Kate Beaton Tells ‘Strange Tales’ About Marvel and Why Her Wonder Woman Is So Pissed Off
Since cartoonist Kate Beaton appeared on the webcomics scene in 2007 with her hilarious, history-oriented webcomics, she’s become nothing less than a phenomenon, earning nominations for Harvey and Joe Shuster awards, and creating massive lines of fans that snake around nearly every convention she attends. Now a full-time creator who draws not only her webcomics at Hark! A Vagrant but also cartoons for no less than The New Yorker, Beaton was recently recruited by Marvel Comics to try her hand at superheroes for their Strange Tales anthology.
With the first issue of Strange Tales II on the shelves and a second on the way, ComicsAlliance talked to Beaton about writing Rogue and Kraven the Hunter, why history nuts and comics fans have more in common than you think, and the secret subtext behind why her surly Wonder Woman is so pissed off. We’ve also got an exclusive page of Beaton’s Rogue story, all after the jump.
ComicsAlliance: It was great to see your name on the list for Strange Tales II. Did you read the original collection at all?
Kate Beaton: Yeah there were a lot of interesting things. I really liked the Becky Cloonan Sub-Mariner story… There was so much good stuff. I felt like there were a lot of people who, you don’t really know what the other guys are doing in the comic, you do your own, but I felt like a lot of dudes were just like ‘I’ll just make a comic about the Hulk.” [laughs]
CA: And there was that amazing Nick Gurewitch X-Men comic, with Jean Grey and Wolverine —
KB: Yeah, it was a classic Nick Gurewitch strip, which is something being something it’s not. It’s funny that we’re talking about that, it seems like such old news to me because they asked me last November, and I think it got turned in in maybe April or May. That’s awhile ago. [laughs]… Marvel has been very supportive, which is really great because… I don’t really know anything about superheroes.
CA: Did they tell you which character they wanted you to write about?
KB: No not at all, which is great. You just do whatever Marvel character you felt like doing. You have to give them the story idea, so they can give it the go-ahead. And you can’t make them doing anything illegal, I suppose.
CA: Which characters did you pick?
KB: Am I allowed to say? I guess I’m allowed to say. I did a comic with Rogue from the X-Men, and one with Kraven the Hunter from Spider-Man.
CA: Kraven is not an inherently ridiculous character, but I find his costume to be totally hilarious.
KB: I drew him, and then I forgot to draw the spots on his pants [laughs] I think I was delirious by the time I was done, and I handed it in, and then he said ‘”You can draw the spots on his pants if you want to.” But I was out of town, so he’s going to show up and there’s no spots on his pants. But the rest of it is great, big lion’s head. I didn’t know anything about him, but I was asking some friends who grew up reading comics, and Ryan North [of Dinosaur Comics] suggested Kraven the Hunter.
CA: Ryan North actually knows a quite a lot about superhero comics. When I interviewed him the last time he had a lot to say to me about Batman.
KB: He knows a lot about a lot of things.
CA: Well, he does so much research on different topics for his strips, so he’s always learning about computational linguistics, or the secret techniques of doctors, or whatever.
KB: Yeah he knows about everything. I can relate to that, because I do a lot of research in my comics for something that ends up being a fart joke. But yeah, I read a lot about the X-Men, because I didn’t know a lot about them. And it was really interesting stuff, actually… I really liked Kitty Pryde, but I couldn’t think of anything to do with her.
CA: I hear about Kitty Pryde a lot from female creators, and how she got them into comics.
KB: Well, part of the reason I read up on her was because I heard that a lot of female readers really related to her, and I thought that was really great. They never over-sex her, and she doesn’t have some stupid rape story. [laughs]
CA: Not yet! [laughs] Although I doubt Marvel would do that.
