I Sat Down with the Uber-Talented Artist/Writer Behind the Upcoming Gotham Academy & Southern Cross.
Becky Cloonan was one of the artists that I wanted to meet last weekend at MondoCon in Austin, Texas. Ever since I picked up The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, I’ve been a fan of her art but was not familiar with her past work and her back story on how she got her start in the industry. I approached her table at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre early Sunday morning to find Cloonan recovering from a late night out in the capital city. We talked about the first comic she ever picked up, shopping for comics at the grocery store, her inspiration for beginning to create comics, and how she once wanted to be a marine biologist. She also jokingly scolded me for not doing my research before the interview. She was funny, honest, and an absolute joy to talk to.
PR: How old where you when you first started reading comics?
Becky: Oh I don’t know, I can’t remember…maybe eight years old. The first one was like Silver Surfer Annual #1 which was 1988, so I’m guessing around eight. I still remember that cover.
PR: Talk about all the comics that you read and what you were a fan of back then and when and what exactly made you decide to get in to the comic book industry?
Becky: Oh god I don’t know, that’s a huge question. Growing up I read mostly Marvel stuff and a lot of Manga when I got a little older, when I was in high school I think, a lot of video games too, so that all kind of filters all in there. I always wonder if part of the reason why I like to write and draw comics is because when I was younger I couldn’t get to the comic book store all the time and you know, I couldn’t get every issue and my parents wouldn’t always get me every issue. If we were at the grocery store, because (I’m going to date myself) they had like spinning racks and you could buy Marvel comics while you were buying…..
Becky: Bread yeah that’s a good one. I was thinking like bananas, I don’t know…whatever you buy at grocery stores…whatever that is. So you get like issue 76 and then you get issue 79, and you don’t know what happens in between, so I was constantly making up shit in my head for what happens to these characters. I don’t even know if it’s like true, you just start making stuff up and I think that’s where it kind of started, when I was very young and trying to fill in the gaps and that to me was really exciting. If I’m going to like psychoanalyze myself that’s probably where it all started. I wanted to do archaeology and then marine biology of course because everyone in the seventh grade wants to be a marine biologist, and the you know I decided that I was really bad at school and it was like…I always drew comics, so I was like I can probably do this as a job someday.
PR: Where are you from and where did you grow up?
Becky: I grew up in New Hampshire
PR: What was your first actual job in comics and with what publisher?
Becky: Jennie One with AiT/Planet Lar and that was with Brian Wood who I met when I was like twenty and we talked about working together. He was talking about Demo at the time and he had done Channel Zero with Image before that, and so he was talking about doing a sequel or prequel to that, and we talked about Demo years before it even happened. So we did this graphic novel Jennie One together, and it worked really well. The two of us clicked and we decided to do Demo and that was that. I’ve worked with Brian…he’s like a constant collaborator for me.
PR: Now you mentioned you have been doing this professionally now since about 2002…can you go through and talk about some of the books that readers may be familiar with and maybe unfamiliar with.
Becky: Oh god…Demo is probably a big one with Brian, I did American Virgin with Steve Seagle for Vertigo, I did a book called East Coast Rising for Tokyopop and then it got cancelled.
PR: What are you working on now and do you have anything coming up that you can talk about?
Becky: Yeah I’m working on a book right now for DC called Gotham Academy that comes out on October 1.
Becky: Yup. How did you forget that? Jesus Christ!
PR: I know I’m bad. I write about so many books I just forget….
Becky: Do your research (laughs)
Becky: So Gotham Academy, and Andy (Belanger) and I are actually doing a book called Southern Cross together with Image and that comes out probably in February 2015. I got a few things…writing a little bit and still drawing to but probably nothing to be announced for a little while.
PR: I’m sure this is not you’re first time in Austin…is it?
Becky: Yes it is but I’ve been here for two weeks and I love it, it’s great. My sister lives here, having a good time.
PR: Maybe you’ll come back next year.
Becky: Yeah, I talked to those guys at Staple, they seem really cool. Their show, like Jess Fink is going, Kate Leth, and Babs Tarr. So it sounds like a great lady party so I might come back. (Knocks over water bottle)…sorry.
PR: Hung over Becky.
Becky: Yeah that’s me.
PR: Okay convention schedule?
Becky: Okay right now I’m doing MondoCon and it’s been lovely. After this I’m flying out to Dublin for D.I.C.E., the Dublin International Comic Expo which I did last year and that’s a lot of fun. After that I’m flying back and going to Montreal for the Gotham Academy launch party with Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher on the 2nd of October. Then we’re heading to Ottawa on the 3rd, Toronto on the 4th, on the 6th we are in Syracuse at Cloud City Comics. On the 7th we’re at Escape Pod Comics in Huntington, NY out in Long Island, and then New York Comic Con on the 8th. After that on the following weekend, I’m in the UK in Kendal at the Lakes Festival which I hear is lovely. After that I’m doing Thought Bubble which is in November, so I’ll be in the UK for a good month and a half or two months, I might go camping. Then I’m going to be doing WonderCon actually, in February. Next year I’m going to take some time off and not as many cons for a while, so yeah next year I’ll be a little mysterious. Busy schedule and a lot of it is the Gotham Academy launch that we’re trying to get in. Excellent, that’s my schedule.
PR: Thank you so much for your time.
Kate: Yeah, you’re welcome.