Both Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau are relatively new to the medium of comics, but with a bit of experience under their belt, they are both ready to make their mark with the new series from Dark Horse, Zodiac Starforce. The series features a group of teenage girls who have magical powers but also a devotion to an ideal. We got a chance to talk with about the creators about the new series and what their inspirations were.
Graphic Policy: Can you talk about some of your inspirations for the series?
Kevin Panetta: Zodiac Starforce is definitely a melding of influences from both me and Paulina. I love ensemble teams and high school stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Paulina is a magical girl fanatic.
Paulina Ganucheau: I love team books. And while I’m a big Buffy fan too, a huge influence was obviously Sailor Moon. But you don’t even really need to say that when you mention magical girls. She’s THE magical girl.
GP: As is evident from the name, Zodiac Starforce involves both a sci-fi and a supernatural element, two inspirations that often clash with one another. Why did you choose to incorporate both into this series?
KP: The more sci-fi/cosmic elements of the story are heavily focused on mythology, so it all sort of just worked together to create big supernatural/fantasy universe.
GP: An all-female superhero team is still enough of a rarity in comics, but there are also some changes underway in the medium, with more focus on more realistic female heroes. What do you make of the recent changes?
PG: I think all the changes in creating more female lead comics is incredible and I hope they just keep on changing. Actually, I KNOW they will keep on changing. There’s too many female lead books being created by amazing teams that are on top right now for it to go back. Spider Gwen, Squirrel Girl, Batgirl, Ms. Marvel, Black Canary, Jem and the Holograms, Bombshells… Sorry I could just keep going. There’s so many great new books.
That having been said, some might say that while the representations of female characters has improved that there are still some changes to be made.
GP: What changes do you think need to be done that female heroes can be both likable and more realistic?
KP: I’m not actually sure that realistic women characters need to be likeable. I think every character has flaws and that’s usually the thing that makes them interesting. This has been true of male heroes in comics forever, so I don’t see why women characters should be treated any differently, in that respect. Basically, write PEOPLE not GENDERS.
GP: Team books often use the dynamic of needing to get the core back together as a story element. You use the same idea here, although somewhat differently, but why do you think that there is such an appeal to “original teams”
KP: There is an appeal to a group of characters that have been through a lot together. Even though we don’t explicitly show it in this story, just knowing that these characters have a shared history makes their relationships more complex.
GP: Can you talk a bit about the characters themselves? Each seems to be from a somewhat different social circle, yet they are evidently also adept at working together. Why did you choose these backgrounds for the characters?
KP: When the story starts, the girls are all in different places and aren’t really friends anymore. A lot has changed for them since the last time they were heroes and because of that they’ve drifted apart. They were still a team once, though, so the old connection they have to each other is still there, which is why they can still work together so well when they need to.
GP: Do any of the characters stand out to you?
PG: They’re all pretty unique to me. If I wasn’t involved with the book I would probably be a hardcore fan because of this great group of characters. I have a big connection with Emma though. She’s a lot like me and I really identify with her.
KP: I’ve been a very vocal Kim supporter from the very beginning. She’s so stubborn and she has a cool denim jacket and good hair. They all have really good hair. Zodiac Starforce is a comic full of good hair.
GP: Can you give us a bit of an idea where the series is heading?
KP: All I can say is that the universe of Zodiac Starforce is a lot bigger than these four girls. I’m really excited for what the future holds!