KB: She was young; she was like a girl Peter Parker. And Peter Parker was supposed to relate to the young dudes reading the comics. And that worked. I thought that was cool. If I had grown up reading comics like that — I didn’t read the comics because they weren’t in my town. My town was so small that we didn’t have comics here; there were none for sale in a hundred mile radius.
CA: I forget about this because I always grew up near major metropolitan areas, but there are lots of places in America that don’t have comic shops near them.
KB: Definitely, my town was 1500 people, and way out in the boonies, and I got into newspaper comics because those were the only ones around. Stuff like Foxtrot. So when we’d go to the city, for something, and go to the bookstores I’d buy sections of that kind of stuff. And we got Mad magazine.
CA: I’ve definitely noticed a couple of evolutions in your work in terms of format. It seems like you’ve shifted more to updating with a series of strips rather than a single one; was that intentional, or did it just sort of evolve that way?
KB: It was intentional. I get bored of doing the same thing all the time. And when I look back at my older strips, I read them and I think these are awfully drawn, and I wouldn’t write that joke now. When you first begin you have a lot of crutches when writing, like relying too heavily on cuss words, or random things; the humor coming from something that’s out of place, instead of something that’s clever. So I got better at telling good jokes
CA: [laughs] That’s always helpful.
KB: I find it harder to write those six to eight panels, large strips, for a couple reasons. When you’re doing historical figures, you have situations that repeat themselves. I wrote a comic about a woman [Rosalind Franklin] who was a very good scientist, and she discovered the double helix for DNA research, and her work was stolen by Watson and Crick. By stolen, I mean they used it and they didn’t credit her for it. It was a landmark discovery, and she became sort of marginalized, sort of out of the picture while they became these science hero dudes. And she recently has returned as an example of women being marginalized in science.
As soon as I made that comic, I got a lot of e-mails that were like, “Why don’t you do a comic about this woman; her stuff was stolen too and she was amazing! People have to know about her!” And you’re essentially making the same comic over and over again. And the same thing for a tyrant king, or a queen, or a crooked politician, or bad policy or whatever. I didn’t want to retread a lot of that ground… and I guess I got bored by the way I was presenting things and wanted to shake it up. So I started with doing a few of those large strip panels things, repetition, the [Edward] Gorey cover comics… and the images from the book covers that I used.
CA: I thought that was a really huge idea. I was an English major, so I like it when you tap literature in addition to history, because I know more about it.
KB: Literature is difficult. I like to choose high school books, because the odds are more people will get the joke. More people have read The Great Gatsby than they have something from your third year Literature in the Twentieth Century class.
CA: I saw your Great Gatsby comics. Were you not a fan, by the way?
KB: Oh I liked it! But I read it when I was sixteen, so I didn’t think too much of it [at first]. You’re making sixteen-year-olds read a book about twenty-something life experiences, and they’re just not there yet. They don’t understand what its like to have fallen in love with somebody, or go out there and trying to make something of yourself. You forget it’s a book about adults, I also think it’s hard to really appreciate it also because you just analyze it to death [in high school] — everything was a symbol. You’re not really looking at Nick, and Daisy, and Gatsby, you’re looking at the symbol of this, the symbol of that.
And that was how I kind of thought literature was supposed to be. You know if you’re going to make a book, you’re going to make it f*cking full of symbols. [laughs] And then you read about when The Great Gatsby came out, and what people thought of it at the time. The first people who read it weren’t made to look for symbols; they were supposed to get it themselves, and I thought that was interesting to think about.
CA: You mentioned before that you pick high school books because more people know them; how important is accessibility to you? Do you ever avoid references or topics that seem esoteric, or is that an opportunity to educate people?
KB: The nice thing is letting more people in on the joke, not excluding more people. I used to feel more comfortable doing things that were more obscure, because my audience was so small, but now it’s kind of big. If people have to wait a week or so for an update, I want them to be able to get it. My comic wouldn’t exist without Wikipedia. If you don’t get the joke, if you don’t know what it’s about, if you haven’t read the book, you can just open a new tab and go to Wikipedia, read that and then maybe appreciate it better. And I’m really lucky for that.
