Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kelly Sue DeConnick Interview

The DCU is going to relaunch and the 'new' Supergirl #1 is coming out in September.

But that is the future. And I am not forgetting the present. We have a three issue story arc by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist ChrisCross before that happens. I didn't not want to ignore these issues, the last of this current incarnation of the Girl of Steel. I was lucky enough to ask a few questions of DeConnick about her run on the title. Hope you guys enjoy it. Supergirl #65, DeConnick's first issue, is on sale today!

Anj: I know from prior interviews that you have been a comics fan, and a DC fan, since childhood. Any particular creators or story arcs that influenced you as a fan or writer? Any favorite characters?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: I’m not sure I can point to any direct influences; I don’t tend to see other people’s work in my own—not that I’m not sure it’s there, I’m certain it is—but I don’t think I have the proper perspective on my own work to be able to see it. If someone else were to say, “you can see the influence of XX in scene BLAH BLAH,” I could probably evaluate it well enough to agree or disagree, but I don’t think I’m able to spot those things myself.

That said, I can tell you that I loved pretty much anything George Perez ever touched—particularly Wonder Woman--and the Marv Wolfman run on Tales of the Teen Titans was a big favorite of mine. I remember finding a stack of them second-hand and having my mind blown. Even the PAPER was nicer than anything I’d ever seen before. (Does anybody know what that was about? Was there a run in the late 80s on really good paper? Issue #66 was definitely part of the run I remember so fondly.)

I loved Nocturna. I was obsessive about that character during her brief life. NOCTURNA!
And of course, as I’m a plucky gal of a certain age, Lois Lane has a special place in my heart. Cliché, but true. I may or may not have a LL-related collection. I also may have published a zine in my youth called “Lois Slain.”

Anj: Have you always considered yourself a Supergirl fan? As a creator, what about her appeals to you? Any of her past stories that resonated with you?

KSD: I adore her! But I don’t want to misrepresent myself, like, oh yeah—I’m this HUGE Supergirl fan from way back. That would be a lie. The woman in the Super-orbit who always drew my attention was Lois Lane. I had to do research before I could properly pitch Kara.
That said, it wasn’t hard to fall in love. I feel... proud of Kara. It’s a strangely maternal affection.

Anj: The solicits for your arc have Supergirl thwarting a kidnapping plot at college (I thought I had read somewhere it was Stanhope), which sounds like it could be a Silver Age plot from her Adventure run. Is there a retro feel to your arc? Are there other hidden Supergirl Easter Eggs we should look for?

KSD: There is definitely a retro feel, though you’ll find more Easter Eggs of the 80s movie variety than Silver Age Supergirl, I think. But you’re right about Stanhope.

Anj: This is your first arc in the DCU. And I know a classic villain shows up. Were you tempted to bring in any other guest stars?

KSD: I wasn’t, actually! I kind of wanted to keep the DCU out of it as much as I could. I was afraid of it getting continuity-hamstrung, you know? When I was doing my research I was having to hop around a bunch of different titles to get caught up and it was frustrating, confusing—and expensive! It left me wanting to section off my little arc and make it as self-contained as possible so that it would be accessible to, you know, people like me. (I had no knowledge of the reboot when I pitched the book, but I have to say, I having been away from most of the DC universe for a while and having just had to try and get caught up, I certainly understand the impulse.)
Oh, wait—that’s not entirely true. I put Lois in of my own volition. Just in case this is the only book I ever get to do for DC, I’m going to write Lois Lane, dammit!

Anj: It sounds like Lois plays a big part in your arc. As a Supergirl fan, I think it is interesting that Lois acts as a catalyst so often in Kara's stories. She played key roles in both Sterling Gates' and James Peaty's runs, both positive and negative. What is your take on the Lois/Kara dynamic? Why do you think it is prevalent in Supergirl stories?

KSD: In the first issue, I wanted to play with this idea that Supergirl and Superman are not inter-changeable, right? I’m sure you heard me say this already, but if you can replace Supergirl with Superman and the story still works, I think there’s a problem. So I illustrated that by having Lois assume the same banter-y relationship with Kara that she has with Superman and having it fall flat because it’s unearned, because the dynamics of their relationship are different.

Aaaand in execution, I’m not sure it works. Or rather, I think it works overall, but there’s one exchange in one scene that I’m afraid comes off as more antagonistic than what I intended in concept. I expect I’ll take some heat for that and that’s fair.

As for why Lois is so often such a big part of Supergirl stories, I suspect it’s because they’re so different. From a storytelling perspective, that’s incredibly appealing.

Anj: Your arc also takes Supergirl to a new frontier, college campus. Was it fun to put her in that environment, a stranger in a strange land? Any chance of romance in the arc?

