Today’s spotlight is on Abby! You can find her on twitter at @Abby_Chandler.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m a 26 year old London-based script writer and ‘geek journalist’ – when I’m not doing my day job in publishing.
How did you get into comics?
My Dad was a comic collector in the 70s and 80s who had to sell his comics when I was born. While other girls got bed time stories about princesses, mine were about Caped Crusaders. When I got older I started buying him trades of the stories he used to tell me by heart: Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, The New Teen Titans. When he was finished with them, I flicked through them myself. I eventually got my head around the storytelling style, and started seeking out graphic novels for myself and raiding the (vast) comics section of my library. It took me about five years to realise I was hopelessly addicted.
Do you just read comics, or do you express your love in other ways?
I’ve been a film and TV reviewer for a while, but in the last year I’ve also started writing comics coverage for Starburst Magazine and Bad Haven. I went to my first convention, Kapow!, last year and again this year. I dipped my toe into cosplay at the same time, and love using it as a statement of my identity, dressing as Zatanna and Donna Troy, two of DC’s most powerful, independent characters.
What are some comics you’re currently reading and enjoying?
At DC I’m currently loving Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Demon Knights, and looking forward to picking up Batman, Animal Man and Swamp Thing in trades. I’m really enjoying Image’s output at the moment, particularly Fatale and Saga, which is my favourite comic at the moment.
Who is your favorite character?
This is such a difficult question to answer. What makes comics unique from TV or novels or other ongoing storytelling devices is that the characters vary wildly according to the writer and artist they have. So while Catwoman in Brubaker and Cooke’s hands was just about my favourite thing ever, I can’t even look at Judd Winick and Guillem March’s version.
But the character that I find myself going back to time and time again is probably Batman. Such a cliché, I know. I don’t even know if it’s Batman I love or if it’s his supporting cast of heroes and villains. But it’s his non-powered, heroic, royally messed-up group that I always find myself gravitating to.
Who are your favorite artist(s) & writer(s)?
I fell madly in love with Amanda Conner’s art as soon as I started reading her Power Girl run. I also love Cliff Chiang, Darwyn Cooke, J. H. Williams III and Fiona Staples’ art. Online, GingerHaze’s art never fails to crack me up. As for writers, Gail Simone was the first writer that I ‘followed’, picking up any book with her name on it. I also love Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, Paul Cornell, Brian Michael Bendis, Brian K. Vaughan and, of course, Neil Gaiman.
Do you have a favorite comic storyline?
Can I pick ALL of Secret Six? But aside from that, I have three enduring favourites: Marvel’s Alias, following the adventures of failed-superhero-turned-private-eye Jessica Jones; DC’s Gotham Central, particularly the Soft Targets run, in which the Joker has never been more terrifying; and The New Teen Titans’ Judas Contract story. You might guess that I like stories where the superhero world rubs up against the real one.
How do you usually buy your comics?
Generally I pick them up from my local comic book shop as I like the experience of browsing and having my attention caught by things I wouldn’t normally consider, which doesn’t happen with digital comics. There are a couple of series’ that I’m keeping up with, but generally I’m a trades girl – I like being able to fully immerse myself in a story over a cup of tea, rather than the five minute bursts you get from single issues, that end just as you’re relaxing into it. If only comics were longer (sigh).
What are some things you love about comics? Some things that frustrate you?
Surely all comic book fans love the same thing about comics: The escapism. I love larger-than-life superheroes in the same way I love mythological gods and Shakespeare characters. Every character stands as a living embodiment of one particular quality, from Superman’s patriotism (a walking analogy of America) and Batman’s grief to Wonder Woman’s feminism and Spider-Man’s eternal spirit of youth. They evolve, certainly, but always revert to inspirational, aspirational type. They can tell epic, imagination-capturing stories ranging from the tragic to the comic, and are a great shorthand for showing kids how the world is, and how it should be. Which is why having strong minority characters is so important.
And that is the thing that frustrates me about comics at times. Their minority characters rarely get the treatment you would hope for. Both Marvel and DC are making a conscientious push towards including more gay characters, but this is after DC’s reboot got rid of (at least temporarily) great LGBT characters like Renee Montoya, Scandal Savage and Obsidian. The Big Two also continue to struggle with non-white characters, which makes books like Ultimate Spider-Man (with Miles Morales in the title role) and The Ray (with a brilliantly multi-ethnic cast) such a breath of fresh air.
Oh, and there’s the overly-sexualised female character thing too. Let’s not forget that.
What does your dream book look like?
Being a wannabe comics writer myself, I’m going to have to cheat here. I’d like a Zatanna ongoing written by myself with art by Amanda Conner. But if I have to play by the rules, give me Peter David (She-Hulk, X-Factor) and Jamal Igle (The Ray) on Red Hood and the Outlaws, and add Rose Wilson to the roster. Then we might actually have a book worth reading instead of a horrendous embarrassment.
Any final thoughts?
Comics have grown up substantially over the last couple of decades. Yes, they’re about people with amazing superpowers. But no-one can tell me that Gotham Central was any less gripping and complex than The Wire, or that Jessica Jones is a less interesting character than Tony Soprano, or that Lex Luthor’s relationship with Superman isn’t as fascinating as the one between Iago and Othello. Some of the all-time classic runs happened in the last ten years, and the talent involved is staggering. There will always be some comics that are weaker than others, and some aspects of comics that tick us off, but all in all it’s a very exciting time to be a comic book nerd.