After taking Marvel's Carol Danvers to new heights as Captain Marvel, Kelly Sue DeConnick is giving DC's Aquaman more depth.
Since December, DeConnick's Aquaman run with artist Robson Rocha has untethered the sea king from his past in an effort to find himself in a strange, new locale. At the same time, DeConnick is reconnecting with writing comic books for the Big Two after years focusing primary on her creator-owned title.
In the first of a two-part interview, DeConnick speaks about her Aquaman run, re-discovering the routine of work-for-hire comic books, and her evolution since her last stint at the Big Two.
Newsarama: Kelly Sue, what are you working on today? You can be as specific as you want – our readers like details.
Kelly Sue DeConnick: I’m doing the final lettering pass on an issue of Aquaman.
Nrama: Can you elaborate on how that works for you?
DeConnick: I print it out, make notes by hand, type it out in a long list. It’s a terrible way to do it. It would be a lot more efficient to do post-its in Acrobat, but I am Acrobat illiterate. So instead, I print out the pages, make notes by hand, and, if there’s no significant re-writes, I’ll just scan and send that. If there are significant re-writes, I’ll type them up and send.
Nrama: Your Aquaman run began with December's #43. This is your first monthly work-for-hire title in quite some time. How does it feel?
DeConnick: Like I’m being chased, honestly. [Laughs]
It happens very fast. [Laughs]
The art team on this book is incredible, and working like a machine. Pages come in lightning-fast; it’s amazing. And they don’t look fast, if you know what I mean.
Robson Rocha, our Aquaman artist, has built this incredible, rich visual world. It feels big and mythical, and like it’s always been there.
Nrama: You’re coming into this after several years writing your creator-owned books, where you are writer, owner, and in some cases, editor and project manager. What’s it like to go back to “just” being the writer?
DeConnick: It’s not really that different, except I can’t do whatever I want; I need to get approval from editors and such.
I have an editor on my creator-owned books, but ultimately, I’m paying her. “This is what I want to do with the story, and it’s my call.”
Obviously, that’s not the case with corporate comics, but you know… it’s not as antagonistic as people like to imagine. They want me to do crazy stuff.
Nrama: They hired you to be you, essentially.
But I feel you’ve changed a bit since you were last doing corporate comics regularly – in style, but also in perspective. Generally, are you doing things differently than you would have, say, in your early 2000s Captain Marvel or Avengers Assemble runs?
DeConnick: I don’t know. God, I hope I haven’t stagnated. [Laughs]
I wouldn’t want to be the same writer I was eight years ago – that would be sad.
But I have a kind of mirror blindness – it’s a bit hard for me to evaluate my own work. That’s true of most writers I know – either we can’t self-evaluate, or we think we do super-great or super-awful stuff and not much inbetween. [Laughs]
I like to think I have more range than I probably really do. “No, no... I write in all of these different tones, genres…” then catch me on another day and I'll say “I’m sick of my own voice. My tricks… my tricks I repeat over and over, the themes I go back to…”
Some of the Osborn series I did for Marvel –
Nrama: - that was back in 2011.
DeConnick: Yes. Other than some pacing issues, I like that book a lot – which is unusual.
I have some fear that as I have learned ‘the rules’ of writing, I have lost some of the freshness I had with Osborn. It was written novelistically… but I wasn’t a prose writer, so it’s not structured novelistically. But I don’t see a lot of the “mistakes” I see a lot of prose writers commit who don’t understand the form. But there is that freshness I worry about having lost, as I kind of learned how it’s done.
I hope the trajectory of my development ends with me coming back to a place where I can marry rules, craft, and technique with some of the more unique aspects of my voice.
Come back to Newsarama Thursday for part two of our interview with DeConnick, delving into the return of her creator-owned titles, what inspires her, the success of Captain Marvel, and more.