KSD: I loved it. I wanted to give her a taste of being a regular girl. And yes, there is absolutely a love interest in the form of one Henry Octavius Flyte, Bastard Ne’er-Do-Well, physics prodigy and my attempt to reverse the gender of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope.

Anj: Can you talk about your approach to this arc knowing you were only going to be on the title for 3 issues? You can't really make any major changes but the story still needs to be compelling. Is it a similar to how you approached the one-shots you have written for Sif and Rescue?

KSD: It is similar, but not exactly the same. With Sif and Rescue I was looking for things worth addressing that there hadn’t been room for in regular continuity—ways to fill in gaps. For Sif, I wanted to give her her spine back, to help her exorcise Loki. For Rescue, I wanted Pepper to acknowledge Happy’s death was still a thing she had to live with. People don’t bounce back from the death of a spouse, they just learn to live with the loss.

With Supergirl, I was presented with an opportunity to pitch on 3 issues of self-contained story and it seemed to me the last few years had been mostly about the Super, so it seemed logical to focus on the Girl. I spent a lot of time thinking about what it’s like to be Kara, saddled with the mantle of responsibility that comes with those powers, everything she’d been through with regard to her parents and I thought this poor kid needs to catch a break. So I tried to write a gift for her, a story that’s fun and romantic and playful and dances with themes and images from childhood and adolescence. And now, knowing what this story is in the larger context, I’m doubly happy with it. I got to put the period on the end of that sentence and I did it in a love letter.

I’ll leave it to you to judge whether or not I was successful, but I’m really happy with it.

Anj: You are one of a couple of women to ever have written Supergirl, and the first to have an arc on the title. Did that influence how you approached Kara?

I don’t think so. I hope not, anyway. I don’t want that to be true.

I was told straight away that one of the reasons they approached me was my gender and I had mixed feelings about that, but I decided that my gender had worked against me enough in my life that I was willing to accept one in the win column.

Anj: Your three issues are probably already close to being finished. Did you have as much fun writing Supergirl as you thought you would? What other projects are you working on that we should look for?

KSD: They’re done! And I actually had more fun writing it than I expected. I think I got more comfortable as I went, so I really, really loved Issue 67. I was surprisingly emotional putting that together.

Castle: Deadly Storm! I’m having a ball. Look for that in September, I believe.

Anj: Thank you so much for stopping by and answering some questions. Can't wait to read your Supergirl stuff.. And I'll be sure to look for Castle:Deadly Storm!


Ayhe said...

That was a lovely interview.
I can´t wait to read the book! :D

Anonymous said...

Ah nice "get" there Anj. I myself prefer olde school Lois Lane, the one who used to take a delight in busting up phoney spiritualists like she was Harry Houdini or something.
John Feer

Gear said...

Great interview, thanks ANJ! And thanks to Kelly Sue Deconnick for taking the time to talk to us. Welcome aboard!

I'm glad to hear that we're going to see a little more of Kara as an individual as well as the hero. We have gotten a lot of Kara the Supergirl over the last few years, but when I look back on it my favorite moments in the stories have been about Kara the person.

We get three more issues, and I'm hoping it's a lot of fun. I'm glad that the focus will include lots of personal moments as well as all the daring do. After all, I read Supergirl, but it's Kara as an individual that makes the read worthwhile.

Martin Gray said...

Lovely piece. And who knew Kelly Sue was a fan of the orihinal Nocturna, the spookiest villain created during an especially fertile period for the Batman books? After Kelly Sue's superb Supergirl #65, I'd say she deserves a shot at a Lois v Nocturna tale.

TalOs said...

Nice job, Anj! =)

"KSD: There is definitely a retro feel, though you’ll find more Easter Eggs of the 80s movie variety than Silver Age Supergirl, I think."

Say wha??! Really?? O_O Do tell! =D As a HUGE fan of the '85 Helen Slater (just gotta love her!) featured movie (yes it had plot holes but it had more balls then any of Superman's movies combined at the time in my honest opinion) this was truly music to my ears and i'm SO gonna be scanning this weeks as well as the 2 remaining issues of Pre-DCnU Supergirl continuity to hopefully find all 'em 80's movie Easter Eggs hinted at!!! B-D

Oh and Newsarama has the official sneak peek (warning MAJOR spoilers lie ahead at the link though) at this weeks issue too! ;-)

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

As I have said many times before, Supergirl can be a hard character to 'get'. But after this interview and reading Supergirl #65, it's clear Kelly Sue DeConnick does understand what makes Supergirl so great!

Brody said...

Thank you for the excellent interview. I hadn't been planning to get the final 3 issues of Supergirl's current incarnation, but I'm so impressed with the subtlety and literacy of Kelly Sue's comments, that now I can't wait. And I fully expect to be deeply disappointed in August, at the end of this incarnation.