“Respect My Craft” – Kelly Sue DeConnick

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Name: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Profession: Writer

Notable WorkCaptain Marvel (2012-present), Ghost (ongoing), Pretty Deadly (ongoing), Osborn: Evil Incarcerated (2011), A buttload of Manga

“I believe the feminist movement of the 1970s died of neglect somewhere along the way and armies were dismantled before battles were won.” – Kelly Sue DeConnick

Kelly Sue DeConnick is a firecracker. Feminist, whatever-ist, DeConnick represents everything that’s right in the comic book industry. In the multiple interviews that she has done, she often sounds off about feminism, females in the industry, and how her beliefs permeate through her writing. Anybody that has read her work before (see our review of Captain Marvel: Volume One – In Pursuit of Flight here) knows that she likes to let her writing do the talking.

DeConnick grew up on a military base in Germany while her father was stationed there in the Air Force. It was there that he love for comic books blossomed. GIs would regularly read and trade issues amongst themselves. Partly because there was no American television and partly because she fell in love with them, comic books were everywhere in her childhood. Later on, DeConnick obtained her BA in Theater from the University of Texas – an education she feels deeply helps her creative process today. She sees a situation playing out and, with an appropriate script, moves forward.

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Her start in the industry was unconventional, for sure. After meeting Neil Gaiman (Anansi BoysSandman) at a book signing, she wrote him a heart-felt note that somehow turned into him putting her to work and crediting her in American Gods (terrific read, by the way). With these credentials, she was able to get a gig translating Japanese manga. Doing deeper into the rabbit-hole of the industry, she also began writing for multiple online review sites; Deconnick even met her future husband and Marvel Comics BFD, Matt Fraction (writes Sex Criminals and Hawkeye currently).  After years of the blogging and writing manga – she’s translated for over one hundred volumes of it – DeConnick started rolling in the comic book writing business.

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Being featured in collections such as 24seven and Comic Book Tattoo was a great start, but when DeConnick got the opportunity to write her own mini-series with 30 Days of Night creator Steve Miles. The four issue book was titled Eben and Stella and focused on a vampire trying to keep her newly resurrected husband at bay. It was the first of many, as DeConnick was given multiple one-shots and mini-series, notably Osborn and Sif. Her unique portrayal of Thor’s warrior friend was unlike the typical Damsel in Distress. No, she was fierce, and she could whoop anybody’s butt. This was less than five years ago; since then, and the train has showed no signs of slowing down.

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The big issue that DeConnick fights is the ignorance of the lack of diversity in the industry. Her logic is that heroism comes in all shapes and sizes. “…There’s nothing innately masculine about heroism. Nothing innately masculine about science fiction. Nor about power fantasies or revenge fantasies or the pulp aesthetic.” It’s no secret that women are under-represented in th
e industry. DeConnick feels that if young girls can learn to identify with male protagonist, there should be absolutely no reason that men can’t do the same for women protagonists. I personally love anything with Deconnick’s name on it. She isn’t perfect though; DeConnick still worries about deadlines and work-life balance like the rest of us.

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DeConnick also admits to not being the complete fan – whatever the hell that is. She admits to having gapings in her knowledge. The lesson to take away from her work is that not everybody who reads comics has to know absolutely everything about what they read to be considered an active participant in the industry. There just needs to be a desire to keep narrowing that gap, keep learning. Kelly Sue DeConnick is writing out of her mind right now, with Captain Marvel just restarting, and the continuation of her creator-owned  Pretty Deadly. Witty, intelligent and motivated, DeConnick is headed for stardom; you must Respect Her Craft!

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Marvel, IDW, Dark Horse and Image Comics) . Thanks for all the love and support for You Nerd Like A Girl. Look to us next week for more “Respect My Craft!,” featuring the industries most talented contributors.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Graphic Novel Review – Captain Marvel Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight

Graphic Novel Review – Captain Marvel Volume One: In Pursuit of Flight

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Collecting: Captain Marvel #1-6

Original Release Date: 2012

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Character: Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel

Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick

Art: Dexter Soy, Emma Rios

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 9
Art – 9
Captivity and Length – 7
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 9
Fluidity – 9
Intrigue/Originality – 9
The Little Things – 8
Overall awesomeness – 9

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When Adrian told me she wanted to celebrate Women’s History Month the same way we did Black History Month (see #AllBlackEverything) with “You Nerd Like A Girl,” the first graphic novel I wanted to review was the new Captain Marvel book. Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Captain Marvel has received acclaim for being not just a great female book, but a great book, period. Not to be confused with the new Ms. Marvel comic book (see our review for #1 here), a superb book in its own right – Captain Marvel follows Carol Danvers, who had been the original Ms. Marvel since 1977 until the first issue.