CA: For sure. I didn’t know a lot about Canadian history; they didn’t really teach that in my schools, so most of what I’ve learned about Canadian history I’ve learned from your comic.
KB: Sure. I don’t know a lot about Mexican history. It’s all about where you’re from.
CA: In terms of intent, how much of your work is intended as advocacy or education, like when you deal with women in science or other people in history who have been marginalized?
KB: I don’t really want to make that the purpose. If it happens that’s really good. But people tend to take history pretty personally, and I do too…I don’t want to take a side on anything, you know? Before I started doing the comics, I thought for awhile that I’d like to be a Professor of History. But that never happened. So there is – not the urge to teach, but the inclination.
At the same time I don’t like my comics being taken literally, because they’re not historical facts. And some people do take them literally; they’re like “that’s not the way that happened!” And it’s like, it’s a joke! [laughs] They’ll correct something, or say “you know, this is actually the way this happened, scholars debate this and this,” and I’ll be like “I know! I wrote it, I looked it up!”
The audience’s expectation for me to actually teach actual history can be really funny. I wrote a comic about some 16th Century peasants in love, and when he’s about to kiss her, he moves in and says, “Oh, I’ve like never ever brushed my teeth.” And she has this blank look on her face. [laughs] And I got some letters that said “You’re perpetuating this and this! That medieval people didn’t have any hygiene when in fact they used this leaf!” Like, “I’m so sick of people saying medieval peasants were dirty when they had some hygiene.” You read that letter, and that’s really funny.
A [recent] comic was about President Jackson, and that got quite the reaction. He’s either a hilarious hero or an awful villain to people, depending on who you’re talking to.
CA: In some ways these historical figures really are characters to people, and like we were talking about before, symbols of all different sorts of stuff.
KB: I don’t want people to take things literally, but hopefully it’s inspiration for you to look up and decide for yourself what you think about them.
CA: Also, I didn’t know you thought about being a professor. That’s really cool.
KB: Well I worked in museums, after university. I have a major in history and anthropology. Anthro was a bit of a let down, I guess. I didn’t see much direction there, and I like history a lot. After working in museums for awhile, I thought Museum Studies would be great, but museums are a difficult place to get a job in Canada. You’d always be bailing out a sinking ship; they’re always looking for money, and people seem really stressed. So I thought, yeah, professor. There’s a professor I used to go to dinner with, one of my old professors, and I would always say “tell me all about it!” And she’s say “not again!”
CA: [laughs] Tell the story again!
KB: She was like, are you going to make up your mind? I was like, I don’t know! Then comics happened, and I didn’t have to.
CA: Is the comic a full-time job for you now?
KB: That and illustrations. I just finished doing illustrations for The Walrus, which is this media magazine. It’s really good, so I was really excited to put up that. I have comics in this month’s Harper’s magazine. And lately things like the Criterion Collection poster, or other illustration jobs. They take up my time now, but I don’t have to do it as much as I used to. I like the idea of being in print media, as well as what I do online. But my job is illustrating cartoons.
CA: That’s what’s on the tax return?
KB: Yeah, at this point, “cartoonist.”
CA: What was that transition like? How did you know that the moment had arrived, and now I’m full-time as a cartoonist!
KB: I was working, paying off my student loans in Alberta. I worked at a mine site there for two years. And in between I worked for a year at Fort McMurray, and then I worked for a year at a museum in Victoria, and then back to Fort McMurray. While I was in Victoria I met Emily Horne [of A Softer World]. She worked in the same museum I did.
CA: Wow, small world.
