Published March 20, 2017

Women’s History Month: Kelly Sue DeConnick

The iconic writer shares her story from fan to pro!

Image for Women’s History Month: Kelly Sue DeConnick

This March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by spotlighting some of the most iconic characters and creators from the Marvel Universe.

So far in celebrating Women’s History Month we’ve talked about characters and creators, but now we’re switching gears a bit and talking to one of the latter.

Marvel readers will remember Kelly Sue DeConnick as the writer who picked up the Carol Danvers baton and helped catapult the character to the top of the A-list with two volumes of CAPTAIN MARVEL. We sat down with Kelly Sue—who also penned AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, and CAPTAIN MARVEL & THE CAROL CORPS to talk about her earliest days reading comics, getting into the business, and the importance of honesty and kindness in life. Were you a comic fan as a kid? Who were the characters and creators who really spoke to you?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: Yes, I grew up on Air Force bases and comics were a huge part of base culture. I loved Wonder Woman, of course. And Vampirella, perhaps less obviously. I remember collecting all the [Detective Comics] issues with [the female villain] Nocturna—I guess my inner goth kid was finding her path.

The first creator I remember paying any attention to—the first time I looked to see who made a comic—it was Marv Wolfman and José Luis García-López on New Teen Titans. Those layouts. Man, oh man. I need to dig that stuff up. I remember an issue where the reflection in sunglasses was used as panel I think? I think the whole issue might have been flashback?

[Garcia-Lopez] did these incredible full-body shots of [the character Lilith] and she was beautiful and terrifying too. I really should see if I can figure out what that run was and re-buy it. Those are sort of what I think about when I think comics. What was it about the characters’ styles or personalities that you remember responding to?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: Wonder Woman—it’s not hard to find the appeal there, you know? Plus, it was the 70’s so I watched the Linda Carter show. And I was a nerdy kid, kind of obsessed with Greek mythology. And, I mean, Amazons. What’s not to love? Do you remember having a specific moment when you realized that comics were things that people made and that you wanted to do that too?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: I never decided to pursue comics. I know that sounds weird but it’s true. I’ve had so many interests and tried so many things in my life and I never really decided, “Oh this is the thing I want to do”—I just, sort of, followed where my interests were and then realized at some point I was no longer dabbling, I had a career. Among your other comic accomplishments you helped elevate Carol Danvers up to the A-list in a lot of peoples’ minds. What do you think it was about your take on the character that resonated so well with readers?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: Well, I was coming in on the heels of Carol’s character as she behaved in Civil War and even though I understood why she’d needed to play that role on the chess board of that story line, I didn’t think that character was somebody I could root for and throw in with for a solo title. She’d done some things that I felt were indefensible.

So I went back to some of her earlier stuff and tried to find her formative wound and build her character from there. I ended up going with the idea that Carol’s relationship with her father left her forever trying to prove that she was as good or better than her brothers. That she was worthy of backing, of believing in. Add that to the test pilot thing, and you get a little ego and a little swagger and someone who’s forever trying to push limits, to do more, to do better.

And I think that’s the thing the Carol Corps responds to: these are folk who fall down all the time, but who always wants to do more, to go farther. To fail better. From looking at how you and your fans interact on social media, it seems like you’re helping a lot of people get through hard parts of their lives. Was that something you ever imagined when you were working towards becoming a writer?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: I don’t know if that’s a thing I really do. I think that’s more credit than I deserve.

I think…I think I try to be honest and kind. Not sure you I should get a cookie for that, you know? I think that’s a reasonable standard for all of us to hold ourselves to.

The Women of Marvel

If you’re looking for some more of DeConnick’s work that lead up to her runs on CAPTAIN MARVEL and AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, Marvel Unlimited has a few fun reads to check out. In 2010 she penned a pair of one-shots, SIF and RESCUE, with art by Ryan Stegman and Andrea Mutti respectively, the latter focusing on Pepper Potts when she wore her own armor. She also joined forces with Emma Rios to chronicle the former head of H.A.M.M.E.R.’s post-Siege incarceration in the five issue OSBORN limited series.