During San Diego Comic Con, three DC Icon authors — Leigh Bardugo (Wonder Woman: War Bringer), Marie Lu (Batman: Nightwalker), and Matt de la Peña (the upcoming Superman novel), with moderator Maryelizabeth Yturralde, — spoke about their work and their love of the characters.
In a joking manner, Maryelizabeth asked Marie Lu about Nightwing making an appearance in the books and she responded with, “That would have been the first thing I would have wanted to add, but he would have been a baby, when Bruce was 18.” To which Leigh added, “That’s a very sitcom-y version of Batman when he’s, like, a teenager with a little baby Nightwing to take care of, ‘you’re going to grow up to brood just like daddy.'”
With that as the starting point, the questions officially began:
What connects you with these characters? What brought you to do these works and how does it feel to write about them at that stage in their lives, which is when they are teens?
Matt de la Peña: So I got to do Superman and, when I was first presented the idea it was kind of overwhelming because you feel like ‘wow you have that imposter syndrome, how can I add to this iconic character?’ But then you start to think about what you do in your other work and how you can apply it to the superhero, and for me, you know one of the most interesting things happening right now is the conversations centering around immigration, and I was like ‘wow, Superman, the ultimate immigrant’ so, that kind of informed what I can do with the character. And of course we’re writing YA novels, and we’ve been doing this for a while, so we bring the things we’ve been doing in our other work to the superhero, coming of age story, part of their character. It’s been a kind of crazy, overwhelming experience for me.
Leigh Bardugo: The way I found out about it was, my agent got this very vague email from Random House that was like ‘We’re doing a thing with some DC characters, would Leigh be interested?’ and I was like ‘If it’s Wonder Woman yes, if anybody else no’ and I think that’s because a lot of kids grew up on Wonder Woman, really more, less the comics and Super Friends, and Linda Carter and making construction paper bracelets and twirling around in my driveway and, I did actually read a lot of comics and it wasn’t until I hit puberty that I stopped being interested in the comics that I had been reading and I moved away from superheroes, and over to things like Dark Horse and Vertigo, and I think it’s because I got boobs and was like ‘gravity don’t work that way’ and I was like ‘I don’t understand that bustier, I have enough trouble going to the beach without putting a t-shirt on’. So I think for me, my experience with Wonder Woman was loving her, falling out of love with her and then falling back in love with her as an adult and beginning to understand really what she represents, and falling in love with the new different kinds of representations and coming back to her through Rucka and not his most recent run, and, I never pronounce this word right, Hecatiya? Hecataya? Anyway, so she means a lot to me, she means a lot to lot of people and I think it’s because she’s not just strong, she’s kind, and we live in a world that could use a little more compassion, with all that strength, so it was a real pleasure to write her.’
Marie Lu: I think Batman was the very first superhero that I knew anything I knew anything about. My first exposure to him was through Batman the Animated Series, which I liked watching to the ground as a kid, and he wasn’t just the first superhero I knew, he was the first nuanced character I kind of was introduced to, this character that was of, being tempted to the dark side, you could totally see that happening, and I’ve always been drawn to that grey area of characters, and like Matt was saying, we try to bring what we have in our own work to these characters, and I thought that would be a really interesting and fun challenge to do with Batman. I remember when my agent first emailed me about this project, I didn’t even read the attachment that came with it, because that actually had the actual superheroes you could choose from, and I was like ‘Yes! what are we doing?’ she was like ‘read the attachment’. So it’s been a privilege and an honor to be able to explore this area of Bruce’s life that is kind of a black hole. We don’t know anything about Bruce as a teenager. So it’s been interesting to explore.’ …
To continue the panel, you can watch the complete Panel on the Penguin Random House channel below