"Superman is my number one": My Adventures with Superman showrunner opens up about her love of the Man of Steel and writing Superman's new comic

My Adventures with Superman #1
(Image credit: DC)

My Adventures with Superman is about to enter its second season streaming on Max and airing on Cartoon Network's Toonami, and to bridge the gap with the first season, DC is publishing a tie-in comic written by the showrunner of the animated series, Josie Campbell, with art by Pedro Collar and colorist Nick Filardi, as seen below. 

And having read My Adventures with Superman #1, releasing on June 4, I can confirm that it's just as delightfully humorous, kind, and exciting as the show. I was therefore more than game to speak with showrunner and comic writer Josie Campbell when the opportunity arose.

We get into the comic's larger place in the context of the show, including whether it's required reading before season two, as well as Campbells' larger philosophy for adapting characters from the DC Universe to the animated series. And yes, I even ask the Supergirl question.

Newsarama: Josie, thanks so much for talking to me and congratulations on My Adventures with Superman. It's such a wonderful show. It has totally turned my house into a Superman household.

Josie Campbell: Hey, thanks for watching!

It put my roommate on a massive Superman kick, which I love because I love Superman. And I think it's obvious from the show and the comic that you do too.

Superman is my number one. My first two comics were Superman and Wonder Woman. It was during the Death of Superman arc, so I really came into it hot, and I was like "Oh man, I love Superman!" I love all the 'Reign of the Supermen' characters too. I was just totally enthralled from day one.

(Image credit: DC)

We're talking about the My Adventures with Superman comic today, so I want to ask you, how did the idea to do the comic bridging the gap between seasons one and two come about? How did the whole thing get started?

We had finished season one. And in the week in between seasons, DC reached out to us, and to me specifically cause I've been writing other things for DC, and said that they wanted to do a comic tying into the series, because everybody over on the publishing side are also big fans. 

So they reached out, and I suggested using this story that we tossed around a bit in the writer's room but never really had a place for in season one. But if we wanted to, we could take that story and put it between season one and two, and use that as a bridge. So it's literally right in between.

Season one ends on a Thanksgiving episode. season two starts up in February. So this is sort of the Christmas special we never got to make, now in comic book form, which informs a little of what happens in season two. It doesn't spoil too much stuff. It mainly feels like an extra episode of the TV show that just happens to be on the page, instead of Max or Toonami. 

This story deals with a villain who I love. The comic hasn't named him yet, but it's pretty apparent this is an adaptation of one of my favorite underrated Justice League villains, Amazo - he even kinda has the pointed ears. You've adapted a lot of characters already, with more to come. What are the internal guidelines you follow when you're figuring out how you want to take someone from the core DC Universe and bring them into this world? 

Yeah, I mean, there's kind of two guidelines. And one is sillier which is just, do I like them? A lot of the characters we feature besides being like, you know, some of them being core Superman characters, a lot of them are just, do we like them? Have I been a longtime fan of them? Like, I love Deathstroke. So, Slade's in the show. We love Task Force X and Amanda Waller, so they're in the show. 

And for the comic specifically, looking at it, we wanted to keep the sort of same feel as the show, the same sort of approach to the villains. Because the second, more serious part is, you know, we look at what we feel the core of that villain is. Who is this person? Or who is this creature or thing or robot or whatnot? And what do we best remember them for? And then kind of like fitting them into our universe, where we kind of change them a little bit and modernize them. 

The runaway robot at the center of this first issue looks like it escaped from Ivo's lab in episode 4, like it looks like Parasite, it's connected to Ivo. Also on our show, we connected Ivo to Parasite because we thought it'd be really cool to like have this like, techno organic Parasite being created by a Superman villain, but also just like, a horrible DC guy. 

That's basically it. Do we like that character? And when we're changing them, do we make sure we still retain the core essence of who that character is? Or deepen the character in some specific way that makes us like them and see a whole new facet to them?

(Image credit: DC)

Well, that's actually a perfect bridge to the next thing I want to talk about. I've had the chance to talk to a lot of Superman writers in recent months including Mark Waid and Jason Aaron, and I'll ask you the same question I've asked them. Obviously, this is a new version of Superman in his own world. What do you see as the core immutable traits of Superman that have to be there, in any version of the character? 

For Superman, I think the most integral part of him is this drive to help, that Superman is someone who is crazy strong and powerful in so many ways, and instead of using that power to hurt people, he instantly turns around and uses that power to help people. And that, to me, is the core of Superman.

My favorite Superman media - the Donner movies, the New Adventures of Lois and Clark, the Fleischer cartoons - it's all about a man who has the power to destroy the world, and instead decides to save it. That really is Clark for us.

You know, it clicked for me, and that's the Clark you see in the show. It's why, so often in season one, he's like, "I just want to help people. I just want to reach out a hand and help others."

I'll also ask you the same question about Lois Lane, because she's such an integral part of this story. What do you see as her most important core characteristics?

For Lois, oh man, I mean, "spitfire" is the word that I think best encapsulates her. Because you know, I love every version of Lois, but I made everybody watch the Fleischer cartoons, because the Fleischer Lois is jumping in the back of mobster's vans, she's climbing inside robots and stuff to get her story. Like, there's an episode where she straight up pick-pockets Clark to take his press badge so she can get a scoop before him.

And to me, that Lois, who is a go-getter, who doesn't quite understand how to pace herself, who doesn't quite understand the meaning of "No," that is first thing that is important to Lois Lane. And it's why I love Lois and Clark together. I feel like Clark's love and compassion butts up against and compliments Lois' need to get out there and get the story and get the scoop.

