Speaking to Jane Wiedlin on the phone, one might find it hard to believe the sweet and perky voice on the other end belongs to a sci-fi geek and punk rocker who got her start as early as 1978, when she and Belinda Carlisle first formed The Go-Go’s. One might also be surprised to discover that, after some acting and a solo singing career, Wiedlin reunited with her bandmates to tour, at age 42, once again as the Go-Go’s. This month, the band kicked off their “Happily Ever After Farewell Tour,” and Wiedlin released the first issue of Lady Robotika, a comic book starring herself as an alien-abducted rocker who is turned into a cyborg and forced to perform music. Sound intriguing? We thought so, and decided to chat with Wiedlin about her favorite movies and what it was like working on the comic. Read on for the full interview!
Blade Runner (1982,
#1 for sure is Blade Runner. I’ve been a big sci-fi geek since I was a little kid, and it was just done so well. It felt like that’s what Los Angeles was going to look like in the future, and you felt Harrison Ford’s turmoil as a blade runner. Everything about it was so real, and so cool, and everyone that was cast in it was so good in their roles, and so attractive. Even though the future looked spooky, it was also mesmerizing. Sean Young… Who knew she was so crazy? She was so great in that movie. And then when she finds out she’s a replicant, it’s so heartbreaking. I could watch that movie a hundred times and I don’t even care which version I see; I’m fine with the narration, I’m fine without the narration. It’s just a great movie. When you’ve seen it so many times, I guess it doesn’t matter. Like, it’s impossible for me to go back in time and see it for the first time without narration and see if it would have made it confusing or not, which, I guess, was the studio’s worry, that people wouldn’t be able to follow the storyline. But, you know, I’ll never know. [laughs] All I know is it’s the best science fiction movie ever made.
#2 is Showgirls. Again, a movie I’ve seen at least a dozen times, and I know that everybody gets it now, but I was a true believer right from the beginning. It is, really, the accidentally funniest movie I’ve ever seen. It never gets any less funny. There’s just something about watching Elizabeth Berkeley in that role, when she’s like flopping in the water like a fish, or when she’s in that club, and Cristal Connors pays her $500 to give Zack a lapdance, and she’s all flapping around on his lap. It’s so cringeworthy, but it’s so funny at the same time. And I’m normally not really a fan of cringey humor — shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm — I can’t even watch those shows because I end up running behind the couch, I’m cringing so bad. The thing about Showgirls, and how earnest everybody was, and how over-the-top it was — I just love that movie. I practically have it memorized.
I think #3 would be The Empire Strikes Back. To me, clearly the best of the six, like way, way ahead of the field — the six Star Wars movies, not my list — and here we go, Harrison Ford again. Harrison Ford was like my generation’s greatest leading man. He’s going to be our Clark Gable or whatever. He was so good. That movie just had plenty of story and action, and my problem with a lot of sci-fi is that it’s all action and not enough story, not enough character development, and not enough relationships between the characters. It’s all shoot-em-up, which is good; I think guys like that. But I like my shoot-em-ups with relationships and character development and lots of story. And, you know, lots of snappy lines done really well by the actors. Another thing is, it’s the last Star Wars movie before the cute came in. And once they brought the cute, it was like “Ugh! It’s too cute!” They should have made six movies for adults and six movies for kids, and then everybody could have been happy. I’m going to get death threats now, for criticizing… I kid because I love! [laughs]
The next one would be Star Trek IV, because it was the best Star Trek, and because I was in it. [laughs] Does it count as a plug if it was made a million years ago? I mean, it was the best Star Trek, so there you go. And it was about saving whales, which I would agree with, and it was the first time that they really let the characters get kind of funny and more relaxed, and I think that was a really good direction for them to go.
Galaxy Quest (1999,
#5, I’ll put Galaxy Quest. I know Galaxy Quest is not a great movie, but I love that movie, and I’ve seen it over and over and over, and I still love it just as much. I think Tim Allen portraying a Kirk-like character is so damn funny. I think that’s one of the best “fan” films ever made. And the fake Spock guy was great, yeah. That movie’s really funny. We saw it when it first came out — my family has a tradition of always going to a movie on Christmas afternoon, and we went and saw that one. It was such a great family moment, too. It brings back good memories.
Next, Wiedlin talks more about her love of sci-fi and what it’s like to work on a comic book.
