Kelly Sue DeConnick, Part 1: The Right Stuff

“EVERYTHING ABOUT CAROL JUST WANTS TO GO UP ... CHIN UP, HEART UP, HEAD UP, SHE JUST WANTS TO GO UP.”

Kelly Sue DeConnick, Part 1: The Right Stuff

Kelly Sue DeConnick

Kelly Sue DeConnick has quickly become one of the most popular writers in comics. With a resume that includes Avengers Assemble and Captain Marvel for Marvel Comics, Ghost for Dark Horse, and her creator-owned projects Pretty Deadly and the upcoming Bitch Planet for Image, Kelly Sue has gathered a passionate and vocal crowd of fans. Rarely has one creator and character inspired such an outpouring of fan approval and community building as Kelly Sue’s reimagining of Carol Danvers, taking her from the days of Ms. Marvel into her new identity as Captain Marvel. With extremely active profiles on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, Kelly Sue is constantly interacting with her fans. As one of them put it when he nominated Kelly Sue for the Person of the Year in the Comics Industry over at The Beat: “Kelly Sue DeConnick of course! For being a great role model for all comics creators, and a shining example of how positivity, classiness, and artistic passion make a difference in this world.” In the first part of this two-part interview with our WonderCon Anaheim special guest (which was conducted in late January), Kelly Sue talks about breaking in, Captain Marvel, and that force of nature known simply as the Carol Corps. (As always, click on the images to see them larger on your screen and in slideshow mode.)

Toucan: Yesterday I was following you on Tumblr and I noticed you posted a number of Modesty Blaise drawings and I was wondering if you’re dropping any hints for a future project?

Kelly Sue: I wish. Boy, sometimes I do do that. I did post an awful lot of Barbarella while I was working on Barbarella, well before that was announced, but no, so far as I know no one has relicensed Modesty Blaise to be put out, but if they do they should call me. I’ve got most of the novels, multiple copies of a couple of them, and I have less of the comic. I have The Gabriel Set-Up and the Top Traitor collections that were done by [Peter] O’Donnell and [Jim] Holdaway, the Titan Books ones.

I have an alert set up on eBay for Modesty Blaise original art, and most of the time when it comes up it’s something to do with the movie and there’s nothing original about it. Oh, the movie’s terrible, but every once in a while something will come up and I’m never in a position to buy it but I pine for a few minutes and that’s my experience.

Toucan: What are you doing with Barbarella?

Kelly Sue: I’m already done. I did it for Humanoids. The first volume there was a previous, English adaptation from, I believe, 1966. The second volume has never been in English and the second volume is nuts. That was the most fun I’d had. I think on the first volume I was a little stressed. I hadn’t done any English adaptations for a while and it’s a tricky job, because if you’re doing your job well your hand is invisible. You want to try and intuit what the intention of the original author was and see how you can get that out in English in a way that flows and doesn’t distract from the story. I had been asked to update it and so that was tricky too. How do I stay true to a book that was written in the ‘60s that is very firmly based in the ‘60s? What does updating it mean in that context?

Toucan: It’s the same art? It’s not being redrawn, right?

Kelly Sue: Oh no, it’s not being redone. So it was a little tricky and I think I was nervous on the first one. I think I did a good job, I don’t mean to undersell or anything. I think people will enjoy it. On the second one Jean-Claude Forest kind of cuts loose, you can tell he’s just oh, you like that? Well you’re going to love this! The second one is ever crazier and so I just kind of went with it. There are a couple songs so I got to do song lyrics, which is a thing I absolutely love doing. You have the puzzle of trying to adapt it and make it rhyme at the same time. So it was a good time. I really had fun with that book. I think people are going to love it, especially the second volume, because it’s so new and it’s so nuts. I don’t know that there is a release date for it yet, although there is a television show in development. So if I were going to guess, my bet would be that it would come out about the same time as the TV show.

Toucan: How did all this comic stuff start for you? Were you a fan as a kid?

