Hire This Woman: Writer Cecil Castellucci
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Cecil Castellucci is a creator of comics, novels, music and film who's probably best known to ComicsAlliance readers for her work with Jim Rugg on The PLAIN Janes graphic novels. Commissioned by DC Comics for its young adult comics line Minx, Castellucci's work earned her the Joe Shuster award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Writer. She collaborated with March artist Nate Powell on The Year Of The Beasts, a hybrid prose/graphic novel; her book Odd Duck, with Sara Varon, was nominated for an Eisner award for Best Publication for Early Readers; and is a contributor to DC's new Wonder Woman anthology, Sensation Comics.
ComicsAlliance: Cecil, what’s your background/training?
Cecil Castellucci: I went to a performing arts high school and I think that really informed my love of character. I actually still take acting workshops every once in a while just to get myself out of the chair and into my body. It really helps to flesh out characters. I also have a BFA in Film from Concordia University in Montreal and I was in an indie rock band. In addition to writing young adult novels and comic books, I’ve written songs, short films, a libretto for an opera and done some performance art pieces.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
CC: I like dialogue and action so I am pretty spare in my prose. I like to follow characters and see what they do. I know where I am going, I usually know the end as soon as I start writing, but I don’t always know how the characters get there, which is the fun when I’m stitching a tale. What I love most about writing comics is the collaborative aspect of it.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past?
CC: I started off my comics work with The PLAIN Janes and Janes in Love with Jim Rugg that was on the (sadly) now defunct Minx line. Since I write prose as well, I’m very interested in hybrids and combining both styles of books. So I wrote a hybrid novel The Year Of The Beasts (Roaring Brook Press) illustrated by Nate Powell that is alternating chapters of prose and comics as well as the early readers graphic novel/early readers chapter book Odd Duck with Sara Varon (First Second Books) which was nominated for an Eisner! I’ve also done a couple of short stories in anthologies, like “Wallflower” with Amy Reeder in Ghosts #1 (Vertigo) and “I Will Return” with Kel McDonald in Womanthology #5 (IDW). And I have long wanted to do some superhero stories and was so excited to cut my teeth on one shot of Green Lantern: The Animated Series Issue #11, an Aquaman/Mera story called “The Lighthouse,” illustrated by Inaki Miranda, in Young Romance #1 (DC Comics).
CA: What are you currently working on?
CS: Upcoming I’ve got a Wonder Woman story in the Sensation Comics series (DC Comics) and a YA graphic novel Pearl in the Rough about a girl who rides the rails with Joe Infurnari (Dark Horse). As you can see, my work is quite eclectic.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to [write/draw/ink/color/letter/etc] a 20-page issue?
CC: I have mostly written graphic novels or short stories and they are both different kinds of narrative beasts. I’d say a week (or two) depending on the story and if I have to do any research and how short a short it is. For a graphic novel a draft takes me a couple of months. Obviously this fluctuates depending on the project and the deadline.
CA: What is your dream project?
CC: Lois Lane. I love her so much and basically anything to do with Superman. That said, my first boyfriend in comics was Batman, so I’d love to play in that world, too. What I’m interested in doing is an ongoing maxi series. Preferably with strong super ladies and outer space. And of course, a dash of romance.
CA: Who are some comics creators that inspire you?
CC: When I read The Deadenders by Ed Brubaker [and Warren Pleece], I was totally inspired. I could really see how a YA story could be told. I also love every artist I’ve had the privilege to work with. They all do their own work that is so vibrant and I am a big fan of all of their work. To add to that some others that I adore are Hope Larson, Becky Cloonan, Michael Cho, Jeff Lemire, Brian K Vaughan, Bill Willingham, Gene Yang, Raina Telemeger, Emily Lloyd Jones, Cameron Stewart, Pia Guerra, Tom Neeley, oh, seriously, SO MANY.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
CC: Like I said, my first superhero love was Batman. Then Superman. I had these big oversized collections of their stories from the 1940s that I’d flip through all the time. I also enjoyed Richie Rich and Peanuts. Then because I’m French Canadian, I read a lot of Tintin, Asterix, and Lucky Luke. My brother had a pull list when he got into middle school and so I started raiding his box and that’s when I discovered Marvel and Vertigo. From there it was a quick hop over to Love and Rockets, Julie Doucet, Seth, Chester Brown and Naughty Bits. In Montreal, when I was in college, there were comic jams all the time and that’s where Drawn and Quarterly was. So, you know, it’s been a pretty steady diet of comics -- all sorts --my whole life.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
CC: I can work pretty much anywhere, but I one of my favorite places to write is on my porch. I also like to work at cafes for those moments when I need to be out in the world and not isolated in my house.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
CC: I really like to write about outsiders. I really like to crack things open. I really like to collaborate. I love to be edited, so I like working with an editor and I’m not afraid to take notes. I also really like to collaborate, so for me one of the best things is to have conversations with the artist that I’m working with, especially at the thumbnail stage.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
If there is a woman you’d like to recommend or if you’d like to be included in a future installment of this feature, drop us a line at comicsalliance-at-gmail-dot-com with "Hire This Woman" in the subject line.