KB: Emily had probably worked in the museum longer than I had. She saw me drawing, and asked if I made comics. And I said, “Yeah, comics for my friends.” She said that she had a website that turned out to be comics, and she encouraged me to put things online, so I did. Then I went back to Fort McMurray, and I finished paying off my loans, and making comics, while this thing sort of got bigger. And when I was done paying the loan I saved up some money, so I had something to fall back on, and I thought I’d try to make some comics for a living, see how that goes. Because I had done all this awful work in Northern Alberta to paying things off. But now it was my turn to try something I liked. And it just worked out, that’s all. I’m lucky.
CA: What do you want moving forward? I asked for some questions on Twitter, and the number one thing people wanted to know was “Is she going to do a graphic novel?”
KB: Oh no. [laughs] I find it difficult to write a story. Actually that’s not true, it just takes me so long to think of ideas and to write them, to get the dialogue and the pace of whatever it is I’m going to do. I find the idea of a graphic novel extremely daunting. If someone wants a graphic novel they might have to wait a really long time. [laughs]
CA: People can spend a year on a graphic novel, easily.
KB: Yeah, and I can’t take off a year from webcomics to do a graphic novel. People are very fickle, and if you’re not giving them constant fresh entertainment they’ll forget about you. And they’ll stop paying your bills… Once you lose an audience it’s hard to get one back; that’s the general consensus. I mean, John Allison stopped Scary Go Round and started Bad Machinery, and numbers dropped because people were invested in that one thing and it went away. And I think Bad Machinery is one of the best webcomics out there.
There’s a lot of things to consider, and I’m still pretty new, so I don’t want to go too far. And if I do something different, or interesting, it will be within print, because I’m not comfortable with the idea of relying on a webcomic for years and years, knowing that your paycheck isn’t really guaranteed. People could lose interest in you, or what you’re doing, or you could lose interest in what you’re doing and not want to do it anymore and not have an audience follow you. It’s a lot of things to consider.
KB: I used to make more autobiographical stuff, and I don’t anymore, because it tends to be — I don’t want to let too many people in. I want to have a little distance there. When you have a regular kind of author, there’s a space between you and your audience that isn’t there with internet creators. There’s this idea of people having access to you, and it takes a lot of getting used to. From the beginning, when I first met my readers, there seemed to be a lot of them and that was a little overwhelming. 2008 was my first show, and I still haven’t gotten used to that. Because you just draw in your house, by yourself, or your office or your studio, and there’s not very many people that recognize you on the street. And then you go to a comics show, and there’s a lot of people who know who you are. I still haven’t gotten used to that at all.
CA: You have some very enthusiastic fans!
KB: Yeah, I really couldn’t really tell you why. That’s just the way it happened. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Something about my work just clicks with people and that’s great. There’s a lot of work out there that I think is wonderful and doesn’t have the same audience I do, and I couldn’t explain it.
CA: It’s interesting, because at Small Press Expo and at most of the indie comics shows your lines have just been stupid long. But at HeroesCon  it was different, possibly because that seemed like a different kind of crowd.
KB: Yeah it was really nice! I really enjoyed that because there was time to talk to people, there wasn’t like a crushing line of people. But you can’t tell, because HeroesCon was like that, but Emerald City [Comic Con] was a mainstream show and wasn’t like that.
CA: Yeah, I was trying to figure out if was about the level of interest in your work from the mainstream superhero crowd. I think more of those people have seen your work at least, because you’ve done the Wonder Woman comics, the Aquaman comics, and there’s been really positive response to that from what I’ve seen.
KB: Oh really?
CA: Yeah, I put that up, and I had a few superhero fans go “Oh my god! Who’s this Kate Beaton?!”
KB: [laughs] I really liked drawing Aquaman. I liked his crazy hook hand.
CA: I love seeing someone like you do superhero comics, both there and in Strange Tales, because you’re not steeped in the continuity like so many people are, and you can really see the characters with fresh eyes.
KB: Yeah, I can really understand that, because now I do comics with history and people take that really seriously, when they’re really into it. I’s the same sort of deal, they’re like “but these are the facts!” and you’re like, “Yeah, they’re just comics.”
