I was thrilled last week to see an interview with upcoming Supergirl writer Kelly Sue DeConnick over on Comic Book Resources. It is a great interview covering a lot of territory, not just Supergirl. I highly recommend going to read it. Here is the link: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31747
One of the things that irked me in the aftermath of Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle leaving Supergirl was the complete lack of publicity around the title. The announcment that Nick Spencer was leaving the title was a line buried in a DC Source post about THUNDER Agents. There wasn't much out there at all about James Peaty or Bernard Chang grabbing the reins of that arc. And DeConnick was named a while ago as being on board for a three parter after Peaty finishes up. But there wasn't much coverage of all of that. So I was glad to be able to read so much about DeConnick's background and approach to her Supergirl story.
As always with a long interview like this one, I have cut some sections that grabbed my attention (in blue) and added some of my comments afterwards. And I'll say it again, it is worth reading the interview in its entirety.
This June, DC Comics' Supergirl " will be going to college, compliments of "Sif" and "Osborn" writer Kelly Sue DeConnick.
The second woman to ever write the Girl of Steel's self-titled series (star of the 1984 "Supergirl" movie Helen Slater lays claim to being the first), DeConnick will helm a three-issue arc, with artwork by ChrisCross and Mark Deering. Best known for her work at Marvel Comics, DeConnick will not be staying on as the long term "Supergirl" writer, leaving once her arc is complete, but that doesn't dampen her enthusiasm for leaving her mark on the life of Kara Zor-El.
"I grew up reading DC Comics; writing this book is a dream come true for me in every corny way that it could be," DeConnick told CBR News before enlightening us on what to expect from her Supergirl, her favorite fictional heroines and thoughts on the portrayal of women in the comic book industry.
So the interview opens up with us learning that DeConnick grew up reading DC Comics and considers writing Supergirl 'a dream come true'. That certainly is reassuring to me as a Supergirl fan. I want the writer to care about the character, knowing that usually leads to a solid characterization and good stories.
CBR News: Your first issue of "Supergirl" hits stores June 15. What can you tell us about your arc? Kelly Sue DeConnick: Gifted kids have started disappearing from the area surrounding Stanhope College and one of them reappears in Metropolis, unable to tell them where she's been or why. Lois Lane and Supergirl team up to investigate.
And there's a classic villain who should look familiar to DCU readers. How's that for a taunt? Don't worry; I don't actually keep it a secret for long.
I like the sound of this plot. Certainly the fact that it is set at Stanhope College is a nice touch. And a Lois/Supergirl mystery also is a good premise. Add to that a mystery classic villain and I'm interested.
Of course, this also comes right on the heels of another mystery set at a college where Lois recruits Supergirl. Still, this one probably won't include the younger heroes of the DCU or the mystery of Alex. I think it will read fresh.
CBR: With regards to the Kara/Lois team-up, what's your take on their relationship?
KSD: In my take, Lois assumes a familiarity that's unearned and the two have to figure their relationship out. It's awkward, but there's humor and mutual respect at the base, so they get there.
CBR: Is this awkwardness because Lois is comparing Kara to Superman?
KSD: I think it's an unconscious thing rather than a deliberate slight, but yeah. She's used to level of familiarity with Superman that's not really fair to assume of Kara. And I think Kara is rightly wary of that.
So this was the thing that stuck out the most in this interview as reading wrong. "A familiarity that is unearned"? Lois and Kara have already been through the emotional mill ... from Lois chastising her for the 'Kill Kal-El' time where Supergirl stayed away, through the problems of New Krypton, and the killing of Lucy Lane. They are familiar with each other, like family.
In fact, it is hard to say that Lois overstepped her bounds asking for Supergirl's help solving a mystery when in the current arc, the one just preceding DeConnick's, Lois asked for Supergirl's help soliving a mystery.
I hope this is a small part of this arc and not a major theme because that would just seem off.
CBR: Since there's so little in the way of Post-Crisis Kara Zor-El stories, relatively speaking, is your run more influenced by the Silver Age Supergirl?
KSD: Is my Kara more influenced by the period before or after 1986? Well, after. Because, I mean, I'm not rebooting. Though my story isn't continuity hamstrung and I'd like to think that it's the kind of thing that someone who's never read a Supergirl comic before could pick up and not be lost, it's still happening in the here and now.
Well, I think that is sort of a weird question to be asked. Sure, releatively speaking there aren't many stories ... assuming the denominator is all comic stories since the 1930's. But the current Supergirl has been around since 2004. The Supergirl title is now 5+ years old, she's been in Superman/Batman, JLA, Teen Titans, Brave and Bold, all of the New Krypton arc (2 Superman titles, 3 mini-series), and played a big part in Final Crisis. There is a big foundation to build a Supergirl arc on. She's been everywhere. So why would CBR ask it in that way?
