The interviews are reprinted with permission of the Krypton Club.

Check the Television section of this website for some “Lois & Clark” Interviews conducted by The Krypton Club.