Moderator: Amanda Salmons
In Attendance: Shelly Bond (Vertigo Executive Editor), Bobbie Chase (Editorial Director, DC Comics), Marguerite Bennett (Earth 2: World’s End), Meredith Finch (Wonder Woman), Becky Cloonan (Gotham Academy), Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn) Caitlin Kittredge (Coffin Hill), Gail Simone (Clean Room, Secret Six) Babs Tarr (Batgirl)
Salmons started off the panel by explaining the journey she took getting involved in comics and how out of the blue DC asked her to moderate this panel. She then asked the panel to explain how when they knew that “comics were for you”.
Bond wasn’t into comics as a kid. But she took a screenwriting class in college and the instructor used a graphic novel as an example of structure and storyboards. Then a classmate suggested she check out Sandman.
Kittredge also wasn’t into comics. She was in college and living in a rough part of town, so rough that the bus to and from campus was called the “Meth Bus.” The best way to avoid tweakers on the bus was be distracted, which meant headphones and something to read. One day she had nothing to read, so a classmate loaned her a Sandman trade. Kittredge was hooked. So hooked that despite being a broke college student, she splurged on the complete run of Sandman, finished that and tried other Vertigo books from there.
Tarr wasn’t into comics growing up, because she was much more interested in Manga. Unfortunately when she did venture into her local comic shop, they weren’t welcoming or helpful.
Finch’s only knowledge of comics came from reading her parent’s old comics when visiting her grandparent’s house. They were Archie comics and the occasional romance comic. As she grew older she assumed that comics just stopped being a thing. When she started dating David Finch, he mentioned that he worked in comics and she assumed it was like Archie comics. He happened to have an issue of Avenger Disassembled in the back of his car and showed it to her. She said it involved She-Hulk tearing something or someone in half.
Cloonan vividly remembers her father bringing home Silver Surfer Annual #1. She was completely entranced by the issue. But it was Jim Lee’s X-Men #1 that sealed the deal for her, that’s when she knew comics were for her.
For Gail, she first saw herself in comics via Batgirl on the Batman tv show. Then she saw an issue of Wonder Woman at a garage sale. Seeing a woman who didn’t need a prince charming was really appealing to her at the time. From there she discovered Elfquest, Love & Rockets and Sandman, which hooked her as reader. But once she started writing a comic, The Simpsons, that’s when she fell in love with the storytelling and structure.
Bennett fell into comics via Batman: The Animated Series and Catwoman, Ivy and Harley. She tried to get into actual comics, but her local comic shop wasn’t welcoming.
Conner got into comics thanks to the tooth fair. She lost a tooth and in addition to money, the tooth fairy left a Mad Magazine under he pillow. She was also very into drawing, which lead to the attraction.
Chase read Archie and Richie Rich as a kid. She stumbled in a career in comics by answering an ad in the New York Times and ended up becoming an editor for Marvel. Daredevil: Born Again was the first story she read that she really connected with. From there she got into graphic novels and fell in love with the business and medium.
Kittredge spoke about her experience writing Coffin Hill, her first comic. She’s written 15 novels but nothing prepped her for writing comics, which is something she had to learn from the ground up. Writing novels did help in terms of plotting and she finds the process of writing comics to be fresh and fun. She likes that he’s a visual element to the story and that’s it’s a collaborative work.
Bond then said that connecting the right writer with the right artist is a great gift.
Salmons asked Tarr how she relates to Batgirl, to which Tarr replied that she a 21 year-old woman once. While she’s too busy to be a fashionista on the book, she does try to infuse each characters personality into their fashion sense. She also tries to add little feminine touches like bobby pins around the house.
Finch finds that Diana’s conviction is one of her greatest attributes; she fights for what she believes in.
Cloonan loves having Karl Kerschl as the artist for Gotham Academy because she doesn’t have to worry about art direction because he’s so good. As an artist, this is the first book she’s written for another artist, but Karl is so good that she can focus on writing. She used to think in pictures, but now that she’s on Gotham Academy she’s getting better at thinking in words.
Simone spoke about the difference between working on a Vertigo book and a DC book. It’s mainly a tonal difference. With The Clean Room, she’s working on something that she’s never don’t before. Different characters with a different motivation.
Bennett is loving working on Earth 2 and her two favorite characters are Power Girl and Huntress. She loves that they trust each other and love each other. It’s a human element in a story that’s got a lot of death and destruction.
Conner detailed her lunch brainstorming sessions with Jimmy Palmiotti work to Harley Quinn’s benefit. She loves taking characters and throwing them into Harley’s world. She’s a murderous psychopath, but she’s a lovable murderous psychopath who is always chasing happy. She and Jimmy basically think of insane moments and write around them.
Kittredge touched upon on how Salem influenced her. The cruel and brutal history of New England can’t help but seep into her work, because it’s inescapable and omnipresent. It definitely help make her into a horror writer.
Simone revealed that Ventriloquist will be joining the previously announced Catman, Black Alice and Strix as part of the Secret Six.
With Gotham Academy, Cloonan is drawing from her high school life. She’s pulling from her memories. Marking them real for her will make them real for the readers. She also revealed that everything she does is veiled autobiographical.
Tarr loves getting a new script. It’s one of her favorite parts of the process. She makes suggestions like “maybe he could topless” or “maybe he could flirt with her.”
Amanda and Jimmy wanted to start up a website “things we weren’t allowed to do in Harley Quinn this week.” She also revealed that issue #8 will be a “poo flinging” issue.
Tags: Amanda Conner, Babs Tarr, Becky Cloonan, Bobbie Chase, Caitlin Kittredge, DC Comics, Gail simone, Marguerite Bennett, Meredith Finch, NYCC, NYCC 2014, Shelly Bond