Greg Rucka’s graphic novel Stumptown is headed to ABC – but there are no heroes in capes or tights, villains who are plotting to take over the world, magic, mutants or out-of-this-world powers. It’s about a mortal woman named Dex Parios, a marine veteran who is just living her life. But don’t get it twisted — it very much has the grit of a graphic novel. And a very inclusive one at that.
After showing Smulders kick butt in the high-flying cold open of the pilot, producers Ruben Fleischer and David Bernad and Rucka were joined on stage by cast members Cobie Smulders, Jake Johnson, Michael Ealy, Camryn Manheim, Tantoo Cardinal, Cole Sibus and Adrian Martinez to talk about the new series.
The series follows Dex Parios (Smulders) – a strong, assertive and sharp-witted marine veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military intelligence skills make her a great PI, but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police.
“She’s not a superhero,” said Cobie Smulders of Dex. “She’s not really highly skilled. She’s a scrapper and the fight scenes will be very dirty and very realistic.”
Dex served in Afghanistan and is suffering from PTSD. The producers point out that it is not often that TV shows or movies explore the lives of women with PTSD and the show dives into that. “We all have PTSD in our lives — at different levels,” said Smulders. She adds that she read a lot about women in combat and she put her own experiences in there.
The character of Dex is sexually fluid. Smulders said that it will definitely be addressed in the series. “She’s definitely attracted to women and men,” Smulders said of Dex. “She tries to recover through her PTSD through sex. She’s up for anything — it’s one of the things that drew me to this character.”
“I really believe Dex is incapable of a relationship… she’s more about who’s available,” joked Smulders.
In addition, Cardinal steps into the role of the character of Sue Lynn Blackbird — a woman from an indigenous background. It’s a rare thing on TV to see a representation of an indigenous people. More than that, Cardinal said you don’t often see indigenous women in a series role. That said, Cardinal jokingly admitted that when she was offered the role, she did just hopped on a plane without reading the graphic novels.
“There are so many indigenous women who are powerful and who are leaders,” she said. “I am honored to bring Sue Lynn Blackbird to you.”
As far as following the graphic novel beat for beat for the adaptation, Rucka points out that there are currently five issues and that if adapted from that it would only be 35 minutes of TV. “It would be dull,” he said. “The comic is the comic…trying to translate it is a recipe disaster.”
Bernad admits that the pilot deviates from the graphic novel but the series “keeps the spirit of it.”
Stumptown premieres on ABC September 25 at 10 PM.