A Talk With Lady Robotika Herself, Jane Wiedlin

Jane Wiedlin gained worldwide recognition as rhythm guitarist, singer and songwriter in the band the Go-Go’s and her successful solo career. She has also had notable acting roles in the films Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Clue. Recently she has teamed up with The Simpsons illustrator and Futurama director Bill Morrison on a new comic book called Lady Robotika, which sees Jane herself as the main character. Joe had a chance to talk to Jane about the comic.

POP CULTURE ZOO: What kind of feedback have you been getting so far on Lady Robitika?

JANE WIEDLIN: People seem to really be liking it. I’ve shown it to a few friends and everyone thought it was funny and fun. I’m just hoping that somehow we can get the word out so that more people will find out about it.

PCZ: How long have you had this idea in your head?

JW: When Bill Morrison and I met two or three years ago at SuperCon in San Jose we decided pretty quickly that we wanted to work together and that’s when started discussing the idea of a comic book and Lady Robotika was born. We contemplated other names, it was almost Mistress Robotika, but Lady Robotika was easier to say.

PCZ: Did you know right away that you wanted it to be you starring as yourself in the book?

JW: Yeah, I just figured it would be a good excuse to get to be a super-hero. That kind of opportunity doesn’t come along every day so I just grabbed it.

PCZ: Hopefully you’re not going to really get picked up by aliens anytime soon.

JW: Oh, that part of the story is autobiographical actually. (laughs)

PCZ: Is the comic book Jane Wiedlin as cool as the real life one?

JW: Well, I wish I were as cool. It’s me as I wish I was. I like to think I’m almost cool.

PCZ: Yeah, but we all think you’re that cool.

JW: Thank you.

PCZ: When you and Bill are writing this do you get to write your own lines?

JW: Yeah, although Bill writes my lines too. It’s funny because now that the first script is a few months old I can’t remember who wrote what. He’s so good at sounding like me.

PCZ: What about Bill Morrison made you go, “Ok, this is the guy I want to work with on a comic”?

JW: Well, he’s kind of a legend. Twenty years with the The Simpsons and Futurama, that’s so huge. I think more so that that, it’s just that he’s such a smart and good person. We became friends so quickly, I just think he’s an extraordinary man and I was really happy that he came into my life. I didn’t realize what a fine artist he was, too because if you’re just going to judge him on the The Simpsons, well, I could draw the The Simpsons! (laughs) No, I love the The Simpsons. But then I started seeing all this other stuff he’s done through his career. He’s just such an amazing artist. His art [on Lady Robotika] is so detailed and elaborate, to me it looks like fine art.

PCZ: What did you think the first time your saw yourself drawn as a comic book super-hero?

JW: Actually, the first thing I thought was, “My head’s too big!” Bill has the weird obsession with drawing big heads and I don’t think he even realized it until he started drawing me and I was like my head is forty percent bigger than it should be. So, now we have a constant big-head check, but other than that it was thrilling to be drawn by him. Of course, he leaves out all the imperfections, there’s no zits or anything. I like it. I think that I’m super hot in the drawings.

PCZ: Did you have approval on the costume choice?

JW: Oh yeah, I knew that I wanted a corset because I love corsets. Originally I didn’t have a cape, but I begged for a Jedi type cape. Then his idea was, I don’t know if you noticed, but there is a Ziggy Stardust like lightning bolt and I thought that was super cool because we’re both David Bowie fanatics from hundreds of years ago. (laughs) One of things that’s really fun is you get to put what you love in the comic book. That’s the best part about it.

PCZ: Well, and the comic book medium is unlimited, you can make things as elaborate as you want.

JW: Yeah, exactly! The fun things are just making up the costume and making up the different characters and then naming them. All that stuff is just a blast. You get to virtually make a new world.

PCZ: Were you a fan of comic books previous to this?

JW: Not so much. I’ve always been a huge, huge science-fiction geek and a big reader. The thing I never liked about comic books from when I was a kid is that I would read so fast that they would be over before I started practically. That was why I didn’t really ever get into them, but I started going to the conventions, which comic conventions are now way more than just comics. I originally went as a science-fiction fan and then as one of the celebrities they would bring in for signings. Once I met Bill he sort of became one of my mentors about learning about comics and showing me what’s out there. I learned about graphic novels, which changed everything for me because they are longer and don’t end as quickly. I’m now a big fan. The other thing I never really appreciated was the art of comics. I always thought you read it and then throw it away, but now I realize you sit there and look at every panel. My favorite comics are the ones that have a lot of depth and a lot of detail in the artwork.

