Kami Garcia Talks The Challenge Of Reinventing A Classic DC Character Like Raven

Raven’s got the jams. (Illustration: DC Comics)

Kami Garcia is a YA author and now a creator of comic books, with her stylish reimagining of Raven in the Teen Titans: Raven graphic novel that came out this past summer. In a new interview, she walks readers through the dilemma of trying to create a character who’s also recognisably Raven, while still being a compelling YA-style protagonist.

“With the kind of mandate for raven, we wanted her to be more grounded,” she explained to Comic Book Resources. “We don’t want costumes and stuff like that, so that was really a choice by the line. We wanted to go deeper into the character and be more grounded. So what I tried to do was — instead of having the jewel on her head, she wears it as a necklace. Like, I didn’t want to lose every aspect. But the things that were most important to me about Raven are her personality, her character, the kind of things she wrestles with.”

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Of course, that mandate to be more grounded can be taken a lot of different ways. Lose too much, and Raven isn’t Raven anymore. But if you try to keep things that don’t work with the setting you want to create, you can end up with a character that doesn’t fit. For Garcia’s world, she had some trouble figuring out where to draw that line. And in the process of that work, she went to the expert.

“I actually got to meet Marv Wolfman before I started writing… and I said, ‘Do you have any advice? Is there anything I should do?’” Garcia said. “And he said, ‘Do whatever you want. Don’t worry about what I did. I love Raven. I want new readers to find her and love her.’ But to me, as a fan, I’m not gonna throw away an amazing character. So I was like, ‘How do I get to the core of that character and how do I add to the amazing stuff he already has?’”

For Garcia’s book, that ended up looking like a more realised focus on Raven’s angst, which in her book is more grounded in the realities of the anxiety-inducing life of the modern teenager. Raven is still a heroine who struggles with her feelings; her feelings are just, well, more real.

Approaches like Teen Titans: Raven, which have the freedom to take a character in an entirely new direction without the confines of canon, are always extremely refreshing to me. If you want to check out Teen Titans: Raven, it’s in stores now.

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