Kelly Sue: Yes. My dad was in the service, so I grew up on military bases and comics were very much a part of the culture. So I got to go to the Stars & Stripes and spend my allowance on comics every weekend and what I didn’t get at Stars & Stripes I could get used by the handful at the Saturday swap meets.

Toucan: What parts of the country did you grow up in?

Kelly Sue: Germany was where I was probably most ardently a comic reader, both because of the age I was when we lived there and then also because we didn’t get American television and I am not fluent in German, so comics were sort of my TV and that’s just very much the sort of thing that appealed to me.

Toucan: What were some of your favorites?

Kelly Sue: Wonder Woman, which my mom would buy for me frequently because it was the ’70s and it was a national feminist movement and without ever reading any of them, I think she thought, “Wonder Woman . . . that’s feminist.” I liked the DC horror anthologies. I loved Vampirella. My mom did police my reading. I got to read Vampirella. I liked the Archie Digests. I mean I remember after school I would go over to the Edmonson’s house and they had a basement. First off, they lived off base, which was a luxury, and the basement was kind of the kids’ area. It was just beanbags and boxes of comics and we would just kind of read everything we could get our hands on. It was just like, “Well what haven’t I read down here yet?” The favorites were probably the DC horror anthologies and Wonder Woman.

Toucan: Is there one comic book from you childhood that you’d always want to keep?

Kelly Sue: No, nor can I name, like someone will—it’s a frequent question—what was your first comic book, and I have no idea. I have no idea. They were kind of always around and they were always disposable. You know, we cut them up and remixed them. They weren’t things to be put away or treasured or saved to put anybody through college, and you know the weight limit, too, when you’re moving. The Air Force will only move so many pounds of your stuff when they move you around and they tell you that the lowest person on the totem pole when they’re weighing this stuff is the kid. So anything I owned I only kept for two years because the next time we moved very little went with me.

Toucan: So when you say you remixed them, you cut up the panels and rearranged them to tell different stories?

Kelly Sue: Yeah, and it’s kind of a weird thing to do, I don’t know why we did this, but you couldn’t put stuff up on your walls. I don’t know, you probably could, but our parents wouldn’t let us, they were worried about putting lots of holes in the walls or getting a lot of tape on the walls because you take down the paint or whatever. And I mean there was this constant impermanence to everything. So for that reason we would cut things out and make these giant collages on poster board, which we could then prop up or convince them that we’re putting up this big piece of poster board with just this one bit of tape and so we would cut out pictures of like the members of KISS. I had a poster board that was all pictures of Ace Frehley that I found everywhere and then I would also have one that had a part on it that had pictures of Nocturna, who I was super into for some reason, or villains, or Batman doing this or whatever. Sometimes we tried to tell other stories with them—that makes a better story—but I’m afraid we did less of that and more of just categorization.

Toucan: Was there a point when you were a kid reading these comics that you felt like you wanted to be a part of this, that you wanted to be a writer when you grew up?

Kelly Sue: No, it never occurred to me that that was a thing anyone could do. I think I thought that there was like a group of people in New York who did this and you had to be part of that group.

Toucan: Which wasn’t too far off the mark back in the ’70s.

Kelly Sue: No, that’s probably true, yeah . . .

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Friends

Kelly Sue doin' the duckface with friends and fans from her convention appearances, including Ben Acker of Thrilling Adventure Hour (far left).

Toucan: When did you decide that you wanted to write comics?

Kelly Sue: I don’t know if I ever did.

Toucan: It just kind of happened?

Kelly Sue: Yeah, I mean that sounds so absurd in light of all the conversations about what a difficult industry it is to break in to, but I have a theater degree. I pursued acting for a time. I found that I didn’t have the right temperament for that, I think. I’d done some writing. I don’t know exactly, I think I had to trick myself into pursuing writing by saying that I wasn’t really pursuing writing, because I think otherwise it was too scary a thing to do, that I would most likely fail at making a profession of it. So if I didn’t declare that intention, then I wasn’t both a failed actor and a failed writer. It’s scary and to people in my family it seemed as though I had flaky ambitions. I know they had my best interests at heart, but I kind of resent that, honestly, because I think that there’s an assumption that—and maybe this isn’t just my family—but I think there’s this idea that if you want to pursue any of these more artistic career paths that that equals laziness, because my experience in it is quite directly the opposite. You will have to do more, harder and longer, than anyone on a conventional career path. So yeah, that kind of sticks in my craw still.

