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Jem and the Holograms come to Dartmouth!

Local comic shop gets feature cover on new, non-Barbie-esque, take on old superhero

by Chris Muise

Katie Lantz (left) and Darryl Wall (right) of Giant Robot Comics show off the next ’80s nostalgic icon they’re bringing to Halifax via an exclusive store cover – this time, it’s Jem and the Holograms (or rather, their rivals, the Misfits)!
Katie Lantz (left) and Darryl Wall (right) of Giant Robot Comics show off the next ’80s nostalgic icon they’re bringing to Halifax via an exclusive store cover – this time, it’s Jem and the Holograms (or rather, their rivals, the Misfits)!
Darryl Wall of Giant Robot Comics is no stranger to bringing giant alien robots to Nova Scotia through custom store covers. But this is the first time he’s led a band of evil rock goddesses to our shores, with the next issue of Jem and the Holograms.
Darryl Wall of Giant Robot Comics is no stranger to bringing giant alien robots to Nova Scotia through custom store covers. But this is the first time he’s led a band of evil rock goddesses to our shores, with the next issue of Jem and the Holograms.
A close-up of this exclusive comic cover shows Wall and his staff rocking out in the mosh pit below the stage on Citadel Hill.
A close-up of this exclusive comic cover shows Wall and his staff rocking out in the mosh pit below the stage on Citadel Hill.

Punamu'kwati'jk (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) -- Darryl Wall, owner of Giant Robot Comics in Dartmouth, is no stranger to bringing ’80s childhood icons to the HRM. He’s brought the war for Cybertron to our shores on more than one occasion by commissioning several covers featuring the Transformers going servo-to-servo near our local landmarks.

For his next store exclusive cover, Wall wanted to do something truly, truly, truly outrageous, and give local Jem and The Holograms fans a cover they can call their own.

For those who didn’t spend their saturday mornings in the 1980s glued to their television sets, Jem was a cartoon series by the same folks that brought you Transformers and G.I. Joe. It was about Jerrica Benton, the lead singer of the Holograms, who used hologram projections to perform music and save the day in disguise.

Unlike its more prolific cousins mentioned above, the Jem franchise hadn’t done much since then (let’s not mention the much-maligned recent film adaptation), until the launch of a comic book re-imagining from IDW Publishing last year.

“I do think it’s probably one of the better books that’s put out by IDW,” says Wall, who has had eight store-exclusive comic covers made over the years. “The comic has been selling really well.”

“I’d say it’s just as good, if not better [than the cartoon],” says Katie Lantz, assistant manager at Giant Robot Comics, who became a fan of the show by watching reruns that play on the store’s TV set.

The comic, which has gone to great lengths to discard the more Barbie-esque trappings of the original cartoon’s character design and feature people of different body types, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, is about to start a brand-new storyline which will see the return of the book’s original artist, Sophie Campbell.

Wall wanted to do something special to mark the occasion.

“When she took a break for the next few issues, I was like, ‘as soon as Sophie goes back, I want to be on the cover to welcome her back,’” says Wall.

And that’s exactly where you’ll find Wall, Lantz, and most of the Giant Robot Comics staff at the end of this month – on the cover of Jem and the Holograms #11, rocking out on Citadel Hill and cheering for the Holograms’ most bitter musical rivals, the Misfits.

“We’ve got the three core Misfits - Stormer, Pizzazz, and Roxy - and we added Jetta,” says Wall. “They are the Cobra or the Decepticons of Jem, and I’d say they’re probably even more evil than Cobra and the Decepticons put together.”

Even Samantha Newark, the original voice of Jem from the ’80s cartoon, reached out to Giant Robot Comics to show her support and gratitude.

“She did a shout out video, which we posted on our Facebook and Twitter,” says Wall. “It’s the equivalent of having Optimus Prime say, ‘hey, I really like your store and your comic.’”

You might be tempted to think that Jem and the Holograms must be something of a girls-only property, but the store gets orders from all kinds of readers, split right down the gender divide.

“Both men and women love this comic,” says Wall.

“I’d say it’s probably 50/50,” adds Lantz. “But it’s, like, everyone. There are kids reading it, there are adults reading it, adults of all ages. It’s really interesting to see a comic like Jem having such a wide readership.”

More comics are embracing the diversity of its characters, which demonstrates an overall shift in the comics industry to represent the diversity of their readers, and make heroes of everyone – not just square-jawed men and buxom bombshells.

“I feel like a lot of the companies, especially right now, are trying to branch out and appeal to more audiences,” says Lantz, who cites Marvel’s recent launches of a muslim version of Ms. Marvel and a new monthly Hellcat title, penned by Haligonian Kate Leth, as prime examples. “It’s really interesting to see companies trying to encompass more diversity and be more welcoming. They know that the readers are there.”

“As a business owner, it gives me a whole other clientele that are going to want to buy my product,” says Wall. “Probably one of the best stories I have is there was a woman who used to come in and pick up Ms. Marvel on a monthly basis. She was a muslim who came in in her full garb, and when I asked her why she read it, she was like, ‘this is one of the only comics where the muslims aren’t terrorists, and she’s a hero.’”

Wall ordered 1,200 copies of the comic, but he doesn’t expect them to lay around for too long. Many of the store’s past exclusive covers have sold out, and some buyers are even calling in from across the world to get theirs.

The comic is on sale now, so you’ll probably want to hurry if you want your own copy – and maybe consider giving the previous 10 issues a look while you’re there.

“They could! I’m not going to stop them from spending more money,” jokes Wall. “But no, this is the start of a new story arc, so you can basically jump right in here.”


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