CA: I like that comparison between intense history fans and intense comics fans, because I think that level of investment works a similar way in all sorts of fields.
KB: It also explains why when people who read those Aquaman comics or those Wolverine comics see that joke, they laugh and they love it because they’re in on it. It’s their thing; it’s their guy. And when I write a comic about some character that someone wrote their thesis on in their undergrad, people love it because it’s their thing. It’s the thing they know about the most, and they love it.
CA: Now, you mentioned you picked Rogue for Strange Tales. What was it about Rogue?
KB: Oh Rogue! I like the way that she looks. She has a really iconic look. A lot about lady superheroes all look the same — they’re all blonde, they all have giant… you know.
CA: It can be hilarious when you have a bad comics artist, because there are so many blond superheroines and if you can’t draw many different faces they all end up looking the same.
KB: Yeah there’s that guy, one of the other guest artists, this guy… who draws a lot of sexy ladies, they all look the same! The same face, and body! [laughs] I guess he can only draw the same girl, over and over!
CA: In fairness, we are all sort of interchangeable except for our hair and eye color.
KB: [laughs] So I really liked the Rogue look. I love all the X-Men women, actually. They were drawn so you knew who they were, whether their suit was on or not, which is pretty cool. I played around with a lot of different people. I really liked Dazzler. I wanted to make a comic just for her, actually.
CA: Yeah, she’s one of those characters that sort of generated a cult following. But every character is someone’s favorite character, you know? It doesn’t matter who they are; someone has a fan site for them.
KB: That’s definitely true, and again it’s the same for history too sometimes. It’s always someone’s favorite, you never know. I did a comic about Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray who both had early patents for the telephone. And I don’t think Elisha Gray is a too familiar name to too many people, but some people were like, “finally!”
CA: “We’ve been waiting for this for so long!”
KB: [laughs] But I’d like to say about something you asked before, if I write my comics for a certain audience now that it’s bigger, and the answer is no. I try to make them funny for me, so if I were to look at them I’d laugh. And I like the broad and simple comics because they hit you like a brick wall. There’s something about that quick delivery on each of them… When you’re trying to get the joke in with really short comics you don’t give people the time to guess, or get there before you do. You just make them really laugh and I really like that.
CA: Get in and get out.
KB: Yeah, that’s what it’s all about. But anyway, we’ve strayed from the X-Men and Marvel.
CA: That’s okay! You said before, if you did something in the future you’d be interested in doing it in print. I know last time we talked there were agents and publishers wanting to do something with you, but you ended up self-publishing your book “Never Learn Anything from History” through Topatoco.
KB: When that came out, it was mostly so I wasn’t empty-handed at comics shows. I never meant it to be the seller that it was online. I was like, “Oh, maybe a couple people might want to buy this online.” And then a lot of people did, and it did really well, and we ended up printing it three times. It was my first time doing anything, so it was a learning experience. And the next one that’s coming out will be nicer. With “Never Learn Anything from History,” there was this guy from Toronto who was like, “Is there a copyright? An ISBN? Did you even put your name on this?” [laughs] And I was like “No, I don’t know!”
CA: When you do the next one is it also going to be self-published? Have you thought about going to a major publisher or a comics publisher?
KB: It’s hard to say. I’d like to. It will probably be self-published again, but nicely. At Topotoco we have Jeff [Rowland], and David Malki [of Wondermark] is really keen on getting some nice books made. And it just makes sense. You just make more money doing something that’s self-published, unless you’re something like Scott Pilgrim. But it’s hard to say, there’s pros and cons to either one. Some really nice companies have approached me, and it was hard to say no to them.
But it doesn’t feel like I’m ready. I’ve never gotten a hold on this — popularity I guess you’d call it. It happened really quickly to me. I felt really underprepared, and I still underprepared. I’m not starved for money; I get enough jobs, and all I really want to do is just make good comics. If I had gone with a publisher for that first book – I mean, I don’t even like looking at some of the comics in that book anymore! They’re just old to me; there are skills that I’ve learned since then.
