Head Bitch In Charge: Exploring Bitch Planet with Kelly Sue DeConnick

Posted December 18, 2014 in ,


Kelly Sue DeConnick
Are you woman enough? Photo: Image Comics


This is not the first time she has faced high pressure in her writing. Pretty Deadly, a masterful achievement of sublime storytelling, was years in the making with artist Emma Rios (Hexed). “Emma is someone who doesn’t really need an author,” DeConnick claims, but it’s the collaboration between the two that brings life to that science fiction-western-revenge thriller. DeConnick openly admits that the comic, once the center of a mild controversy in which a rather short-sighted vendor dismissed it as meaninglessly pretentious has evolved into the philosophically driven, surreal family epic it concluded as. Lucky for all of us, the next volume is coming soon. “Emma and I took longer breaks between arcs than expected” because of their busy schedules and upcoming projects, but they are “moving forward on Pretty Deadly volume two” in the upcoming months. Check out the Pretty Deadly tumblr to see a sneak peek of some of the art!

DeConnick’s most mainstream current series is Captain Marvel, the same series that Marvel Studios recently announced as part of their third wave of upcoming films. The character DeConnick rescued from sexist obscurity has been receiving even greater attention from both new and old fans. We discussed the importance of support within the community, especially with the evolution of The Carol Corps, an informal group for all those who love Carol Danvers, and the creation of The Valkyries, a group of women who work with comics. Comics hold power, and DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie’s revamping of swimsuit clad Ms. Marvel—not to be confused with the excellent new Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson—to the more relatable Captain Marvel brought forth a new wave of representation of women to the Marvel universe and the under-appreciated female comic readership. Unfortunately, there is no storyline planned in which Captain Marvel visits Bitch Planet. There’s a cult of personality around these worlds that solidifies that “comics are best enjoyed as part of a community,” DeConnick. As these communities grow, she sees the potential despite the lack of superpowers, “there’s a union mentality—together you guys have power. You can effect change, you support one another, you can do together what you can’t do individually. I’m a big believer in doing together what we can’t do alone.” You’re never alone if there are comics because there’s always a connection to be found within characters and with fellow readers.

DeConnick’s mixing of genres is one of the best elements of her work, though “it’s not quite as deliberate as all that,” she says. “I had intended to do a straight forward western with Pretty Deadly, but you have to keep adjusting your stance until it feels right. It doesn’t find it’s place until it finds it’s place. I wanted Pretty Deadly to be one thing and it wanted to be another. We sort of let in the mythological stuff and suddenly it felt right, and that’s what the book wanted to be.” Bitch Planet, too, took unexpected turns in its creation, she explains. “I thought it would be more satirical, more overtly a comedy, sillier, and it certainly has its comic elements and satire, and I thought that would be more front and center, but it’s not,” she says.

In addition to personal projects for Image and Marvel, DeConnick is overseeing Dark Horse Comic’s Fire and Stone. The finale will be her 44 page conclusion to multi-series that includes Aliens, Aliens Vs. Predator, Predator and Prometheus. No matter what the narrative, she brings her own insightful personal touch that has proven compelling and is always up to any task.

She doesn’t even slow down under pressure, as she’s also completed a brand new translation of landmark French-Italian comic Barbarella, bringing an updated version of the ’70s Jean-Claude classic to add to your Humanoids collection. “Barbarella was a tremendous honor. I pretty much stopped doing that sort of thing, writing the adaptations, but I could not help myself,” adding that that the new edition is the first time the second volume has been translated into English and it all stays true to the original spirit of the science fiction fantasy world. Her husband, Matt Fraction, is also a big name in comics and, like DeConnick, works on a fascinating range of books including ODY-C, Hawkeye, and Sex Criminals. The world must prepare itself before they collaborate on a title together, though, she says, “we’ve talked about it, we certainly wouldn’t rule it out, but right now both of our plates are so full, we don’t even read each other’s work until it comes out.”

Talking with DeConnick was an experience like no other for me because she’s a personal idol and aspiration for me, a Captain Marvel who wields the power of the written word. She is as sweet as she is smart.

It takes dedication and a strong focus on accepting that you’ll never please anyone. Her advice for creators is matter-of-fact: “Find your niche. Make the work that you want to make and make sure the readers that want to read it can get it, that’s it.” DeConnick’s now planted her flag on Bitch Planet and she’s not going anywhere. Talk about these issues and the issues within the issues, spread the word that comics are for everyone, and remember, “you can’t make it something that has a point of view at all and have everyone universally love it.”

Check out more from Kelly Sue DeConnick and buy all of her projects at your favorite local comic book shop!