Writer Christy Marx has been working in the comics and television industries for some time–’80s classics Jem, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and G.I. Joe are just a few of her credits–so you can imagine our exhilaration when we had the opportunity to conduct a “truly outrageous” interview with her this month.
Read along to find out what drew her to comics, how she almost almost opted to be an artist, and about her new series, Sword of Sorcery, which will bring Amethyst to The New 52 next month.
TFAW.com: What are your earliest memories of comics? What was the first comic you read?
Christy Marx: I was equally obsessed with both comic books and newspaper comic strips. I’d cut the adventure strips out of the paper, paste them onto pages and color them. When I was very young, I found a comic at my grandmother’s house that had a story about an invincible, homicidal robot. I’ve never been able to find anyone who can identify that comic, but it made a powerful impact on me.
But the one that finally pushed me over the edge was a comic I found in my desk at school in third or fourth grade. It was a Challengers of the Unknown and, if I remember correctly, involved dinosaurs on a spaceship. I spent the class secretly reading the comic rather than paying attention. From that moment on, I bought every comic book I could afford.
TFAW.com: What inspired you to become a writer, and when did you first begin to explore that creative outlet?
Marx: It took me a long time to realize I was a writer. I went down a false path thinking I was going to be a comic book artist, and I was in my 20s before I realized that I didn’t have that talent. The truth is that I was driven to be a visual storyteller and had always been weaving stories and creating characters, so I simply shifted my focus entirely onto the writing.
TFAW.com: You’re a prolific writer. With TV series like Jem, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Captain Power in your credits, I can tell you that you’ve brought joy to a lot of kids out there. What are some of the favorite moments of your career so far?
Marx: One high point was when writing the animation series, Jem and the Holograms. I wrote a two-part episode that involved runaway kids. At the end of each episode, we ran a help-line number and they were absolutely flooded with calls from kids who needed help. It brought home to me what can be accomplished with popular media.
And pretty much any time I get to see my name as a screen or print credit is a favorite moment.
TFAW.com: How did you break into the comics industry?
Marx: It was a combination of luck and preparation, as these things usually are. I lived in L.A. at the time and Roy Thomas had just moved to L.A. while still working for Marvel. I found out that he’d be speaking to a group of fans in a small setting (not a convention), so I showed up with a Conan story I’d written, listened carefully to the questions being asked, and then at the end asked him the question nobody else had the bothered to ask. While I still had his attention, I asked him if he would read the story. He did and he bought it and that was my first sale.
TFAW.com: How did your experience writing for TV translate to writing comics?
Marx:Technically, the comics came first. It was after I’d made a couple of comic story sales that I had the chance to write for a Fantastic Four animation series. The writing format was completely different, but the general sense of visual storytelling carries over.
TFAW.com: How has your experience been as a female creator in the comics industry?
Marx: Excellent. I’m not sure whether I was amazingly lucky to fall in with the right group of people or whether it was my own attitude, but I didn’t encounter any obvious barriers to writing for comics. I never stopped to think about the fact that I was female or that there would be any reason I couldn’t do it. I simply got out there and did it. After I had been writing both comics and animation for years, I would find that I was considered special because I was a woman writing action-adventure. I wrote it because that’s what I enjoyed writing.
TFAW.com: What’s your favorite part of telling stories in the sequential arts?
Marx: Telling a good story with interesting, compelling characters and a satisfying conclusion. Which, by the way, applies to telling a story in any medium.
TFAW.com: What are three things you think comic book publishers should be doing to attract female readers?
Marx: 1) Less mindless action and graphic violence; 2) less hypersexualizing of female characters; 3) better and deeper character development.
TFAW.com: What aspect of comics have you struggled with, as a writer?
Marx: Getting work solely as writer without having an artist attached to a project. It’s so much tougher for a writer than it is for an artist.
TFAW.com: What advice can you give aspiring writers or comic book creators?
Marx: I put tons of advice into my book, more than I have time to repeat here, so at the risk of coming across as self-serving, I’m going to point people to my book: Writing for Animation, Comics and Games.
TFAW.com: Whose work has had an influence in your writing?
Marx: Mary Stewart, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock.
TFAW.com: Who’s one woman in comics that you admire?
Marx: Wendy Pini! A fantastic talent and one of my favorite people. Elfquest rocks.
TFAW.com: What was the last comic you read?
Marx: I’ve been reading Rachel Rising by Terry Moore (and anything he does), Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai, the Astro City series by Kurt Busiek, the Buffy series, and X-Men.
TFAW.com: Can you tell us a little bit about Amethyst’s introduction to DC’s New 52 in Sword of Sorcery?
Marx: I tried to honor the previous series, which I read when it first came out, but give it a reboot for today’s audience. It skews slightly older and I’m doing a lot of new world-building. There’s an entirely new set of characters. Amy is 17 and has a difficult relationship with her mother, who happens to be a powerful woman in exile. When they return to their home world the entire balance of power shifts, causing all sorts of intrigue, strife, betrayal, and not to mention more than a few assassination attempts.
TFAW.com: What projects do you have coming up soon?
Marx: I work full-time as a Narrative Designer at Zynga on a Facebook game called Hidden Chronicles. Between that and Amethyst, I don’t have time for anything else.
Our thanks to Christy for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with us about her experience in the comic book industry. Be sure to check out her newest comic book adventure when Sword of Sorcery begins on September 19.
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