If I went with a big publisher for a book, I’d really want the work inside to be something that I could really get behind, where I’d feel I was at a skill level that I was comfortable with. Not that the early comics aren’t good or anything like that, it’s just you can tell they’re my early work. You can tell that they’re rough around the edges. And I think that I’m improving a lot over time, and I’m excited to see where that goes, but I don’t know where yet. So no, I don’t have any real plans. And the other thing is you never really know what’s going to come in the inbox next. I submit [comics] to The New Yorker; that’s the only thing that I’ve done myself, otherwise people come to me, which is amazing, and you never really know who’s going to do that next, with some really interesting job offer.
CA: That was the craziest most awesome thing to me when I found out that you were contributing to The New Yorker.
KB: Yeah. I wanted to do that because I don’t have an editor; I set everything up on my comics site, and that was just to say I could. And seeing how timid I get on the level of skill on my comics, about the fact that I have no art training [compared to] people who have gone to comics courses and stuff like that…
At TCAF last year, Chris Hastings [of Dr. McNinja] was like, “You don’t you draw gutters. Why don’t you draw gutters? It represents a space in time.” And I was like, oh that makes sense. It’s the simplest thing, you know, but no one ever told me that before so I never thought about it. So I’m extremely aware that I don’t really have any of this kind of training. And when I decided to send [comics] to The New Yorker, I was like, there’s somebody there who will say, “This is good enough,” or “It’s not.” And it’s a thing to aim high for, you know? The New Yorker is a big deal, and it was a challenge in that way. And some of my favorite styles are those mid-century New Yorker cartoons, and those styles from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s. I could stare at them for hours, I think they’re so beautiful. And I thought I’d like to give it a shot.
Also, it’s just not me doing those. My friend Sam writes them and I draw them. I wouldn’t have time; you submit like ten at a time when you do, and I wouldn’t have been able to come up with ten New Yorker comics by myself. I’m just too busy, and like I said, ideas take me a really long time. But we wanted to do something together for awhile, so that worked out well.
CA: It’s funny, I’ve talked to comics creators before where they were like, “My family doesn’t really understand what I do, but then I did this mainstream thing and they thought it was awesome!”
KB: Oh that’s definitely true! I mean, yeah, people are like “Wow, The New Yorker!” That’s the way my mom introduces my job now.
CA: I bet that went in the Christmas card.
KB: [laughs] Yeah people don’t really get it. I was mentioned in some really cool places… I was in Macleans, which is like the Canadian version of Time, I guess, and people were like “Wow, Macleans. That’s a big deal!” and the article was shit, it was terrible. People were amazed, and I was like, ah, I hate the mainstream media!
CA: The cumulative audience for what you do is probably as big their readership anyway.
KB: Yeah, but The New Yorker can give you visibility, and that’s really good. People come to me now with a job from their magazine or whatever, and they’ll tend to offer more because of the name branding and the visibility there, that kind of recognition, which is certainly very helpful. And worth all the rejected cartoons after all, the hundreds or so.
KB: No. I mean I get a lot of stuff like, “Can you draw me something for my boyfriend’s birthday, or my wedding invitation?” But generally it takes me so long to do big things that I don’t have time for smaller ones… Someone gives you fifty dollars for something, and then you have to mail it to them, and that takes another ten, and it takes you three hours to do it, and it doesn’t end up being that much money… It depends; every day is a new kind of job. Right now I’m having intense writer’s block. I wrote a couple of comics that are really — they’re not very good. I haven’t updated in a week and a couple days and I don’t usually let it go this long. But I think it’s the stress of moving, and all that stuff. It just gets you, and I don’t want to put up a sh*tty comic either.
