Josie Campbell Talks ‘My Adventures With Superman’, ‘Shazam!’ & Potential ‘She-Ra’ Return (EXCLUSIVE)

Josie Campbell tells all!

Josie Campbell My Adventures With Superman Shazam! Comic

What goes into making a man fly up, up and away? Josie Campbell breaks down her experience working on My Adventures With Superman and other beloved series.

Campbell’s career has silently been one of the most prolific in the world of spandex and tights. The writer boasts an impressive resume from hit shows like She-Ra and The Princesses of Power to fan-favorite comics like The New Champion of Shazam!

Her most recent accomplishment is her role as co-producer and head writer on the wildly successful My Adventures With Superman. With the second season of DC’s newest hit just around the corner, Heroic Hollywood was able to sit down with Josie Campbell to talk about her career and what fans can expect from the upcoming season.

The first two episodes of My Adventures With Superman season 2 debut Saturday, May 25th on Adult Swim. New episodes will be available the following day on the Max streaming service. You can read our full interview with Josie Campbell below.

It’s been four years since the end of She-Ra and The Princesses of Power ended. Why do you think it still sticks in the hearts of fans even after all these years?

I think it’s a combination of us doing something a little different with something so beloved, and that’s why I think it’s like sticking out. I mean, I go to conventions to sign comic books and things and there’s always a group of kids, and always a group of young women coming up and saying how much She-Ra meant to them. Or a group of men or a group of – just groups!

And it’s one of those things where it’s everybody. It’s the moms who remembered watching the original She-Ra as kids, so excited because they got their kids into the new She-Ra. It’s queer people coming up to say they feel seen and that they love the queer representation. It’s girls coming up to say they love She-Ra and like the sword fighting, the superhero stuff. It’s boys coming and being like ‘Oh man, she’s a cool superhero! She’s fighting the horde!’

So I think it always had something for everybody, but I think it sticks around because we really tried to embrace that idea that there is something for every single person who watches She-Ra. And I think we accomplished that to some degree, which has been great!

Do you ever feel you’d want the show to come back in some form, be it a movie or a spin-off, or are you happy with how things ended?

I think with how streaming has gotten shorter and shorter, I’m really thrilled that we got to do 52 episodes. That is something that has been hard to get in any other form. Like we did about that much for Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, but I think we really ended the show in the way that we wanted to. We told a complete story.

I think all of us would be thrilled if it came back in some form, or if there was a movie or something like that. That’s unfortunately not our decision as the writers or the creators, but I think it’s really great that we actually got to tell a full story and finish it and have so many episodes. Which, again, has become more and more rare as streaming has gone on.

Going from one of your older projects to one of your newer projects, I Heart Skull-Crusher! has been one of the most unique comics I’ve seen in recent years. How do you pitch that series to people who’ve never heard of it before?

So it’s the same way I sort of pitched it to BOOM! [Studios], which was like it’s about Trini. She’s 18-years-old. She loves her favorite sport and her favorite athlete. And, golly-gee, she just wants to join them and play. But that sport just happens to be Thunderdome meets soccer because she lives in an apocalyptic wasteland!

So it’s Trini trying to make her dreams come true and entering a tournament where she has to murder her way to the top. And so that’s how I’ve been describing- that’s sort of the pitch I’ve been describing I Heart Skull-Crusher! The very simple logline was like ‘It’s a sports anime that takes place in Mad Max essentially’.

So yeah, it’s a lot of fun, and I love working with Alessio Zonno, who’s the artist and co-creator. Like when we were looking at his art I was like ‘Oh my god, he gets it!’ and then as soon as we started talking he was like ‘Let’s talk about Fooly Cooly, let’s talk about my favorite Trigger animes,’ and I was like ‘Let’s talk about Trigger!’ and spent a whole cycle, I think, alienating our editors, just dropping references to each other. So, yeah, it’s a sports anime with a lot more beheadings.

What do you think sits at the heart of that story?

I think Trini is the heart of the story. It’s our main character and it’s this search for belonging, really. Because any sports story kind of has that, but for Trini, she’s an orphan, she has this passion that is not shared by anyone else in her town. So she is searching for belonging, love, and acceptance.

