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[Interview] Kelly Sue DeConnick And Emma Rios Are ‘Pretty Deadly’

Kelly Sue DeConnick And Emma Rios are together once again, and this time it’s for their creator-owned fantasy western mashup, “Pretty Deadly”. The book follows the Death’s daughter in a post Civil War setting, as she embarks on her journey to savage revenge.

Kelly Sue and Emma sat down to talk about their love for Westerns, blending genres, and their plans for the future of “Pretty Deadly”. Look for issue #1 in comic shops today (our review here).

BD: You came up with this project together and it was originally a heist/crime story? How did evolve into a supernatural Western?

Kelly Sue DeConnick: Emma basically said, “meh, how about a western?” The supernatural part evolved as we were creating it. The bones bunny who tells the tale basically set that in place.

Emma Rios: I´m not sure. It probably started when we decided to change the original Circus idea, using the “Cantares de Cego” – a spanish tradition – instead, as a meta-tool for telling the story. Probably the“fantasy tale” vibe started to grow stronger there, thinking about the fairie tale comic inside the comic.

BD: Pretty Deadly draws heavily from Spaghetti Westerns. Did you go back and watch a lot of those films for reference in terms of story structure and plot, or is this its own beast set in a western world?

ER: Yeah , a lot. I already liked westerns a lot, but at the beginning I spent at least two or three months watching a western per day movie. Ford, Sturges, Leone, Peckinpah… 
Still want to re-watch Deadwood, I´m a big fan.

KSD: I did re-watch some movies and I did some reading as well, but if I was trying to ape that style, I failed. It’s definitely its own thing.

BD: How much of that aesthetic do you try to emulate in Pretty Deadly?

ER: Well, Pretty Deadly is fantasy, but I´m basically following the aesthetics of a real post civil war era, 1870-80s. So, most of those movies are a great inspiration source to make things believable.

I´m using a lot classic references too, among other stuff, the main character uses a Colt navy 51, the same one Wild Bill Hikock and Doc Holiday owned. There is another charater, Alice, with a LeMat and a Winchester 73. Another one with a Clint Eastwood friendly Peacemaker, there is also a house very similar to the one in 1960 John Huston´s The Unforgiven ( etc…

BD: It’s strange that Westerns are making a bit of a come back now when they were dead for so long. Why do you think creators are harkening back to the genre and the themes that come with it?

KSD: I don’t know, exactly. A lot of things that were big in the 1970s are experiencing a comeback, aren’t they? Maybe the recession?

BD: Other than being a Western, the book incorporates elements of the supernatural and fantasy. How do you blend these elements together in Pretty Deadly?

KSD: “Effortlessly!” “Beautifully!”


I dunno. It’s just the way the world is. Everybody kind of knows it except Sissy–the girl in the vulture coat–who maybe always suspected…? Her coming to terms with the magic in the world isn’t actually as rough as her acceptance of her role in it.

BD: And for you, Emma, how is it as the artist?

ER: Hum, it wasn´t difficult to integrate. One of the things I like when working with supernatural stuff is making it look natural somehow. Making it fit with the environment and have its own logic. For the rest it´s all about acting, and make people or creatures believable in the quiet moments.

BD: The promotional images of Ginny are really intriguing. Is she wearing a mask, or some sort of face paint? What can you tell us about her?

KSD: It’s a tattoo. Down the line we’ll tell the story of when and how she got it maybe, but for right now, it’s just there.

She’s the daughter of Beauty and Death and she’s a reaper. She’s unusual, though, in that she’s grown up straddling the worlds of the living and the dead.

BD: And she has a knack for stitching herself up?

KSD: Well, sewing is a domestic task — the realm of the fairer sex, no?

BD: You’ve worked together at Marvel. Is there any difference in your collaboration process when you’re working with her on creator owned material?

ER: We are building this thing more slowly and in a much more collaborative way by talking everyday and consider the book as a whole. Art and story is a continuous back and forth that makes them influence each other. This is building a tone on its own for the book, and is turning into a more solid result, I think.

KSD: It’s definitely liberating. And just… just the TIME Emma has to put into the pages. They’re STUNNING. You can’t rush work like that.

BD: There’s been a really positive hype for this series since it was solicited. Did you expect such attention off the bat?

KSD: NO. And it’s both wonderful and horrible. I’m terrified of Wednesday. I can’t see how we can possibly live up to expectations.

ER: I didn´t expect such enthusiasm, we tried not to show much of the book and for a lot of months there was just the first teaser image, so I never thought it was going to be that much expectation. I couldn´t be more flattered and couldn´t apreciate more all this support people are giving us.

There is pressure of course but, at the same time, it is making me work hard and try to bring my A game.

I´m really curious to see how the reaction is going to be when the book is out, despite being a western the content is not very predictable.

BD: What’s your plan for the series after this arc? Or is it too early to say?

ER: We want to work on this for at least one more, and to develop the world as much as the market allows us to. Our idea is doing an ongoing with pauses between arcs.

KSD: We’ll take a short break to get going on some other projects and then come back. We’ll do PD as long as it’s still fun and financially viable.

BD: What’s next for Emma Ríos?

ER: Besides following with more Pretty Deadly, I´ve been writing a solo thing that I will prepare just after finishing the first arc, but it´s still a bit soon to talk about it. Also I have some short and fun collaborations here and there.

BD: Anything else you’d like our readers to know about?

KSD: My friend Steve Niles’ house got flooded and there’s an ebay auction to help him out, here. He’s a big horror guy and he gave me my first co-writing gig.

I’m going to donate a set of 7 covers of Pretty Deadly #1, signed by both Emma and myself. Keep an eye out.



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