Interview: Jeremy Whitley Brings Rainbow Brite to Comics
We live in a time where nothing is forgotten. Your favorite TV show, with enough fans, gets a remake or a reunion. The movie charts are topped with sequels and decades-long-running franchises. And just about anything can be a comic.
Coming soon from Dynamite is a property relaunch I never could have envisioned. Rainbow Brite #1 will be in comic shops the first week in October. It’s written by Jeremy Whitley (Unstoppable Wasp, Princeless) and illustrated by Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!, Goldie Vance).
I was surprised at that choice for a rescue — my first thought was “really?” — but when I mentioned it to several younger women, turns out they were enthusiastic fans of the Hallmark-owned character who first launched in 1983.
Writer Jeremy Whitley was kind enough to talk to me about the project, letting me in on why Rainbow Brite is fondly remembered and how he’ll be portraying her for a new generation of all-ages readers. I appreciated his willingness to put up with my lack of knowledge about the original character, and his energy about the series is encouraging.
What are you doing to make this more than an attempt to cash in on a nearly forgotten greeting card mascot?
This is a project being driven by people both inside and outside of Hallmark who are big fans of the property and to whom it has meant a lot in their lifetime. I think if the reaction to this announcement has taught me anything, it’s that Rainbow Brite is far from nearly forgotten. We’re taking the stuff we love from the original (if short-lived) show and bringing them out of a context where we need to introduce a new toy every episode and into a storytelling world where we have time to build great characters and a strong and diverse world around them.
What are the core elements of the character?
Rainbow Brite comes from a heroic school of thought that is akin to Wonder Woman or Sailor Moon. Rainbow Brite and her friends represent color, diversity, and emotion that is so often left out of the worlds of the musclebound and extreme counterparts. Rainbow Brite is a hero, but a hero who is compassionate and caring rather than just a hero who punches things real good. Forces of evil and shadow may be strong, but that doesn’t mean we have to become what they are to win.
Also, Rainbow Brite is a very early version of what will later become the magical girl genre. Her first cartoon had a pretty strong influence on girl heroes that have come since then.
What are you taking from the previous animated series and film, if anything?
We’re setting the story very much in the same world with a Rainbow Brite who is strongly inspired by the original show. However, while the original series Rainbow Brite sort of showed of fully-formed and over-powered, we’re going to get a little more of a sense of how she came to be Rainbow Brite.
What’s with the squishy puffball friend?
He’s a sprite and his name is Twinkle. And, yes, he’ll be making a comeback. The sprites are a big part of what makes Rainbow Brite Rainbow Brite. We’re not looking to change what people loved about the original, just reframe it a bit as a version of Rainbow Brite that we hope readers in 2018 will love.
Who’s your target audience, and what do you hope they get from the comic?
We’re aiming this book for middle grades and a bit younger, but our true aim is to give this the same kind of audience as the best animated movies. We want Rainbow Brite to be a comic parents can read to their kids without dreading it. Honestly, it’s much the same aim I had for my creator-owned series, Princeless, when that first started. We want the original fans of Rainbow Brite to have something they can love and recognize and still share with the kids in their life. We also want something that kids will see at the comic shop or book fair and dive in and fall in love all on their own.
How is it working with Brittney Williams? How much input does she have into the series?
I’ve loved Brittney’s work in the past! I read Goldie Vance with my daughter each time it came out. I’m a big fan. So it was a joy to find out that Brittney would be working on this story with me. Hallmark and Dynamite are doing their best to give us the room to make something really fun and new here, so I want to pass as much of that on to Brittney as I can. I’ve tried to give her the room to make things fun and unique, and she is doing an amazing job so far. I couldn’t be more excited with the designs and pages that I’ve seen so far.
The same holds true for Paulina Ganucheau, who is doing the covers. I’ve loved her work and I’m thrilled every time a new cover comes in. I couldn’t be happier with the team we’ve put together here.
What does Rainbow Brite have to say to today’s audience, who may be tired of branding everywhere they look?
That even if the darkest and most divisive times, things aren’t just black and white. They come in a variety of beautiful colors, and those colors are what makes life worth the living. No matter how deep the shadows get, the best way to fight them back is with truth, empathy, and kindness.
What else do you want prospective customers to know?
We’re in this for the long haul. We want to build a world and a story that our readers will love and will want to keep coming back to.
Rainbow Brite #1 can be ordered from your local comic shop now with Diamond codes AUG18 1154 (first cover, by Paulina Ganucheau), AUG18 1155 (second cover, by Tony Fleecs), or AUG18 1156 (third, “classic” cover).