The Femme Wonder is a CBU column by Sammie Wetherell. In this episode she confesses her love for a certain lady whose initials are KSD.
As I have promised before, I want to showcase the women in pop culture. Bringing light to characters, writers, artists, actresses and even fashion designers, that are all involved in nerd culture. I thought hard about who I wanted to writer about first, but really it wasn’t a hard decision at all. How could I start this column without talking about the woman that started it all for me?
When I jumped into my comic journey many moons ago, I was enthralled with The Avengers, X-Men, Batman, the characters you would expect a new reader to start with. Once I was caught up with older issues, I started getting my rhythm with the newer issues. Thirsty for a female lead book, I reached out to the internet. I was recommended reading Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick. At the time that name meant nothing to me; in fact, not any writers’ or artists’ of comics names meant anything to me. I was finding my feet and felt like I needed to know the characters before I even started with who created or was currently working on them. I would love to say that my love affair for Kelly Sue started with Captain Marvel, but it didn’t.
One Christmas I had a run in with a bunch of men in a comic book shop (I’ll spare you the details as I’ve gone on about it so many times). The end result was me getting verbally ripped to pieces from these “men” and my soul utterly crushed. I was completely wounded and reached out to my comic book friends. One recommended I watch a documentary called She Makes Comics (directed by Marisa Stotter, released by Respect Films in 2014) to help me see that what I experienced isn’t unusual, and that there are women out there who do work in the industry and fight against such acts. Watching this documentary put a face to Kelly Sue and a voice that I could hear through the pages of Captain Marvel. That’s when my love affair started with Kelly Sue. Hearing her passion and enthusiasm gave me a new outlook. Once I was able to hear Kelly Sue, reading Captain Marvel was a whole new experience for me.
That She Makes Comics documentary started me on a journey of wanting to know more about this woman. It didn’t take long before her creator-owned Image Comics series Pretty Deadly (co-created/illustrated by Emma Rios) fell into my lap. This beautifully drawn horror/western took me on a mythological journey that I never wanted to end. Any time I need a Kelly Sue fix I pick this book up and lose myself in her words. Taking note of how she builds on the characters and the story really helps me understand her writing style. The experience was completely different from what I had read with Captain Marvel, but I could still feel her presence strongly in them both.
If what I had already read didn’t make me love her then her next creator-owned Image Comics series Bitch Planet (co-created/illustrated by Valantine De Landro) was going to cement that love. This feminist series that looks like an exploitation movie from the 1970’s, came at a time I needed it the most. Set in a Dystopian world where women who don’t conform to the rules of the “fathers” or who aren’t compliant are sent away to an off-planet prison. Considering the daily personal struggles those women characters face, and given the things I personally struggle with, I was able to relate to them quite easily and draw from their strength. The series is still ongoing, and for every 3 issues we get to see a backstory of one of those characters. It’s a great way for Kelly Sue to get you more involved with these characters. This book really puts those issues out there in the open where they can’t be ignored.
All that said above, I didn’t want this to sound like a love letter to Kelly Sue, but lets be honest, it sounds like a love letter to her. This woman changed my life. She gave me strength and empowerment to believe in myself, not just in my writing, but also my life. I’m not the strongest writer by any stretch, but thanks to her (and many others) I have the confidence to put myself out there, and not be afraid to fall. I hope I haven’t bored you with my affection for this woman and I hope it’s given you an insight into the impact she has left on me and no doubt countless others.
Until Next Time . . . Peace, Love & Peanut Butter!