Kelly Sue DeConnick On Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel and the Comics Internet

Kelly Sue DeConnick, who recently launched both a new iteration of Ghost at Dark Horse Comics and the next stage in the evolution of the movie-friendly Avengers Assemble title at Marvel, has managed to do so while writing one of the most critically-acclaimed new titles from Marvel in quite some time (Captain Marvel) and doing a seemingly-never-ending streak of interviews, Twitter exchanges with fans and convention appearances.

Congratulations on Avengers Assemble: it reminds me more of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League than just about any other team book that I've seen. And coming from me, that's high praise indeed.

Yeah, I've seen that written several times and I'm embarrassed to say I've not read that book but now I want to get it because everybody says it's really funny!

I think that's a really great thing because I feel like one of the things that always bothers me is the way that team books don't seem to do a lot of character work. They all feel kind of similar.

Yeah--I have no idea if I'm doing it successfully or not. It's one of those things where I just finished my first story and I've started writing my second and it is a particularly large cast. I like a large cast and I like rotating focus. I like a kind of novelistic approach, but when the large cast is together as much as they are with The Avengers, I hope it works out but I couldn't honestly tell you.

You know, not long ago when Gail Simone took over Wonder Woman, there was kind of a huge push that "Hey, the first female writer ever to take on Wonder Woman!" You didn't get anything like that from The Avengers, where as far as I can tell you're the first woman ever to write that team as well. Is it interesting having that role at a time when The Avengers are the most visible franchise in comics and at a time when we've had a lot of conversations about gender in comics?

I think one of the reasons that it was such a big deal for Gail to take on Wonder Woman was that that character is not just part of the "holy trinity" of DC but she's been on the cover of Ms. Magazine. She is a feminist icon and the fact that a character who had come to represent so much...

When the feminist movement of the '70s really took off with the ERA, I was a kid but I remember it really well. That was the reason my mom started buying me Wonder Woman comics was the notion that it was a kind of empowering, feminist version of pop culture. Same with the TV show. So the fact that that book had never been written by a woman was much more remarkable than anything else in the industry.

It wasn't so much about, "Hey, look, here's a big book that's never had a woman ongoing writer," but rather "Here is a feminist icon that has been produced for seventy years by men. That's what made it noteworthy.

I think my writing an Avengers title--and you know, I'm tickled that I get to be the first ongoing woman writer of an Avengers title if that is the case, and I'm not 100% sure of that--but I don't think it carries the same punch.

I don't want to downplay my own significance here either, but I am AN Avengers writer. I am not THE Avengers writer. Jonathan Hickman is THE Avengers writer and his book hasn't come out yet, but he's going to knock it out of the park. I don't want to misrepresent my role here.

Well, but I think your book will have a different audience than Hickman's has in many ways.

Yes, it's by design. We're there to offer a counterpoint in many ways.

I think it struck me because this has been such a dominant subject of conversation in comics for a while now. When the San Diego Batgirl thing happened for example, I hadn't read any of your work yet and suddenly everyone I knew was saying, "Damn you, DC! Why didn't you hire Kelly Sue DeConnick?" And I had to go, "Wait, who? Why does everyone love this person?". So you've become a kind of offhanded feminist shorthand in the back of my brain somehow.

That's awesome. I'll take that.

It was very uncomfortable for me when everybody was saying that, because DC did talk to me for The New 52. DC spoke to me twice, about two different projects. One I simply did not have time to pitch, the other one I pitched and I didn't get the gig. And there is nothing wrong with that--that is a no harm, no foul on either side.

I don't mean to suggest that I don't think representation in the industry is an issue. I do think it is, both in our stable of creators and in the books themselves with the characters and I think as well that it's an issue that takes time to fix and it's oversimplified regularly on both sides.

But in that particular instance, I did see my name come up as well in that regard, specifically with reference to the New 52. You don't usually make a practice of telling people about jobs you didn't get or jobs you didn't take--that's not how you want to represent yourself but I felt very weird about being set up, along with Marjorie Liu also, who stepped up and said she was approached, but she and I were both approached.

But every so often, these things just seek you out, don't they? There was this thing where you got referred to in a press release as Matt Fraction's wife, and it just became a day and a half of everybody in comics advocating on your behalf.

