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Fan Expo Interviews: Meredith and David Finch

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  David and Meredith Finch have had a pretty exciting year go by, having worked on some big names in the industry as well as some less heralded endeavors that were pretty awesome as well.  We got a chance to talk with them about their past year and what to expect in Toronto

finch002Graphic Policy:  You two have had a pretty busy year, between taking over the creative control of Wonder Woman, working on parts of the Darkseid War, and some indie successes with Zenescope’s Little Mermaid.  What were your own highlights?

Meredith Finch:  November 2014 saw our first issue of Wonder Woman hit the stands.  I have to say that was a highlight for me.  We worked so hard on the book for so many months beforehand, it was nice to finally see that come to fruition.

David Finch:  I just worry about putting out the best work I can, and I’ve been very lucky this year to start working with Jonathan Glapion, and Brad Anderson.  They’ve taken my work to another level.  I’ve had the chance to control the panel flow and pacing with Wonder Woman, and that’s been very gratifying.

GP:  On the subject of the Little Mermaid, fairy tales have become a pretty big genre in comics in recent years, but why haven’t they made their way into the mainstream superhero comics yet?

MF:  I think that we don’t see more traditional fairy tale characters in mainstream superhero comics because a superhero comic is, in and of itself, a fantasy.  Our ancestors told fairytales to explain things that were seemingly magical or to provide a moral foundation for childhood behavior.  We use mainstream superhero comics in much the same way.   So I guess I would consider superhero comics much more a modern day extension of fairytales rather than something that excludes them.

finch003GP:  The Darkseid War is a pretty big deal for the Justice League, but its scope is also a lot different, focusing on epic moves.  Do you prefer this kind of epic approach, or something more like Wonder Woman which focuses more on one character and her own character development?

MF:  I love that there is a place for both to exist in the industry.  I think that it’s obvious based on what we are doing how much I love developing a character.  Perhaps as I get more experienced I’d be more inclined to take on a more epic project like Darkseid War, but there aren’t many people out there who can bring to the table the storytelling finesse of Geoff Johns.

DF:  I go back and forth on this one.  I really enjoy single character books because I can really explore and get to know them, but the big expansive books are a blast too.  I have a tough time getting bored when I’ve got lots of varied things to draw, and crossovers are great that way.

GP:  You were recently involved in a costume redesign for Wonder Woman, but costume redesigns for characters are often not well received by the fans.  Why do you think that this is?  And what did you do to counteract it?

MF:  Comics used to be a very new and innovative artistic medium.  I feel like today it is much harder to overcome the sense of nostalgia that is attached to characters and the costumes they have been wearing for decades.

DF:  The costume was very well received from what I saw.  I don’t worry about counteracting negativity.  I especially enjoy working with writers that are fearless in the face of that stuff.  Trying to make everyone happy is a great way to put out boring books.  

finch004GP:  Wonder Woman and the Little Mermaid are interesting in that they have so much pre-established history in terms of what is known about them.  How do you approach beloved characters like this to put your own spin on them?  Do you research them a lot?

MF:  I do as much research as I feel is necessary to understand who and what the characters mean to me.  I definitely was heavily influenced by Disney’s Little Mermaid character.  I love that movie.  But I also wanted to be true to Zenescope’s vision of who and what the character was.  It helped that their Little Mermaid has a monster lurking inside of her.  With Wonder Woman I mainly focused on Brian and Cliff’s run.  They really defined who and what the character was for the new 52 and I let that be my major influence.

GP:  On the same topic, how do you approach characters that are based in a different era, as both the Little Mermaid and Wonder Woman have elements in their background which could seem to be almost anachronistic in the modern day?

MF:  I really try to keep my focus for my story primarily on the women themselves.  Everything else is just a tool to be used as necessary to me.  I do however, think that the fact that both characters have anachronistic elements to their story is part of what I find so appealing.  It helps with the whole fish out of water feeling that we all can relate to.

DF:  Great concepts are timeless, and I think both characters have that going for them.  Then the trick is focusing on the elements of the concept that relate to our times.  

finch005GP:  Do you think that there is a shift underway in the presentation of female comic characters?

MF:  I think you would have to have your head under a rock these days to not be aware of the major shifts that are happening today in comics as they relate to female characters and the creators behind them.  Woman represent almost 50% of the industry now and they are definitely demanding equal representation in the medium.