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Okay, I can see where this can be misleading. Let’s start by introducing the newly donned Captain Marvel to most of our readers. Carol Danvers first took flight in 1968 as an Air Force pilot, and her love for flight and exploration is one of the main focuses throughout In Pursuit of Flight. She meets a Kree (advanced technological race – don’t worry about it, really) named Captain Marvel. While dealing with Kree tech, there is an explosion, which somehow melds Kree DNA to Danvers, making her one tough cookie. There is more to her backstory, including her apparent death that results in Rogue gaining the ability to fly, but that’s neither here nor there.

Captain Marvel is a modern take on her origin story with a twist. The explosion that gave Danvers her powers also consequently killed the original Captain Marvel, or Mar-Vell; how snooty of him, “It’s not Marvel, its Mar-Vell.” No spoilers here, as Mar-Vell comes back from, and returns to, the dead as a sacrifice in order to try to stop the Phoenix Force in Avengers vs. X-Men, but that is a story for another day. In memory of Mar-Vell, Danvers has cut her hair and adorned herself with his uniform, and eventually his name.

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Right off the bat, you could tell that Captain Marvel was going to be all about “girl power,” and I mean that in a good way. We open up with an exciting brawl between The Absorbing Man against Danvers and Captain America. While the Absorbing Man throws all he can at the duo, they are barely breaking a sweat. Not only is Danvers running circles around Absorbing Man, but she is coming up with the wittiest lines, and commanding Captain America around the fight. It immediately sets the tone that she is not only Rogers’ equal, but in some ways superior. It doesn’t feel preachy at all, either, as Captain Marvel backs up her words by beating Absorbing Man silly.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. A majority of the story has absolutely nothing to do with Captain America, The Avengers, or even the current time. Marvel Comics has really been able to hit the nail on the head when it comes to humanizing their characters, cosmic super-powers be damned. After all, most Marvel characters were just normal people at one point, so why should their feelings and everyday life be ignored? By relating readers to a heroic “normal” person, it draws me in that much more to the super-strength and . Exploring Danvers’ past, before she was an accomplished pilot or superhero, Danvers’ hero growing up was Helen Cobb. Helen was cocky, with the skills to back up her claims. A “gift” from Helen somehow sends Danvers back in time – to WWII.

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When Danvers wakes up in the middle of a battlefield. In the 1940s. Before we can wonder how or why, our hero is thrust into war. Who will save this damsel in distress? The answer lies in the Banshee Squad, a bad-ass group of Fly Girls. Based off women (and men) who volunteered as pilots in WWII, the Banshee Squad is every bit as brave and valorous as the men that media portrays. In fact, there is a ton of correlation between the Fly Girls and the Tuskegee Airmen; both were second-class citizen patriots who would put their lives on the line for their country. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Deconnick had an agenda, but she definitely did her homework.

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Story-wise, a lot of the time travel and reasoning had me lost, as I just wanted more Carol, and more Helen. After reading the book the whole way through, I see why the story was arranged the way it was and reveals came at the points that they did, but I felt confused by the complex plot while I was reading and it detracted by the awe of what was happening. Aesthetically, Captain Marvel is pleasing. The art feels suave and appropriate, reminding me a bit of the new Street Fighter art style – very raw and engaging. Although, there is a point near the end of the book where we switch artists that it becomes an unfair distraction to the superb writing. I’m never a fan of switching creative teams in the middle of a story arc, and this didn’t make me change my stance on it at all.

This isn’t a book for women, and this isn’t a book for men. There are no boobs, and no sappy love stories. This is the story of a bad mamma jamma named Carol Danvers and her search for her own identity. She’s funny, determined and relatable. In a time where gender-swapping popular characters, the move to a female Captain Marvel proves valuable, not just for diversity’s sake, but because her character demands your attention.

All media credited to Marvel Comics

Written by Sherif Elkhatib