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Interview: Ryan North and Erica Henderson talk about THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL

You've heard the announcement. We asked the writer and artist some questions to find out more.

Yesterday it was announced we'd finally be getting a Squirrel Girl series. Ryan North (Original Sins, Adventure Time) will be writing with rising star Erica Henderson handling the art. With the announcement, you guys had a lot to say about it.

One might ask, what could THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL be about? Surely it can't just be about Squirrel Girl beating up all the villains in the Marvel Universe. We wanted to find out more. Heck, we needed to find out more. So we asked both Ryan and Erica some questions.

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COMIC VINE: How did you two get involved in this project?

ERICA HENDERSON: How I got involved is pretty simple. Basically I got an e-mail asking if I wanted to work on a Squirrel Girl book and I think my response was to hyperventilate for a while and then say "yes".

RYAN NORTH: Like Erica, I too got an e-mail asking if I wanted to work on a Squirrel Girl book. It's definitely the boring truth, and not just a plausible cover story for how Wil Moss and I were attack by these crazy squirrels at NYCC last year and, as we were leaning against a tree for support and brushing ourselves down and wiping our foreheads and saying "PHEW!!", I casually mentioned how great it'd be if Marvel put out a Squirrel Girl book out on the regular.

Variant Cover by ART ADAMS & SIYA OUM
Variant Cover by ART ADAMS & SIYA OUM

CV: What were your thoughts of Squirrel Girl before you sat down and started plotting out issues?

RN: I've talked to a few non-comics friends who had no idea she existed. I'd say "Squirrel Girl!" and they'd say "Who? I mean, she sounds cool, but who?" In contrast I was already aware of her, but I'm not... exactly... sure how? Like, I have no memory of encountering Squirrel Girl for the first time, just this ever-present knowledge that she had all the powers of a squirrel, could talk to squirrels, and oh hey by the way could also take down even the most powerful bad guys in her path like it isn't even a thing.

I love that she's so optimistic, so fun. She's great to write.

CV: Have you drawn many squirrels before this?

EH: I suspect that by the time I'm done with issue one I'll have drawn more squirrels for this book than I have my entire life.

CV: What sort of research did you do?

EH: I didn't have to do that much new research- and most of it involved looking at squirrels really. I do tend to go through my library and pull out a few books that I keep at my work station at look at for inspiration for any new projects. For this one I pulled out some books with Adam Warren, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Steve Buscema, Howard Chaykin and Chris Samnee art to keep me company. Make of that what you will.

CV: Squirrel Girl's going to be going to college now. What kind of classes will she be taking?

RN: There's actually a conversation about this in the first issue! She and Tippy-Toe (her squirrel friend) are talking, and Tippy is APPALLED that she'd go to college and not study squirrels. And Squirrel Girl explains that she ALREADY knows all about squirrels! She's SQUIRREL GIRL. Why would she go to college to study what she already knows?

Anyway, this is all to say: she's studying computer science.

CV: Should we assume she’s not trying to go with a secret identity because of the tail and all?

RN: The nice thing about a tail is you can tuck it into your pants!

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CV: Will her costume get any changes or tweaks? Does she wear civilian clothes to classes?

EH: I think the first thing I did after saying yes to this book was to ask if I could redesign her costume. I did a few pages of sketches and we mixed and matched bits of outfits from there. So yes! Ryan and I have talked about switching the costume around fairly often so I'm hoping we'll get to see a bunch of the other ideas. During the day she's Doreen Green- regular person.

CV: Is there any challenge in drawing the fight scenes since she can basically take on anyone?

EH: Squirrel Girl doesn't win because she's the strongest or the most skilled fighter in the Marvel U- she's just got a lot of moxy! It's probably harder for Ryan to figure out how she stays unbeatable than it is for me to draw it.

CV: Besides Tippy-Toe (and other squirrels), will she have a reoccurring cast of supporting characters?

RN: Absolutely! We don't meet them all right away, but we do meet her roommate, Nancy. Nancy's a lot more dour than Squirrel Girl is, but they share an interest in some particular animals, and that can get you through a lot. Squirrel Girl's tough, and maybe even NIGH-unbeatable, but she's still gonna need her friends to get through this.

CV: Does she keep anything else in the nut sacks on her belt besides nuts?

RN: What - what else would you need there??

CV: What’s your favorite thing about Squirrel Girl?

EH: My favorite thing about Squirrel Girl is that she's fun. She's got the tail and she talks to squirrels, but her attitude is really her defining feature. She's optimistic and that makes her great to work on.

RN: Her optimism! She's basically this Silver Age character in the modern age, which is terrific. She's not SAD she has super powers: having super powers is great! It's OBVIOUSLY GREAT. Going out with all the powers of a squirrel and beating up evil-doers? No better feeling in the world.

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1 is on sale in January. Don't miss it!