Monday, January 9, 2012

"The Wonder Of It All" editorial by George Pérez (1986)

From the inside front cover of Wonder Woman #1 (February, 1987):

It's a long way from Titans' Tower to Paradise Island. I'm sure there are some readers out there who are surprised to find me here. After all, I've had stints on some very successful series such as The New Teen Titans and Crisis On Infinite Earths (both with my friend and long­time partner, Marv Wolfman). What could have possessed me to take on the assignment of revitalizing one of DCs oldest established characters, espe­cially one whose past sales record had not set the industry on fire? Why such a gamble?

Blame John Byrne.

It was the fall of 1985 as I gleefully stalked into DC Comics' offices at 666 Fifth Avenue. Crisis was done, finished. Finally, I was free of the monthly grind. One-shot stories, graphic novels, posters—yep, that was it for me for the next five years. But then I heard the talk. The talk of big things happening. Of new beginnings. John Byrne had been commissioned to revamp and revitalize Super­man. Frank Miller's Dark Knight was inspiring the company to consider new directions on Batman.

And of course, I knew that Wonder Woman was also scheduled for an overhaul. After all, Marv and I had "de-evolved" her in the last issue of Crisis. I had initially been asked to take over the new Wonder Woman. After all, I had expressed interest in doing a story with the Amazon Princess before her original book's demise, but now my schedule wouldn't allow it.
I walked into editor Janice Race's office to find out about the future of Diana Prince. I was curious to learn who was going to draw her. Superman had Byrne and Ordway. Batman had Miller and Davis (and later Mazzucchelli). Wonder Woman had...

No one.

A writer, Greg Potter, had been selected but no established artist wanted to handle the new series. After exhaustive searches, it seemed that Wonder Woman would have to be assigned to an unknown. Now, while that may have proven successful, it wouldn't give the book the clout and hopeful fan interest that established names seem to bring, and Wonder Woman needed all the help she could get.

I thought of John Byrne—and of Superman. What a great coup for DC. A top talent and fan-fave on their premier character.

As Janice's eyes looked straight at me, an uncon­trollable force rushed from my gut and up through my throat. It forced tongue, lips and vocal chords to act in dramatic unison. "Janice," I heard myself say, "What if I took on Wonder Woman for the first six months— just to get her out of the starting gate?"

I had never been kissed by an editor before. I guess I should thank John Byrne for that, too.

Little did I realize what a chain reaction would follow. Suddenly, there was no stopping that mouth of mine. Ideas spilled forth like a bursting dam. Other creative people got caught in the enthusiasm and volunteered ideas and opinions. There was a divine madness stirring, and at the center of it all was Wonder Woman. After over forty years, the Princess of Paradise Island was finally getting people enthused.

Changes started coming fast and furious. Suddenly, a temporary six-month stay became an unlimited com­mitment. Janice Race left for other endeavors and Karen Berger took over the editing chores. It was thought a woman's input was vital for the success of the series featuring comicdom's most well-known heroine, and Karen being one of the most creative and respected editors around didn't hurt matters any (check out Swamp Thing, The Legion of Super Heroes, and Blue Beetle just to name a few of her titles).

The turning point, however, really came when Karen, Greg and I agreed that what made Wonder Woman unique was both her feminism and the Ama­zon legends with their roots in Greek Mythology. This mythical and mystical angle definitely made Diana something other than a "female Superman."

A lot of research went into this first issue, and my bookshelves are full of reference material on mythol­ogy, Greek hairstyles, armor, clothing and even atti­tudes of the time. Some compromises were made where different references contradicted each other, but no decision was made without thought. We all have fallen in love with this project and want everyone to share in our excitement.

We would also like to take the time to thank everyone who has been so supportive and helpful in getting this book off the ground. Special thanks to P. John Palmer, for research material and insight into the Amazon myth; to Gloria Steinem and Jenette Kahn for a feminist perspective that helped direct this series; to Marv Wolfman, for his support, friendship and getting me hooked on Greek mythology in the first place; and to Michael Margo for the invaluable loan of his encyclo­pedia. And, of course, to John Byrne.

Upcoming issues will deal further with the his­tory of Paradise Island and of Diana herself. Who is this Diana the Princess was named after? Where did the gun come from? Why does Diana's costume resemble an American flag? For the answers to these and other questions, keep your eyes peeled every 30 days for the next installment of the New Wonder Woman.

Next issue: Steve Trevor as you have never seen him before...The search for Ares begins... And, believe it or not, Etta Candy, too.


Anonymous said...

That was quite an article, printed back then; but then in those days writers and editors actually cared about their characters. Its a pity the same level of attention cant be given to todays comic-books.
Incidentally, please may I ask that we all continue the ban on the Wonder Woman forum on CBR until the highly offensive people who post on there have been removed; it may interest some that a certain poster banned over a year ago now re-posts under the name 'lynda carter' and is particularly odious. Another one is 'Tangentman' who regularly posts vile threads, ably assisted by his bitch queen aegisbearer.

Diabolu Frank said...

I gave up message boards years ago, less because of the lack of civility and more the sense of constantly banging my head against a wall of willful ignorance and bad taste. I'd rather blog my thoughts and discuss from there in a more humble but comfortable environment.