Here is an interview with Amy Reeder, former artist for DC Comics’ Batwoman, Supergirl, and Madame Xanadu. She is about to work on a creator owned project for Image Comics called Rocket Girl with Brandon Montclare, her former editor on Madame Xanadu. I caught up with Reeder and talked about her influences, work on Batwoman, the differences between creator owned and mainstream work, and who she would cast in Batwoman movie.
SoS: What is the first comic you remember reading?
Amy Reeder: It was Chynna Clugston’s Blue Monday. It was at the tail end of college. My sister-in-law was reading comics so I read her Blue Monday. [On starting reading comics late] I started really late just because it didn’t feel really accessible. I didn’t know how to get into comics. It seemed like it was just for guys. I wasn’t super girly, but I wasn’t a tomboy or anything. I didn’t see what was in it for me. And the art that I normally saw, I didn’t like it. But I was probably looking at the wrong things because you could only get a taste here and there. I only got into it because of the manga side of things. After Chynna Clugston’s Blue Monday, it was all manga.
SoS: Coming out of this question, what was your favorite manga?
Reeder: It was the first manga I read: A Paradise Kiss. It was everything for me. It was what made me want to draw comics.
SoS: What creators have had the biggest influence on you throughout your career?
Reeder: I would say Ross Campbell would have the biggest influence. He’s my favorite writer/author. He does a lot of art for Oni Press and Slave Labor Graphics and just recently did Glory for Image. He’s just really good and represents people well. He draws a lot of women. They’re all different shapes and sizes and races. He kind of gets how women think. He likes to talk about relationships, like, interpersonal stuff. That’s what I like. A lot of artists don’t like talking heads, but talking heads can be the coolest thing ever. Sometimes that’s what I most look forward to. Poignant, exciting things about people and their feelings, and how they act and avoid being themselves.
SoS: Who was your favorite character to draw on Batwoman?
Reeder: I really liked drawing Chase because I had decided in my mind that she looked like that woman who was in Top Gun [Kelly McGillis]. I kept drawing her and felt like she was awesome. I felt like her look was very specific. She had a lot of character. She was a big brat.
SoS: What got you interested in working on Batwoman in the first place for DC?
Reeder: I was already reading Batwoman [Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams’ run] even though I didn’t usually read any other superhero books. At the time, I was drawing Madame Xanadu, and Dan DiDio really wanted to bring me into the main DCU. He asked me, “Do you wanna do an exclusive contract… to draw Batwoman.” And I said, “Yes.” He suggested in. There were four choices or something [Gotham City Sirens, Power Girl] But there was no other thing I’d rather do in the DCU… They put me on Supergirl covers too. Batwoman and Supergirl are so different. [With Batwoman] I can get in touch with my dark lesbian side, and [with Supergirl] then my teenage, excited side.
SoS: If you could work on any book (Marvel, DC, indie) what would you work on?
Reeder: My own book. My own creator owned stuff. [My new project] is called Rocket Girl. It’s a really awesome concept, and I’m really happy with it. After Rocket Girl, I will focus on creator owned stuff. I have plenty stories in my own head that I want to write. I like creator owned comics, not because I own the characters, but because I don’t have anybody involved in my process unless I want them to be involved. I thrive in that space, work faster in that space, and like it better. As far as existing characters want to go… I like a lot of characters, but generally like how other people draw them. I would really like to do some Wonder Woman if I had a lot of faith in the writer if she was female or was good at writing a female voice. Or I could write it myself. That would be really awesome. I have a Supergirl story I’ve always wanted to do. But it’s the old Supergirl so it’s never gonna happen.
SoS: If you could collaborate with any writer or artist, who would it be?
Reeder: I would like to collaborate with my current writer [on Rocket Girl] Brandon Montclare because we really work in sync, and he has a lot of faith in me. I would like to work with Gail Simone one day, and she’s expressed an interest too. What most I like to do is to work by myself [as a writer]. That’s my next step.
SoS: Have you written anything in comics?
Reeder: That was how I got in.. with TokyoPop. I wrote two of my own graphic novels. It wasn’t the most masterful writing in the world as far as the plotting goes. But my ability to devise scenes was really good with getting people into the moment with the characters. I miss that because my storytelling is a lot more open. I wouldn’t say my pacing is slower, but I tell a lot less story over a certain amount of pages than most people. It reads a lot faster. My writing is intense, but you’re flipping a page more often. I do a lot of wordless panels ,and character reactions about what they’re feeling. I like to make it as much of a first person appearance as often as I can.
SoS: What current comics are you enjoying?
Reeder: Glory, Saga, Punk Rock Jesus. The Nao of Brown [by Glyn Dillon; Abrams Books]. It has a very beautiful, water colored art. It’s about two people and interpersonal relationships. There are some side stories that are fantastical, but it’s mostly about a girl who’s dealing with OCD.
SoS: If they make a Batwoman movie, who would you cast as Kate Kane?
Reeder: The person I’m think of is too old, but the younger version of her would be perfect for Batwoman. It would be Cate Blanchett [from Lord of the Rings and Elizabeth]. I drew Kate with a little bit of an overbite, and Cate Blanchett has it too. She’s so gorgeous, and if you look at her in her [earlier] movies, she looks just like Kate Kane.