Toucan: Was there pressure for you to follow a backup plan, like be an accountant or a schoolteacher or something?

Kelly Sue: Attorney. It was always attorney, because I’ve always been an adamant arguer and so it was always, everyone in my family wanted me to become an attorney.

Toucan: So you kind of backed into comics. What was your first job in comics?

Kelly Sue: My first paid work in comics was writing very small blurb reviews, but they weren’t even reviews, they were like almost catalog entries or recommendations for Artbomb.net. I had been an active participant on the Warren Ellis message board and was doing a lot of writing at that point but not in comics and Warren and Peter Rose were starting this site and they needed to bulk it up and so I started writing . . . I think they were 300-word pieces and it was great. It was the kind of thing where we only covered books we loved so I never found myself in that awkward position of having said something unpleasant about someone’s work who later became a colleague. If we covered your work on this site we loved it and I only said nice things. So that worked out well for me.

Toucan: How did that get you comics writing assignments?

Kelly Sue: It didn’t directly. I feel as though I have broken into comics like three or four different times. That was my first paid work in comics. I went to a book signing for Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and at the front of the line I think I just got flummoxed and I didn’t really say anything or I didn’t feel like I’d said anything particularly witty or something, I don’t know. So I wrote Mr. Gaiman a note and gave it to the bookstore owner and said would you please give this to him and he was like, yeah I’ll put it with the rest and it wasn’t like a mash note; I was doing a lot of research for other writers at the time and also temping a lot as a secretary and so, I almost said executive assistant as though that’s different. I was a secretary and so I offered to send in my CV. I knew he didn’t live in New York, but I knew that he was in publishing and had occasion to be in New York frequently and if he needed an assistant in New York I wanted to apply. And I didn’t hear from him and I thought well, that was silly. I’m embarrassed and let’s just all move on. Then well after his tour, he must have like gotten home and was going through all of his things, he wrote to me and said I have a very capable assistant, I don’t know need an assistant in New York, but it was a pleasure to meet you and are you a writer, what do you do, and that sort of opened up a conversation and we had a correspondence for a while. And at some point when he was working on American Gods he let me make like three phone calls for him or something. So I did some research for him, but it was so little that it was probably more of a favor to me than it was a timesaver for him and it was on two different issues, but I was so excited to have done it that I told literally everyone I knew that I had "worked with Neil Gaiman." You can’t see me making the bunny ears [air quotes] right now. At the time my friend Jamie Rich was working, he was the editor-in-chief, I believe at the time, at Oni Press, and he was also writing English adaptations of manga in his spare time for Tokyopop, and Tokyopop was looking for someone to do a book called Demon Diary. They wanted it done in the fashion of Princess Mononoke, which Gaiman had done. So they asked Jamie who he would recommend and Jamie said I think my friend Kelly Sue worked with Gaiman and that was enough to get me a tryout. So I did a couple of pages of adaptation. That got me the job and then pretty much after that work begets work and then pretty soon I was writing English adaptations full time and I was a full time writer. That was my main gig for years before I thought of myself as a professional writer.

Toucan: Why is that?

Kelly Sue: I have no idea, but you know it’s interesting. It’s a thing I see when I meet people at signings. I don’t know maybe they call it “imposter syndrome” or something, but I’ll ask people what they do and they’ll tell me that they’re a writer and they flinch and I recognize that impulse so much. I did exactly the same thing. I still do it when I’m filling out forms for some reason. I’m a well-established professional writer now and I think there’s still a part of me that feels like I’m going to get caught.

Toucan: What do you think the punishment is for that?

Kelly Sue: I don’t know. Maybe they’ll make me write something.

Toucan: What was the first work you did for Marvel?

