NOTE: The following interview contains spoilers for Stargirl: The Lost Children #6 abound. You’ve been warned!

Geoff Johns and Todd Nauck are a dream team. Johns’s knack for writing twisty, gut-punch-y superhero stories blends well with Nauck’s clean, emotive style. Look no further than their recent collaboration to see what we mean. This latest project, the limited series Stargirl: The Lost Children, drops its final issue today, and it’s a doozy.

The six-issue series has followed Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl as she stumbles upon an island of forgotten Golden Age sidekicks. Together with Red Arrow, Stargirl must free these lost children, confront the beings responsible for their capture, and right a decades-old wrong.

The Beat caught up with Johns and Nauck about the final issue of Stargirl: The Lost Children, deep-diving into what the finale means for Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl and what’s next for the Justice Society.

Hayden Mears: The last time we spoke, the first issue was about to hit shelves. Now the last issue is out.  How are you guys feeling right now?

Todd Nauck: Oh, well I was excited for this project from the beginning and have enjoyed every moment of every issue that Geoff and I got to do together. And so it’s just such a fun time from beginning to end and to see the fan response has been so overwhelmingly positive. I can’t wait for them to see the last issue and how everything wraps up. And it’s hard to believe that it’ll all be done here in just a couple of weeks and to see it all come to fruition has been very special and just really, really happy with this project from every angle.

Geoff Johns: Yeah, I’m very grateful. I met Todd before Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. ever even came out and I’ve been a fan of his before that. So to work with him on this is like a dream project, to work with Stargirl and all these young teen characters from the Golden Age and creating all these new teen characters now from the Golden Age with Todd and telling a really fun but emotional story that celebrated DC‘s young heroes and kind of the first age of young heroes. I’m really proud of the work we did.

But more importantly for me, every book, every kind of hardcover trade that comes out eventually sits on your shelf. It always tells a story to you. It’s when you’re creating it. And this story is for me, it’s really one of friendship, and it speaks to Todd and I in a lot of ways. And I love that. I love that we got to do a story like this about friendship together after so many years of friendship and with Stargirl at the center. For me, it’s very full circle. It comes back to the very beginning of working in comics and it’s special on a lot of levels. And I think the story’s a lot of fun.

Mears: Todd, last time we spoke you said that Geoff puts at least one two-page spread into each issue. And in this new one, I’ve read the last one, I think there are three spreads. I’m trying to remember.

Nauck: Four. There are four double-page spreads and I think at least two or three splash pages. So we got to really open up and do some big stuff and I really love it, especially when all the kids come together to face the Childminder. That was so much fun to get that, to do the big group. Here’s everybody’s shot. Always a fun thing to draw.

And the end shot where they’re trying to rescue Wing as well. That one, when I read it after… because Geoff will dialogue things after I’ve drawn it, I got a basic idea of the dialogue. He writes pretty much full script. But then after I draw it, Geoff goes in and he tweaks the dialogue. So then when I get to read it after it’s been dialogued, it’s like a whole new comic book for me in some ways. It’s like, oh, he came up with new things for the characters to say and there were so many moments that just punched me in the feels and it was just like, “Keep it together, Todd. Don’t lose it. Don’t lose it.” And when they were trying to rescue Wing, that was such a heartfelt moment. I was just like, I’m about to lose it right here. And it was so fun to get to draw that and then see how it all comes together with Geoff’s second pass at the dialogue.

Mears: That spread is so beautiful. It’s so emotional and it’s such a great emotional payoff of the book, I think. How long does it take you to draw spreads like that?

Nauck: It depends. I mean, when it’s a big group shot, you’re working with 30 characters, that can take a lot of time because I want to choreograph each character to convey their personality, who goes next to who. I’m keeping in mind character relationships, color schemes, so I don’t clump all the red characters together. So I want to try to keep visual aesthetics as well as how does everyone choreograph together. And Geoff actually did a rough sketch of that spread. Here’s Wing and Stargirl, here’s everyone else creating this kind of V-shape. And then I had to kind of, it’s like, “Okay, now how would I lay that out?” And so it was a really kind of fun, unique collaborative moment because not often do writers give a sketch. And this was just a very simple sketch.

Johns: It was also that moment, Hayden, in that visual that … The reason it’s a double-page spread is because it tells you how united and how caring these kids are [for] one another. That moment just encapsulates the whole series, in that these children have found each other, they’ll do anything for one another, and they’ll do it together. Even if they don’t always succeed, what’s more important than always succeeding is always trying. And that was the whole point of this moment, was having them try their best and not always succeeding, but always trying their best together.

Mears: I wanted to talk briefly about Matt Herms’ colors. They’re very vibrant, but they’re also a little bit muted. So it gives it that life, but it’s a bit faded and retro.

Nauck: Matt had colored … The first time he and I worked together, he colored my Justice League #75 cover. And that was the first time we worked together. And I really liked how his approach to rendering the characters was almost like a cel animation sort of style. You have the base color and then the kind of shadow or highlight, so it’s not overly photoshopped. Some beautiful stuff can be done in Photoshop with the rendering, but this had more of a simple punch to it.