And while I like that DeConnick wants to let new readers come to the comic and be able to understand it, I do think you need some sense of continuity, without being hamstrung. That comment in conjunction with the Lois/Kara familiarity comment makes me wonder if DeConnick has read the current title recently.
CBR: While we're talking about the past, were you a "Supergirl" fan as a kid?
KSD: Yes, comics were a big part of my life growing up -- I grew up on military bases overseas and we only got one American TV channel -- AFRTS (or A-Farts, as we called it). There are huge gaps in my pop culture knowledge base as a result. Gaps shaped like "The Brady Bunch," for instance. My friends and I gobbled up comics to make up for our lack of TV. And, as it happens, I was a DC girl. The Linda Carter "Wonder Woman" series probably had a lot to do with that, but who knows for sure?
So this really wasn't an answer to the question. Outside of the opening 'yes', I can't tell from this answer if DeConnick is a Supergirl fan. Still, the Stanhope reference (and an earlier Comet reference in another question) makes me think she is or at least has a working knowledge of Supergirl's older adventures.
CBR: So, did your experience working with Japanese comics influence the way you view and write American comics?
KSD: I think so, yes. The clearest point A to point B line can be drawn from spending years focused on polishing dialogue to writing scripts with an emphasis on dialogue. I write my dialogue first, then I break scenes down into pages and panels. I'm sure that's how I'm most comfortable.
In the "Supergirl" script, I was also more specific about fashion than I think most American comic book writers are. That, I'm certain, comes from a healthy diet of shoujo, where fashion is very much part of the appeal.
I have always talked about how I like to hear about the process behind comics. Usually I hear about it from the art point of view, how the artist goes from thumbnail layouts to roughs to finished pencils. So I loved hearing this part of DeConnick's approach to stories, writing the dialogue first. Fascinating.
And does a focus on fashion mean more Linda Lang on campus? I hope so.
CBR: You're only the second woman to write for an ongoing "Supergirl" series -- do you think you bring a fresh perspective to the character because of this? Or is gender irrelevant to the story?
KSD: As far as Kara and I go, she's a bit tricky for me to write, not because of her gender or mine, but because she's more reserved than I am as a human being. My first instincts are not hers, and if I'm not careful I run the risk of confusing "reserved" with "passive." She's not passive. She's cool, rational, cautious without being timid. As much as I think every adolescent is a boiling cauldron of dueling vulnerabilities and passions -- and Kara's no exception -- the rough start that she's gotten in life and the mantle or responsibility that she shoulders have left her more guarded, more contained than most. She's a natural leader. I'm more of a natural pain in the butt, I suspect.
'Cool, rational', 'a natural leader'. And a mention of the 'mantle of responsibility that' Supergirl shoulders. These all were nice descriptions of Supergirl and make me think that DeConnick has a good idea of the core of the character. We have all seen Supergirl also lose her cool and lash out so the 'boiling cauldron' also fits.
I think that the current Peaty run also drives home the 'natural leader' part of the character, a nice aspect of Supergirl I would love to see explored in depth.
CBR: Marvel really doesn't have an equivalent character to Kara, nor do they have a solo female series with a 60-odd year history behind her the way Supergirl does. How is it moving from Marvel to writing DC's "Supergirl?"
KSD: You know, I don't want to get into any kind of DC versus Marvel thing. I've worked at both companies; I've been treated with respect and dignity by both.
DC and Marvel have both been guilty of misusing their female characters in the past, and both are making concerted efforts correct that in the present. There's also, I think, been more thought given to potential female readership in recent history (particularly in light of the manga boom of a couple of years ago -- one that proved women and girls would not only buy and read comics, but they'd spend $8-$10 a pop), which, beyond being progressive, makes good business sense. We keep cannibalizing that same core 30-some year old white male Wednesday comic buyer and we're eventually going to fold.
Which is not to say that I want to take comics away from 30-some year old white males, or that I have anything against 30-some year old white male Wednesday comic buyers -- I don't. As it happens, I'm married to one and I think he's just about my favorite person in the universe.
Well, as a just-turned-40 year old white guy who goes to the store on Wednesday, I am all for methods or stories that will bring in new readers. As the father of the three young supergirls at home, I am always looking for good and appropriate comics that I can get them. So I welcome this.
Just in case people don't know, DeConnick's husband is Matt Fraction, a great writer whose work I always enjoy.
There is a lot more to this interview than just these questions. It is a great read. DeConnick clearly is well-read and well-versed in all media: books, films, and comics. She comes across as intelligent and witty. And she seems to have a nice understanding of Supergirl. I just hope that the surrounding material, the continuity stuff, doesn't make this seem off.