And I think at the heart of I Heart Skull-Crusher!, you’ve got the big high-concept idea, but the very heart of it is a teenage girl who is looking for love and acceptance and is trying to find it playing the sport she loves. And I think that really is something that resounds with me and is often present in a lot of things I’ve worked on, She-Ra, even Jurassic, [My Adventures with] Superman. In a lot of these things there is this idea of found family, there is this idea of searching for a place to belong. I think that interests me and I think that’s really at the core of Skull-Crusher.

Is this one of those projects you have an endgame for? Or is this something you hope can go as long as you can?

It’s so funny, I do have an endgame for it. I do have a plan for the ending. But also some of it is seeing how far it goes. We’ve got our first five issues, gunning to try to get a second five. I’d love to do a three-arc sort of structure thing with it.

Again, it’s a shorter run than I think you would with like a manga or something like that. But like I do have a definitive ending, so it’s just seeing how many issues I can do before I get there.

I would love for this to be like an Amazon Prime animated show.

Oh my god, yes! I’d love that! I’d love to transfer it into the animated space!

Speaking of comics, you’ve done a lot of work on Shazam! He’s one of the oldest heroes in DC’s catalogue. What do you think draws people to that character?

I think, again, it’s sort of a double whammy. And one of it is the weirdness. The original Fawcett Shazam! comics were kind of like comedies more than they were straight superhero stories. You had Tawky Tawny, you had Uncle Dudley. There’s a comic the first time you meet him where he’s like ‘I’m a superhero too! Shout Shazam!’, runs into a bush, there’s a panel of him getting changed in the bush, and then he jumps back out in his costume and he’s like ‘See?’ And it’s really funny!

I think the humor and weirdness and zaniness. There’s a pure comic book-ness to Shazam! That I think you don’t get with a lot of other heroes and a lot of other comic book characters. He’s zany in a way that even Silver Age Batman is not that zany.

I think it interests people because it’s different, and I think it interests people because the idea of a child transforming into a hero is a really potent one, you know? When you’re a kid it’s exciting because you want to be the hero. As an adult, it’s fun because you like the different dynamics between child and adult versions of these characters. So yeah, it’s a good concept and it’s really weird.

Shazam! has had some big-screen success, but we’re entering a new era of the DC Universe. Let’s say James Gunn and Peter Safran come down from their cloud and say ‘Pitch us your idea for a Shazam! reboot.’ What sort of storylines or concepts would you want to see happen?

It’s tough because I do really like the Shazam! movie that they had made recently. Which, again, is like going in a very Big direction. As in the movie Big where he’s kind of the same person. I think my pitch is a little bit like what I’m doing in the comics which is, no, he and the Captain are kind of two different people. It’s kind of a swap.

I think I’d really like to lean into it, and again I’m doing this in the comics, but lean into the like history of him being a runaway. Being a kid runaway. Like there’s a really fun Boxcar Children element to the Shazam! family that we haven’t gotten that much chance to play with. So a bunch of kid runaways get an amazing power that transforms them and then they fight interdimensional gods and the Seven Deadly Sins. Like, that’s great! I’d absolutely pitch and write that movie.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods David F. Sandberg DC Universe

My Adventures of Superman came out in a weird phase with DC Studios. With season 2 having been worked on during this transition, how have things changed? Are they more hands on or do they support you in doing your own thing?

No, it continued to be very supportive. I mean, every part of making Superman was in a state of flux. We pitched it and worked on the pilot during the first merger before Discovery, when I think Tom Ashton was in charge. Then we got it greenlit. Then the second merger happened. Then the pandemic. Now we’ve got this. But I think for us, we’ve really been treating it like it’s an Elseworlds story basically. Like we are our own little universe separate from the animated stuff that came before, separate from the animated stuff that’s coming after it.

And that’s really afforded us a lot of freedom. We’re able to pull in parts of the DC Universe that we might not necessarily have been able to touch if we were more tied to what Gunn is doing or tied to what previous regimes were doing. So I think we’re still pretty happy with how much creative freedom we’ve been getting and how little pushback we’ve gotten when we’re like ‘Alright, we’re gonna do some crazy stuff, get ready!’ and they’re like ‘Alright, we’re here for it.’