DF:  Absolutely.  Women are embracing comics in greater numbers lately, both as readers, and as creators.   That’s having a big impact on female character portrayal across the board.

GP:  Do you ever find yourself liking a particular character more after being exposed to them?

MF:  As a writer… absolutely.  The more I have time to delve into a character and what makes them tick, the better I get to know them, the more attached I become.  Right now, Wonder Woman and her cast feel almost as much like family as my real kids.  I love having the opportunity to shape who and what they will become.

DF:  The better written the character, the more engaged I am with them.  That just makes sense, I guess.  I do find it can take me a while to understand what I character is about, but once I do, I’m rolling.

GP:  What are you looking forward to at FanExpo 2015?

MF:  Canadian fans are the best.  I can say that because I’m Canadian.  There is such a great energy to the Toronto show.  The only shows that come close to that type of energy are San Diego and NYCC.  See you soon Toronto!

DF:  I’m looking forward to the fans.  That sounds like a pr kind of answer, I know, but Toronto has a great core of comic fans, and I see lots of familiar faces every year.  

Review: Little Mermaid #4

gftlm004The direction in which Zenescope has pushed some of its fairy tale characters has been hard to comprehend.  Some of its characters have had a fairly faithful adaptation to the modern day, while others have struggled to find justification for their association to their namesakes.  Although there are worse cases in Grimm Fairy Tales (such as Cindy), the Little Mermaid has mostly been depicted as neither good nor evil.  She was originally introduced early on in Grimm Fairy Tales but then was ignored until the company went with its bigger picture approach into universe building.  She reappeared in the Myths and Legends story line, but once again she was neither good nor evil, instead acting as an agent of the Sea Witch against her will.

The new series has seemingly tried to redeem that.  Although the direction to be taken with her character is not yet clear, it is evident that it will be somewhat different from what has come before.  Instead of a blank slate for a background, she has been established as somewhat closer to the fairy tale, with royal lineage from those that live below the seas.  It is this background which gives her past a more heroic outlook, even if she is been used for evil in the present time.  As this issue progresses her past and her present come together as she is still held in the research facility designed to create an army.

This is not an entirely fresh take on the Little Mermaid fairy tale, but it does give some new to go with the old.  While some parts of this come off looking as though they were taken straight out of an Aquaman issue, there are other parts which attempt to frame the idea of a mermaid as something a little different.  Evidently Zenescope wants another main hero to include in its ensemble, and for that it cannot really be faulted, as its treatment of female heroes is generally pretty good compared to the industry standard, and as there are not really enough female characters out there.  This ends up being somewhere in between of some of the better stuff that Zenescope puts out as compared to its confusing main series.  It is not necessarily memorable, but still worth a look.

Story: Meredith Finch  Art: Miguel Medonca
Story:  7.7 Art: 7.7  Overall: 7.7  Recommendation: Read

Review: The Little Mermaid #2

gftlittlemermaid002The first issue of the Little Mermaid introduced an interesting element, that of mixing a bit of science fiction into that of mermaids.  As supernatural creatures, mermaids tend to get lumped together more with magic than they do with science, and so using the science experiments on the main character as a plot device was an interesting direction to take such a story.  An interesting concept by itself can’t determine the quality of a story, as it has to be well executed, but while this concept is still here in this issue, it focuses on a different concept altogether.

One of the hallmarks of Grimm Fairy Tales is to gender swap main characters from famous stories from male to female and to thus give the characters a different voice and perspective.  They have done it with the Jungle Book with Mowgli and they have done it with the legend of Robin Hood.  The concept behind this story is the reverse of this usual trend.  Instead of a gender switch from male to female, it is the opposite, as Erica’s father, a merman prince, yearns to be reunited with the human girl that he saved and for any price.  This is of course, with a few changes, the classic tale of the Little Mermaid, only played out here by the Little Mermaid’s father.  Meanwhile the plot still focuses on what is happening with Erica and those that keep her captive.

While the quality of storytelling is still strong enough here, it doesn’t really capitalize on the concept that was introduced in the first issue.  Instead it goes after the lowest hanging fruit of any mermaid story, which is to associate immediately with Atlantis.  While this is handled in an interesting way, it is a little bit of a letdown compared to the first issue.  The story is still heading in an interesting direction, it is only for the creative team to capitalize on the potential that they have already created for themselves.

Story: Meredith Finch  Art: Miguel Medonca
Story:  7.7 Art: 7.7  Overall: 7.7  Recommendation: Read

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