Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fireside Chat with Kelly Sue DeConnick

Time for another toasty chat by the Weekly Crisis Fireside, as we do our best to stay warm by the creative fires of this fair medium we so love and chat in a relaxed, less formal atmosphere than the distinguished competition. We aim to be personal as well as informative. And with aim in mind we now fire away.

Today’s guest is Kelly Sue DeConnick, the superstar female writer for Marvel who’s been cutting her teeth on some female one-shots lately and has her Osborn mini hitting shelves very soon. We’ll chat about all the comics that can capture a girl's heart, who reads the most comics in the industry, and what Osborn's jail will sound like.

Full interview after the jump!

Kelly Sue DeConnick is a writer who has worked on the 30 Days of Night franchise, has adapted Manga, and also managed to snag a husband who can give her preview looks at Invincible Iron Man, Thor and the Uncanny X-Men. She is known for being insanely friendly and this chat proves no different, so here we go.

Ryan K Lindsay: Hey Kelly Sue, thanks for taking the time to chat, I know you must be extremely busy, so how are you today?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: I’m tired. Oh god, I’m tired. I’m tempted to burst into my Madeline Kahn impression, I’m so tired.

RKL: Anytime you want to break into song, you just go for it, ha. The first question I want to ask is, what work have you done so far today?

Kelly Sue: Well, I was up until 3 am wrapping up a script. Fraction covered for me so that I could sleep in until 7:30, then I got Tallulah dressed and took the kids to daycare, stopped at the grocery, took a houseguest to the airport, answered some emails, did a lettering pass on Osborn, dealt with some mail, dealt with a business matter for our accountant, calendared some family stuff, calendared some work stuff, ordered a gift, put away some laundry, did some filing and started a list for tomorrow.

You know what I haven’t done today? I haven’t showered. Don’t get too close.

RKL: That's an impressive day, stank or not. You only just recently gave birth to your second child, a daughter, how do you schedule in two little kids, a husband who writes about 4 comics a month, and your own writing timetable? What does that work day entail? Have you got nappy changing mutant powers we don’t know about?

Kelly Sue: I wish I had some kind of fabulous system that I could share with you. We’ve almost got a schedule, you know... But it tends to go out the window if we have family in town, if somebody’s sick or travelling or if one of us is up against a rough deadline.

I did have this fantasy that I’d start getting up at 5:30 to have an hour to myself in the morning, but I’ve only managed to do it twice.

Did you mean, like, process-wise? I write from an outline. I script dialogue first, then go back, edit and break the dialogue down into panels.

I use OmniFocus to keep my life organized big picture-wise and OmniOutliner for each book.

RKL: Do you play any music while you work or must it be in silence to keep sleeping children and husbands still?

Kelly Sue: On days I’m dealing with paperwork, I generally listen to NPR or watch TV on Hulu. When I’m writing or plotting, I need either silence or music with non-English lyrics. Japanese music, French music, Chinese punk... that sort of thing.

Fraction usually has some kind of soundtrack going on. Sometimes it’s the news, sometimes it’s a playlist. This week it’s German opera.

RKL: I'm definitely a wordless music fella, myself, too. Something that won't clutter the words in your own head. What was the first comic that ever completely captured you and made you the fan you still are today?

Kelly Sue: I’ve fallen in and out of love with comics so many times that I have multiple answers to this question:

  • The Wonder Woman and Vampirella (yes, Vampirella) comics my mom bought for me at the AFB Stars & Stripes in Germany;
  • George Perez’ Wonder Woman relaunch;
  • the Batman comics that featured Nocturna;
  • an Al Green comic that my grandparents picked up for me at some gas station during a road trip;
  • Wolfman’s Teen Titans (George Perez again, I think?);
  • The horror anthology comics that Missy Edmundson’s brother collected (House of Mystery/House of Secrets, esp.); and
  • I’m sure I could go on, but those are the ones that spring to mind.
RKL: Can you remember the first comic related thing you ever wrote?

Kelly Sue: Nope. I remember trying to copy drawings more than I remember trying to write comics. I’m not sure I ever tried to write comics as a kid, honestly. I did write prose stories, though. 
Do I get kicked out of the clubhouse now?
RKL: The He-Man Womun Haters Club...? Yes. Do you get the time to read many comics with two kids? (I only ask because I’ve just had a kid and need to know if there’s any trick to getting it done?)

