Interview: Justin Pierce

The writer and artist of Wonderella was kind enough to let me pepper him with annoying questions recently. Read on as we discuss the secrets of the universe as they relate to his webcomic. Part two of the interview, which features questions and answers from his characters, will follow soon.

CowboyAndy: Would you care to tell us about your background and how you
got into artistry, writing, and webcomicery?

Justin Pierce: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, like most people in this dog-and-pony
show, I’d imagine. I’ve worked in graphic design for about eight years
now, and have been doing comics almost as long.

My first webcomic, Killroy and Tina, was nothing like Wonderella. It was a
longform serial comic and as such, it moved at a snail’s pace and the
payoff didn’t balance the effort, so I closed off the story as best I
could and ended it about a year ago. Looking back I’m glad I did so,
though I realize there are a few perturbed Killroy and Tina readers out

CA: How did The Non-Adventures of Wonderella come about? Were there any
other ideas you wanted to develop along this line?

JP: At one point it became apparent to me that Wonder Woman’s unshakable
nobility was 24/7. She never has an “off the clock” mode like Spider-man,
or even Superman. In a lot of ways, it sort of distanced her. How does
someone like Wonder Woman act while buying groceries, or filleting salmon,
or entering in a pie-eating contest? These are the sort of things the
world wants to know.

That was how it started, anyway — a character study in the off-duty
superheroine. As time went on, however, Wonderella became this bizarre
cross between Elaine Benes and like, Rick James.

CA: Most male writers tend of focus on male characters, yet the
cast of your comic is primarily female. What made you take that route?

JP: Aside from the obvious parody of a female character, I guess it’s because
the superhero genre is centered around males almost as a given. Females
are either eye candy, plot devices or next-generation versions of male
heroes. If you want to read about Omega Man and Spinoff-Girl, there are
already plenty of places to go.

CA: In some of the sketches you’ve shown, Wonderella originally
had a sort of “golden-age” design more akin to her mother. How did you
arrive at the current style?

JP: I didn’t want to make Dana too “glamorous”. The whole idea is that she
*wasn’t* raised in a glorious Amazonian society — she grew up on Diet
Coke and basic cable. So instead I gave the Golden Age graces to her mom,
and tried to make Dana’s appearance more expressive.

CA: How does the creative process go for each comic?

JP: The Non-Adventures of Wonderella doesn’t have fixed subject matter, so a
new idea can come from anywhere. I’ll write “Montezuma Runs For
President” or something on a notepad, then come back to it later.
Graphically the whole thing is digital — aside from preliminary character
sketches or rough storyboarding, it’s all done on computer.

CA: You’ve obviously read some comics in your time on this here
mud ball we call Earth. What were your favorites? Do you still
keep up with any titles?

JP: The first comics I read were the old Carl Barks Disney stuff. I started
reading various DC comics when Superman “died”, and continued regularly
until silly-ass crossover events like Zero Hour depleted my wallet and my

These days the internet provides just about anything you’d need to know
about what Marvel/DC are working on. I’ll make a special trip to the comic
shop for Astro City, but not much else, really. Sometimes I’ll pick up an
Archie Digest because it’s a goldmine of unintended hilarity.

CA: Let’s say you were suddenly given carte blanche by the big name comic publishers like Marvel and DC. What titles and characters would you want to work on and how would you handle them?

JP: Squirrel Girl, in a heartbeat! On the DC side, I’m not so sure. How much
more can you do with Batman or Superman? I think it’d be more fun to work
on a sidebar character that’s not under the editorial microscope. Maybe
re-invent some Golden Age hero that needs its copyright renewed.

CA: It seems that webcomics started out as a way for creators to
display and promote their work without having to rely on publishers and
studios, yet some popular webcomics have eventually churned out printed
material and even animated episodes. Do you ever see your comic going
that route?

JP: I do plan a book pretty soon, but I wouldn’t expect anything animated
anytime soon. Not on my own, anyway. I’ve seen a handful of webcomics
animated, and it always tends to lose something in the translation.

CA: Will we ever see a Wonderella action-figure?

JP: Wonderella’s not even an action figure in the comic!


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