My adventures with superman clark kent jack quaid Ishmel Sahid jimmy olsen alice lee lois lane

Speaking of what James Gunn is doing right now with Superman, do you have any thoughts on the movie, are you excited at all?

I am! I think I said this in other interviews but I’m like that meme of Otto being like ‘Don’t make me tap the sign’ and the sign just says like ‘All Superman media is good because it has Superman in it.’ I’m really excited! I think the casting is so smart. I’m excited to see Rachel Brosnahan as Lois Lane.

Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about the movie. Like everybody in animation, nobody has seen the movie, nobody has read the script, we don’t know what’s going on. So it’s gonna be fresh to us as fans as well. But when Gunn says things like ‘He wants it to be the summer of Superman,’ he wants to see a bunch of Superman stuff pop up. As a Superman fan, that makes me really excited! So I really can’t wait to see it when it comes out.

James Gunn David Corenswet Superman Suit Zack Snyder

Your team has reinvented a lot of villains on My Adventures with Superman, from Mallah to Mxyzptlk. What do you think is your favorite out of the bunch?

It’s hard because, like you said, we’ve done a lot. I think my two favorites are – I really do like the League of Lois Lanes because that’s a wholly our show invention. Like, we are all big nerds who were talking about the Council of Reed Richards and the Captain Britain Corps, and we’re like ‘That would be fun to do for Lois Lane!’ Just like a bunch of extremely aggressive A-type personalities coming together across the multiverse.

I think my other one, especially from season 1, was Mallah and The Brain. I love Doom Patrol. I love the comic. I think the Doom Patrol TV show that came out, the live-action show, was so good. Oh my god! Like it so captured that, again, that weirdness of the things that I really like in comics. That comic book weirdness that [Grant] Morrison was doing.

DC FanDome Doom Patrol HBO Max

So it was really fun for us because we were like ‘Well Superman has a long history of gorillas. Of fighting gorillas, of Jimmy being kidnapped by gorillas, of Jimmy marrying gorillas,’ Like there’s a lot of silver age comics where Jimmy is kidnapped by a gorilla and we’re like ‘You know, what would be fun is if we pick a gorilla that’s never been in Superman media, let’s Monsieur Mallah! Let’s do Mallah and The Brain.’

They’re like a bickering mad science couple out in the woods who are accidentally giving therapy to Jimmy. And from there the script was so fun and Jesse [Inocalla] and Andre [Sogliuzzo], the voice actors, had such a good time. We’re like this is really, I think, our favorite weird version we’ve made of these DC characters.

Do you think we’ll ever see Mallah and The Brain come back, or is that something you can’t speak on?

I think if you want to see who comes back in season 2, you should probably watch season 2 when it premieres May 25th!

My personal favorite reinvention you guys did for the show was Ivo, with you guys turning him into the Parasite. What was the inspiration for that merging of the villains?

So, that was an idea Brendan [Clougher] and Jake [Wyatt] had had a little bit before I came on to work on the pilot with them. Where they wanted to do something different with Parasite, just because a lot of the mandate of our show was ‘Do something we haven’t seen before.’ Which, when you have a character that’s like 85 years old, is really hard to do.

So we were talking about it and we are all big anime nerds. We started to talk about it in terms of like ‘Maybe it’s like a mech suit?’ or something like that. And from there we hit on the idea of Doctor Ivo, in the comics Doctor Ivo created the Amazo robot, which is a Superman villain.

So we hit upon this idea, and then I wrote that episode with Brendan, and we just had so much fun of being like ‘Okay, Parasite, yeah, here is a tech guy who is literally sucking the blood out of his company. This guy who’s put himself before everybody else.’ And then Brendan was like ‘What if there’s like a cage match with him and Superman?’ and I was like ‘Hell yeah!’ And, basically, working on that script together we kind of crafted Ivo.

And then honestly the last piece was Jake Green coming in to voice him. He was so good at being an unlikeable jerk that we were like ‘Yeah, this is it! This is Ivo! Ivo is the Parasite.’ This type of person who thinks that helping others for free is a weakness. That’s a parasite.

