NYCC 2013: Kelly Sue DeConnick, fellow Women of Marvel speak up

Oct. 14, 2013 | 10:39 a.m.

Since launching in July 2012 with this No. 1, the Kelly Sue DeConnick-written "Captain Marvel" has developed a passionate following of readers who call themselves the Carol Corps. It pauses after this month's No. 17 before relaunching in March with a new No. 1. (Marvel)

Jeanine Schaefer edits the new Brian Wood-written "X-Men" series that boasts the X-books' first all-female team. (Marvel)

“Dudes, we love you too, but you have like 19,000 panels,” “Captain Marvel” writer Kelly Sue DeConnick said. “This one is ours.”

She continued a tradition Sunday afternoon at New York Comic Con that she started several “Women of Marvel” panels ago, saying that the assembled are no longer addressing the idea that women don’t read comics or superhero comics. “That’s over,” she said to screams of approval.

DeConnick then had the women in the room who are interested in working in the comics industry stand up, and instructed them to make friends: “You are going to need each other. There is room up here – we’ll just keep making the table longer. We need you. We want you. You all have unique voices and gifts, and this industry absolutely needs you. The thing is, we need you to be ready. We can’t help you until you’re ready…. So I need you to start making comics.”

“Start now,” she continued. “Every creative endeavor is difficult. Every creative endeavor is frightening. No idea is going to be as good on paper as it is in your head. You have a lot of mistakes that you need to make in order to learn in order to get to the good stuff…. It doesn’t make you a bad artist; it makes you a human being…. Don’t be afraid of them. Start now.”

Cover art for "Captain Marvel" No. 17, a 40-page special issue out this month. (Marvel)

Cover art for “Captain Marvel” No. 17, a 40-page special issue out this month. (Marvel)

The writer who inspired Captain Marvel’s passionate Carol Corps following spoke passionately about being “willing to be disliked … willing to be called names, willing to make people uncomfortable so my daughter doesn’t have to” and about the need for a diversity of ethnic backgrounds in comics.

The House of Ideas’ female forces on the stage also included editor (and moderator) Jeanine Schaefer (“X-Men,” Wolverine titles), artist Sara Pichelli (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), artist Janet Lee (“Northanger Abbey,” “Emma”), assistant editor Natalie Shaw (“Hulk,” “Iron Man”), cover artist Stephanie Hans (“Journey Into Mystery”), editor Lauren Sankovitch (“Thor: God of Thunder,” upcoming “Loki: Agent of Asgard”), editor Ellie Pyle (“Fearless Defenders,” upcoming “Black Widow”), editor Sana Amanat (“Captain Marvel”), and Marvel’s AR app overseer and cosplay blogger Judy Stephens.

The panel, so much about community-building, opened to reader questions and interactions about a third of the way through.

In a memorable series of moments, Sankovitch, citing curiosity about how Kid Loki will get to an adult state for the upcoming “Loki: Agent of Asgard,” gave two readers cosplaying as “Young Avengers” characters an early look at No. 11, an Oct. 23 release. Each read the full issue on the stage steps; they had very different, but equally passionate, reactions that will surely each be shared across many Tumblr blogs in a couple weeks.

The first to get a super-exclusive-preview of the Kieron Gillen-written, Jamie McKelvie-illustrated adventure – billed as maybe being the end of the line for Kid Loki and possibly showing Kate “Hawkeye” Bishop to be an “enemy in waiting” – was a young woman dressed as the magic-powered Wiccan, also notable for being an openly gay superhero. Her shouted, emotional take (which interrupted a panel member): “Yes, it’s as bad as you’re afraid it’s going to be.” And she animatedly left the stage.

“On sale 10-23,” quipped Sankovitch. “Bring your box of Kleenex, maybe Costco size.”

Later, during the Q&A, a young woman dressed as Loki asked to read it. At which point the Wiccan reader hollered, “It’s awful. You don’t want to.” The request was granted, and Loki took to the stage steps to read as the panel continued taking questions.

After she finished reading, the Loki fan returned the issue to Sankovitch and hugged her.

Jeanine Schaefer edits the new Brian Wood-written "X-Men" series that boasts the X-books' first all-female team. (Marvel)

Jeanine Schaefer edits the new Brian Wood-written “X-Men” series that boasts the X-books’ first all-female team. (Marvel)

One reader asked the panelists what female Marvel characters they’d like to see get their own series. Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) came up, as did several X-women: Rogue, Jubilee, Mystique and Storm.

Amanat, responding to a question about the overall message of diversity in comics, said that she and others in the industry were drawn to comics because “we all felt like outsiders in our way, there was something inspiring about that work, and I think you can use that medium to address people who are actually a little bit marginalized and outsiders like minorities and women, to an extent, and to show that everyone is actually on the same playing field and everyone is actually feeling all of those insecurities as well…. [A]s a minority in a minority of a minority of a minority, I try to use the books that I do to try to be inclusive.”

DeConnick said the message is that “no one is Other; that white males are human beings; they are not the default human being.”

A man who said he works in a comics shop told the panelists that as Marvel books have grown more diverse, “I’ve seen large new audiences come in who were not coming in the store before, and … they are the nicest people.”

The panel also showed the packed room some exclusive art from upcoming issues starring and/or made by women. A few notes:

– Covers shown for the upcoming “She-Hulk” series included one that the “Women of Marvel” panel got a first look at – the one for No. 2 by artists Amanda Conner and Laura Martin; the crowd also saw some interior pages by Javier Pulido.

– The all-female team of the Brian Wood-written, Schaefer-edited “X-Men” gets a new member in No. 7 – Monet, late of Peter David’s “X-Factor.” The issue, the start of a new arc, has art by Terry and Rachel Dodson and colors by Martin. Exclusive first-look pages showed Monet and Karima Shapandar (a.k.a. Omega Sentinel) fighting Lady Deathstrike.

– DeConnick said that “Captain Marvel” No. 17 (which, it turns out, isn’t the end) introduces a new villain readers should pay attention to. Of co-writing a five-part “Avengers Assemble” arc with Warren Ellis, “he’s my favorite comic book writer, save my husband,” and said he’s the reason she knows her spouse, writer Matt Fraction (“Hawkeye,” upcoming “Inhumanity”). Saying she was learning much from the experience, she added that the arc is “hilarious”: “The secret about Warren Ellis is that, really, he’s a comedy writer.” And the character Anya Corazon (Spider-Girl) is front and center. It starts with No. 21 in November.

– Responding to a reader question about the new “Black Widow” title, Pyle said it will “focus on what she does on her time off from teams, some of which, if her teams knew about it, they might not be thrilled” and her efforts to atone for past deeds.

At the hour’s outset, Schaefer said the panel was at a later, more desirable hour than in previous years, but, considering the overflow attendees lined against the wall, noted they might need a bigger room next time.

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon | @LATHeroComplex

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