Q&A WITH CHARLIE'S ANGELS / BIONIC WOMAN WRITER CAMERON DEORDIO & ARTIST SOO LEE
Hey, thanks so much for taking the time out to give us a peek behind the curtain at the new Bionic title from Dynamite comics…
1. What’s your background?
Soo – I essentially started my career drawing kid’s comics but I worked on a short YA series called Fight Like a Girl around 2014 and thanks to that, I soon after started working with various publishers on mini-series and drawing covers for Chapterhouse, Boom!, Image, Aftershock and now Dynamite.
Cameron – I grew up just outside of Syracuse, New York, smack dab in the middle of the state. When I was a kid, my dad ran a jackhammer for the Syracuse Water Department and my mom was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. They worked hard in good union jobs, and that gave me a huge leg up in terms of stability and making it possible for me to go to university and pursue writing. I grew up in what was basically a suburb, but in a rural school district. I went to a public school where I graduated in a class of 67 kids and played baseball next to a cow field surrounded by an electric fence
2. How did you get into the industry?
Soo – I was active on a lot of online communities, trying to grow my freelance reputation while tuning and developing my skill. I collaborated with a lot of different people and took gigs anywhere I can get them. After my debut on Fight Like a Girl, I had worked more titles such as Strange Attractors and then the rebooted horror series, Fantomah.
Cameron – When I was going for my fiction writing MFA, I took comic book writing classes taught by Scott Snyder, workshopping alongside Marguerite Bennett, who quickly became a very close friend. In early 2016, Marguerite asked me if I could help her with a book, and I figured she just wanted to run some ideas past me, as we’d done for each other with our writing before. But she wanted me to cowrite with her! We ended up working on Josie and the Pussycats together, and I was as surprised as I was thankful to be a part of that team. I took over a majority of the writing duties starting with Issue 6 of that series, and I’ve kept at it, writing for several anthologies, self- publishing a short comic, and now, I’m very excited to say, working on this new series.
3. Who are your influences in the comic world?
Soo – This is a hard question to answer because there are so many creators I really look up to! I have the infamous “Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work” taped above my drawing table, and that’s my permanent guideline so he’s definitely one of my most influential. But some of the creators who really move me with their storytelling would be: Katsuhiro Otomo, Frank Quitely, Jean Giraud Moebius, David Mazzuchelli, and Joe Kubert. They tell the kind of stories I want to tell, in a way I one day dream of telling. It’s a pretty generic answer and they’re on a lot of people’s list but it’s because they really are masters of the art.
Cameron – There are tons, but the two that are jumping to mind for me right now are Alan Moore and Steve Bissette’s Swamp Thing and Steve Gerber’s run on Man-Thing.
Original art by Soo Lee. Left, Death and Right, Batgirl.
4. What career path do you think you would have followed if you hadn’t become an artist/writer?
Soo – It’s really funny to think about now. I took classes in SVA and when I first applied, I was denied. I almost gave up and was going to try my hand at becoming a Mortician or study Forensic Pathology! That also didn’t pan out though because Tom Hart, a former professor at SVA came in for a workshop in my High School at the time and got me an opening to try again. So I got in and here I am drawing, I guess it was destiny!
Cameron – I’d like to think I could be a carpenter. I have an uncle who does that, and I was always pretty good at woodwork and DDP (design and drawing for production). Doing work with my hands is relaxing, but I don’t do it enough these days.
5. What does a regular working day look like for you?
Soo – On a typical freelance work day, I have a pretty strict routine. It’s really just working from sun up to sun down, and even after then. I’ll spend one day on layouts and work on all the pencils the following weeks and then ink all the pages last. I’ll usually turn on a show or movie for background noise and drink a belligerent amount of coffee. It’s probably not the healthiest way to work but I really enjoy it because I get into the zone easier.
Cameron – There are some days I work what’s basically a shift as a content specialist for a technology-centric public relations firm. Often I’ll do that from the morning until the late afternoon, either in the agency’s office or from my apartment, and then in the evening I’ll work on any scripts I owe, or pitches I’m working on, or other writing. The other days of the week, I’ll be up and either reading or writing by 8:30 or 9 a.m., and I aim to keep that up throughout the day until 5 or 6 in the evening, with some breaks. If I get a little overzealous with the breaks, I end up writing a little later so I don’t feel guilty.
6. How did you get the assignment for the Charlie’s Angels/Bionic Woman book?
Soo – I received an email out of the blue from Matt Idelson our editor, and It wasn’t until later that I found out that Cameron had actually asked for me by name. Cameron and I were previously acquaintances before that.