CA: Right. I get that way with my site sometimes, where content always has to keep going up. And I have moments where I’m like, well, I could either have an empty space here or I could put up something that is just okay, and it’s a tough decision.
KB: Yeah, it is a tough decision. If they wait a little longer, they get something that is better than what you would have put up earlier. That’s an internet audience for you, as soon as they get it, it’s like they didn’t have to wait at all, almost. You could update once a day, and have people super irate, and in the same way you could update once a week and then eight or nine days later, get the same reaction from people who are getting a free comic everyday from somewhere else. [laughs] I’m not very good at explaining this.
CA: No, I understand very well after running a big website for a while. You have to live with it all the time, the ebb and flow.
KB: I love your site; it’s really interesting stuff. I read it… It’s really user-friendly, and it’s got lots of interesting stuff that you link to. It’s a really good mix of authors, and you know, I got into comics without knowing a lot about them, and I really enjoy learning.
CA: Do you really? That makes me happy, because we’re trying to do different sorts of stuff that appeal to a broader audience so that people can show up and enjoy it even if they don’t know everything about superheroes.
KB: Yeah, yeah definitely. It’s almost the same with history. I don’t want to make dull comics about a subject that they don’t know a lot about, you try to make it fun and interesting, and a good time for your readers.
CA: I really have learned a significant amount about history just from reading your work. And also it’s palatable. its not, “Time to study for a history test!”
KB: Well, I learn a lot about comics from yours!
CA: And from your research for Strange Tales, I bet. I’m really excited to see your Rogue.
KB: The [comic] I did with her was fun. She does steal powers from somebody but its not as if they need them back. I thought that’d be cool. It’s funny how many people were expecting me to do Wolverine comic because I’m Canadian. [laughs] Wolverine, Canada’s greatest superhero!
CA: There’s also Alpha Flight, where one of the dudes actually had a big maple leaf on his costume.
KB: I was thinking about Alpha Flight because of that, but they had a good writer, and the guy who created him was really good, and then I saw him in the hands of people who didn’t give a sh*t, and they all went to hell. There was a lot of potential there in Alpha Flight, but they’re kind of an example of a comic gone lame. And they started out with really good intentions, I think, and really good talent.
CA: There have been a lot of revivals of older characters recently. Maybe there’s an amazing Alpha Flight comic still waiting to be written.
KB: I’d be more excited if someone figured out how to write Wonder Woman.
CA: Did you research Wonder Woman when you decided to write your Wonder Woman comics?
KB: Oh yeah, I have respect for my subject. I wanted to understand her; I wanted to know more about her.
CA: Do you think you have a perspective on the right way to write Wonder Woman?
KB: Oh I don’t know. I’ve only read about her… She is interesting. She’s not from here, so it’s hard to have any kind of empathy with her. That could be a problem with her. Superman wasn’t from here either, but he was raised on Earth, so he gets to be kind of a dude.
CA: Yeah he’s an immigrant, but he’s still “from here.”
KB: Yeah, Wonder Woman never gets to be a dude like everyone else.
CA: Well they did just do a revamp of her and her costume, and then they said “actually, she grew up in America.”
KB: That’s right! And I don’t know, I like her new outfit. It’s a good outfit. It’s interesting, in a way, that’s she’s one of the three, or whatever —
CA: The Trinity.
KB: Yeah, the Trinity, that a woman is in there at all, it’s amazing, She’s just a bit more complicated than everybody else. I mean, how many dudes are going to write her and get her right? I just think there’s a lot of interesting stuff there, I think it’s a real shame people haven’t figured her out.
CA: To me it’s this puzzle that’s kind of irresistible and really interesting.
KB: I guess the Wonder Woman that I draw is kind of sick of everyone not understanding her.
CA: All chain smoking.
KB: Surly, and like “f*ck you!”
CA: Actually I kind of love that; that’s a great subtext.
KB: Yeah, after some 70 years or so of people manhandling you the wrong way.