Creator Profile: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Kelly Sue DeConnick is a comic-book writer based in Portland, Ore. She got her start writing English adaptations of Japanese manga, but she is best known as the write that breathed life into the Carol Danvers version of Captain Marvel, and for her two excellent creator-owned books, Pretty Deadly and Bitch Planet.
DeConnick was relatively unknown when she was tapped to write Captain Marvel – a new take on the heroine formerly known as Ms. Marvel. Kelly Sue came in with strong ideas. She wanted to emphasize Carol’s Air Force background, shorten her hair and get rid of her old, impractical costume — a high-cut one piece bathing suit with arm-length opera gloves.
“This is a woman with a military background, a feminist background,” DeConnick told Vanity Fair. “The idea that she would be flying around with her ass hanging out is ridiculous.”
DeConnick’s Captain Marvel was a major win for Marvel. It attracted legions of new female fans to the market and spawned a fiercely loyal fanbase nicknamed “The Carol Corps,” who formed a tight-knit community around both the character and Kelly Sue herself. There were Carol Corps meet-ups, charity auctions, tattoos and cosplay.
The love the Carol Corps displayed for Captain Marvel proved that solo female heroes were viable. Marvel followed by release 16 more female led titles over the next few years. And Carol’s stock rose so high, that when the time came for Marvel to announce their first female superhero movie, Carol leapt ahead of the already established Black Widow and Scarlet Witch to become the first female superhero to get her own movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Last year, DeConnick left Captain Marvel, but is hard at work on her fantasy/horror/western book Pretty Deadly and the subversively feminist “women in prison” sci-fi exploitation pastiche Bitch Planet.
The feminism that is an integral part of her writing is also an integral part of her life. “When I was growing up, I wasn’t ‘Kelly Sue.’ I was just ‘Kelly,’ ” she said. “When I got this job I told them to credit me as ‘Kelly Sue,’ because I wanted girls who were reading these books to know that a woman wrote them, and that’s a job they can do.”
DeConnick also tries to pay it forward by offering to nag anyone that has goals who signs up to receive her “Bitches Get Shit Done” texts and regularly tagging posts with advice or encouragement for women under the hashtag #BGSD.
DeConnick was an Air Force brat, raised by a feminist-minded mother on military bases where comic books were cheap and plentiful. “I think my mom had the notion that ‘Wonder Woman’ was a feminist to me.” she said in an interview with the Air Force. So as a child Kelly Sue was rewarded with Wonder Woman comics in exchange for doing her chores, and it sparked a lifelong love of the medium.
She is married to fellow comic-book writer Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, Sex Criminals) – although comic book conventions have learned the hard way that relationship does not define her. The Dublin International Comics Expo had both DeConnick and Fraction as guests, but an associated website listed DeConnick’s bio as simply “Matt Fraction’s wife.”
The resulting backlash spawned a hilarious Internet meme where dozens of high-profile comic creators, male and female. changed their Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook profiles to simply “not the wife of Matt Fraction.” The convention quickly corrected the error.
DeConnick and Fraction have teamed up to form a production company, Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, and signed a development deal with Universal Television to adapt their own and other comic book properties for television.