RT: So let’s talk about Lady Robotika. What inspired you to create a comic book? It seems like a new direction for you.
Jane Wiedlin: It is a really new direction, because I didn’t read comic books as a kid. But I’ve been going to conventions for years now, mostly to sign autographs as a celebrity, and then sometimes as a fan, just because I’m a sci-fi geek. But I kind of ignored the whole comic book thing, and it’s pretty overwhelming at a convention anyway. I mean, I’ve seen literally millions of comics there, and you’re like, “Well, where do we begin?” But as a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan because I read really fast, and the comic books would just end for me before they started, so I didn’t find them satisfying. When I met my writing partner Bill Morrison at Super-Con two years ago, we became really good friends really quickly, and he suggested doing a project together. And, you know, he’s Mr. Comic so it was his idea to do a comic, and I was really intrigued by the idea. When he suggested making me the star of the comic, then I really wanted to do it, because I’d finally get my big chance to be a superhero. So that was how it all came together. We’ve been kind of working on it for three years, and I’m completely amazed that we actually got it to come out. When the box of comics came to my house last week and I looked at one, I started crying, because I was like, “Alright, it’s hard for me to believe this is real.” [laughs] It’s been such a long time coming.
Is it a similar feeling to, say, having your first album come out, or your first major movie?
Let me think… Yeah, of course it’s a similar excitement. I think when I first started making records, I was so young that I just had this sort of naïve confidence, and now that I’m older, I have no confidence that anything’s ever going to work. So just the fact that we got it to happen was almost more thrilling, because we followed through and made it happen. I can’t control anything that happens besides that, but at least I got that damn comic book out in the real world. It feels like a huge accomplishment.
What are some of the influences on the comic? I see a certain amount of ’50s, “Keep Watching the Skies!” sci-fi in there.
Yeah, definitely. I think because Bill and I are the same age, a lot of our influences were exactly the same. And in fact, we didn’t really talk about it that much; it just came out of us really naturally when we were co-writing. Both of us love flying saucers and aliens and robots, and both of us collect all that stuff. We had so much in common that it was only natural that the book would be full of those kinds of images. Some of the things we did discuss and put into the comic were that we wanted it to be sassy and sexy, but sexy in a way that was a little bit more subtle than, you know, in-your-face giant boobs and orgy scenes or something. So it is more of a playful sexiness while still being, I would say, relatively safe for kids. [laughs] And I say “relatively safe” because I don’t have kids, and I’m not really sure, but I think it’s fine, and judging from the people that kids love now anyway, like pop stars and stuff, it seems like this is so innocent compared to all that nonsense.
It’s a monthly comic, right?
Yeah. Wow, that’s killing us, actually. You have no idea how hard it is to get a comic book done in a month. For me, I can’t draw at all; I can only write. So I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs, trying to get people across the country to draw, because Bill doesn’t have time to draw it all himself, so we’ve had to hire outside artists. And they’re really great, and I can’t even get mad at them, because they’ll send a page and it’ll be beautiful, but I’ll be like, “Okay, I really need the rest of it.” “Okay, any minute!” And then two weeks later, “Please, I’m begging you! Please send me that artwork!” It’s so stressful. I had no idea about all that going into it, or I might have thought twice about it. Or maybe I would have made it more like The Simpsons, where it’s like really simple drawing, instead of these really elaborate things, where each panel is like a piece of art.
Obviously there’s a lot of you in Lady Robotika. Does this mean we may get to see some Lady Robotika performances in the future?
Oh, yeah, definitely. Are you in LA? Monday night, I’m going to be performing at Meltdown Comics; we’re doing a signing there. But yeah, I put together a band of friends that are fun and cute, and we’re going to do a short set and I’m going to be sitting down, because, to be honest, I was supposed to be on a Go-Go’s tour right now, but I had a hiking accident, and I’m kind of laid up. So the show isn’t going to be my usual jumping-around, going-crazy kind of show; it’s going to be just a few songs with me sitting on a stool. But it should still be fun, and hopefully in the future we’re going to do a lot more shows, because I do have a whole album of Lady Robotika-inspired songs written.
Be on the lookout for Issue #1 of Jane Wiedlin’s Lady Robotika, which should currently be lining the shelves of your nearest comic shop.
Also, as an added treat, if you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to drop by Meltdown Comics in Hollywood on Monday, July 26th, to see Jane perform live at the official release party!