What happens when a town known for being the location for
The Goonies a popular ’80s movie about a group of treasure-hunting kids turns out to actually be hiding treasure?
Well, according to Misfit City, a new comic series from writers Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and illustrator Naomi Franquiz, you go looking for treasure.
The new BOOM! Studios comic, which was inspired by the real-life town of Astoria, Ore., sees a group of friends embark on a quest for buried treasure after they find a map belonging to none other than notorious pirate and local legend, Black Mary. In this enterprising, but still slightly skeptical, crew are: Wilder, the de-facto leader and a budding young activist; her nose-blind-yet-genius dog Pippin; snark musician (and best friend) Macey; New Age optimist Karma; hustle-seeking Ed; and the book-loving Dot.
“The map takes them closer and closer to learning a little bit more about what’s been going on in the town,” explains Smith — who’s previously penned 10 Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde — about what the girls will be up to. “They’re also being pursued by, and going up against, a duo of villains who are the actual inheritors of the map, and who want to get their hands on this treasure as well.”
As Misfit City sets to touch down in comic book stores next week, EW caught up with Smith, Lustgarten, and Franquiz to dig deeper into some of the mysteries of the new series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re obviously referencing The Goonies with “The Gloomies,” but were there any other movies you wanted to reference going into the series?
KIWI SMITH: There’s a slight love of ’80s movies in all their different forms. Classic gems like Adventures in Babysitting, Monster Squad, Explorers —
KURT LUSTGARTEN: Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain.
SMITH: That’s literally the only female treasure-hunting movie there is. It leaves a tiny something to be desired… But for a lot of these movies, I didn’t really respond as much because they didn’t have enough female representation. So I wasn’t into them. My touchstones were John Hughes movies… When you watch The Goonies or those kinds of movies, they’re pushing action set pieces, which Kurt brings, which is where our collaboration is really good, while the relationships between characters is my jam.
You kind of touched upon it, but what does having a group of girls at the center of a treasure-hunting story add to it?
LUSTGARTEN: Speaking from my experience as a young boy, there’s no rational practical side to the prospect of adventure. It’s just: “Woah. Adventure. Let’s do it.” And our girls are a little more mature, so they’re a little more skeptical. That kind of push-pull among characters creates a more fun dynamic among them all. They are constantly questioning if this is a worthwhile adventure. So their attitudes are a little more fun to deal with.
SMITH: It’s just better because it’s girls!
NAOMI FRANQUIZ: It’s also a wide range of characters. I realized as I was drawing their faces how varied their reactions are. It’s a much more well-rounded group of protagonists… They ended up reflecting a lot of the people I grew up with, like girls in my friend group, as well as something that happens naturally between groups of girls all over.
How would you compare Cannon Cove to other small towns we’ve seen in popular culture — like Twin Peaks or Gravity Falls?
FRANQUIZ: When I was drawing and talking with Brittany Peer, our color artist, about the different moods of the town and the overall color scheme, we were mentioning how that mysterious but colorful aspect of how Gravity Falls is styled in art is something we wanted to bring into Misfit City, just because it fits so well. It’s in the same region of the country and it’s a small town in Podunk, nowhere.
SMITH: There might be a little dappling of Cabot Cove from Murder She Wrote, an original girl power cult classic from our deep childhoods, in our Cannon Cove.
Did you have to do any research or talk to the residents of Astoria?
SMITH: I come from a town called Port Townsend, Wash. So for me, that’s what I’ve been having in my head: a small seaside Victorian town. We’ve had a few movies shot there, like An Officer and A Gentleman and the Jennifer Lopez thriller, Enough. It’s small enough to where you know a lot of people, but not quite everybody. In my mind, I was basing it off a place that I grew up.
You also have Black Mary, the pirate who all this potential treasure belongs to. What can you tell me about her?
LUSTGARTEN: Black Mary is depicted as the nastiest and most villainous pirate you’ve ever heard of. But as the girls start to learn more and start to follow the map, they discover more about her history that actually might challenge those notions and the way that our history has been passed down. Maybe she wasn’t the villain that she is portrayed as. So we might discover a bit more about her and her dealings with people.
Part of the story is that you have to plot out an actual treasure hunt. Did anything surprise you as you were trying to do that?
LUSTGARTEN: I didn’t realize how difficult it was. At the same time, you are discovering new ways to dole out clues and information to the characters.
SMITH: It’s also been fun to look at how to subvert treasure hunting archetypes, but then also deliver on the promise of what makes a treasure hunt great, which is spooks and scares and relationships getting tested as you go deeper into the hunt… We’re structuring it like a movie. So it’s helpful that Kurt and I are both screenwriters.
FRANQUIZ: This is definitely a learning experience trying to leave clues in the art because I’m working script to script and I’m finding a lot of what I want to do in the future. I want to try and leave little Easter eggs, turning the comic into an actual treasure hunt.
What about “The Gloomies”? Did you have to make up references to the fictional movie?
SMITH: There’s a lot of meta stuff. The movie that was shot there. There’s fictional characters and music and lines of dialogue within that movie that are referenced. So it has a bit of that meta feeling of the characters learning from the movie that they’re also under the shadow of, but also bucking against.
LUSTGARTEN: Kiwi was good to remind us to pepper in references to this movie. So we have all these little callbacks. The movie itself felt very real.
FRANQUIZ: When I was in designing these characters and drawing the background characters so far, because of what the series is based off of, and the whole genre, I’m definitely trying to bring in some references to ’80s and ’90s movies and pop culture. Even in the fashion or the character behavior or body language.
Misfit City will be available for purchase on May 10. Until then, read some exclusive pages below.