Kelly Sue: So the first thing I did for Marvel was part of the “Women of Marvel” initiative. I was already married at that point [Kelly Sue is married to fellow comics writer Matt Fraction; you probably already know this]. It actually hasn’t been that long ago. I’ve only been working for Marvel, I think, since 2009. I believe that’s right. It seems like a minute ago. I had done a five-issue mini at IDW with Steve Niles, 30 Days of Night: Eben & Stella. Alejandro Arbona was Matt’s editor, I believe, on Iron Man at the time and he had these female character one-shots and he wanted to staff them with as many women as possible. He asked Matt if he could think of anybody and Matt was like you should talk to my wife. So I talked to Alejandro and I was very wary of nepotism accusations. I didn’t want to put anybody in a weird spot. It was awkward, so what we decided to do was I sent Alejandro Eben & Stella to read and he liked it. My last name is different from Matt’s so we decided we would blind submit it to Ralph Macchio, who was his senior editor at the time. So he gave it to Ralph to read and just asked what do you think about her and Ralph said sure let her pitch. So he gave me two books to pitch on. I pitched on Sif and I pitched on Rescue. He approved them both and at that point we told him hey, by the by, I’m Fraction’s wife, if that’s a problem you are far enough out that you can replace me and that is totally okay, we don’t want to put anybody in a weird position, but we also didn’t want you making the decision based on anything else, and Ralph—I wasn’t involved in this conversation—but he apparently thought it was funny and it was a nonissue. So my first two books were Sif and Rescue. I believe Sif was the first one out. I think Rescue was the first one I wrote. Then after that was Osborn: Evil Incarcerated and a whole bunch of different shorts here and there and then my first ongoing was Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel #1

Cover to Captain Marvel #1. Art by Ed McGuiness.

TM & © 2014 Marvel & Subs

Toucan: So let’s talk about Captain Marvel, which is about to relaunch. The phenomenon around this character that you’ve recreated for Marvel has inspired a whole group of fans to band together as the Carol Corps, which has grown to become this amazing community dedicated to your version of Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. What is it about this particular character that inspires fans?

Kelly Sue: I think it’s that she’s so flawed, quite frankly. I think the thing that people relate to about Carol is that she’s aspiring to be a thing that she is not at present and that’s okay and I think everyone kind of relates to that. I think everyone who finds appeal in superheroes—and the kind of superhero that Carol is, those sort of heart-driven, head-up superheroes [as opposed to a] kind of dark superhero . . . everything about Carol wants to go up. Carol is very much on the Superman side of the Superman/Batman equation, but I think that people who find appeal in that very easily identify with that struggle to be better, to do better.

Toucan: How does something like the Carol Corps make you feel as a creator?

Kelly Sue: Incredibly lucky. I am so genuinely moved by this group of people that it’s hard to talk about it without sounding overly sentimental or cliché. They are genuinely beautiful human beings. You know, some of the things that they’ve done for outreach—and there’s this thing now called the Carol Corps Yarn Brigade—the thing I think that people don’t understand is I didn’t organize this. I don’t have anything to do with this. The most I do is “signal boost.” Somebody will tag something for me to see and I’ll retweet it so that it gets more eyes on it or re-blog it or whatever, but I’m not an organizer of Carol-Con or any of these things. It has been completely fan driven which is beautiful and amazing.

Kelly Sue DeConnick

Kelly Sue with a Captain Marvel yarn doll.