So we had a lot of fun with that episode. And then once we did that our imaginations ran wild and we were like ‘What if he got really big? What if there’s a kaiju Parasite?’ Well, we have our finale!

You keep talking about the collaborative process of coming up with these characters. Can you tell us a bit about how the writers’ room for My Adventures With Superman works?

Yeah, absolutely. I’m both a producer and the head writer. So we brought all of our writers together, both our staff writers and our freelance writers, and me, Jake, and Brendan were there. Basically, the first thing we do for each season is we do sort of a week-long season breakout where we talk about what romance storylines we want to see, what character storylines we want to see, we brainstorm what villains and characters would be fun to bring in. And then by the end of that week, we put together sort of a blueprint of what we think the season will be.

We get notes on that blueprint, we get notes on those episode ideas, and then when we’re actually writing them, I’m lucky enough to have a full writers room, which is great. So all of the writers come in, and I work with them to break the story, and come up with the story for each individual episode. I’ll do rewrites with them, we’ll bounce things back and forth.

And then the process, even when we finish and turn in our last script, and they’re recording it and they’re boarding it, the process still goes because sometimes we’re like ‘Uh, this is kind of long.’ So I will go in and rewrite with the director and be like ‘Okay! Here’s the shortened version’ or like ‘Ah, we need some more jokes,’ and go in and pop in some more jokes, or I’ll have the writer pop in some more jokes.

So part of the reason it’s very collaborative is because it never stops. The collaboration never stops. It’s from start to finish, it’s every single writer coming in with their A-Game. It’s me coming in, leading the group, and doing a lot of rewrites.

If you are a head writer, you want to become a head writer, just know it’s the most writing you’ve ever done in your life. And it’s the most editing and rewriting you’ve ever done. And then once the artists are coming in they’re bringing in their own ideas, and we’re integrating that as well.

You always hear the hardest part about writing for TV is getting into the writers’ room to write for TV. Can you tell us a bit about your journey from someone who loves stories to now being the head writer for a DC TV show?

I was that kid who was constantly buying comic books and watching Justice League Unlimited and superhero cartoons far past when I was a kid, way into college age. I went to college for screenwriting for TV, film, and stage.

And then I moved out to Los Angeles where, actually, my first jobs weren’t TV writing. Because I graduated into the Great Recession so all the jobs went away! So I started doing odd jobs writing whatever I could. I got hired to ghostwrite for comedians, I wrote articles for news sites, and I was an entertainment reporter for a while.

But basically a friend of mine had gotten hired as the assistant to Alan Burnett, who was the writer-producer for Batman: The Animated Series, which is my favorite series altogether. And Alan was looking for new voices, new talent, to pitch him ideas.

My Adventures With Superman jack quaid Clark Kent Batman Caped Crusader

So my friend gave Alan my script that I had been working on for the past year or so. A spec script that I was writing on my own, an original idea, an original comedy, and Alan liked it so much that he brought me in and was like ‘Pitch me ideas.’ So I started pitching things to him and to some of the other producers at Warner Brothers.

And from there, it was a slow process. It was a couple of years of pitching things, of doing freelance work, coming and getting known. But after that that’s when I got staffed on a show at Warner Brothers, Right Now Kapow, and then from there the people I knew at Warner Brothers, a lot of them went over to Dreamworks and were like ‘Josie’s a good writer, you should hire her for She-Ra!’ And my career kind of took off from there.

The landscape of TV writing has changed massively since 2008. What do you think is both a benefit that new writers have versus what is harder now?

I think on the benefit side, even with the contraction that’s going on right now in television, with fewer TV shows getting made, it’s still so many more TV shows than there used to be. At the height of the TV boom you had about 600 shows being greenlit and off the ground. It’s been cut in half, it’s 300 now, but that’s still more than when I was growing up and you had like 100 series orders. So I still think there’s a lot more opportunity.

I do think what is harder is that, and you saw a little bit of this during the strike, the wages for writers have not kept up with inflation and have not kept up with the cost of living. It’s really hard when you’re in an industry where the two major cities where you get hired to work in are Los Angeles and New York, two of the most expensive cities to live in in the country.