Cameron – It really is a great gig. While tabling at C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo), a Dynamite editor stopped by my table, said he liked my work on Josie and gave me his card. He asked if I’d
like to pitch a series at Dynamite, and so we connected, and I pitched – and they ended up going another direction. C’est la vie, right? But luckily, that editor seemingly liked what he saw, even if he didn’t end up giving me that book, so he passed my information along, and another editor reached out to me about Charlie’s Angels/Bionic Woman. I’d inherited a fondness for those properties from my parents – and had my own connections to their early-to-mid 2000s iterations –
so I jumped at the chance to pitch it.
7. Is that typical of how the industry works?
Soo – I think yes and it was also a bit of luck. I was lucky in the sense that I met Cameron through connections and we both became friends and was familiar with each other’s works. I think that’s a fairly common occurrence in this industry.
Cameron – Yes, in my understanding.
8. How familiar were you with the shows/characters when you started on the books? Was there any specific research you did?
Soo – I’m familiar with the original tv series, although it was mostly the first 2 seasons that I remember most. I tried to keep a lot of the fashion similar to the characters and the environment nostalgic to the show. I’ve included elements that fans might recognize. I also really wanted to give a nod to the original comic series by way of storytelling.
Cameron – I was pretty familiar with them conceptually through pop culture osmosis and had caught a handful of episodes of each in syndication. I’d also seen the Charlie’s Angels movies from the 2000s, as well as most of the short-lived Bionic Woman reboot. So the first order of business was to get my hands on the original series and watch them, trying to immerse myself in the worlds, the tone and the characters. I also got a lot of help from The Bionic Wiki, because our story’s central conceit draws a lot more heavily on the Bionic half of the lore, rather than the Angels’. It can be tough keeping these tiny aspects of characters and their backstories straight, so that site was truly a blessing.
9. Any particular challenges for you from Cameron’s script, Soo? Cameron, Any particular challenges for you in terms of characters you could/couldn’t use from the shows, particularly the Bionic Woman universe?
Soo – I don’t think there were any more challenges working with Cameron on this book than there would be on others. It always takes a little time to get used to the writing style when you’re working with a different writer but when I got into the groove, it really clicked for me. Cameron focuses on detail without losing focus of a scene and it’s been really helpful when dealing with more complex scenes.
Cameron – No, they never told me not to use anyone, and they never said “no” to my use of any of the characters. I’m grateful for that!
10. How long did you worked on the book, start to finish?
Soo – Currently, I’m still working on the series. Including the character designs, I’ve been working on CABW since the beginning of the year.
Cameron – Well, there have been significant stops and starts, especially early on as we were lining up the team and such, but if we’re talking from the initial pitch on through to finishing scripting the first arc, that would be just over nine months.
11. Soo, did Cameron have any particular pages/panels that where you really nailed it for him and blew him away? Cameron, any particular pages/scenes where Soo Lee really brought your script to life, beyond what you were expecting?
Soo – Yes, he was very positive about the way certain panels came out! I was worried they wouldn’t translate well but I do work very closely with Cameron to make sure certain scenes were as accurate to the script and that they also visually made sense. I don’t want to say which scenes in particular without spoiling anything for the readers!
Cameron – Soo does great work in every panel, and each issue is better than the last. I can’t wait to see what she does with the issue we’re working on now. Her heavy inks and expressive acting are just so perfect for this story, and she’s an absolute dream to collaborate with. But if I had to pick a favourite, I’d say in Issue 2, there’s a chase scene where she plays with the panelling in some interesting ways that I really love.
12. Was there a decision to capture the likeness of the actors for the books, or more stylised approach?
Soo – It was decided that the characters were to be stylized so I changed up the ladies but I wanted to keep a lot of the other elements of the comic to be recognizable by fans.
Cameron – It’s actually more of a licensing/business thing, so that was out of our hands. I’m a big fan of Soo’s character designs here, which do a great job of capturing the characters’ personalities without stepping on anyone’s likeness rights.
Covers and variants for issue #1 of the new title.
13. Will we see any other of the shows’ regular characters outside of Jaime Sommers and the Angels? I know Bionic fans would love to se like Oscar, Max and Rudy crop up (Obviously no spoilers!)
Soo – I can’t either confirm or deny! You’ll have to stay tuned!
Cameron – I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say I think that those particular Bionic fans will be happy.
14. I’ve enjoyed the 6-page preview that’s been doing the rounds and pleased that the leads haven’t been over sexualised, as could happen with a female-led title. Was there a conscious effort to avoid that given the characters involved?
Soo – These characters are very iconic in their looks and I’ve always appreciated how stylish the women were in the show so I wanted to keep that aesthetic with the art. But drawing these characters as a woman’s perspective, I didn’t feel the need to visually exaggerate them, especially if it doesn’t add anything to the story. I think they stand out enough on their own and I think it’s more of a challenge to keep them tastefully appealing and I hope it translates through my art!
