PRETTY DEADLY: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios’ Western Revenge Fantasy [Interview + Exclusive Art]
Although its first issue has yet to be released, the forthcoming Image Comics title Pretty Deadly has been near the top of many must-read lists since it was first announced last July. The book is a mythic revenge fantasy inspired by sources as diverse as the spaghetti western films of Sergio Leone and contemporary fashion design, starring an enigmatic heroine whose scarred face resembles a dia de los muertos mask and whose story is narrated by a dead rabbit.
I know this because Pretty Deadly creators Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos have been inviting readers to observe some aspects of the creative process via social media. For example, Ríos keeps her fans informed as to her tastes with regular Tumblr posts of all sorts of material, both hers and by others, and De Connick maintains a Pinterest board to keep track of her Pretty Deadly inspirations and Tumbled lots of fanart. That there is so much excitement as to facilitate fanart for an unreleased and still very mysterious comic speaks to the many entertainment itches Pretty Deadly seems poised to scratch: a dark, gorgeous adventure story; a dark, gorgeous adventure story about a woman; a dark, gorgeous adventure story created by women; and a dark, gorgeous adventure story that marks the first major creator-owned work from De Connick and Ríos, who’ve endeared themselves to readers with great contributions to Marvel Comics titles like Captain Marvel, Strange: The Doctor is Out and the very acclaimed Osborn, their first collaboration.
De Connick and Ríos have offered ComicsAlliance readers a deeper look into the project that’s piqued so much interest. Below, De Connick speaks to the seemingly poetic style of the narrative, while Ríos provides an exclusive step-by-step commentary on the creation of Pretty Deadly’sfirst issue cover.
Notebook sketch, like, 8x4cm. Always lazy and helpless for drawing understandable layouts. – Emma Ríos
ComicsAlliance: I think the whole vibe of Pretty Deadly has been very well established already in the promotional artwork that we’ve seen of your heroine with her skull face and cowboy hat, but I was wondering if you’re ready to talk a bit more about the story behind the intriguing imagery. Can you tell us who this woman is, where she comes from and what she wants? Without giving everything away, naturally.
Kelly Sue DeConnic: Do you know about cantares de cego? Probably everybody does and I’m the only idiot who’d never heard of such a thing. Anyway, Emma taught me about them. They’re traditionally blind beggar’s songs — they’re ballads that are accompanied by these banners that have sequential images on them — comics! Here, here’s a video that shows what I mean:
KSD: So, in our book, there’s a pair of beggars — a blind man and a little girl and they come to this kind of mythical western town and tell this story. The story is about a Mason who falls in love with a Beauty and marries her. But soon after their wedding he becomes consumed with the idea that other men admire his Beauty. So he builds her a stone tower and locks her away. And Beauty, denied the caress of the wind and the warmth of the sun, begins to wither and die. And soon, Death comes for Beauty. But Death too is taken by her and he sires a child with her. The child isn’t enough to tether her to our world, though. Death grieves and steals the child away. He raises her in the world between the living and the dead, to be a spirit of vengeance, to punish those who would do wrong by the innocent.
We call her Ginny.
There was a drowned man at the beginning, in the original pencil. I had to sacrifice him for the logo. No remorse. – Emma Ríos
CA: The book was announced as your take on the mythic spaghetti western genre, but as I follow the progress on Tumblr there seems to be distinctly non-western tropes like a talking butterfly and other supernatural elements as well. The Pinterest board contains cowboy imagery, contemporary fashion, all kinds of stuff. Can you talk about the inspiration for the book and how it developed as you went along, because it’s starting to seem like more of a vehicle for what is fascinating you two than it is, like, “Here is our Western Genre story”, you know?
KSD:Yeah, that’s accurate. It’s not the book we set out to write. But… and this is so corny, but Emma and I both feel like this book has a mind of its own. It’s the thing it wants to be and it kind of doesn’t give a s— about what either of us thinks.
Clean inks. They’re Clean inks. They’re so clean because I’m the one coloring this and it’s easier. – Ema Ríos
CA: What’s the current status of the book? Is it too soon to say when we’ll see issue #1?
KSD: Two issues done. I’ll have script to Emma for the third today. We said we’d solicit when we had three done, but we’re toying with the idea of jumping on the gun on that a little if Image is okay with it. We’re skittish, though. Neither of us is fast, we’re both busy and this book doesn’t want to be rushed. So… we’ll see, I guess. It’s important to both of us that we have enough of a lead that we don’t have to worry about issues being late once they start coming out.
The important thing when I did colors was to show two different atmospheres: the cold moonlight for the real world, and the warm bloody reflection. – Emma Ríos
(click image to enlarge)
My line and the logo Maiko Kuzunishi did are both so organic. It was so difficult to find the color for making it pop. Pink shadow looks pretty sick.
Also, that dead bunny is a main character. – Emma Ríos
Pretty Deadly #1 goes on sale later this year from Image Comics.