So I do think it is a lot harder for somebody who doesn’t necessarily have a ton of financial or family support to go out and get hired. Everybody’s a ten-year success story, so it’s just can you weather those ten years before you’re able to break in? So yeah, I would love to see a Hollywood that more accurately reflects what pay should be based on inflation and based on cost of living.

Obviously, we have Supergirl coming into My Adventures with Superman season 2. Can you tell us anything about the character and her role in the season going forward?

We’ve been trying to be deliberately vague because there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to be happening in season 2. We go really big with season 2. I think with Kara, because I also got to write the episode that introduces her, she is full of twists and conflicts. And I think every time you think you get a handle on her she’s a little different. So I think she’s a very nuanced character, and we all had a ton of fun writing her.

I can’t really say what she’s going to be doing this season or how she’s going to be interacting- there is some really fun interactions coming up with all three of the main characters. Jimmy, Lois, and Clark. But yeah, I would say get ready for a very nuanced, complicated character. And I don’t think I can say anything else without starting to spoil season 2!

Did you have any specific inspirations when you were coming up with this version of Supergirl?

It’s not a surprise, we’ve said this before, but the [Richard] Donner movies are huge influences. I also personally am a huge fan of the 90s Superman comics and 90s, like, John Byrne era, 90s era, which was really really fun.

I had actually started [My Adventures with] Superman right after finishing writing a different version of Supergirl for the Supergirl and Legion of Superheroes made-for-TV movie that Warner Bros. put together. So I think my inspiration and my love for Kara is really love how brash she is in those sort of Legion stories. Where she knows what she wants, and she’s getting it, and she’s coming in.

I also really loved the sort of like ’90s version of her coming in. But I think for us we really were trying to make Kara a very distinct character. Because we wanted her to stand out on her own and for people to be able to say, years from now, ‘Oh what influences me was the Kara from My Adventures with Superman.’ So, a lot of ’90s. Kid of the 90s so a lot of ’90s influences are coming in.

Are there any other DC characters you’d want to bring in to the show? Or are you happy sticking to the Metropolis bubble?

We really love Metropolis, and I also feel like we barely scratched the surface. There’s so many characters- like we’ve thrown in so many Easter eggs. Like I think people have already spotted Bibbo Bibbowski is a commenter constantly on Jimmy’s feed. Lori Lemaris comments too.

Some of it is- what’s fun is I’m bringing in some characters that we never got to use in the show into the My Adventures with Superman comic I’m writing. Which is coming out around the same time [as season 2.] So some of my favorite characters are coming in, again, I’m a kid of the ’90s so I love characters like Bloodsport, and I love the Reign of Superman stuff.

And again, you’re gonna see it, but if I could I’d love to bring in Cyborg Superman. I love the leather jacket Superboy. So yes, I think I’d love to stick with the Superman universe for a while. But if there is any other hero to bring in, I’d love to see our version of Wonder Woman interact with our version of Superman. I think that’d be a lot of fun.

When it comes to those comics, do you feel you have more freedom in the stories you get to tell compared to the show?

Again, I think I’ve been very lucky in that DC has been 100% behind what I want to do both in the TV realm and in the comic book realm. The My Adventures with Superman comic actually started life as a pitch idea for an episode that we just never got to. And so when DC came and said ‘Hey do you want to write something?’ I was like ‘Yeah! I have this idea that we never got to do in season 1 or season 2.’ So it’s our Christmas holiday special, essentially.

I think the big difference is comics are a lot more solitary. You’re just writing it. You’re collaborating with great artists but it is a much more solo writer driven medium than animation is, where you have so many other voices coming in from art, from other writers.

So, yeah, freedom was still there. It’s just we get to do a little bit more in the comics simply because it’s not having to compete with ‘We only have 10 episodes!’ We’re like, alright, we got these five issues, we got these six issues, we get to basically tell a story that feels like three extra episodes packed into one.

At the end of the last season, we saw Brainiac talking to a mysterious figure talking about making Earth kneel. Will we be getting some sort of continuation of that into season 2?

We don’t tease things unless we plan to continue on with the thread. So I would say, if you want to learn more about the mysterious Kryptonian, and Brainiac voiced by Michael Emerson, yeah, watch season 2!

What’s it been like working with Michael Emerson as a voice talent for Brainiac?

