Skates On: An Interview With ‘Getting Dizzy’ Writer, Shea Fontana

by Rachel Bellwoar

Dizzy thought her skating days were behind her. Then again, she also wasn’t expecting to need a faster means of travel after acquiring superpowers (and unlike Superman, ‘Burb Defenders don’t fly).

What is a ‘Burb Defender exactly? Dizzy’s still not 100% sure herself, but she’s about to find out in Getting Dizzy, a new all ages series from writer, Shea Fontana, and artist, Celia Moscote. Ahead of the trade paperback release next month, it was wonderful to get to ask Fontana some questions about the series over email.

Rachel Bellwoar: Every hero needs an origin story. How did you come up with the origin story for Dizzy, and were there any alternate options?

Shea Fontana: Getting Dizzy was one of those ideas with a lot “kicking around in the brain” time and a few different directions I had written out before I pitched to BOOM! Box. What was pitched is actually fairly close to what ended up in the book. But before that many alternate options were considered. There had been a version where Dizzy was more of a detective without distinct superpowers taking on these supernatural baddies at the skatepark and a version where an intergalactic caterpillar character finds and anoints Dizzy as the “chosen one” — but that was actually a case of mistaken identity as intergalactic caterpillars aren’t great at identifying humans.

One of the biggest changes that really came around in the last version of the pitch was the focus on Dizzy and her relationship to her mom. Bringing in the idea that Dizzy’s aggressive independence was unintentionally taught to her and reinforced by her mom brought a new layer to Dizzy’s journey.

RB: Superheroes aren’t supposed to be in it for the glory, but Dizzy starts out very impressed by fame. Why was that something you wanted to explore in this series?

SF: A statistic that I’ve seen a few times in the kids media biz is that if you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, the number one answer is “YouTube Influencer.” People get sort of horrified by that, hand-wringing “kids these days!” But before YouTube the answer was “pop star” or “movie star,” so I don’t think it actually represents a big change in what kids are interested in — just a change of medium. Most kids live pretty insulated lives. “Fame” represents being seen, being liked, and being accepted on a big scale. We’re all social beings who want to be accepted. Dizzy starts out conflating these ideas of being liked and being famous.

At her core, Dizzy is a dreamer. Epicness appeals to her. There’s also a certain safety for her in the “big dream” because when she’s focused on that impossible goal, she can let herself off the hook for other things. Her journey through the book is going from looking for validation from the outside — the fame and glory — and finding that validation from herself, claiming her own “inner voice” for that purpose.

 

RB: Is there a character you enjoyed writing for the most?

SF: How does anyone pick a favorite?! I really liked writing Scarlett, taking this almost tropey fashionable girl character and discovering what elevates her is her ability to see the interesting beauty in others. I also loved Chipper, the reluctant mentor character. She’s so flawed, grumpy, and will never sugarcoat anything, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a good teacher.

RB: Of all the hobbies Dizzy has tried her hand at (as represented by the various items under her bed), what made you decide that roller skating would be the one she’d give a second chance? 

SF: The idea of Dizzy gaining confidence and being able to stand up to that negative inner voice by practicing a physical activity really came from my own experience with roller derby. As an adult, I have not often tried something brand new to me and it was absolutely terrifying. And I was awful! I couldn’t stand on the skates for more than a few seconds at first. But stride by stride, practice by practice, I became…kinda mediocre! With those little masteries and tiny victories, it changed the way I felt about myself and what I was capable of. And Dizzy goes through a very similar journey as she learns to master her skates.

Beyond that, roller derby introduced to me so many amazing friends that I would have never met otherwise, which also mirrors Dizzy’s journey.

RB: I love how each issue builds on the one before it and creates harder challenges. When it comes to writing, are you someone who does a lot of preplanning, or do you prefer figuring things out as you go?

SF: As a working writer on a deadline, I have no idea how anyone can jump in without the preplanning and make it work! I’m way too paranoid about missing deadlines to rely on figuring it out as I go. This book was fully outlined before I started the script and the full script was finished before art began.

RB: If you could choose any of Dizzy’s superhero gadgets to use in real life, which would you pick?

SF: I’d love the Helmet of Help. That instant, infallible readout of a situation would certainly alleviate some of my anxiety.

RB: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Shea!

Getting Dizzy is available on July 13th from BOOM! Studios and collects the first four issues.

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