At this year’s Los Angeles Comic Con, I had the opportunity to catch up with Josie Campbell! A comic book writer and Head Writer on some of our favorite animated series (like My Adventures with Superman), Campbell has explored many different fandoms. I was particularly interested in asking her about Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, the animated series that spun out of the film franchise.
Interview with Josie Campbell of Camp Cretaceous & My Adventures with Superman
[Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited slightly for clarity.]
Uday Kataria: I’m very excited to interview you because like I said, I’m a big fan of Camp Cretaceous. And I could tell – I think most people ask you about Superman, I’m guessing. But I’m a dinosaur fan before I’m a superhero fan. So I know that you’re the Head Writer of Camp Cretaceous, but I was wondering, as the Head Writer, did you come up with the original pitch for the series? Or was it a studio pitch, and then they brought you on?
Josie Campbell: No, so the person who came up with the original pitch for this series is Zack Stentz, and he is a screenwriter. I think people would know him because he’s one of the screenwriters who did the X-Men: First Class movie. So DreamWorks had a deal, you know, with this franchise, and they were trying to figure out something to do with them. And so Zack came in, he pitched this idea, “what if there is a summer camp on the island, and they get caught up and left behind?”, and so they liked the pitch.
And then that’s when they brought me on. I was finishing up being head writer of She-Ra, and they were really excited about this; so I met Zack, I met Scott Kramer, who had come on to be showrunner at the time, and we all hit it off. So basically, my last day on She-Ra was a Friday, and then my first day on Jurassic was a Monday. And I went right to work taking Zack’s really good, really fun idea and fleshing it out, and fleshing out the characters, and fleshing out the dinosaurs, and where we were going.
Uday Kataria: I really loved that, I loved having the gaps in Jurassic World filled in. Like the idea that another story was happening to different kids with the same dinosaur on the same day, and then it did fill in some gaps in the movies. We had that hybrid, the Scorpios rex, which was horrifying; that thing would give me nightmares, and I actually have a comment on that a little bit later. But basically, it really filled in a lot of the gaps between the movies. And so, was bringing the characters from the animated show into live-action ever discussed?
Josie Campbell: We did talk about it. What was fun about this, internally, we called it Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead for kids. Like it really was, and Scott had this working timeline of everything that happened in the Jurassic World movie. So we knew, okay, the kids can get stranded here because at this exact moment in time, the main characters in the movie are over here dealing with the Indominus rex.
So one of the great things about working on the property is Colin Trevorrow, Jurassic World director, franchise guy, came in, and he would join us in the writers’ room every couple of months. And we would sort of pitch what we’re doing, and then he talked to us about what he was doing with Dominion, what he was doing with some of the other stuff that he was working on.
And some of that was to get the franchise all set up. But some of that was he was just really excited about the show. Like he would come in, and he’d be like, “I have questions about Darius. No, let’s talk about Kenji and Kenji’s dad, because I really want to know more about this.” So we talked a little bit about, you know, we would love for those characters to show up in the movies. I’m not sure if that’s in the cards still. But definitely, when Colin would come in, it just felt like there [were] all these possibilities and all these directions we could go.
Uday Kataria: That’s amazing, because I really loved Kayla in Jurassic World: Dominion and I think a lot of people did. And it’s kind of been discussed that the future of the franchise might hinge on her, or like her being in a spin-off movie. Like there are no plans, I think the actress has just said that this is what was talked about with her. And I would love to see Kayla and Darius team up.
Josie Campbell: Oh my god, I would love that.
Uday Kataria: And on that topic, a Camp Cretaceous sequel called Chaos Theory is expected to premiere on Netflix sometime next year. I saw that the first trailer just released recently. Are you involved in that series?
Josie Campbell: I am not. They were making that at the same time I was over on Superman. However, the Head Writer for the new series is somebody that I worked with closely before. And so many of the people who did the original series at DreamWorks are still there working on this. So I think it’s in – I am sad that I can’t come back and do more dinosaurs. I was in Metropolis, throwing villains at Superman, but I think that is in great hands, and I’m so excited to see what they do.
Uday Kataria: I’m looking forward to learning more about it. I really want to know if we’re going to see more hybrids because I believe that this would now be set after Dominion because they’re so old, the kids.