Kelly Sue: I don’t get to read enough, no.
You’ll be okay for a while—when they’re really small they sleep a lot. Nature eases you into the tough stuff.
That 5:30 private hour I was talking about earlier? One thing that’s for is more time to read.
You know who reads, like, everything? Brian Bendis. I don’t think the fact that he’s probably the most popular writer working in comics right now is unrelated to that, either.
RKL: Interesting food for thought. Has your eldest discovered comics yet? What would be the best title to give him to warp his mind forever, do you think?
Kelly Sue: Fraction reads him some Devil Dinosaur sometimes. And he’s really into that SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW on TV. He likes Reptil and The Thing.
Warp him? Dude, he’s our kid. He’ll be warped enough on his own, thank you.
RKL: Man, I love Super Hero Squad Show (Hero Up!). I went into reading your work looking for a pleasant experience purely because of the fantastic and friendly online profile you have. Do you interact online with this in mind or is it just happenstance?
Kelly Sue: Aw, that’s sweet. Thank you. No, I have no agenda beyond generally liking most people. Except the ones I don’t. Them I want to set on fire. But the rest? The rest are sweethearts and I want to bake them cupcakes.
RKL: I prefer ones with pink tops, just so you know... You say you still have to pitch your work to Marvel to be accepted, how many pitches sometimes go by the wayside?

Kelly Sue: Lots. It’s something you just have to live with and figure you learn from. Or, I do anyway.
RKL: Do you have a stock piled list of one-shots and mini series you’d like to pitch on in the future when you get the chance to hash out the details of the plot?
Kelly Sue: Not... exactly. I have a project list, but it’s not based around work-for-hire characters. It’s more like ideas I want to explore or specific stories I want to write... Oh, wait—I went and looked and there’s one Marvel thing on there right now and it’s been there for at least 4 years—since well before I actually started writing for Marvel.
So clearly I’m a master strategist.
RKL: Is there any desire to have an ongoing title with your name in the writer’s credit section or does your current workload better match your lifestyle?
Kelly Sue: It’s on my list. I would very much like to do an ongoing at some point. Next year. Next year, when Tallulah’s a little older and our schedules are a little more set. Then I’ll be all about it.
(I just had to pass on pitching an ongoing for a character that I deeply adore and believe me, it hurt. I think I’m going to end up doing a one-shot though, so there’s some consolation in that.)

RKL: I'm sure you can fit a two year run into 22 pages. And what about a creator owned work; would you like to go down that path at any stage? Or maybe even, shock-horror, write at DC?
Kelly Sue: Yes, yes and yes. Creator-owned, DEFINITELY. I have a couple of pitches in the works. I love Marvel and they’ve been veddy, veddy good to me and my family, but I was a DC reader as a girl and I’ve got some friends over there... So, never say never.
RKL: How much cross pollination comes through between yourself and your husband in your writing? Do you both openly discuss the ideas that you are working on?

Kelly Sue: Not as much as we used to...? Wait, I’m not sure that’s true. I talked some of my stuff out with him last night, actually. And there was a thing he was stuck on a couple of weeks ago—I didn’t have any answers for him but I asked the questions that helped him get unstuck.

So... yeah. Yeah, we do discuss. “Cross-pollination” implies that we’re somehow co-authors though and that would be emphatically untrue.

(We have just recently started talking about writing something together for the first time and I’m as surprised as I am tickled by the idea.)

RKL: I'd definitely buy something written by you both. So when you write a comic with your husband will that be superawesome or superlame?

Kelly Sue: Superawesome, duh. But the thing we’ve been talking about isn’t a comic.

RKL: You received a pink typewriter as your push present, do you get the chance to use it or does it purely provide inspiration?

Kelly Sue: Nah, it just sits there looking pretty and making me feel special. You ever tried to type on a manual? It kind of sucks. Viva la keyboard!

RKL: Who is your dream character to write?

Kelly Sue: Modesty Blaise.

RKL: Great answer. You’ve handled Pepper Potts (Rescue) and Sif in one-shots as well as the female handlers of the Avengers teams do you think there’s you’ve been typecast already, and if so would that be a problem? There are plenty of awesome female characters in the Marvel U to play with and they all deserve a great writer.

Kelly Sue: I think I was headed in that direction, which is why I was so delighted to get Osborn.

Awwww, crap. I gotta go get the kidlets. Sit tight. I’ll finish these up later.

RKL: ...


Kelly Sue: Aaaand, it’s, like, three days later. Wah wah.

Did you miss me?