She's helping people in her own way, but they're really two sides of the same coin.

(Image credit: DC)

So in terms of the comic, you're working with Pablo Collar and Nick Filardi on the art, and it's just beautiful. Like, it's such a perfect adaptation of the show's look with its own personality. I just want to talk about what it's like working with them, and what makes them the perfect art team for this book. 

Pablo and Nick are both incredible artists. And we're really, really lucky to have them. I mean, you know, as much as all of us working on the show or influenced by anime growing up, we kind of wanted that to transfer over to the comic and have a little bit of that manga feel. And Pablo was perfect. Some of his first sketches, he went overboard. 

He's like, "Okay, I'm applying screen tone. And I'm doing the paneling. Let me know if I should stop." We're like, no, keep going, keep going! 

And Nick. You know, we sent Nick some of the episodes to watch and also some of the art in the backgrounds for the color palettes, and he just instantly nailed that look, instantly came in with putting his own little twist on things. 

So yeah, so I mean, working with Pablo and Nick has been great, because it's like doing the show again, where here we are, we're taking the Superman thing, and we're putting tiny little twists on it. So it's still recognizable to the show, but also has its own flavor for the comics.

Something that I love about the show and that I love in the comic is, there's always at least one moment that makes me laugh out loud. In the comic, I laughed so hard at the Steve Lombard bit where he doesn't remember Clark, Jimmy, and Lois' names. How do you approach writing those humorous, kind of lighthearted moments that are so integral to both the show and the comic differently when you know the line is going to be said by someone out loud, versus when it's written on the page to really capture that same feel of the character? 

You know, a lot of times when you're writing something for the screen, what I usually do and what I have the writers do is, do a table read where we read the lines out loud. Because thing that look great on the page and feel so smart and so clever, when you try to say them out loud, it's just like mush, like it's too many words.

So in a lot of ways it's fun, because what's in the comic is a bit less edited down than the script for recording usually is, where we can go with what looks good on the page. And with the sense of humor, I think timing is everything. So in the recording booth [Superman voice actor] Jack Quaid has amazing comedic timing. And [Jimmy Olsen voice actor] Ishmel Sahid is a comedian, and [Lois Lane voice actor] Alice Lee is so good at getting those comedic moments in.

Then transferring that to the page, Pablo is very good at dividing it up, so you've got those panels to let the joke breathe, and then all of a sudden, now it's funny because he's giving it that pacing that lets you kind of hear it in your head.

(Image credit: DC)

Definitely. When I was reading the comic, I could absolutely hear the dialogue in my head in the voices of the actors. 

There are a few more issues of the comic coming up. What can you tease us with about what else is coming up, the characters and themes we'll be seeing?

I think much like the show, one of the big themes in this comic is going to be that question of identity, but also very specifically, like, if you were built for one purpose, is that who you are? Or do you have the ability to choose? 

In season one we saw a lot of people calling Clark, or Superman specifically, a "Monster." He's an alien, he doesn't belong here. And you know, Clark/Superman tried to sum it up as, you know, it's who we choose to be. Lois and Jimmy's impassioned plea to Metropolis is, you choose who you are. You're not necessarily just what you are, what you're born into or who you're born as. You are the person choosing.

Superman's been going through this, where it really is like nature versus nurture. Is it who you choose to be? Or are sometimes you just built for destruction? Like, can you save everybody? Or is there going to be a hard limit to that?

As for characters, we've got some Task Force X characters coming in, as well as some new characters coming in that Pablo has designed, and they look exactly like they would if we were putting them on screen in the show. Another big Superman villain is coming into this, and we're going to be seeing a lot of Jimmy and Lois, and maybe even a little bit of Ma and Pa as the story goes on toward Christmas - and maybe the destruction of Metropolis.

Something I think may be on the minds of fans is, with this comic taking place between season one and season two, is this a story fans will want to have read before starting My Adventures with Superman season two, or something they'll need to have read?

It's definitely a comic you'll want to have read. We were trying very hard not to spoil anything for season two, but to make this feel complimentary. There are going to be some emotional beats that will make a little bit more sense if you've read the comic. And sort of seeing how, you know, especially Lois has gone from point A at the end of season one to point B at the beginning of season two, there's going to be a little bit more backstory and background about the Kryptonians that will enhance I think what's going on in season two. 

But we really wanted to make something that wasn't like, homework. This very much feels like we got an extra episode of the show to bridge the gap between seasons one and two, and here it is.

(Image credit: DC)

So I would be remiss if I didn't ask about Supergirl. What can you say about her? Anything at all?

I mean, you saw her in the season two trailer. And I think that's about all I can say!

Fair enough. Fair enough. To wrap up, what do you want to tell fans going into the comic and then into season two of My Adventures with Superman? 

If you're looking to pick up this comic because you love our show, then this is absolutely the right comic for you! Because, like I said, it feels like an extra episode. We're getting into the nitty gritty of a lot of Clark's emotional trauma and his relationship with Lois, and that's going to continue into season 2.

And if you've never watched the show, pick up the comic anyhow, because this is going to be a great primer for what our show feels like, and the humor and the action and the drama and the stakes.

Truly, much like our show, this is a comic for everybody. Whatever level of Superman knowledge you may or may not have, you'll definitely be rewarded for reading.

Check out the best Superman stories of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)