Student Mindy Owens fulfilled the dream of many a comic fan when, as the webmistress of Runaways The Comic, she was approached to co-write Runaways Saga #1 with comics scribe C. B. Cebulski. Mindy has since gone on to write several other Marvel comics with Cebulski, and braved finals, the holiday season and a giant storm to answer some questions. Thanks, Mindy!
KH: In case any of my readers are tragically ignorant of one of the best superhero comics out there, would you like to inform them why they should be picking up Marvel’s Runaways?
MO: Everyone should be picking up Runaways because it really is a unique title and a breath of fresh air. Back when I first started reading comics, I ended up falling out of love with them as I didn’t find one that really spoke to me. I stumbled across Runaways and became more in love and obsessed with comics than I ever had before. The premise itself was exciting and fun: a somewhat normal group of kids finding out their parents are super villains and then trying to take them down when they are on the run/in hiding. Another aspect that pulled me in was that Runaways is very character driven rather than plot driven. Not to say nothing happens, but I love the down times as much as the action sequences. These were characters that you could enjoy reading sitting in a van waiting for bad guys to show up or having an epic fight with their parents
KH: It’s always exciting when people go from being fans to creators (who are also fans!). How did that play out for you?
MO: It was and still is a surreal experience to think about. I started the fansite as a way to help promote Runaways, which has all had critical acclaim but lacked readers. I knew Runaways could catch on and have a stable fanbase, but it seemed almost impossible to get people to read the title in the first place. I was really worried for a long time that Runaways was about to be canceled at any moment so I spoke about how much I loved the title and why everyone should be reading it.
Going to comic cons, I’ve met a lot of people who’ve all told me that it was my constant pimping of the title that got them to give Runaways a try. While it’s nice that people say that, I never wanted to have comic fan notoriety or become known as the mega-Runaways fan, much less did I ever think that it would get me into writing comics. I just didn’t want Runaways to be canceled. When C.B. sent me an e-mail asking if I could help him with the Runaways Saga, I figured he just needed an answer to a continuity question. Instead it turned out he wanted me to help him co-write it. And it’s all been snowballing from there.
KH: Sadly, Runaways the Comic hasn’t been updated for a while. Any plans to revisit the website?
MO: Runaways the Comic hasn’t been updated due to me now being a freelance writer for Marvel (conflict of interests and all of that). I love the website and I’m actually looking for someone to take it over for me. If anyone is interested please let me know!
KH: For Runaways Saga, you wrote the narrative through the voice of Molly, the youngest Runaway. Was she a hard character to get a grip on?
MO: Molly was extremely tough to write. With an adult or even a teenage you have so much flexibility in what a character would say and also how they would say it. When it comes to writing a twelve year old, it’s easy to write her voice too young or too old. You are constantly writing between those two and also keeping it in Molly’s speaking style where she misuses words and says things that shows that she can easily misinterpret everything that’s going on yet she’s also got a very sharp mind at the same time. Writing forty-four pages of only Molly? Joss Whedon and Brian K Vaughan had it easy
KH: You’ve mentioned before that one of the things that appealed to you about Runaways are the varied and realistic female characters. What else would you like to see more of in comics?
MO: Stuff I wold like to see more of in comics? There was this old X-Men comic with the whole group eating breakfast and the entire scene was funny (I remember Iceman froze Beast’s pancakes and Gambit was talking to himself) and a really nice break from the action, action, action. Don’t get me wrong, I love comics where there are huge fights, stuff blows up and sound effects galore but I also miss the downtime and all of the character interactions.KH: You’ve done some more work for Marvel. Would you like to tell us a little about that?
MO: I’ve also co-written the Ultimates Saga and an issue of Spider-Man Fairy Tales with C.B. We’ve got some other projects lined up that we’re both pumped up for. The Ultimates Saga was a retelling of the events of the first two volumes of the Ultimates as told by Tony Stark. The issue of Spider-Man Fairy Tales I co-wrote involved Spider-Man meets Cinderella with art from Mike Allred. That one was really fun to write and a real treat.
KH: Some critics read the recently-released Ultimates Saga as a sexist work. Among other points raised, the most damned section appears to be the depiction of narrator Tony Stark hiring publicists whose job descriptions apparently include having sex with him. Do you have any response?
MO: The whole issue was written from Tony’s perspective and he was written by Mark Millar to be rather womanizing and a lush. Tony has shown a great deal of love and concern for his female teammates, so I don’t find him anti-women. Are womanizing and sexism the same thing? Both do blur into the other quite a bit. We also have to remember that Tony has six months to five years to live, so that’s also affecting his character to ‘live it up’, hence the heavy drinking and copious amounts casual sex. As far as the publicists, Tony would mix business with pleasure as much as possible. As long as it’s consensual between all parties….
I think there are a lot of ways to analyze all the Ultimate characters as none of them are black and white but varying shades of grey. I love to see people discuss the characters and their actions and Tony’s actions can be read many different ways because he treats lots of different women in lots of different ways. I don’t think anyone is really wrong how they see Tony as there is plenty of evidence to back up any claim.
KH: Do you have any plans for the comics-writing future?
MO: I have some more comics lined up to co-write with C.B. (Avenger Fairy Tales) and I just got an offer to write a self contained story for an anthology from Image Comics. There are also some pitches that I almost have done (let’s keep our fingers crossed) that I think will go over really well. More info to follow!
KH: Finally, Brian K. Vaughan vs Joss Whedon: Cage Fight. Who walks out?
MO: Brian K Vaughan. Fun fact: the K stands for Killer.