Derek Fridolfs Discusses His “Justice League” Stone Arch Books

As we reported last week, Capstone has released a new series of “Justice League” Stone Arch Books written by Brandon T. Snider and Derek Fridolfs, with art by Tim Levins and Rex Lokus. These 88 page illustrated paperback books are the first in a series that began shipping last week, with more titles to be published in 2018.

The Superman Homepage caught up with writer Derek Fridolfs to get an insight into his involvement in this new line of Capstone “Justice League” books.

Q: You wrote “Injustice Gang and the Deadly Nightshade” and “Darkseid and the Fires of Apokolips” for this series of books, what can you tell us about them?

A: In the Deadly Nightshade, an accident creates eternal darkness over the world, forcing the Justice League to find an unorthodox way to try to stop it. We get to use the Injustice Gang, which appeared only for a few episodes during the Justice League animated series (before they splintered off into various team combinations). And a chance for me to bring in one of my favorite classic villains from the original Batman: The Animated Series to play a key part.

For the Fires of Apokolips, Darkseid is using Etrigan The Demon (against his host Jason Blood’s wishes) to help reignite the planetary core of Apokolips. But in doing so, might cause a meltdown that can destroy the universe. So the League boom tubes off to Apokolips to stop this from happening and save their friend.

Q: How did you get involved with the “Justice League” books? Were you contacted about the concept or was it something you were behind from the beginning?

A: I’ve been a huge fan of all the DC animated shows that sprung out of Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the animated chapter books that Capstone has put out. So I’ve been in contact with them over the years about my interest in working on some. Things finally aligned that they asked me to take part.

When I was approached, they had a few titles to pick from. Being a huge Jack Kirby fan, I was immediately drawn to a Darkseid title, and getting a chance to sprinkle in a few of Kirby’s creations from his years at DC. And the Injustice Gang seemed like fun, being able to play off so many different villain personalities. Aside from the villains set up for both books, I was free to pitch the story concepts themselves, which was an added treat. I think I only pitched one idea for each book and both got accepted.

Q: As these are illustrated books, how closely did you communicate with artists Tim Levins during the project? Was it a collaborative effort?

A: I was pleasantly surprised to find Tim would be illustrating these. I already knew of him from his comics run on Batman: Gotham Adventures. So I reached out initially to him just to chat, and he would share layouts and pencils as he worked through the process. Aside from maybe suggesting scenes or characters to draw in, Tim did what he does best in making the art very dynamic in that animated style.

Q: Writing a book like this compared to writing a comic book story? Is it basically the same procedure from your perspective, just a different publishing method?

A: I think in both cases, you’re trying to find the best way to tell the story and find the structure to achieve it. I think in comics and most stories in general, it can be a 3-act structure. But writing for these type of book manuscripts, it’s setup almost like a 5-act structure (since we’re telling a story in 5 chapters). With that in mind, it’s just a matter of breaking things down by chapter, with different scenes and locations, and having enough space to wrap things up by the end of it. And fewer drawings than in comics, of course.

Q: How long did it take you to write each book? What was the process?

A: I imagine it was probably 1 to 2 months. As part of each pitch, instead of just a short paragraph idea, I wrote each outline explaining what would go on in each chapter (including ideas for scenes that could be drawn). Once I have that outline to refer to, then it’s just a matter of sitting down and fleshing out each chapter. And also finding the voices to each character. With something like the Justice League, who have had many animated episodes, it’s a nice refresher to go back and watch the show to get back in that mindset hearing the actors and inspiring the overall approach. I’d be watching those shows again anyways even if I didn’t get the call to work on these! I tried to treat each of these stories almost like lost episodes in a way, written as much for the fans of those shows as well as the casual and new young reader being introduced to these heroes for the first time.

Q: More of these Justice League books are set to be released in 2018, are you writing any of those?

A: I have one more scheduled I recently completed, featuring an appearance by Earth’s Mightiest Mortal. I’m hoping to have the opportunity to do more in the future, as these have been a blast to write.

Q: Are there any other Superman or Justice League projects you’re working on at the moment you can let us know about?

A: While slightly different than comics, I’m continuing to write DC’s Secret Hero Society series through SCHOLASTIC, with a blend of prose writing, scrapbook artifacts, and sequential pages. For those unfamiliar, it’s a young reader middle grade series with our famous trinity of heroes in school (Clark, Bruce, and Diana), and the trouble they get into with other super powered characters their age. The first two books are out now, and the third book will be out by the end of this year.

The Superman Homepage would like to thank Derek for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat to us.