All of the DC Comics talk lately has centered around what's happening in September — y'know, 52 DC Universe titles being launched or relaunched in a massive revamp you may have read an article or 20 about — but this is still only June, and the publisher still has plenty of material coming out between now and then.
Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick is known mostly for her Marvel work — such as the widely praised Osborn miniseries — but she's making her DC debut with the current three-issue of arc on Supergirl, illustrated by ChrisCross. In the storyline, Supergirl assists Lois Lane by going undercover on a college campus to help investigate a series of disappearances, which happens to involve an established DC supervillain and a group called the "Silk Pajama Society." Y'know, typical campus life.
With the first issue of the story, #65, in stores now, Newsarama contacted DeConnick via email for a candid chat about Supergirl's sojourn into the world of higher education, Lois and Kara's dynamic, the notion from fans that DC books from now until September "don't matter," and her favorite college comedy. (Hint: It involves Val Kilmer investigating a laser.)
Newsarama: Well, DC certainly has been in the news lately. There's an impression among some, fair or not, that with the big revamp coming in September, people may be turned off of the books coming out between now and then because they "don't count." Seeing as how your Supergirl run falls squarely in that timeframe, is that a concern for you at all? I could very well seeing it being the opposite — more people are talking about DC Comics now than have in years, which certainly seems like a positive in bringing eyeballs to any of their comics from now until the fall.
Kelly Sue DeConnick: I don't know if it concerns me, but it does kind of bum me out. I haven't been getting enough sleep lately so my temper is short and my judgment suspect, but I've seen several people declaring that they have no enthusiasm for books that "don't matter."
When I'm feeling my most generous, I'm able to remember that change is scary. People get are remarkably attached to these icons and they're understandably freaked out, not knowing what their base structure will be like in a few months. It's like telling a Coca-Cola addict, oh hey — I'm going to change the formula to this drug you love. But don't sweat it, NEW COKE WILL BE AWESOME TRUST ME. And they're like, OH HAI! WE LOVE OLD COKE. And what do you do when you're scared for something you love that you feel is being threatened? You get pissy. You get mad. It's natural and reasonable and fair and beautifully human.
However. When I've only had 15 hours sleep in three days and I'm trying to meet deadlines and, you know, actually produce good work and I read on the Internet that my stories "don't matter"… I'm afraid I'm not my best self. And when I'm not my best self I think, GUESS WHAT, YOUSE GUYS? NONE OF IT MATTERS. And also? ALL OF IT MATTERS. By which I mean, this is FICTION. It only matters if it moves you. None of it's real. None of these consequences are real. What matters is what these stories make you think and feel and whether or not they have some effect on YOU. The effect they have on "the greater universe" or "continuity" ISN'T REAL. That part is mirage. That's the marketing, that's the can, guys. Don't pour out the Coke to save the empty can! If you love the Coke, DRINK THE COKE.*
I mean, it's not like September 1st all your longboxes are gonna go poof. Those books will still exist. And if the stories therein still move you, THEN THEY STILL MATTER.
Oh, god. I am exhausted and I am abusing caps and I will regret this soon, I'm sure. But yeah… that's how I'm feeling at the moment.
(*Also: it's a metaphor. Don't actually drink Coke. Drink water. It's much better for you. Trust me. I'm a mother. I know these things.)Nrama: This is your DC debut, and I know you've professed to growing up reading DC Comics — what are some of your old-school favorites? Anything that might have inspired the way you approached this Supergirl arc?
DeConnick: The group dynamics of the Marv Wolfman Teen Titans books might be in the DNA somewhere...? I dunno.
I listed a bunch of my favorites here.
Nrama: Supergirl has had an interesting/colorful/wacky history in comics, especially in the past 20 years or so, and interpreted in a lot of different ways. What's your take on the character for the arc? Seems like a pretty direct, iconic version of the character.
DeConnick: I suspect so, yes. She's cool, in the classic sense of that word, a natural leader, but she's also a teenaged girl so she's struggling to figure out her place in the world.
Nrama: Probably the most immediately appealing thing to me about what I've heard of this storyline is that it takes place in a college setting. (Might be the lingering influence of Community season two.) And while there is obviously a large canon of college movies and TV shows, it's not really territory that's explored much in comic books. (I'm not even sure if DC has a go-to fictional college à la Marvel's Empire State University.) So while this is obviously a superhero story in the DC tradition, is there also some degree of musing and commenting on more universal aspects of college life (albeit through the lens of a Kryptonian)? (That was a lot of parentheses for one question.)
DeConnick: I'm okay with parentheticals; we're cool, bro.
And yeah… Wil Moss, my editor, sent me a note back after reading the script for #67 that said something about a particular panel capturing that feeling of college life being the last moment where you really get to live in that in between spot, that place twixt childhood and adulthood. I love that he saw that. I hope it reads the same way to everyone else.
cover.Nrama: Another big part of the story is that it's a Kara/Lois team-up. They've got an interesting relationship; they're the two most famous female characters in the Superman mythos — and among the two most recognizable female characters in all of comics — but don't really have a lot of shared experiences at this point in continuity. What kind of fun has it been getting to explore their dynamic?
DeConnick: They're so very different — and I like that. Kara's cool, Lois is brash. Lois is about as woman as woman gets; Kara's navigating her way into womanhood. They're oil and water, but I mean that in the way that oil and water swirl together and make an interesting design. Like that pretty paper I bought in Venice. If I meant they clashed, I'd say they were an acid and a base. Like, you know, a fourth grade volcano.
Oh god. I need to sleep.
Nrama: I know there's a classic DC villain playing a major part, and though I gather that the actual identity of said villain is a reveal within the story, is it a character that you had been had long been hoping to get a crack at? Or maybe one that you sort of stumbled into, but made sense for the story?
cover.DeConnick: No, I actually asked for Granny Goodness, but that wasn't possible. Wil suggested this character instead and it ended up being a perfect fit.
Nrama: ChrisCross is on art for your three issues, a comic veteran who has done lots of cool stuff including Captain Marvel and Xer0. How has collaborating with him been?
DeConnick: Oh, you think I'm a nutter? CHRISCROSS IS INSANE. He's also hilarious. We spent about half an hour on the phone talking about Magnum P.I. one night, so, you know, it's all good.
(Plus, did you know he's, like, 9 feet tall? We need to get our pictures taken together.)
I also just had the pleasure of seeing [Supergirl inker] Marc Deering and his lovely family at Heroes Con in North Carolina.
Nrama: Finally, perhaps the most important question of all: Given the subject matter of the story, do you have a favorite college movie or TV show?
DeConnick: Real Genius.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!