The Carol Corps Yarn Brigade are people that are knitters and crocheters. I don’t know if there’s any other needle art hobbyists, but I know it’s knitters and crocheters and they make Carol-themed pieces, Captain Marvel lucky hats or towels or scarves or mittens and send them out in what they call “yarn bombs.” They have little stickers printed up that go on the packages, too, and they send them out to people who are having a rough time for one reason or another as a kind of “you’re not alone, we’re all here, we’ve all struggled, warm yourself” kind of thing. It’s really beautiful. In the second arc of the series that we did, Carol has a thing growing in her brain that limits her ability to fly and it’s very frightening. You can’t punch a brain tumor, you know. I got two different letters from people who have MS diagnoses who have not shared with everyone around them that they’re living with that diagnosis because they haven’t come to a place where they’re willing to accept the help that they’re going to need. They’re used to being very self-sufficient and they’re feeling right now angry and betrayed by their bodies. It was very much parallel to what Carol was going through. Carol wouldn’t accept the limitations that her doctor gave her. She had trouble asking for help. She pushed herself well past what she should have, foolishly, and played right into the hands of her enemy, because of parts of her character that are both fantastic and a little bit self-destructive. That part of her that can make herself get up when her body is telling her don’t get up, that’s admirable, but it also needs to be overridden by the part of your brain that says you need to stay down or your brain is going to bleed out. Carol can’t let anybody else do anything for her. She has a really hard time with that, and I got so many letters from people who were able to identify with that and that somehow seeing this person who was a superhero going through this thing that they identified with so strongly gave them permission to feel the fear that they were feeling and that just because you’re afraid and angry at your condition doesn’t mean that you’re doomed. Those letters taught me so much about what fiction does for us and also about the power of representation. Seeing ourselves in fiction, I think, is so much more important than I ever imagined.

Toucan: But obviously you’re doing something beyond the love of the character that is inspiring these people to band together. I mean, let’s face it: Marvel's version of Captain Marvel has been around for almost 50 years now (starting as a male character); Carol Danvers (as Ms. Marvel) has been around for almost 40 years. Never before has a character inspired this kind of devotion and this kind of fan following so quickly. I see the way that you relate to these people on a daily basis on Tumblr, but you have to realize that they’re reacting to you and what you’re doing as a writer as much as they are the character.

Kelly Sue: Well, I have a genuine affection for them. I think people know when you’re faking it. I’ve met some super, super cool people in the Carol Corps. We have an actual rocket scientist in the Carol Corps, an actual, for real, live rocket scientist who has asthma and is a runner and so she has something to overcome when she runs. She runs wearing a Captain Marvel outfit that she made herself, which is pretty incredible. There’s a woman who just got her pilot’s license. I got so chocked up, a woman came up to me at Emerald City, and told me that she was in the Navy because Carol had inspired her, kind of gave her permission to apply for flight school. Yeah, I mean I get choked up talking to you about it. I don’t know . . . they’re pretty cool people.

Carol Corps Cosplay

Kelly Sue and cosplayers at Geek Girl Con in Seattle last year. Photo by Corrina Lawson.

Toucan: It’s definitely amazing the way people relate to comics characters. Going back to the Legion of Superheroes when it first started and then the Uncanny X-Men when Chris Claremont started writing it and Dave Cockrum and John Byrne drew it, and the New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. It just seems like the characters in comics inspire people, maybe because they’re all so different.

Kelly Sue: Oh my god, I love those books! I love those books! I think that there is something very lizard brain about it. I mean I think these characters are the ones that persist are almost like Jungian archetypes. I love superhero comics with the same part of me that I love Greek mythology and melodrama and commedia dell’arte. I think that they are things that reflect our humanity back at us in ways that naturalism kind of can’t. It’s almost more direct.

Toucan: Let’s talk a little bit about where Captain Marvel is now, because as we speak the book is on hiatus and about to be relaunched in March. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s coming up?

All-New Marvel NOW! Captain Marvel #1

Cover to All-New Marvel NOW! Captain Marvel #1 by David Lopez.

TM & © 2014 Marvel & Subs

Kelly Sue: Yeah, the first new issue is in March and she’s going cosmic. So there’s this book when I was researching Captain Marvel . . . I’ve always been kind of fascinated by pilots and pilot culture probably largely because I grew up with my dad in the Air Force. Captain Marvel [the Carol Danvers version] started out as Ms. Marvel and at her start was an unapologetic attempt to make a feminist icon. She was the female fury. So this is the kind of cross section of two things that were very interesting to me.

