Supergirl, Wonder Woman get animated

“Super Hero High” features some of the top female characters from the DC Universe.
“Super Hero High” features some of the top female characters from the DC Universe. Warner Bros.

The female heroes of the DC universe are finally getting some love after years of being ignored in TV shows (animated and live action). Along with the new “Supergirl” series and multiple female heroes on “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” there’s the animated online series “ DC Super Hero Girls.”

The characters introduced in online shorts at will be featured in a one-hour special, “Super Hero High,” on the cable channel Boomerang. Just like the shorts, the special looks at many of the females in the DC Comics universe during their formative high school years. The superstudent body includes Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy, Katana and many others.

Shea Fontana has written the stories for the animated shorts, the animated one-hour special and an upcoming graphic novel. Before taking on the superseries, Fontana wrote for such animated offerings as “The 7D” and “Doc McStuffins.”

Her previous work was for traditional television formats, which meant Fontana faced a learning curve to be able to write the shorts that generally run only a few minutes.

“It is so much harder to write the shorts. I learned that everything has to be so condensed,” Fontana says. “I had to approach the universe as a hole. There is an arc to the entire series, and you will find Easter eggs in the shorts for upcoming graphic novel.”

That universe started to unfold online in October 2015 with the series of animated shorts. The more than a dozen shorts that have been released online also will run on Cartoon Network and Boomerang.

The series looks at the excitement at Super Hero High over the arrival of a new student, Supergirl. When the cousin of Superman crashes into the cafeteria, it’s clear she has incredible power but has a long way to go before she can become a superhero.

Fontana’s approach to writing the production is to not treat this as merely the story of superheroes but to look at what happens when those with superpowers must deal with everyday issues facing teens. It’s similar to the approach used on the live-action series “Smallville.”

Most of the DC Universe is open to Fontana, but don’t expect an appearance by Superman or Batman in the near future. Before she could add other characters, Fontana had to educate herself in the massive world of DC Comics.

The Utah native grew up in a town so small, residents had to drive more than two hours to get to a Wal-Mart. That meant she wasn’t a heavy comic book reader in her youth but instead developed a passing knowledge of DC characters through TV shows such as “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” and “Batman: The Animated Series.”

Writer Shea Fontana’s favorite character is mischievous Harley Quinn because she has such an exciting personality.

“I thought I was aware of the DC Universe. I knew Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl. Then I discovered there are 75 years of Wonder Woman stories,” Fontana says. “It’s a huge canon of material that DC has.”

Of the new characters that Fontana has discovered, she has enjoyed writing for Katana and Bumble Bee because they have such distinct personalities. Her favorite character, though, is mischievous Harley Quinn because she has such an exciting personality.

Fontana’s decision to write for animated projects came while in college. She was planning to be a journalist but realized she had more of a passion for cartoons and opted to go that direction with her writing career.

And that decision is going to keep her busy. Fontana cannot reveal specific plans in the DC Universe, except to say there is a lot more to come.

The “Super Hero High” television special stars Anais Fairweather as the voice of Supergirl and Mae Margaret Whitman as the voice of Barbara Gordon. Greg Cipes, Tara Strong, Ashley Eckstein, John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny, Helen Slater and Dean Cain also provide voices.

Although the series has only been available online until now, the production has become so popular that a “DC Super Hero Girls” merchandise line featuring dolls and action figures has been released.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

DC Super Hero Girls

  • 10 a.m. Saturday, March 19, Boomerang