In which I fangirl hard about Kelly Sue DeConnick

Recently, we’ve learned Kelly Sue DeConnick is going to wrap up her run on Captain Marvel,  which is quite sad, but I’m also pretty optimistic about it.  With the recent TV deal she and husband Matt Fraction signed, she’s going to be plenty busy with her own projects. And, really, I’m hoping she’ll have more time to focus on her own comics, because those are fucking amazing. So’s she. I want to Kelly Sue when I grow up.

I loved her before I read her work. I don’t even know how or why, but her name was familiar to me long before I read of her being harassed and belittled because people assumed she slept her way to a job writing for Marvel. Because really, she’s a woman, how else would she get that job. I remember reading her tired Tumblr response to the bullshit and thinking it was articulate and thoughtful, a dashed-off bit of brilliance, brimming with righteous anger, but too smart to let that explode. I began to pay more attention when I would come across her name, but still didn’t pick up her work. I’m not really a superhero comic kind of girl, despite loving Wonder Woman from TV and really liking a lot of the stories that come from them. And, so I continued to sort of follow DeConnick online, for her humor and smarts, if nothing else. Then I heard about Pretty Deadly.

To put it mildy, a western about a lady grim reaper who’s out for vengeance pushes all the right buttons in all the best ways for me. So, I waited. The first arc of Pretty Deadly is a thing of beauty. I love everything about it – writing aside, it’s one of the more beautiful books I’ve seen. Emma Rios is killing that art. But. This is a love letter to Kelly Sue DeConnick, so I should mention the approach to storytelling, the clever little details and how I love a dead rabbit and a butterfly because of her. Also, I NEED MORE NOW PLEASE.

It’s a bit easier to wait for more Pretty Deadly, because in the meantime, I finally picked up Deconnick’s Captain Marvel and have found myself solidly in the Carol Corps. What DeConnick has done with Captain Marvel is no doubt the reason we are finally, finally, getting a lady-led superhero movie. Carol Danvers is hanging out in space and punching dinosaurs and she’s somehow a flawed (super)human badass who’s easily relatable. It’s as if DeConnick believes she’s writing a whole person, not just boobs in spandex there to help dudes and then need saving. No wonder she’s got her own legion of fans. The Carol Corps sprang up on the internet, as most things do these days, but part of what makes it special is that Deconnick seems to really love interacting with the self-proclaimed members. (Also, I love that the new Captain Marvel comic will be titled Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. That’s fan power, and a smart company recognizing an amazing thing when they have it.) She’s a den mother of sorts, helping spread the word about whatever a Carol Corps group is up to and going out of her way to attend meet-ups at conventions.

That’s how I first encountered the real live Kelly Sue Deconnick, at DragonCon in Atlanta last summer. There was a Carol Corps meetup set for Friday night, with DeConnick joining the fun. Somehow this turned into a full-on Captain Marvel panel, complete with a room that quickly filled every seat and every available space for standing. It was mostly a Q&A, and thoroughly enjoyed by all. The following night, DeConnick was part of a roundtable discussion on race and gender in comics, where she, being sort of the rock star in our midst, fielded a lot of questions, including the one about what happened to Carol Danvers in the much-grumbled-about Avengers # 200. Clearly not a fan of that event, which Carol has since forgotten, DeConnick has said numerous times something to the effect of “Carol doesn’t know, and I don’t feel the need to remind her.” This went on to a discussion of rape in comics and further on from there. I do not recall the exact nature of the comments, but I remember being struck by Deconnick’s reaction when another panelist with a different perspective disagreed something she’d said and explained why. The woman made good points and DeConnick didn’t argue with her. Instead, she appeared to really be listening and absorbing what she heard. Her only response was, basically, you might be right, I’ll think some more.

That was such an amazing and refreshing small thing that I may have gone deaf for a minute afterwards. DeConnick is not someone who fears speaking her mind, which is lucky for the rest of us, because it’s a brilliant mind with many varied thoughts. She has opinions and she will stand up for herself and others without reservation. People who share these traits aren’t always quick to say “I could be wrong” or work to understand other perspectives – even those who know better. So to see it happen, so effortlessly, from someone I admire so deeply, well, it pretty much locked me into the Kelly Sue 4 Lyfe corner.

And then. THEN, she gave us Bitch Planet. Y’all. There are only four issues out so far and I love it as much as I do my dogs. I did from #1, if I’m honest. I will have the non-compliant logo tattooed on me soon. The super-short story of Bitch Planet is that DeConnick wanted to explore her love of 1970s women’s exploitation movies, which, um, aren’t the most feminist pieces of cinema but are still pretty rad in their way. So we get a comic about a future when “difficult” women are labelled non-compliant and shipped off to a prison planet. Awesomeness ensues and DeConnick is not messing around. You think you have a handle on things and then at the end of the first issue, she makes your brain explode with glee as she twists the story and her villain mustache, cackling with delight.

Between publication dates, DeConnick is pretty active on Twitter and Tumblr, and she and Fraction send an email newletter to their merry band of nerds. The funny thing is, I’ve started reading Fraction, too. I’d heard about how great he is, of course, but I didn’t really think about picking anything up until I fell in love with his wife. I figured he’d have to be pretty rad for her to keep him around and breed with him and it turns out, that was a correct assumption. (He’s got his own badass space ladies in ODY-C, which is incredible thus far.) In fact, simply through following them on the internet, I’ve basically jumped down the comics rabbit hole I spent a lot of time strolling around the edge of. I’d read Sandman, and a few graphic novels, but never went full comic nerd until I started reading Kelly Sue DeConnick. Now I have a pull list and and even longer list of things to catch up on. So, while my bank account and husband may not be super excited, I for one, could not be happier I read that one thing about this writer chick and decided to learn more.


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