PCZ: Does this mean you will be at San Diego next week?

JW: Yeah, actually we are. We’re going to be at the Image booth and we’re going to be signing the comics. It’s fun because for three years now I’ve been going to different conventions claiming I was going to have a comic book and now I finally can say, yes, here it is! I wasn’t making this up, I really did it. The making of this comic book could have gone on forever, but luckily when Image offered to become our publisher all of a sudden there were real deadlines and that sort of changed everything for us. Bill has a full time job at Bongo Comics and I’m always just distracted by different projects, so if Image hadn’t stepped in it would have taken ten years for the first issue to come out.

PCZ: Is this planned to be an ongoing series or is it a finite number of issues?

JW: We really, really, really want it to be ongoing. The thing that is going to make the decision is kind of out of our hands and that is if people like it and are interested. Right now we are totally committed to at least the first six issues, which is how long it takes to tell the origin of how Lady Robotika came to be. We’re hoping image will let us get through at least this first six and then hopefully people will like it and we’ll get to keep doing it. It’s so tough to have a new character and not to be with one of the big publishers, but you never know.

PCZ: There are a lot of independently produced comics so it is easy to get lost in the shuiffle.

JW: Yeah, we’re working really hard and there’s this amazing publicist, Jenny Bendell who has a company called Rock ‘n Load and she’s basically a music publicist. I met her through the Go-Go’s and then I asked her if she wanted to help us with our comic and it turns out she’s a big comic book geek. She’s helping us try and get the word out. It’s really great to have her on board with us.

PCZ: She’s how we’re talking today, so, yeah, she’s great! OK, of course your musical background leads to the question of if there is a Lady Robotika soundtrack in the future.

JW: Yes! I have a whole CDs worth of songs that were inspired by or about Lady Robotika and the big plan is to put that out when we bundle up the first six issues into a graphic novel the CD will be packaged with the book. After I started doing that I came up with an idea for a musical. I’ve actually got the whole musical worked out. I kind of simplified the story a little bit because it would have been hundreds of sets. Now all I need is some fancy Broadway producer to find me and make it happen.

PCZ: Will you star in the musical?

JW: I don’t think so. I think it needs to be like some twenty year old girl who’s got the super-hero mentality.

PCZ: But Lady Robotika is you!

JW: I know, but I’m fine with just being the behind the scenes person, I like that too. I love performing, don’t get me wrong, but I think if it was to become a musical that it would be good to have some amazing young talent to portray me.

PCZ: Well, you’re already a musical icon from the Go-Go’s and your terrific solo career, you’re a geek icon from playing Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, so now you’re going to be a comic book icon. How does that feel?

JW: I’m hoping that I’m going to have people find out about Lady Robotika and then I can become iconic. If that does happen I know it’s going to feel amazing, of course, are you kidding? I haven’t done a lot of movies and a lot of them I have done have been super, super small indie films with friends, but the few commercial films I’ve been involved in have been pretty big films. I’m really happy that I was in Bill and Ted’s and Star Trek IV. Trek is kind of the one I am most pleased about having been in since I grew up such a Star Trek maniac. Getting to meet Leonard Nimoy – stopping myself from bowing “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.”

PCZ: Other than the comic book and the musical and the comic book soundtrack, what else do you have going on?

JW: I’ve started putting together a band so that we can play the Lady Robotika stuff live. I had an accident recently where I actually fell off of a cliff during an heroic lightsaber battle (laughs) and I kind of destroyed my knees so I’m recovering from surgery. My focus right now is on getting better and doing physical therapy and all that stuff. Another big focus of mine is my boyfriend and I have four dogs and they take a lot of time and focus especially because two of them are very naughty. A lot of our focus is training our dogs to be good.

PCZ: Well, that’s all I have for you. I’m really looking forward to Lady Robotika and hearing some new music from you.

JW: Thank you, Joe!

Lady Robotika #1 is in comic book shops now!