Predating my pitch, I learned about this group of women called the Mercury 13. At the same time that they were testing male pilots all over the country to try and find the seven that would become the Mercury 7 astronauts, they also tested a group of the best female pilots in the country and it was done in secret. It was an official NASA program. It was bank rolled by Jackie Cochran who later testified against women being in the program because Jackie Cochran was crazy and someone should make a movie about her. Anyway, these women, all of them were phenomenal. I read this Martha Ackmann book that I cannot recommend highly enough that’s simply called The Mercury 13, and the first paragraph of the second chapter of that book is one of the loveliest paragraphs I’ve ever read in a nonfiction book. It’s really beautiful. She’s talking about where Jerrie Cobb grew up in Oklahoma and she says no wonder she became a pilot, everything in that part of the world is trying to take flight. And she goes on to describe how the wind there is such that if you drop a candy wrapper, it immediately is up in the air and how when you’re driving down the road it seems as though the signs are trying to take off like rockets. There was something about that image that made me think of Carol. That everything about Carol just wants to go up, like everything about her faces up. Chin up, heart up, head up, she just wants to go up.

So when I got the news from Wacker [Stephen Wacker, Marvel’s former senior editor] that what they wanted to do is relaunch Captain Marvel to get a new number one because the numbers on the book haven’t been bad but the book has an incredibly vocal, incredibly dedicated fan base, and they’re much more present than the numbers would indicate. So Wacker was like, let’s see if we can get the book a boost and get it in front of more eyes by giving it a new number one. So then it becomes this sort of backwards construction thing which nobody wants to do. Now you have to come up with a story reason for there to be a new number one. I would rather have a story reason and then make the following decisions, but this is sort of backwards engineered. So it was like well, she wants to go up, let’s let her go. Let’s take her cosmic. At first I was really emotional about it because I felt like it was the right thing to do, but at the same time I was so invested in her supporting cast in New York. We spent too much time building up these people and they feel real to me and I don’t want to leave them. We spend some more time with them in the first issue to make sure we know where everyone is while she’s gone and that their lives are continuing, so that she will rejoin them eventually.

Toucan: Let’s backtrack for a second because you mentioned during what we were just talking about that Captain Marvel was a pitch that you did. Were you asked to pitch for this specific character, or was this wholly on your own? Had you gone to Marvel and said I want to take Carol Danvers from being Ms. Marvel to being Captain Marvel?

Captain Marvel original costume design by Jamie McKelvie

Original Captain Marvel costume design sketch by Jamie McKelvie.

TM & © 2014 Marvel & Subs

Kelly Sue: No, it was sort of a little of column A, a little of column B. I was looking to pitch, I wanted an ongoing series. I had set a goal for myself; I wanted to see if I can do an ongoing series—although hilariously I was pretty sure that whatever my ongoing was, it was going to get cancelled at six issues anyway, but I wanted something coming out that was going to be called an ongoing. So I was looking for something to pitch and I don’t know where I heard it, but they were looking for a Ms. Marvel pitch: “Hey, anybody got anything on Ms. Marvel?” and nobody had anything that really worked for anybody. So I called Wacker, I think, and said “Can I pitch you on Ms. Marvel?” and he was like, “Yes, you can.” So my pitch was Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager. My pitch was Carol Danvers as adrenaline junkie pilot, very Type A, a very driven human being, and he really liked that. Then the new costume and the new title were both him. I’m not responsible for either of those things, though I love them and would like to take credit for them. I’m a little bit responsible for the costume, but the way the Captain Marvel thing happened was he literally called me and said you’re not writing Ms. Marvel and I was oh, okay, that’s cool, I understand. I had other pitches that didn’t go. And he says, “because you’re writing Captain Marvel,” and then I cursed his name and stuff. Then we were emailing about it and he wrote at one point and said and if we’re going to do this I want to put her in pants and I wrote back and said I cannot tell if you’re kidding. Then my only contribution to that was I lobbied very hard to get Jamie McKelvie to do the redesign. So much so that I basically made a bet. They said they weren’t going to go out of pocket to do a redesign, but that we would have to work with the designs that we had from inhouse, and I didn’t like any of those designs so I said to Wacker, “What if I paid Jamie to do one?” and he’s like no, I’m not comfortable with that, but maybe if Jamie did one and everybody here happened to see it and everybody here loved it, maybe we could buy it. So I wrote to Jamie and said, hey, why don’t you make this bet with me? If you’re willing to do this, if they don’t buy it, I will, and he said let’s just see what happens. I don’t know if he would have called me on it or not, but luckily he’s kind of amazing and they recognized that and found the money to buy it. So that’s my tiny contribution to the costume design.

