Interview with Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass

DC Women Kicking Ass is a popular blog that addresses gender issues within the comic book industry or, to quote the site itself, it is a place for “Thoughts, pictures, reviews and other stuff about the women of DC Comics, and occasionally Marvel and other places, who kick ass.”

SEQUART: What got you into comics? How did you become interested in the medium?

SUE: It all started with the Batman TV show as far as super-hero comics. As far as other comics, once I found the comic rack, it was on to anything I could afford. My mom and dad were antique dealers and used to do a lot of garage sales, so I always had boxes and boxes of old comics that they would pick up to go through.

SEQUART: How did DC Women Kicking Ass start?

SUE: The impetus was Greg Rucka leaving DC as I was concerned about the status of female characters at DC. I thought that if I could start a blog to show and remind people how awesome these characters are that it might help.

I know, what an ego.

But I had also been in comics fandom for a few years and due to some stuff with my day job, I had been thinking about expanding my social media skills, so I decided that would I combine it with my love of comics.  I also wanted to pass on my love of comics to my daughter and wanted her to know that female super-heroes were more than just boobs and refrigerators.

SEQUART: Why DC over Marvel?

SUE: Again, it all started with Batman and even more specifically Batgirl. I watched the Batman show as a kid and the moment I first saw Batgirl it was visceral – a girl who was like Batman? It didn’t take me long to figure out there were comics with her in it as well. Add in Lois Lane appearing on TV and in movies and Wonder Woman on TV that’s a lot of reinforcement for DC. It’s all timing though. If I had been exposed to the X-Men animated show and the movies, my passport to comics might have been Marvel.

SEQUART: What’s the best part of being a comic blogger?

SUE: Well it ain’t the paycheck that’s for sure! I’d say the loyalty and enthusiasm of the folks who read the blog. There’s also the fun of turning someone else onto comics or to have someone came back and say, “you said to read this book and I did and I love it and I’m in!” I love getting those notes. I appreciate being able to meet such great people both fellow comics bloggers and creators.

SEQUART: You’ve said on your site before that you’ve had some pretty strong hate mail. Has there ever been any that has really made you worried?

SUE: I wrote an extensive post on this a few weeks ago about how I was harassed and stalked for two years by a guy. Was I worried? A bit, that’s one of the reasons I’m careful about what info I give out about myself on the Internet. The mind does wander about how far an asshole like that might go.

SEQUART: All bloggers tend to have those moments of frustration over a hostile, disagreeable audience. How do you cope with that frustration?

SUE: I try to move on as quickly as possible by either suggesting they change their tone or leave. Most of the hostile folks have an agenda and don’t really want to discuss things. The stuff that’s harder to bounce back from is the consistent harassment as with the troll. It’s exhausting. I’ve also been upset to find out that folks I thought were allies were hostile behind my back. Very disappointing.

SEQUART: What do you think is the biggest myth about you or your site?

SUE: That only women read the site. I have many, many male readers. I’d say its got to be around 50%. The other is that all I do is write posts about how much I hate DC which is kinda silly because if you actually read the site there’s a balance of articles on there.

SEQUART: Can you tell us about “3 Chicks Reviewing Comics”?

SUE: Sure, it’s a podcast on Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should be Good that I do with Kelly Thompson who does the “She Has No Head” column. Kelly interviewed me a few years back and we hit it off and she pitched it to CBR. We also originally had a 3rd chick, Maddy, but she left to go back to school. It’s just us reviewing comics and talking about the issues in comics during the time period we record. We also do interviews – we’ve spoken with Greg Rucka, Cliff Chiang, Scott Snyder, J.H. Williams, Kelly Sue DeConnick and many others. We are just about at our second anniversary.

SEQUART: I know that you are a huge fan of Barbara Gordon specifically as Oracle. What is it about her character that resonates with you?

SUE: I became a fan of Barbara Gordon when she was Batgirl. But I just love how the character of Oracle grew came out of an editorial mandates of character creation. Usually great characters are created but Oracle was a accumulated, collaborative effort of so many writers – Kim Yale and John Ostrander, Chuck Dixon, Kelly Puckett, Gail Simone and others. Each added a little bit and the end result was one of the best characters in comics who grew organically from her original characterization. Smart, resourceful, prickly, funny – she was incredibly complex, like nothing else in comics and that’s even before you add in the fact that she was one of the few visible wheelchair users in comics.

