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Hire This Woman: Writer Corinna Bechko

“Heathentown” art by Gabriel Hardman

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.”

After working with animals for most of her life, writer Corinna Bechko’s work debuted in comics with the creator-owned Heathentown. Readers may know her name best, though, from her work on major properties like Star Wars and Planet of the Apes.

ComicsAlliance: What’s your background/training? 

Corinna Bechko: I have a zoology degree and have spent most of my life working with animals. I’ve done behavioral research, worked as a zookeeper, and as a wildlife vet tech. I’ve also done quite a bit of nonfiction writing, mostly about the natural world. I started writing comics back in 2009, and now work as a writer full time.

CA: How would you describe your creative style?

CB: I once heard a screenwriter say that for him the motto “speculation, interpretation, discovery” worked better than the idea of a three-act structure since it gets at the heart of what a story is doing, not just what the mechanics are. That’s always stuck with me. I like the idea of exploration through fiction.

 

“Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen” art by Michael Kaluta and Christopher Sotomayor

 

CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?

CB: My first published comic work was Heathentown, a horror OGN from Image/Shadowline that I did with Gabriel Hardman. Since then I’ve worked on Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen for Marvel, Planet of the Apes for BOOM! and Star Wars: Legacy for Dark Horse (both of the latter with Gabriel again). I’m currently working on a new project for Dark Horse, one for Image/Shadowline, and one for Marvel, but none of those have quite been announced yet.

CA: Approximately how long does it take you to write a 20-page issue?

CB: It really depends on the project. I do a lot of pre-planning (especially when working with my co-writer) so usually a week is about the average once we get to the stage of actually scripting.

 

Cover by Alex Ross

 

CA: What is your dream project? 

CB: I have a horror OGN that I’ve been working on in between other projects. It’s something that’s close to my heart and I’d love for it to see the light of day before too long.

CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?

CB: I think Harvey Pekar has to be at the top of the list. Not so much in terms of tone or topic, but in the sense that he made it clear that comics could be whatever you wanted them to be. And he never quit working, no matter what life threw at him. I’m always amazed by Jill Thompson’s work. Jen Van Meter is an all around class act. And Charles Burns’ comics are so strange and engaging, they always make me want to get to work and do something out of the ordinary.

 

“Star Wars: Legacy” art by Gabriel Hardman and Rachelle Rosenburg

 

CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?

CB: The earliest comics I remember reading were in the Sunday paper when I was quite young. I loved The Phantom but I never really thought about who created it. As I teenager I read Love and Rockets, but it wasn’t until a year or two later when I was living in New York with a comics artist (Gabriel Hardman, now my husband) that the idea that someone actually made those stories sunk in. That’s when I discovered The Sandman in a stack of random trades and floppies. It’s a fairly clichéd story at this point to have that be the gateway book for a woman my age, but I have to admit that A Game of You really captivated me with its imagery as well as with its story and characters. I hadn’t ever seen anything like it.

Other books that I find inspirational are Charles Burns’ Black Hole, Jeff Smith’s RASL, Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer, Harvey Pekar and Gary Dumm’s Ego and Hubris, and Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto series. You can’t pick up any of those stories and mistake them for anything else.

CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?

CB: Truthfully? I like to work at home or outdoors. I’ve spent my entire professional life avoiding any situation where I might have to work under fluorescent lighting. I don’t work outside with animals any more, but I do have quite a few rescues at home. Right now I have a dog sleeping on my foot and a cat sleeping on my shoulder. That’s usually frowned on in an office. I love the fact that in comics the people you work with might not even be in the same country, much less the same town. It allows you to have a broad, engaged community without compromising your work environment by having to conform to someone else’s idea of comfort as you would in a cubicle setting.

 

“Heathentown” art by Gabriel Hardman

 

CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?

CB: I love working on science fiction and horror projects (especially if there are creatures involved), and I also love doing research, but I’m happiest when my projects can’t be neatly categorized. That said, I always try to bring a fresh perspective to every story I tell, but I’m also very cognizant of the responsibility that comes with working on licensed properties. When working on Planet of the Apes, for instance, it seemed crucial to us that we told stories that really seemed like they happened in that world. We approached Star Wars: Legacy the same way. It’s also very important to me that the people (even if those people happen to be apes or fish) in my comics seem real and not reliant on clichés.

CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?

CB: I have a very active Twitter account as well as a Facebook page and a blog. To see a complete list of my published work, I also have a Goodreads page.

 

“Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes” art by Gabriel Hardman and Jordie Bellaire

 

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.

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