By Nancy Powell
Though she may be a small person, Cecil Castellucci has a larger than life persona that has taken her from her punk music days as Cecil Seaskull to prolific award-winning author of over 22 books, including Shade the Changing Girl and The Plain Janes. She joined us at WonderCon to talk about The Female Furies in the era of Me Too.
Nancy Powell: Thank you for talking to The Beat. How do you like WonderCon so far?
Cecil Castellucci: Well I love WonderCon! You can actually walk around. I love to always walk the floor, and sometimes I find that impossible in New York or at San Diego.
Powell: Have you seen anything that has jumped out at you?
Castellucci: I mean, I would say that I’m really interested in IDW’s Star Trek Year Five. There’s a big poster of it, and I’m all “Oh yeah!” I can’t wait for that because I’m a big Star Trek fan.
Powell: Which series?
Castellucci: I’m actually loving Discovery right now, but my favorite is Deep Space Nine. I love them all pretty equally, but Deep Space Nine is my go-to, the one I would re-watch the most.
Powell: Who is your favorite Star Trek character?
Castellucci: I would probably say Dax. Maybe why I loved writing Shade the Changing Girl is because Dax is kind of a of changing girl as well. The fact that she’s got that symbiotes and that she’s lived so many different lives and that she incorporates all that. I just feel like she’s a real tough lady, but she’s also a fangirl. She’s a geek. She’s a science geek, and I like that about her.
Powell: So what drew you into writing Female Furies?
Castellucci: Well, I wanted to do something at DC, and Shade the Changing Girl was finishing up. I had a conversation with Dan Didio, and I had xeroxed a bunch of pictures from the DC Encyclopedia. I was like, maybe I can do this, or maybe I can do this. And I had to pick the Female Furies because Tom King was doing Mister Miracle. I just sort of thought Big Barda has been done. And in my conversation with Dan, everything I picked, somebody else was doing. So we started talking about what the vibe was and what this thing was going to be, and I said, “Where’s the Handmaid’s Tale in DC?” He was like “Oh, that’s actually an interesting idea.” He’s like if you could figure that out with the Female Furies then we could have a conversation.
So I did figure it out, and it was very depressing because the Handmaid’s Tale is super depressing. Then I kind of morphed it into being more about the Me Too movement and female awakening and empowerment that felt more active.
Powell: I noticed one of the book’s titles was “Nasty Woman.”
Castellucci: Yeah, that was one of the things. Not all of the titles, but some of the titles I pulled from signs that I saw at the Women’s March or things that have happened, just to say we’re going all the way. But I do like the idea of having a feminist awakening on a hell planet. That was really interesting.
Powell: Who is your favorite Fury to write so far?
Castellucci: I’ve got to say it’s a toss up between Granny and Barda. Granny is so deliciously complicated, the way that she’s had to compromise to keep power and to be one of the boys. All those years by herself..I feel like that makes her a really sad, tragic character. But Barda has a love story, and I love a good love story. I would sat another character that I really am enjoying—there’s not really enough time in six issues to expand all of them—but I really like Lashina and Bernadeth. I feel like Bernadeth can be a cool stand up comedian. She’s so dry, and I think she’s got a killer sense of humor..
Powell: Do you have a least favorite?
Castellucci: I don’t think I have a least favorite. The hardest to get a handle on would be Stompa. She seems very mysterious to me. Like, who is she?
Powell: To be honest, I think of Granny as a Nancy Pelosi type.
Castellucci: Interesting. Yeah, Nancy Pelosi probably has a little bit more heart, but I think they’re both tough as nails. I feel Granny is a little bit more calculating. Maybe that’s a really good comparison, but I don’t think Nancy is evil. I think Granny is evil; that’s where I’m going to say the distinction is [laughing].
But yeah, I definitely think that the thing you can say is Nancy has had to learn how to play with the boys. And I feel like Granny’s had to do that too. I think Nancy probably is more willing to invite women to get power as well, whereas Granny says she wants to do that, but really just wants to keep as much power as she can for herself, or whatever is going to make her more powerful.
Powell: Do you see Female Furies expanding beyond its six-issue arc?
Castellucci: Whenever I write something, even if it’s a mini series—even though I knew that Shade was going to end at Issue 18–I always leave a thread that either I can pull on or someone else could pull on. There’s definitely a thread that I’m leaving. I haven’t been coy about saying that it’s about a feminist awakening. So what happens after that…
Powell: What other projects do you have in the works?
Castellucci: I’m doing a three-issue retelling of Snow White, the Disney one, from Snow White’s point of view. It comes out in June. With Jim Rugg I have The Plain Janes, which was my first comic book. That’s coming out on Little Brown in January, and it’s a Book One, Two and a new Book Three put together. And then I have a couple of other projects that will be announced soon.
Powell: What other books do you want to do at DC?
Castellucci: I’d love to do an ongoing superhero. I’ve done something sort of outside of continuity—little mini series and stuff like that. I’ll take any of the girls. I mean, I’ll take the boys too, but I’ll start with any of the girls.
Powell: If you had a superpower, what would that be?
Castellucci: I would cry if I had a superpower! I would probably want incredible strength.
Powell: And why is that?
Castellucci: Because I’m very small. I always feel like it’s hard to carry my suitcase. And so whenever I travel, I always travel with a small suitcase, and I just wash my clothes in my hotel room every night so that I can be my own woman and carry my own suitcase. But it’d be really nice to have a bigger suitcase. So I going to say super strength because it would also be kind of fun.
Powell: And what would be the superpower you would least want?
Castellucci: The superpower I’d not want is invisibility. I feel a tiny lady, and as a woman I’m already invisible. And so I think I wouldn’t want that. That would make me feel sad.
Powell: Are there any other Kirby characters you’d like to adapt?
Castellucci: I feel like I’m kind of living the dream right now with the Furies. You know what I mean? I really think that they are just wonderful. I mean that’s the thing with comics—it’s kind of everything. You can’t really just pick one. It’s like when I say like which which character would I like to work with, for me I’d like to do Batman. But I’d also like to do Wonder Woman. It think there’s something to be said about every single character. What’s the entryway? I think it would be the character that would most frighten me. A character like Aquaman or the Flash would frighten me.
Powell: But Aquaman has that reputation for being goofy!
Castellucci: Yeah, well I think it’s good because he’s goofy. You’d have to bring a certain humor, but also a certain power. You wouldn’t want Aquaman to be a joke. You know, I think Geoff Johns did a great job with him, and I really like Mera a lot. I love their relationship together. Not now, but in the past they had a good, healthy relationship in a superhero context that was kind of interesting.
Powell: Thank you for taking time out to talk to us.
Castellucci: Oh my pleasure!
By Nancy Powell