The Mary Sue interviewed the writer Christy Marx before its creation, Jem and the holograms. But seeing how she tackles some of our favorites at DC Comics these days, we felt like chatting again. Read on to hear what Marx had to say about the deceased witchcraft sword title, animation for girls and what happens in Birds of prey!
Before we get started, you might want to check out our special DC Comics previews. Witchcraft Sword Vol. 1 – Preview of character sketches, preview of Witchcraft Sword Vol. 1: Amethyst.
The Mary Sue: A lot of people probably know you from your animation work, but can you tell us how you first got involved with DC Comics?
Christy Marx: The connection goes through Dan DiDio. Prior to working for DC, Dan was head of development at ABC. I did a Saturday morning series for ABC that was a mix of live-action and CGI called Hypernauts, and worked closely with Dan on the development and production of the show. He also knew about my comic book work for Marvel.
We’ve stayed in touch over the years and one day Dan called me out of the blue and asked if I’d be interested in doing a reboot of Amethyst.
TMS: What was it like to bring the classic Amethyst the series comes back to life? What was the best part? The biggest challenge?
CM: The biggest thrill and challenge was finding a way to redesign the series without repeating what had already been done, while still trying to stick to the original concept. I wanted to maintain that sense of surprise and destiny filled by a girl who knew nothing about her background and the intrigue of the gemstone houses. However, I felt some aspects needed updating based on the type of storytelling happening in the female young adult market today.
The most fun for me overall was building the characters, the world, and the relationships. I love building fantasy worlds.
TMS: When we published a trade paperback preview for witchcraft sword, we had a lot of people praising the fully covered and realistic armor that the main character was able to wear. Did you participate in this?
CM: I campaigned for more realistic clothing and armor. I wasn’t willing to settle for a flimsy miniskirt for a female warrior. The design we arrived at is a good compromise.
TMS: Were there any unfinished threads that you wish you could have linked, or is there anything you would have done differently if you had known this wasn’t going to continue past a certain issue?
CM: I had just enough advance warning to wrap up the final issues to the best of my ability. There were many threads that I had hoped would turn out quite differently, especially the presentations of Preet/House Turquoise and the House Diamond threads. I had long-term stories to set up those that needed to be put aside and compressed.
I started a thread with the Niyati the Huntress and didn’t have room to fit it into the final issues. I tried, but there just wasn’t room for it.
I had many other topics for Houses Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire that I had hoped to cover later in the series.
TMS: Have you had a chance to watch all of the DC Nation Amethyst shorts? They focused on a lot of video games, which I guess you might like.
CM: No, I haven’t seen any.
TMS: What do you think of the evolution of animated television for girls since your beginnings in the 80s? From Powerpuff Girls at My friendship with my little pony is magic?
CM: I did not watch these shows. Powerpuff Girls didn’t appeal to me due to the art style. I’m picky about the look of anime series. I am not a MLP kind of person. i loved the original Avatar: The Last Airbender series and I thought it was extremely good. I had high hopes for the sequel with a female lead, The Legend of Korra, but unfortunately I didn’t find it as good or compelling. I don’t see much right now that looks terribly promising for female audiences, but I’m not following it all as closely as I can.
TMS: You are currently the Senior Game Designer of Narrative Design at Zynga, a social game creator. When statistics are presented on the number of women who actually play video games, some find a way to say that many are not “real” gamers, whatever the value of this formulation, because they play a mobile game. or facebook. What do you think about this? The idea that these games don’t matter to some, no matter how much money they make or what players they may have.
[Editor’s Note (now edited for clarity): DC Comics did not return Marx’s answer to this question to us.]
TMS: We’ve also heard a lot of negative stories lately about women working in the gaming industry and the reactions they’re getting from a disturbing segment of gamers. Have you ever received criticism from strangers because of your gender? And if so, how do you manage it? And what do you think of these situations which seem to be multiplying lately on the ground?
CM: I don’t know if it’s pure chance or what, but I haven’t encountered any problems as a woman in the gaming field like some other women have. I once got heartbreak on a play team for being “intimidating”. LOL! Some men don’t know how to deal with strong, assertive women. Their loss. The fact is – and this is true in many areas of life – you have to choose your battles. Sometimes it’s better to just shrug your shoulders and move on. As the saying goes, “Don’t feed the energy beast.” Don’t pour your good energy into someone else’s bad energy. It is better to starve a troll than to feed it.
TMS: Looking to the future in your other DC title, Birds of prey, what can we expect from the team? There’s been a lot of drama lately and I know you’re doing a Year zero attachment.
CM: You can expect a lot more emotional turmoil. I plan on continuing to put these characters through the emotional wringer. A new benefactor enters their lives, and a classic DC villain joins him as well.
I just finished writing Bop #25 (a luxurious 28 pages), which is the Year zero link and it deals with Dinah Drake’s backstory – who she was then, how she got there and how that event changed her life.
TMS: We often talk about which female comic book characters should make it to the big screen. Do you think Birds of Prey would make a good movie for today’s audience? Which comic book character are you hoping to get their own movie soon?
CM: I’m afraid there aren’t many singular female superheroes who carry enough weight to direct a movie, given the trend of turning superhero movies into mega-blockbusters. it would have been nice to see what Joss Whedon could have done with Wonder Woman.
I don’t think BoP is best suited for the movies. Frankly, I’m a bigger fan of TV shows and miniseries. You can accomplish so much more and take the time to explore your characters. Television is more of a medium for writers than cinema. game of thrones is a prime example of a story that could only be told well in long form.
Bop had a short life on TV once before; there’s no reason it shouldn’t happen again with the right people behind it, although I think it would have to turn into something a little different to work in this format.
Here is my chimera: someone comes to offer me to adapt Amethyst like a TV series – a mature live-action series in the vein of buffy.
TMS: You’ve had a very successful writing career, do you have any advice for readers hoping to follow a similar path?
CM: A career in a creative field is one of the hardest things you can do. Being a writer, painter, illustrator, musician, composer – all of this requires total dedication. You have to want it enough to overcome the biggest obstacles, including rejection and indifference to your job. You must develop a skin as thick as the skin of a rhinoceros and learn to separate criticism of your work from personal criticism. If you can’t make a living, be prepared to do whatever it takes to support yourself while continuing to work in your trade.
Writing is partly about skill, but even more so about learning your craft. You must read voraciously and read a wide range of different types of material. You have to write and write and then rewrite a thousand times. You have to learn to be ruthless in your job until you do it right. And while it may seem simple, it’s crucial – you need to be able to finish what you start. There are a ton of potential writers who start and then quit. Anyone can have an idea. What matters is taking that idea and uniquely expressing it in a finished form, in your words and your “voice”.
Plug time: I’ve covered a lot of these tips and lots of crafting info in my book: Write for animation, comics and games.
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