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Cecil Castellucci: From Indie Rock to Comic Books

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star, and the Eisner nominated Odd Duck. Not only is she a writer, she's also a musician. She played music in the nineties but has since focused more on her writing career.

She also helped launch "Shade the Changing Girl" for Gerard Way's Young Animal imprint form DC Comics in 2016. The title was a hit among fans and fellow creators alike. She's currently working on a third "Plain Janes" book and I'm looking forward to reading whatever other books she's working on. Here's hoping that one of them is a Black Canary book.

Comic Lounge: So how did you first become involved in comics?

Cecil Castellucci: I had written a novel called BOY PROOF which was about a girl who is obsessed with post

apocalyptic films and comic books. It caught the eye of editor Shelly Bond, who at the time was at Vertigo and was spearheading a young adult comics initiative imprint called Minx. She thought that since I had a lean and mean style, action and dialogue and that my character liked comics, that I might want to write one. I had, in fact, been trying to figure out how to submit to Vertigo for years after reading Ed Brubakers THE DEADENDERS so it was a happy stroke of luck when she reached out to me. With her, on Minx, I had the lead title. A book called THE PLAIN JANES. That was what started my comics career.

Comic Lounge: Your Shade the Changing Girl was a new spin on an old character, what was your initial though when they offered you that character? Or did you request it?

Cecil: Gerard Way was working on the pop up imprint of Young Animal and he had earmarked, Shade, Cave Carson and Doom Patrol to be a part of that. He had already pitched that it would be Shade the Changing Girl when I came on board. That and that she was a bully was the only direction I was given. So it was really fun to just take that character and run with it.

Comic Lounge: Are there any plans to continue working with the character?

Cecil: Well, I love Loma! And I would write her for 100 years! And I do hope that they continue with the character. But if you’ve read the end of Shade the Changing Woman, I think you’ll see why maybe I’m not, at the moment, the right person to write it going forward. But Shade is a rich character who I really hope has many, many adventures in front of them.

Comic Lounge: What other characters in the DCU would love a chance to work with?

Cecil: My default answer is always Lois Lane. But I’m kind of interested in going in and taking a crack at other characters. I think Black Orchid could be fun. I think writing about an aging super heroine would be interesting. Like old Catwoman. Or Black Canary. I recently flipped through the DC Encyclopedia and I was interested by the Inferior Five, but I think Lemire beat me to that one.

Comic Lounge: As a writer, who or what have been your biggest influences?

Cecil: Comics wise, I cut my teeth on Tintin. I love that sense of adventure. But of course, when I got older it came from different places. I was a big Love and Rockets and Naughty Bits fan when I was in college. I was living in Montreal and Drawn & Quarterly was just starting out, so that whole Canadian D&Q scene was also very influential. I was in a band at the time and it seemed like comics and music went together. But I have to say that I’m influenced by the absurd, like filmmaker Luis Bunuel, to the sublime, like Jane Austen.

Comic Lounge: Many readers may not know this about you, but you are also a musician. What made you decide to become a writer instead of doing music? Do you still do music occasionally?

Cecil: Oh! Well, you know being a musician is hard! I put out a couple of CD’s (you can hear them on iTunes or Spotify Nerdy Girl or Cecil Seaskull) but in the late 90s when the mp3 revolution came a lot of labels folded up. I had never made it big enough to ride that wave and I’d always wanted to be a novelist so I just started writing. BOY PROOF being the first book, but I have a lot of novels and comics out now. For me, songwriting was just a way of telling tiny stories. And while I don’t play my guitar anymore, I have been writing librettos to operas. And they are what I call Graphic Operas, because they involve comic book elements to them. The first one, LES AVENTURES DE MADAME MERVEILLE ( ) was actually a Comic Book opera and the art was by Cameron Stewart, Pascal Girarad, Scott Hepburn and Michael Cho and was like going through a stack of comics. The most recent one, HOCKEY NOIR ( )was even co-presented by TCAF (The Toronto Comic Arts Festival) and really pushed that idea. Anyway, while I might not write music anymore, I still dabble in it.

Comic Lounge: What books are you currently reading?

Cecil: Monthlies: Catwoman, Mr. Miracle, Saga, Snagglepuss (I’m behind on that one)

OGN on my bedside table is Hey, Kiddo by Jarret Krosoczka

Novel I’m currently in the middle of Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Comic Lounge: Are the any upcoming projects that you can talk about?

Cecil: Jim Rugg and I are working on a third PLAIN JANES book. That’s coming out sometime in late 2019, early 2020. And then there are a few things in the work that I can’t talk about yet. But I think they’ll be announced soon! Keep your eyes peeled!

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