Kelly Sue DeConnick On Her 'Hillbilly Family', Murder, Bitch Planet, And Pretty Deadly At Wondercon

At the "Spotlight on Kelly Sue DeConnick" panel at Wondercon, things erupted into more of a zany chat session than anything else, with DeConnick hosted by Ben Acker of The Thrilling Adventure Hour and My Little Pony. The two were well-matched in sprightliness for a packed room of fans.

Unsurprisingly, there was lots of Captain Marvel cosplay in the audience as DeConnick cuddled a stuffed Tribble that someone had brought her to give to her son.


Since DeConnick's "opinions are well documented", Acker asked her if she'd seen Grand Budapest Hotel.

Deconnick replied:  "I did. I like his stuff. I'm a big fan of the palette. I want to paint our hallway Tennenbaum pink".

Then the rapid-fire discussion went something like this:

BA: "Settle a bet for me. Carol COR or Carol CORPS?" (in terms of pronunciation).

KSD: "Carol COR, corpse would be bad".

BA: "Give me an exclusive".

KSD: "Bitch Planet is, I think, going to be out in November for the first issue".

BA: "What is your favorite curse word?"

KSD: "Jackass" (which she spelled out because there were children in the room).

Then they attempted a "Lightning Round" of questions:

BA: "What do you like or dislike or like about lightning?"

KSD: "My great grandpa was struck by lightning. My great grandma found a body in a cistern, it's true. She didn't do it. That we know of. She's related to me so it's possible. This was in rural Ohio where my hillbilly family is from. I don't think she solved the murder, but when I write the story she will.

Most police departments have "citizens police academy". I did a 12 week police academy. The week that we did the "murder police" I was very excited. The homicide detective was like '"it's not that hard. Most of the time the person you think that did it totally did it". And that was true".

BA: "Talk to me about the importance of Community. Not the TV show".

KSD: "The purpose of fiction is to make us feel connected to one another, to our humanity. Fiction is really about creating community even if it's only in your head, in your emotional self. The contemporary fandom that has become more present in a time where we are losing our public spaces and they are going into virtual spaces. We are naturally building community there.  It's all about finding connections".

BA: "Are you Carol?"

KSD: "I am not Carol Corps. I am not Carol Danvers. It is anarchic. There's no boss. It's un-organized but in a good way. There's no formal organization, no vetting process. You don't have to do anything, or sign up anywhere. Though we do have cards apparently, which you can just print off on the internet, which amuses me to no end. I like that it's informal and very welcoming. If you say you're interested in comics, they will descend upon you and say "let us help you find comics!" Which is the opposite of the past. The way things ought to be".


BA: "What is your guiltiest pleasure?"

KSD: "I love a lot of terrible things, but I tend not to feel guilty about my pleasure. I have a really uncomplicated taste in music. My husband knows music and has taste. Classic rock. Metal".

BA: "Do you read things? With and without pictures?"

KSD: "I do. The book that I've been reading I'm not crazy in love with. I will quit a book. I'm a lot of pages to just give it up, but I can".

BA: "What should I read?"

KSD: "Comics-wise I'm a big fan of MIND MGMT, and there's a book called Sex Criminals. Hawkeye. I have the first issue of the new Bendis/Oeming United States of Murder Inc.  I'm Looking forward to that. Shutter. Nowhere Men".

Q &A: "If you could write any character you have yet to write, which one would it be?"

KSD: "Modesty Blaise. Peter O'Donnell's estate won't do that. And Jaimie McKelvie would draw it in a red hot minute".

Q&A: "How much did you have to fight for the dynamic of Carol with Jessica Drew in the story?"

KSD: "There was never a fight at all. Funnily enough, there are two Jessicas in the Marvel universe and they are both Carol's best friends. At first, I wanted to use Jessica Jones, but she was in another storyline, so off the table for awhile. The other Jessica then, I said. My affection for Jessica Drew was happenstance. Now I love her to death".