Andrew [Marino], our editor, he was like, “Can we get Matt for this? Because I think it would be the right tone and fit.” One, I just love how it looks over my lines because it’s so different than other colorists I work with, and I thought it kind of helped give that kind of classic feel, but with all the modern sensibilities and the tools he has at his disposal in the different coloring programs. So I think Matt walked a beautiful line and I’m so glad we were able to get him for this story. I think it really was the finishing piece to help make it all what we envisioned.

You always want your next creative link to take everything up a notch. So I want to bring Geoff’s writing up a notch with my art. If I work with an inker, I want the inker to bring my pencils up a notch, but I’m doing my own inks [on this book]. So now I have to bring myself up a notch. And then it’s like, Matt, the colors, you want to have a colorist that can bring that lineart up another notch. And then the lettering was fantastic as well. I loved how sound effects really gave the punch without obscuring the art, the kind of see-through sound effects. I love that.

Mears: Geoff, one of the things you’re really good at writing is plot twists. You’ve always been so good with plot twists, with surprises. The Stargirl TV show is, I mean I could never predict what was going to happen on that show. I think what makes you so good at twisty storytelling is because you understand that plot twists are not the cake, they’re the icing on a cake that’s already delicious. They serve the story, the story doesn’t serve the twists. What inspired the specific twists and turns in Stargirl: The Lost Children #6?

Johns: Well, there’s a lot of them. I mean the most important one is probably the revelation that Corky was there just simply to put Wing back. And ultimately, I think it’s the first issue where you open up Corky Baxter, this Junior Time Master who’s essentially a sidekick to Rip Hunter, you open him up and you see a different side to him, because he comes off as arrogant and egotistical and temperamental. But at the same time, when you see him in this issue, there’s a vulnerability to him that’s exposed and it’s reflective of all these other kids who just want to belong somewhere and want to have acceptance and love and friendship and family. And that his entire journey is connected directly to everybody else here. That, thematically, you see a side of Corky that just completely contrasts what Stargirl and the Lost Children have gone through.

And so the twists and turns, coupled with the revelation of why he is there… of the need to send Wing back… of the fact that his future self or a version of what was his future self was behind this… It all comes full circle as a revenge plot. And now he is like, “There’s no way I’d ever do that.” But that all speaks to the theme of the book, to the characters of the book. So the twists and turns in here and the ending where they all come back to our time, they all come from characters, they all come from emotion.

People say, “How do you balance character and plot?” And I’m like, “Well, it’s the same thing.” That double-page spread where they’re holding onto Wing, you could argue that’s a big plot moment and a visual moment in the book, but it’s completely the climax of the emotional moments too. And that’s what I like to do is pair that emotion.

I don’t like to do, “Oh, here’s a page on how they’re feeling and then 10 pages of fights.” To me, that’s super boring. You want to have all of it together. All of it needs to work together in conjunction, that the big action moments at their height are emotional moments, too. That’s how a comic book should work. That’s how a story should work to me, rather than people dividing it into like, “Oh, they fight for eight pages and then they talk about it and then they fight for four more pages and then they talk about it.” That’s just not great storytelling to me.

It was important, too, that you see what kids will sacrifice. You see that with Wing, the thing he values is that he got these moments with these kids. It wasn’t about escaping his fate necessarily. It was more about, look at the time he had and these friends he made and they know he’s going willingly because he’s like, “I’m going to go save the world for them. And I know they’re all my friends who are never going to forget me.” It’s a big deal for the unofficial eighth Soldier of Victory.

Mears: He’s coming from a place of immense gratitude.

Johns: Very much so. Courtney Whitmore is a personification of the gratitude I have for comics and for my friendships and for my collaborations, because how lucky are we? How lucky am I that I got to work with that character? How lucky are we that we get to do this? And how fortunate it is that Stargirl: The Lost Children, the cool thing about it is that we did it. We’re really proud of it and it’s there and it’s never going to go away. It’s going to always exist.

Mears: So what’s next for the Stargirl character?

Johns: I mean, Courtney and the Young Justice Society, or the Lost Children, are going to be in Justice Society of America #6. And then one of them is going to join the JSA and we’ll start to see them, some of these other characters integrated throughout the DCU. Another one will be in a mini-series with … I can’t spoil it yet-

Nauck: Yeah, I love Stargirl. I love all the characters we got to create. I hope to get to do more with any of these characters at any other point. I’ve moved on to other projects, the story for Flash #800, I’m doing a little bit for Wonder Woman #800, which have both been announced. But any chance I have that I can come back to any of these characters at any point in any place in the DCU, I’d love to make that happen because I do care about these characters and the stories we get to tell with them.

Stargirl: The Lost Children #6 is available in stores and digitally now.


  1. I’m so confused. This title has been listed as an 6 issue series, a 12 issue series and an ongoing series. Does anybody actually know the duration of this series?

  2. bobbo1966, Stargirl was only ever a 6-issue mini. You may be thinking of JSA, which was erroneously (per Johns) originally solicited as a 12-issue series, but is an ongoing.

    I do wish someone would ask Johns in these interviews about the delays in JSA. The issues are constantly slipping, and are months behind solicit dates. I don’t think anyone needs to get into his personal business, but it would be nice if he/DC at least acknowledged how bad it is getting.

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