The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #50 arrives this week, and with it the end of Doreen Green's longrunning solo series. Seeing Doreen out on her own terms alongside writer Ryan North is artist Derek Charm, who rejoined his former Jughead collaborator for a now multi-arc run when previous series artist Erica Henderson departed.
Having now carved his own niche with Squirrel Girl and her madcap adventures, Charm has settled in following putting his pen to finale issue that pits Doreen against dozens of classic Marvel villains to once-and-for-all prove her "unbeatable" epithet.
Before saying goodbye to Squirrel Girl (alongside our chat with writer Ryan North ), Charm spoke with Newsarama about the principals of drawing Doreen Green, his ongoing creative partnership with Ryan North, and what it's like bringing a character like Squirrel Girl full circle in the Marvel Universe.
Newsarama: Derek, you’re drawing the series finale of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, one of Marvel’s longest running current titles. How’d you get here, and how has it been seeing Squirrel Girl through this last phase of her title?
Derek Charm: Yeah, I originally came on just for one arc, the one about Kraven and Spider-Man, and things just clicked really quickly. Ryan and I had worked together before on Jughead, and I know our editors Wil Moss and Sarah Brunstad wanted someone who could just jump right in and work in Ryan’s style of writing, which is very dense and specific and challenging (in the best way!) and so when Erica Henderson decided not to come back as the regular series artist, we just kept going basically one arc at a time until we reached the end.
Nrama: You’ve worked with writer Ryan North before. How has your working relationship developed since starting Squirrel Girl?
Charm: I really enjoy working with Ryan, and I think we work well together! I’ve drawn things on this book specifically that I never would have thought I’d be able to draw. There are times where I read his scripts and am like, “Okay, this cannot work” but it always does! It’s like putting a puzzle together, I find it challenging and rewarding. He’s also just a great person, great collaborator, always down to discuss any changes or new developments that come along, or just talk about what the only good episodes of Star Trek: Voyager are.
Nrama: On that note, you’ve been working with colorist Rico Renzi. What makes him the perfect artistic collaborator for a title like this?
Charm: It honestly doesn’t look like a Squirrel Girl comic until Rico is done with it. As soon as I saw colors for that first issue, it all just felt right. It was exciting to see the palette he uses on that book applied to my art for the first time. He’s amazing, and like everyone involved with this book, he likes to experiment and try new things, so it was always really fun to get back pages with his touch.
Nrama: With the end in sight, what part of Squirrel Girl has been your favorite to draw?
Charm: I’ve mentioned this before, but a thing that struck me about this series as I worked on it was that I started to think of these characters as real people. And they were people I liked spending time with. I think it’s a real testament to Ryan’s writing that these characters, even if they’re a brain in a jar, can feel so real and well-defined. So that’s something that was really special about this run that I’ll always remember. That said my favorite thing I’ve drawn was a double page spread of the 70s Avengers fighting Skrulls from around issue 40, which was not something I ever imagined would come up in this book, but was very excited when it did.
Nrama: Without getting too spoiler-y, what is your favorite part of the finale? What moment do you think the team really nailed?
Charm: One thing I didn’t really expect when I came on this book was that I’d be drawing essentially the entire Marvel Universe over the course of this run. There’s over 30 guest stars in this arc alone (I know because I made a list so I wouldn’t forget who was there!)
I’m a huge fan of early Marvel art; Kirby, Buscema and everyone else, that is was so exciting to get to draw these classic villains and try to pay respect to those styles. I thought issue 49, the full issue fight scene was so great, it just kept one-upping itself every couple pages. I was legitimately exhausted by the end of it. So that was a highlight. I also really loved drawing the guest star we have in the final issue.
Nrama: What’s next on your drawing board? Should we expect more Marvel work from you in the future?
Charm: I’m always down to work for Marvel in the future, but nothing specifically planned at the moment. Ryan and I are currently working together on a Kid Constantine graphic novel for DC Comics that’ll be out in a year, so we’re still going strong.
Nrama: What tenets have you kept in mind about drawing Doreen Green in your time with the title?
Charm: Mainly just to have fun and try to focus on getting that uplifting attitude across in the art.
Nrama: Bottom line, what do you hope readers will take away from this finale?
Charm: It’s put more elegantly in the actual issue, but a big part of the message here is that something ending doesn’t mean that it’s over. You can always go back and read this run again and again and laugh at the jokes and relive those moments. I’m really proud to be a part of this big, completed chunk of comics and to have worked with this amazing team.