Oh my god, it’s incredible. Michael is such a joy, and it’s so funny because mainly the characters he’s playing have been very ominous characters. Brainiac is very much in his wheelhouse. But he himself is an incredibly bubbly and delightful person. So he would come into the studio and he’d be like ‘I just came and took a walk and I got some coffee and I said hello to all my neighbors and I petted a puppy and I sniffed the flowers!’ and he’s so happy and bubbly, and then we’re like ‘Okay, Michael, it’s time,’ and he’s like ‘Hello,’ and we all get the chills!

So it’s very fun, I mean all of our actors are incredible, but it’s always fun to see the actors whose actual personalities are so opposite the characters they play. Like Michael in real life is just one of the happiest, sweetest people you could possibly find.

With that divide of what the audience sees versus behind-the-scenes, is there a funny moment or gaff that stands out in your memory?

We have a lot of fun in records. I think we had a lot of fun because we like to have the actors improv a lot too. Which is funny because every now and then that improv means somebody will accidentally say their own name instead of the character’s name.

Especially working with Deborah Wilson, who is voicing Amanda Waller, everytime she comes in she does a vocal warm-up for herself to get in character where she just starts ad-libbing lines. Actually, we loved that so much that there’s an episode in season 2 that actually incorporates Amanda Waller waking up and giving herself a little pep talk in the morning, just because we were so inspired by Deborah coming in and she’s doing ‘Okay, give me a second,’ and then just doing a whole monologue as Amanda Waller that we’re like ‘Damn, that’s better than what we’re writing! She’s good at this!’

Chris Parnell is another very funny actor. What was it like seeing him transform into Deathstroke?

It’s so funny because when we sent out the auditions for Deathstroke, his name showed up on the list and both Brendan and I didn’t believe it was him. Jake is like ‘No you idiots, it’s absolutely Chris Parnell,’ and we listened and I think what’s funny is he does such a menacing voice.

It’s the same exact voice he does for Jerry, it’s the same exact voice he does for Dr. Spaceman, but he puts this menace in his voice that makes it really fun to listen to. And also very fun to write for because he’s kind of chewing the scenery as [Slade] Wilson, but his voice carries it in a way that we weren’t expecting when we saw his name pop up in our voice auditions.

So yeah, Chris Parnell is Deathstroke. He’s very good at being this sarcastic menacing military person. And that is not something we would have expected before he auditioned.

You guys only have a two-season order for the show. Are you hoping to come back around for three or do you think the team is content with hanging up the cape?

We have ideas for seasons upon seasons. Brendan and Jake have ideas for seasons upon seasons. I think everybody’s had such a fun time in Metropolis they’d love to come back for it. It’s animation so we finished producing season 2 a while ago, and it’s just now coming on the air.

But I would say if people really want more seasons, want to see more episodes, watch season 2! Tell your friends! Buy the comic book! Show your love and are interest in our show. And hopefully, the higher-ups will respond to that.

Is there anything else you want to get out leading up to the season 2 premiere?

I think season 2 is a roller coaster. There are a lot of really funny episodes and a lot of really dramatic episodes. And I think the biggest thing we have in store is Krypton. Krypton is coming. And it is not necessarily a good thing.

So, I would say, and if you want more Superman than just season 2, buy the My Adventures with Superman comic book coming out. As I said, it actually takes place in between seasons. It’s essentially a Christmas special. Clark Kent is doing his first Christmas alone in Metropolis because Ma and Pa are fixing the farm from the disaster that hit it at the end of season 1. Jimmy and Lois have come up with a plan to make this Clark’s best Christmas ever!

And then everything’s thrown out of whack when a runaway robot that seems to look and act like the Parasite suit and Dr. Ivo’s tech shows up in Metropolis. And so from there, there are some connections to what happens in season 2, there are some things that tee up the emotional state of the characters in season 2, but there are also a lot of brand new characters and characters exclusive to the comic that get the My Adventures treatment. So watch this season, buy the comic, and keep enjoying!

Anthony Singletary

Anthony Singletary

Anthony has always had a love for stories. An aspiring screenwriter and video editor, he takes pride in connecting fans with the latest heroic news!