Cameron – I aimed to avoid gratuitous sexualisation, though the temptation was never really there. I know these shows can have a bit of a “cheesecake” reputation, but at the core of it all, these are great characters with interesting dynamics at play, and I think we should respect that. If I’m doing my job, this is a story about competent, unique individuals, their relationships, and their ideals. “Sexiness” is not on the list of priorities – though occasionally a little flirting can help get a job
15. The page lay-out looks very much in your style, Soo, from what I’ve seen of your work. Did you have a lot of leeway with how the book looked, what input did you get from Cameron about what he wanted, or didn’t want?
Soo – I was fortunate to have a team who trusts my vision and style for the story!
Cameron – Soo ran character designs past me (as well as the folks at Dynamite, who I believe also got the sign-off from Sony and NBC/Universal), and I get the chance to weigh in and give notes when she finishes pencils on an issue and again when she finishes inks. Of course, I’m writing how many panels are in a page and the like, and I’ll occasionally include notes like “big panel,” “small panel” or “this panel dominates the page,” but I recognize that when it comes to comics visuals, she is the
expert, not me. We want the book to be as good as it can be, so the vast majority of that decision- making falls to her. Sometimes Soo will have a question about the script, or want to gauge my thoughts on a change or an interesting approach she wants to try, and that’s always a fun, productive discussion.
16. The colour-pallet for the pages doesn’t look like your typical glaring super-hero book. Was that a specific choice?
Soo – Addison and I talked about how we pictured the colors and we both were on the same page and wanted it to have a 70’s tv-show vibe. The muted colors Addison uses I think, gives a very nostalgic feel to the book and really ties everything together beautifully.
Cameron – I can’t speak to Addison Duke’s particular decision-making process, but I think it works great. While this is not a cynical book, there are some grungy things happening in it. On top of that, we
have a conflict between heroes, which is bound to cause some questioning about who is in the right and what it means to be good and do good. Addison’s colour palette keeps the action clear, while
allowing the more muted tones to speak to the themes of the book – as well as the shadowy places in which many of its scenes take place.
17. Okay, if you had to choose, Team-Angels or Team-Jaime?
Soo – Im a little biased because the Angels have always been my favorite but without spoiling anything, I’m starting to really root for Jaime!
Cameron – Very hard to say. They both bring great stuff to the table. The Angels have so much heart, but Jaime is such a great and loyal friend. I think that it’s very likely people will start out rooting for the Angels but really end up warming to Jaime. But we’ll just have to see!
18. Obviously work is work and pays the bills, but do you have a preference for the kind of book you like to work on? Real-life? Superheroes? Fantasy?
Soo – I’ve worked on some of those types of genres already and I wouldn’t ever want to limit myself. I like experimenting and going for different stories because then I learn what I’m comfortable with and what my “bread and butter” ultimately is. I also enjoy challenging myself by trying out different techniques of storytelling and each genre has a different “formula” to follow I think. But if I had to choose, I would love to try my hand at a mystery/thriller story in the future!
Cameron – I have some creator-owned ideas that run the gamut from horror to cyberpunk to high fantasy, and I’m really excited about each of them in different ways. But I will say there’s something extremely, particularly satisfying about being asked to pitch a pre-existing property – like Charlie’s Angels and The Bionic Woman – and dig deep into the background and try to find the thing that hooks me. It’s like solving a puzzle, but in a way that only I can solve it. Maybe it’s the research nerd in me.
19. Have you got one comic title that you’d kill to work on, or are you happy with whatever comes up?
Soo -I mean, working on Charlies Angels/Bionic Woman is a dream in itself so words can’t express how grateful I am to be drawing this series. I don’t want to sound cheesy but I really mean it when I say, I am truly thankful for any title I work on and I’m really grateful to my team on this book who took a chance with me to help make this an awesome comic.
Cameron – I’m grateful for the opportunity to make comics, because I love collaborative storytelling in general and comics in particular. That said, if I ever somehow, some way get the chance to write Spider-Man, I’d lose my voice howling in excitement before I could even respond, and then I’d have to find some other way to say “yes, please.” Also, I’d love to work on something to do with The Twilight Zone, as the original series is incredibly important to me.
20. Have you got convention dates in your diary where people can see you this summer?
Soo – So far, I’ll be at Boston Fan Expo in August 16-18th and that will be following the release of the first 2 issues. Then I’ll be attending New York Comic Con in October! It’ll be an exciting rest of the year and I hope to meet others who share our love of Charlie’s Angels and the Bionic Woman!
Cameron – Unfortunately, I don’t have plans to be at any conventions until New York Comic Con in October. I’m planning to make more convention stops next year, ideally with the first trade paperback of Charlie’s Angels/Bionic Woman in tow!
For more on Soo Lee check out: http://www.sooleedraws.com/ as well as https://www.instagram.com/sooleedraws/
Cameron is at https://www.iamvery.online/ and on FB at https://www.facebook.com/cameron.deordio
Click to follow Soo Lee and Cameron on Twitter
Interview ©Cyborg 2019. Comic art ©Dynamite comics.