Josie Campbell: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.
Uday Kataria: That’s really exciting. So circling back around to how scary the Scorpios rex is. What really took me by surprise when watching Camp Cretaceous is how violent it is, really. Because I just remember thinking, “Oh, they’re not going to do a kill like that. That’s what happens in the movies, not in the show.” But all the deaths in the show were still really gruesome, it’s just that they kind of cut away before you could get to the movie level, like PG-13 rating. So what influenced that decision to keep the tone as dark as the movies?
Josie Campbell: So it was two things, and one of it was us internally. You know, we love Jurassic Park. We love Jurassic World, we love the whole franchise, we wouldn’t be working on it if we didn’t love it. And so for us, it’s like, well, half the fun of this as a kid watching it, as an adult watching it, is those dino deaths, is the fact that something is always out there trying to get you. So we didn’t want to pull back on that.
And then again, both Colin and Steven Spielberg, were like, “We don’t want this to be – you know, kids will watch this. But we don’t want this to be the kiddie version. We want this to feel like it fits into the movie universe.” And that means that it should be scary. It should be horrifying, there should be moments of violence.
And the third part of that was we want people to be genuinely scared for our kids. That we’ve watched a couple of adults get eaten, off-camera, yes, but like, dragged away or dragged into the woods screaming and then the screams stop. So we wanted people to feel like there really was danger and at any moment, people could die. That, you know, the danger inherent in Jurassic World and Jurassic Park was inherent in our show.
Uday Kataria: It was inherent. I was watching this show late at night, on my own, and I’m an adult, and I was scared. I told my eight year old cousin that you shouldn’t watch it because it’s gonna be too scary. And he was like, “What are you talking about?” He was totally fine. But the Scorpios rex, I was like, that would give me nightmares if I was a child.
Josie Campbell: I love it. We talked a lot about the – I love, I, personally, love the hybrids. I love Indominus rex, I love the Indoraptor. I really love the concept of building a new dinosaur. So Scorpios rex was fun because it was something that I had been gunning for since Season 1. I’m like, “We gotta make a dinosaur!” And then this dinosaur is like the Frankenstein of dinosaurs, it’s messed up. Just getting to put our mark on the franchise with making a dinosaur is one of the biggest highlights [of] working on that show.
Uday Kataria: Yeah, I bet. That was really cool. I was sad that there were no new hybrids in the last movie.
Josie Campbell: Yeah, same.
Uday Kataria: I have one last question. I know you get asked about My Adventures with Superman a lot. So I’m not going to ask you to talk about the show, I haven’t seen it. But do you prefer working on dinosaurs or superheroes?
Josie Campbell: I mean, I’m so happy that I’ve got to work on both. I will say what makes me… I was a kid who would subscribe to Dinosaur magazine. Like I found out about the Maiasaur nest because they did this whole spread. There [were] Jack Horner interviews. I was really into it. So I like working on both.
I think it’s so fun for me to talk to Jurassic fans because they’re dinosaur fans. It’s so exciting. You know, people will come up and talk about Superman and they’ll say their favorite issues or their favorite episodes, but people who love Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous will come up and be like, “Let’s talk about the Baryonyxes. Let’s talk about the Pteranodons. Let’s talk about Bumpy and the Ankylosaurus’ growth.”
And I love talking about dinosaurs. So I think some of the most fun I have with fans is just geeking out. “And we just learned that, you know, T. rexes are actually a lot fatter than we thought they were! And they’re really big, and their arms are really much more vestigial!” Those facts really are the most fun for me.
Uday Kataria: Yeah, I can definitely see that. I love superheroes too, but because dinosaurs are real, I feel it’s just different, talking about them.
Josie Campbell: Yeah, exactly.
Uday Kataria: Thank you so much.
That’s it for my interview with Josie Campbell!
Meeting the Head Writer behind so many of the animated kids’ shows we love watching as adults was a great experience. While I’m sad to hear that Josie Campbell isn’t working on Jurassic World: Chaos Theory, I’m sure Superman fans are happy to have her leading the charge on their favorite character!
Have you seen Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous or My Adventures with Superman? Please let us know what you think of the shows on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord! And for more information about L.A. Comic Con, visit their official website.