Greg Rucka has been writing comics for almost 20 years. His work runs the gamut. From major event books, to character-driven stories, he seems to have done it all. Monkeys Fighting Robots had the chance to speak with Rucka at MegaCon this weekend, and you can watch the interview in full here:
When asked about what core elements make up Wonder Woman, Rucka didn’t hesitate. “Compassion,” he started. “Fundamentally compassion. And empathy, and a capacity not just of love but of forgiveness. It’s a given she’s a badass. It’s a given she can kick your ass three ways to Sunday. That’s not Wonder Woman. That’s not what defines her. She doesn’t want to punish the wicked. She wants to make the world better. That’s fundamental to the character. And if you lose that, you’re not writing Wonder Woman. You’re writing Red Sonja.”
Greg Rucka’s written two runs on Wonder Woman, one pre-New 52, and now the current Rebirth run. He spoke to us briefly about the difference in writing a character before and after a major reboot: “I’m older, so fundamentally I’ve changed. The things I’m going to focus on are going to be different. I was brought in on Rebirth very specifically to get her back to basics. So that very much directed the run, and very much directed the choices I made. It is different. What’s the saying? You can’t enter the same stream twice. That’s the same for writers. It feels comfortable. It wasn’t necessarily difficult getting back into Wonder Woman, but I’m a different person. And what her stories were about or have to be about now are different. It’s a different time.”
After speaking briefly about his creator-owned works (watch the video for that), we asked Rucka about “nerd rage” online and whether or not he lets it affect his writing. “I don’t like the phrase ‘nerd rage’ because it’s dismissive. It implies that people don’t actual have a right to be upset. It takes away responsibility from the publisher and from the creators. I’ve written plenty of stuff that people hate, and I’ve gotten plenty of hate for it. Almost everything I’ve written, I stand behind. But I’ve screwed up plenty of times. Owning mistakes is part of being an adult. And when we look at people and we decide that what they are upset about just out of hand is irrelevant, we reinforce an argument that comics are for kids. Because we say ‘well you’re being childish’ or whatnot.”
“I don’t like, and I take great issue with the idea that there is no responsibility to the artwork, and I mean artwork as a whole, being presented. I think that’s garbage. If in every story I write young black men end up being killed, or in every story I write young black men are the bad guys, I’m making a statement in each of those, right? And if I’m doing it unconsciously, then maybe somebody ought to point it out and say ‘you are saying something.’ There’s a validity to saying, ‘I want to see myself in these pages and I have never been able to before.’ I’m Jewish. When I saw that Kitty Pryde was Jewish that was enormous to me. It was huge at 14. So that stuff, that’s legit. And comics work on a fandom, and the fandom is here because they love these things, and they love these characters. They’re gonna get upset if they feel the character is being portrayed inappropriately. And they’re gonna be even more upset when they go ‘and the only reason this is being done is to drive sales.’ As I’ve said, I’ve written stuff that people hated and gotten really upset over, but I can say ‘yeah but it was what the story needed.’ We do what we do, we write as best as we can, and, speaking personally, my job is – when I work at a Marvel or a DC – to serve the characters as best as I can. That’s the job. The publisher has the right to say ‘we want this, you can’t do that,’ and if I have a problem with either of those things, my choice is to quit. Simple. On my own stuff, I get to do whatever the hell I want, provided my collaborators, my co-creators are with me. I’m not gonna do anything on Lazarus that Michael [Lark] is violently against. I’m not gonna do anything on Black Magick that Nicola [Scott] is violently against. Because it’s a collaborative effort. But at the end of the day, we answer to ourselves.”
For more from Greg Rucka, you can check out this video from MegaCon’s “Image Comics at 25” panel.