I really do think that DC Comics is lesser without her.

SEQUART: You’ve been an advocate for Cass Cain and Stephanie Brown. What makes those characters so compelling?

SUE: Cass was interesting in that she wasn’t a typical hero as her motivation was redemption. She wasn’t fully formed as a character but grew as the comic continued. Also, I value having a Batgirl who wasn’t white. Stephanie Brown was a character who just really wanted to be a hero and even though life (and death) knocked her down, she kept getting up and retained her positive attitude. And overall its just nice to see two young female characters in one of the most popular super-hero comic franchises. The world of Batman is just filled with boys – Dick, Tim, Jason and Damian two of which are post-crisis characters. It seems arbitrary and uncomfortable that when the Batfamily was “reimagined” the only female character they kept was Barbara Gordon who was removed from her role as Oracle, de-aged and given back her mobility. Batwoman is a different story as she has been kept as a separate character for the most part.

SEQUART: What did you think about Batman #12?

SUE: I liked it although I can’t believe it took over 75 years to have a woman draw an issue of Batman. But Becky Cloonan and Snyder did a great job in flushing out Harper Row and getting the audience to know her, and from the response I’ve seen, like her. It will be interesting to see where the character goes and what role she plays. That said, I still wish it were Cass Cain.

SEQUART: There have been a number of impressive runs on Wonder Woman over the years (Gail Simone’s, Greg Rucka’s, Phil Jimenez’s, George Perez’s, etc), but there still seems to be a perception that there is something that needs fixing with the character, why do you think that is?

SUE: Greg Rucka has said that DC never has any patience with the character and believes its gendered. I agree. I also think that there are people at DC who just don’t “get” Wonder Woman. Or the Amazons. Or the origin. Actually it’s not just “I think” I know as I’ve been told by multiple creators. But now she’s got a Daddy and the Amazons are gone and she’s going to date Superman. I guess that is what it takes for people to “get her” according to the current folks in DC editorial.

SEQUART: I know that you have been very critical of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman run while others have praised the run for being innovative and some comparing it (perhaps hyperbolically) to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. What are the central problems with the series?

SUE: Actually up until issue #7 I loved Azzarello and Chiang’s run and thought it was one of the best books of the new 52. After #7 I decided to stop reading it as the treatment of the Amazons really bothered me.  I’m still not sure how turning the Amazons into these baby coveting murderers made her story better or more compelling. The book still looks gorgeous in previews and it seems to have an audience large enough to make it one of the better ranked mid-tier books. But I can’t get down with what they’ve done to certain aspects of the story and as a result the book isn’t going to make me happy so why buy it? But if other people like, that’s great.

SEQUART: What are you desert island, all-time top 5 favorite comic book stories?

SUE: That’s a great question! I’m going to qualify this to just DC. No Man’s Land from DC Comics is one story (that’s one story right?).  That gives me four big fat volumes of story that has Batman, Oracle, Huntress and Catwoman and Cass Cain. Also Talia slapping Bruce Wayne. Anytime Bruce Wayne gets slapped is good. I’d also probably take some of Greg Rucka’s arc on Wonder Woman or The Hiketeia. I’d also take some New Teen Titans – either the Judas Contract or Who is Donna Troy. I’ve been rereading some of Wolfman and Perez and its so sad to see how well constructed that book was and balanced character development and good story telling. Maybe the Omnibus would float up on the Island? Then I’d take Gotham Central’s Half a Life.  That’s a lot of Rucka. Maybe I’d take Gail Simone’s Villains United the original Secret Six Arc which I’ve read a number of times. And finally I’d take Kurt Buseik’s Secret Identity which isn’t quite Lois and Superman but is close enough and never fails to thrill me in its story telling. Honestly, the list will change depending on the mood I’m in.

And I think I should get Andy Diggle’s Green Arrow: Year One as a gimme.

SEQUART: What should people be reading right now?

SUE: Non-Big 2? Off the top of my head, Princeless, Rachel Rising, Stumptown, Conan the Barbarian and Locke and Key and Saga which is probably the comic of the year for me.

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Cody Walker graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelors and a Masters of Science in Education. He is the author of the pop culture website and the co-creator of the crime comic . He currently teaches English in Springfield, Missouri.

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