Yeah that was weird. As long as we're clearing things up, let's go ahead and say that wasn't actually the convention. That was a news site. I'm very bad about updating my website and so my credits, and my bio that was on there had not been updated in a while and clearly someone had just used that for my bio, which had really old information.

It was probably somebody who had ninety things to do that day and they didn't mean to slight me and they thought it was interesting that I was married to Matt. And I don't wish to hide the fact that I'm married to Matt, but it was just the point of these things that we do that we don't really think about. That was I believe the first line of my bio...and nobody else's bio, including people on the list who were married to other industry professionals, mentioned their marital status. Matt's didn't mention that he was married to me, and it especially did not lead with the fact that he was married to me. I don't think anyone was out to do anything particularly awful. I don't even think that it was particularly awful. It was more just an observation that, "Look, here's a thing we do that maybe is not so awesome." So let's rethink how we present ourselves just a little bit.

I didn't mean to publicly shame anyone--well, that's disingenuous. I tweeted and asked why it was in my bio, and I did that publicly and that was a choice, so I suppose I'm a liar. I didn't mean for it to be huge, I just meant for it to be fixed. And I was as irritated as the fact that it had Bongo work and no mention of anything recent as the fact that it led with my marital status.

Let's shift gears a little and talk about Captain Marvel, which is a great book but it's not a character that people would think is a guaranteed hit. I mean, you take over Avengers Assemble and it's kind of like, "Of course that'll be a success." But with Captain Marvel it seems a whole lot less like a guarantee. Did you have to pitch that book or were you approached?

I pitched that book--I pitched it as Ms. Marvel and I think I began that in May of 2010. So that was a long process but it was just the timing wasn't right, the timing wasn't right...then it was.

Is it a little odd to have these titles where you're the last wave (along with Gambit and Hawkeye) of non-Marvel NOW! releases and so you didn't get to ride that hype tidal wave? Is it hard to keep a book that's in its first year of publication on people's radars with all these new #1s out?

Our issue #9 will be Marvel NOW! branded and I've been trying to get the word out that #7, which came out yesterday, and #9 are great jumping-on points. You don't need to know anything that happened in one through six or anything about the character if you join us at seven and the same thing if you come in at nine you should be able to jump right in.

Yeah, it's always hard. There's a lot of books out there every week and I think I have to make a decision on some level: I work hard for my books but there's also an element of it that's just out of my hands. So I need to write the best book that I can, write about what I'm interested in reading and try to continue to get better as I go...and then just sort of let go of the results.

All I can do is to do what I can do...God, that sounds so trite. "I can do what I can do and it will be what it is!" As absurd as that sounds and as much as it should be needlepointed onto a sampler, it's true. You draw this circle around yourself and all of the things that are inside the circle are your responsibility and everything outside of the circle is none of your business. And you need to work hard to make sure that everything inside of that circle is taken care of and let go of everything outside. When I get in trouble is when I start to worry about things that are outside of the circle and start neglecting the things that are inside.

Was it you who decided to bring Monica Rambeau in for #7?

That was totally me.

First of all, there was such hype that there was a female Captain Marvel, and I was like, "She's not the first female Captain Marvel!" Monica is a fantastic character--she's smart and funny and there's no reason she shouldn't be a star. I didn't want her history with that code name forgotten and so it seemed like that was something we had to talk about. And I wanted, too, to have a chance to write her. I'd like to see her back in the Marvel Universe in a more prominent way but I don't know what the avenue for that is just yet. She's kind of doing her thing in New Orleans right now so I don't know. We'll see. If these two issues do really well and there's a lot of buzz maybe we'll able to get her back.

But I really just wanted to make sure that was addressed and I wanted to write her. And then I mentioned it at a convention at a Marvel panel at HeroesCon in Charlotte. I mentioned it and there were two kids in the back that screamed. It was just so cool, and I think about them all the time. I'm like, "Dude, I want to write that book for them." They were so excited to see her, you know? I think one thing that we have to remember is that every character is somebody's favorite character and every chance you get to write to somebody new. It's dorky, but it was really cool that somebody was super stoked for Monica. It made me really happy.