IDW’s Jem And The Holograms is one of the strongest licensed comics currently on stands (it was one of The A.V. Club’s Best Comics of 2015), and the success of the main series has inspired IDW to expand its Jem line with The Misfits, a new spin-off spotlighting Jem And The Holograms’ main musical rivals. Writer Kelly Thompson has done exceptional work building up The Misfits’ individual members in the ongoing Jem comic, and she’ll continue to explore those characters in the new series, working with newcomer Jenn St-Onge on art duties.
When asked why The Misfits are breaking out on their own, Thompson told The A.V. Club, “Well, the obvious joke is that ‘their songs are better,’ and I love an obvious joke, so let’s make it! More seriously, it’s the perfect time for The Misfits to get their own series as they’re in a really rich place from a character and plotting perspective right now in the regular Jem book. With the introduction of The Stingers into the IDW Jem universe, we have more antagonists/protagonists than ever and in order for everyone to get some good page time, we just need more pages! This will give The Stingers time to shine in the main Jem book, without cutting The Misfits off at the knees.”
Thompson wants the tone of the two Jem-verse series to be similar, but the nature of The Misfits, their music, and their relationships brings more intensity to their story. “We want the books to feel like they go together,” says Thompson, “but there’s no denying that The Misfits give off a very different vibe than The Holograms. The Misfits are more dramatic and antagonistic, but they also don’t have sci-fi shenanigans happening right and left. One of the exciting things that I hope we’re going to get to feature a little bit in the new series, is how exactly The Misfits came together. Origin stories can be tiresome and over-explored in comics, but I think The Misfits are an exception as—apart from Blaze’s introduction to the group—it’s a subject that we’ve never seen tackled, even in the original show. And while The Holograms, as sisters, have a sort of beautiful and simple story of how they came together as a band, it’s safe to say The Misfits coming together is tinged with a lot more drama.”
Even with this influx of drama, Thompson is making sure The Misfits remains all-ages friendly. Thompson’s ability to craft emotionally complex stories while still engaging a younger audience is a big part of Jem’s charm, and the differences between The Holograms and The Misfits allow Thompson to explore new emotional territory. “The Misfits are a little bit darker and naughtier, more mean-spirited and cutthroat and they don’t have the same kind of family ties that the Holograms do to keep them together,” said Thompson, “but in some ways that makes them gutting it out and staying together all the more interesting. You sometimes wonder why they bother to stay together, but then they’ll show you something kind of unexpected and beautiful and you remember that these women really are misfits that found one another. People that manage that aren’t likely to let it go easily. They’ll fight to keep it. And despite their many differences that’s something all of The Misfits have in common—they are all fighters!”
Artist Jenn St-Onge has been anxiously awaiting her shot at IDW’s Jem comics. After binging on the Jem cartoon when it appeared on Netflix, she began creating her own reimagined version of the Jem concept, taking the ideas of the show and putting them in a more cohesive story. This took place right around the time IDW announced that it was basically doing the same thing for its new Jem comic, and after a couple years, St-Onge is getting her opportunity to put her stamp on this world.
“Jenn did some test pages for us and just really blew us away,” said Thompson. “She’s extremely strong when it comes to diverse body types and great expression work, which can be surprisingly hard to find in comics artists with any consistency, and is a really high priority for us on both Jem And The Holograms and on The Misfits. Jenn is also very strong when it comes to just basic storytelling—she moves the camera well and has good instincts. She’s also no slouch when it comes to fashion and hair, which is very important to us. I think everyone is going to be really impressed with what Jenn brings to the table.”
The Jem artists (Sophie Campbell, Emma Viecelli, Jen Bartel) have all made fashion design a top priority, and St-Onge has a deep understanding of the personal aesthetics that The Misfits have developed over time. “Sophie Campbell did an amazing job with pulling design elements for The Misfits from the show into the comic and, although the band feels cohesive together, each member definitely has their own style,” said St-Onge. “Pizzazz is lots of ripped black clothes with various animal prints and neons bright enough to burn out your retinas, Stormer is very psychobilly pin-up/vintage, Jetta is punk-y mod with minimalist black and whites, and while Roxy is probably the hardest for me to pin down, I’m leaning toward kinda goth workout vibes for her (because let’s be real, she looks super fit). I think fashion is a great opportunity to create wardrobes for each girl that helps flesh out their character within the context of the story and I am so pumped to do it!”
St-Onge is excited about the entire Misfits crew, but there’s one character that she’s most enthusiastic about. “I looooooove Pizzazz in the comics,” said St-Onge. “She is so ridiculous and over the top, and stands out as probably being my favorite single character in the comics because this interpretation so perfectly modernizes what made Pizzazz the best rival in the first place while also giving her some more vulnerable moments. Not gonna lie, I also love that her hair is just whatever length and style at any point in time, no matter what it looked like in the last scene, because having the choice to switch between long and short styles with no consequences on my part is amazing!”
Readers intrigued by the prospect of learning more about Jem And The Holograms’ rivals, or just want to read a fun story about women musicians by a creative team of women, can find The Misfits #1 in print and digitally on December 21, but in the meantime, here’s an exclusive first look at the covers of the debut issue.