Toucan: Why were you convinced that if you got an ongoing it would be cancelled after six issues?

Kelly Sue: Because my husband is a comic book writer for Marvel comics and is very, very good at it and he had . . . I don’t know if Defenders had been cancelled at that point but I think The Order was, and The Order was his first ongoing. I’ve seen him have a couple books cancelled without making it to a year or just making it to a year and finding out they were cancelled and I thought, well, then I’m doomed.

Toucan: Well, ironically, by the middle of the year you’ll have three ongoing series: Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly, and Bitch Planet. Avengers Assemble is over, right?

Kelly Sue: It’s almost over. I have one more to do, but I co-write that with Warren Ellis.

Toucan: Well, that’s not a bad gig, is it?

Kelly Sue: No, no, it’s quite all right, and I have learned so much from that experience and also just had so much fun. It’s kind of . . . I can’t really even describe it. [Working with Ellis] has been one of the greatest pleasures of my professional career.

Toucan: But even at three books and your social media and a family and everything else, what is your day like? Do you wake up and say “Today I’m going to write Captain Marvel”?

Kelly Sue: Yeah, I usually know what I need to work on. Christmas has thrown me off. I haven’t quite gotten back to like my pre-holiday schedule. I usually get up at 3:00 AM.

And the first thing that I do is make my coffee and fill my Tumblr cue. So a lot of what you see going up during the day [on Tumblr], I’m not actually on. That’s all automated. I’ll check in when I go upstairs to make my lunch. I have the laptop on the kitchen counter. I’ll pull up Tumblr and take a look at stuff then or respond to things or at night when I’m making dinner. The radio’s on and I can do two things at once, but most of the time I get up at 3:00. I have my coffee and fill my Tumblr cue, try to do a little bit of reading and then I try to get to work as quickly as possible and I work until the kids wake up, which can be anywhere between 5:15 and 6:30. Then I get them dressed and off to school and, depending on the day, I’m back at my desk. If it’s a day when they have another ride in—three days a week they have another ride in to school—then I’m back at my desk by say 8:30, 9:00; otherwise I’m back at my desk by 9:30, 10:00. The most productive writing time I have is those couple of hours from 3:00 AM until 5:15 or 6:15. That is when I’m the least disturbed and I would say my inner editor is still asleep at those hours and so that’s the best writing time that I have, but then I get back to it during the day. During the day though is when you get interrupted by editorial calls or quick, we need a solicit for this or we need a letter pass of that or all the business of writing comics that isn’t actually writing comics. So I go back and forth between working on whatever I need to script that day and dealing with the fires that come in during the day. Depending on the day—again, is it the day where I need to go get the kids or is it a day where my husband goes and gets the kids—I work until either 4:00 or 5:00 PM and then I go upstairs and start dinner and when I put dinner on is when I’ll open Tumblr up again and load up more stuff or answer questions or whatever. Then we have dinner together and then we have family time and we do homework and what not and then Matt does their baths and I have a couple minutes to myself and then the kids and I are in bed at 8:00 and Matt reads to us and I go to sleep with the kids.

Toucan: Wow, we’re coming up on your bedtime then . . .

Kelly Sue: We would be if I was back to my normal schedule, but I slept in until 5:00 this morning


Yes, we’re leaving you with a cliffhanger! Does Kelly Sue get to bed on time? Click here to read part two of our Toucan interview with Kelly Sue when she talks about Pretty Deadly, Bitch Planet, the joys of creator-owned books, and the real force behind the comic books produced in the DeConnick-Fraction house!

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