Jem and the Holograms (franchise)
|The name or term "Jem and the Holograms" refers to more than one character or idea. For a list of other meanings, see Jem and the Holograms (disambiguation).|
Jem and the Holograms was a toyline first released by Hasbro in 1986. The series followed Jem and the Holograms, a band made up of four sisters fronted by Jerrica Benton, who, with the help of a holographic computer designed by her late father called Synergy, took on the persona of Jem. In their search for fame, The Holograms were often opposed by The Misfits, who's jealous and egotistical leader Pizzazz would stop at nothing to ruin them. After a long period of hibernation, the franchise has begun making several small comebacks in recent years, including a comic series begun by IDW Publishing in 2015.
The concept for the Jem toyline was originally created by advertising executive Bill Sanders and the team of Hasbro marketing director Joe Hyland and his wife Barbara. Like many of their other toylines at the time, including The Transformers and G.I. Joe, Hasbro worked together with Sunbow Productions to create an animated series to promote this new line of musically themed dolls. It was here that many of the concepts and characters that would come to define the series were further fleshed out by Christy Marx. Envisioned as a series that would appeal to both boys and girls alike, the Jem cartoon premiered as a miniseries in October of 1985, several months ahead of the toyline's debut. The miniseries was made up of 15 episodes, each about 7 minutes in length, and was part of "Super Sunday", a syndicated, half hour block of programming that also featured similarly bite-sized episodes of various other toy derived cartoons produced by Sunbow, including fellow Hasbro franchise Inhumanoids. Once edited together, that miniseries would make up the first five episodes of Jem's first season. Ultimately, the animated series ran for three seasons and 65 episodes over roughly two and a half years, ending in May of 1988.
Created to compete with other fashion dolls such as Barbie, the Jem dolls stood slightly taller (12 1/2 inches to Barbie's 11 1/2), offered much more in the way of articulation, and featured a much louder, modern "rock and roll" style than their competition. Keeping in with the musical theme, many dolls also came bundled with a cassette tape that featured music from the animated series. Despite prototypes of dolls based on characters introduced in the final season of the cartoon being shown off by Hasbro at that year's Toy Fair, the toyline was also discontinued in 1988, evidently due to low sales resulting from increased competition.
With the cartoon coming to an end and the dolls discontinued, Jem went quiet for over 20 years. However, in 2011, Hasbro began reairing the original cartoon on The Hub and later that same year released a comic book, Unit:E, at New York Comic Con. This comic blended together characters from a wide variety of Hasbro properties and starred a radically different take on Synergy, here an alien AI who was given as a gift to Acroyear of the Micronauts franchise, introducing him to many of the other Hasbro characters, including Jem and The Holograms. Though this comic was meant to serve as an introduction to a much grander crossover that would relaunch many of the brands involved, these plans never came to fruition. In 2012, Hasbro began licensing out Jem to high-end, collector-oriented doll manufacturer Integrity Toys, who continue to hold the license and release new dolls based on the animated series to this day.
In 2014, inspired by the financial success of their Transformers and G.I. Joe film franchises, Hasbro announced they would be producing a live action film adaptation of Jem. Releasing in October of 2015, the film was unfortunately both a critical and commercial flop, many fans sharply criticizing it for its lack of resemblance to the original series.
Also in 2014, IDW Publishing, who already had a long relationship with Hasbro through publishing comics based on Transformers and G.I. Joe, announced that they had begun putting together a revival of Jem that would launch the following year. In March of 2015, the first issue of IDW's Jem and the Holograms was released and would go on to become IDW's best selling issue for that month. The reboot was handled by writer Kelly Thompson and artist Sophie Campbell, both women putting a new, modern spin on the classic series. In December of 2016, IDW launched a spinoff of the main Jem book focusing on their rival band, The Misfits. It was announced via solicitations in January of 2017 that both Jem and the Holograms and Jem: The Misfits would be coming to an end that April, but in an interview published the same day, writer Kelly Thompson announced that they would be returning at a later date. At the 2017 Emerald City Comic Con, IDW announced Jem: Infinite, a six issue crossover event made up of two three issue miniseries, one focusing on Jem and the Holograms and the other focusing on The Misfits.
Canonicity of Jem in the IDW Hasbro Universe
When IDW announced their plans to create a shared universe for their various Hasbro titles, many assumed that Jem would be among the titles brought into the fold. Thus far, however, this hasn't necessarily been the case. At the moment, the matter of Jem's canonicity in the IDW Hasbro Universe seems somewhat Schrödinger-like, being simultaneously canon and not canon. While IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall has said that Jem wasn't brought into the shared universe as part of the Revolution event due to concerns over differences in tone and target audience, this hasn't stopped several of the books that are part of the shared universe from making small references to Jem. Therefore, it seems like it's safe to assume that while the various books that are part of the IDW Hasbro Universe aren't canon in the world of Jem, Jem is canon to the IDW Hasbro Universe in one form or another. Because of these small ties, we here at the IDW Hasbro Wiki have seen fit to include Jem in our coverage of the IDW Hasbro Universe. That and, well, why not?
Examples of references to Jem made by other IDW-Hasbro books include:
- Misfits posters appear in the backgrounds of Action Man's second issue and Optimus Prime's third issue.
- G.I. Joe member Rock 'n Roll is noted to have once worked as a roadie for The Holograms in a bio card initially distributed to those who bought a Revolution themed Humble Bundle.
- In the 2017 Transformers Annual, a pair of Cybertronians resembling Kimber and Stormer appear as background extras.
For its part, Jem has made more references to Hasbro's My Little Pony franchise than it has any of the other IDW Hasbro titles. Thus far, it's kept it's references to two nameless extras in Jem and the Holograms' fifth and sixth issues (both of which predate the shared universe) wearing shirts that bear the logos of Cobra and the Autobots.
IDW Jem and the Holograms series
- Jem and the Holograms
- Jem: The Misfits
- Jem and the Holograms: Infinite
- Jem and the Holograms: The Misfits: Infinite