RKL: I'll admit, sitting here waiting for that long has been hard. I am hungry...So, you’re about to play with a very male character in Norman Osborn as you put him in a secret jail and see what happens in Osborn, the mini series launching this November. What was your draw to writing this particular tale?
Kelly Sue: What was my draw? It was one hundred and eighty degrees from anything else being sent my way. And it sounded fun. Is that too easy an answer?

RKL: Should I be asking just to get hard answers? How are you writing Osborn in this mini, how do you get into his voice?

Kelly Sue: I re-read a bunch of Bendis’s stuff and Ellis’ Thunderbolts run. They both had such solid takes on the character it wasn’t hard to follow suit.

RKL: Will Osborn be the nastiest character we meet in this story?

Kelly Sue: No. Not the craziest, either.

RKL: How long has this secret jail been around for? Will there be any historical reveals for it, and are you hoping it can now be a permanent fixture in the Marvel U and get some play in later stories from other people?

Kelly Sue: It’s been around for a long time. And I can’t tell you anything else without, you know, spoilers! I’m so sorry.

RKL: Who is your favourite character to write in this series and why?

Kelly Sue: Hm... Norah Winters probably? Which is sort of hilarious as she wasn’t in my original pitch. (I pitched Urich and Wacker suggested we use Norah instead.) But I like her and it’s particularly amusing because her voice comes easily even though we could not possibly be more different as human beings.

RKL: Did you want Emma Rios on your art or was that some magical editor workings to put you two together? And do you think it should hold any significance that you were given a female artist to collaborate with?

Kelly Sue: That was Steve Wacker working his magic and godDAMN that man is good at his job. He and Alejandro Arbona are my super-men. There’s something delightfully subversive about putting two women on this particular book, don’t you think?

RKL: I feel it’s going to pay off, certainly. You’ve stated that you haven’t seen the Shawshank Redemption, how is that possible? It is seriously just as good as any hype for it. Will you watch it after scripting this mini?

Kelly Sue: Maybe? I mean, I don’t have anything against anyone in Shawshank, I just never found my hook in the premise. It looks a little pompous to me. I’m willing to be wrong, though.

RKL: Oh, you will be. You’ve name-dropped Cool Hand Luke among other flicks so that makes it more than okay; what sort of music do you think will set the scene to Osborn’s prison?

Kelly Sue: You ever lived in a really old house? You know the sounds the pipes make? That.

RKL: Sounds perfect to me. Will this mini roll into another plot point later or is it designed to stand alone?

Kelly Sue: There’s an element of set up to it, yes.

RKL: Can you give us a hint of what else might be coming up in your future at all? (Please say more Sif and Beta Ray Bill with Ryan Stegman, please say more Sif and Beta Ray Bill with Ryan Stegman!)

Kelly Sue: Wouldn’t that be awesome? I do want to see Sif wield that sword again at some point soon.

But no, I’ve got my next two jobs booked and neither involve Sif or Ryan. Alas.

Hints: one is for Marvel; the other is not.

RKL: Wow, you actually answer questions. I'm impressed. Let's see how you go with this one: to sell this mini to people, can you sum up one very cool moment that will have the readers loving this tale?

Kelly Sue: Man, I think that’s a trap. AND I’M NOT FALLING FOR IT, LINDSAY.

RKL: Damn, and I thought I was so smooth, ha. The next section is our Literary Rorschach Test, we give you a word or concept and you have to tell us what it makes you feel. You may give us a one word response or a paragraph. Here we go:

Snowblood – You know this was almost my daughter’s middle name, right? When Dark Horse announced this manga I literally offered to do the adaptation for free. The editor wanted to do it himself, however. Wah wah. [Yeah, I knew that :)] My ego of course demands that I believe he made a foolish choice.
Wild West – Jim West. Bob Conrad. Pappy Boyington. Swoon.
Anatomy – The Harveyville Project. They have a science room full of anatomy models.
Europe – World War II. (Wow. That’s kind of sad.)
Paint – Italy.
Noir – Black.
Razor – Sharp.
Femme – Eleanor Trace.
Webcomics – Rich Stevens.
Marriage – The Princess Bride.

RKL: Excellent responses! Kelly Sue, it has been such a pleasure to chat with you, your work just keeps getting better and I look for your name a lot now, so thank you, and honestly, where are you going right this second and what will you be doing?

Kelly Sue: I’m going to take some Tylenol then head to the mall with the family for ice skating and some shopping.

RKL: Have fun, toodle pip!

Kelly Sue:  Cheers, man.

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Ivan said...

Great, that's a feature I missed. Nice one, Ryan.

Matt Duarte said...

Just wanted to say that this is a great interview. Interesting and educational!

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