Q&A: "Are you elated that she's followed her in other iterations?"

KSD: "Yeah. It's always fun to see that when you put something into the universe, someone picks that up and does something with it. It's very gratifying".

Q&A: "Is there any chance of a Jessica Drew series by you in the future?"

KSD: "Sure. I would love to do a Jess book. I had a pitch in for a Jess ongoing but I had to withdraw it because I don't have time. I suspect someone will get to it first. I would like very much for her to have a solo or a team book centered around her. I'd like to see more Jess regardless of whether I'm behind the keyboard or not".


Q&A: "Carol has a crazy past compared to most heroes in the Marvel U. Did that make it easy or hard to write?"

KSD: "I would argue that that is not unlike the other characters in the Marvel U. They are the longest running continuous narrative in Western history. 70 years. Continuity is the devil. You need to do your research. You need to know it but you can also get completely hamstrung by it if you aren't careful. The better thing to do is get to the core of the character. What is the thing that defines them? Then tell your story. It'll become impossible to move forward otherwise".

Q&A: "Does her presence in space have a crossover with Guardians?"

KSD: "It sure seems like something that would be like her character" (meaningfully pausing).

BA:  "A question from Twitter: Are you writing prose?"

KSD: "I'm starting my first novel in June, and very nervous. Working in comics is like swimming, wit push back where you lose momentum. I have an idea for a story. I write it into a script. The script is interpreted by an artist. Then I change the script. Then I change everything, with beats that have to conform to page turns. There's all of this external structure. As someone who loves puzzle structures, it's fun for me. But there's also part of me that fantasizes, "Can I just write the story?" But also scary. It's "crazy free". With prose, it's just you, so don't screw it up".

Q&A: "What draws you to outer space?"

KSD: "I think it's all theoretical for me. My dad's a pilot and I love pilot lore. I'm actually terrified to fly. When I got Captain Marvel, Matt wanted to give me the gift of flight lessons and no, that was insane. Matt would go into space in a minute. I wouldn't. I don't even like slides, but I like the idea of space. I like what it is in the fiction space, I like it as a frontier. I like what it means to Carol. I like the idea of taking a car into desert and seeing how fast it can go".

Q&A: "Tell us more about Bitch Planet".

KSD: It is a "women in prison riff". If you are familiar with the exploitation films of the 70's, it's heavily inspired by that. It's not going to end up being as retro as I planned for it to be. So, it is a future where in this society you are either compliant or non compliant, and if not, they want to help you be because it's good for you.

If compliancy camps don't fix that problem, you're shunted off to a prison planet. You can be noncompliant by being a criminal, or unpleasant or fat, also if you are argumentative etc. There are five prisoners who will be centered upon on this planet. There's a woman who is the compliancy model.

It's going to be mean and funny and bloody. I'm trying to deal with the tropes of the old films…like the shower scene. How do I do a shower scene that isn't exploitative? One of the things I was thinking about, if we are doing the shower scene, maybe we see the women coming in, we stop watching them and we watch the men watching them, and they are the ones that are objectified. Maybe for the phallic imagery, if someone is watching something through a peephole, maybe they take an ice pick to the eye. Which makes a statement.

There will be a page of classifieds in the back of the comic, and if you send in a dollar to the P.O. Box, I'll send the item to you. We're going to make up our own garbage to send you.

I want it to be overwrought and science-fictiony. Everything is going to be really big".

Q&A: "What inspired you to write Pretty Deadly?"

KSD: "When I was a kid, I was at my grandparents' house and I got to stay up late and I watched some kind of TV show, a Western. This was like a revenge thing where a woman's brother or her husband is killed and she goes around tracking down and murdering everyone who was involved. And I was like 'yes, this is for me'".

Q&A: "How do you balance kids and a creative life?"

KSD: "While your time is your own, don't be cute, get on it. Get serious about it. That would be my advice to me. Shut up, go work".

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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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