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The Mary Sue Interview: Rocket Girl‘s Amy Reeder Talks Special Edition: NYC, Anti-Harassment and Drawing Empowered Women

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Amy Reeder is one busy (and badass) lady. The Rocket Girl artist took time out of her schedule to talk to The Mary Sue about her anti-harassment collaborations with ReedPOP, Special Edition: NYC, and the importance of female-centric entertainment.

The Mary Sue: Last we spoke to you you’d recently designed the first-ever female Defender for New York Super Week. Are you going to be involved in that at all this year?

Amy Reeder: I’m going to be involved with ReedPOP, and I don’t think it’s been announced yet, but I will be doing a different project with them for NYCC this year. I’m pretty excited for that. Im excited for when I can tell everyone.

TMS: Me too! Last year you also designed the anti-harassment signs for NYCC. Could you talk a little bit about what it was like to be involved in that project?

Reeder: Yeah, it was a really cool project, I had already designed The Defender character and so they asked whether I would be interested in doing the anti-harassment thing, and especially in light of recent topics, I definitely wanted to support it. I felt like also I wanted to rally behind cosplaying in general and the assertion that cosplayers are comic fans as well, because there was a little controversy as to whether they were or not.

TMS: Whether they were actual comic fans as well as being cosplayers?

Reeder: Yeah, exactly. And in my experience they were. I don’t know, I wanted to do something artistically different than what I’m usually doing, so I used a lot of symbols of characters and stuff, and I just wanted to create something that was very inclusive, that had all different types of people, not just one or two. It was hard, at first I tried to think of one or two figures that would sum it up, and it just didn’t feel right to me, because then I’d have to think about whether to make them sexy or not for instance, and what that would say, and also felt like I’ve known men that have been harassed at cons, by women even, I’ve known men artists that would be harassed, so I tried to make it something where we’re all behind it.

cosplayisnotconsent

TMS: Going back really quickly to the idea of ‘do cosplayers read comics,’ I think it all kind of relates to the idea that there isn’t such a thing as a ‘fake geek,’ and I thought the posters did a really good job of addressing that as well.

Reeder: Yeah, I definitely wanted to address that. Like I said, around last year that was a hot topic if I can remember correctly, so it was something that I definitely wanted to erase as much as possible. But yeah, a lot of cosplayers buy my stuff, I don’t know about these other people.

TMS: Do you have any plans at Special Edition you’d like to recommend our readers check out?

Reeder: Luckily we have new Rocket Girl out! Thats kind of exciting! Brandon Montclare, my writer and I, we have a lot of stuff that people haven’t been able to get before that we’re going to be selling at the Con, I have all these new covers that I did for the new art, a lot of those will be available in print.

Amy's Defender, defending beer.

Amy’s Defender, defending beer.

TMS: Overall, from when you started out, have you ever felt that your art was being discriminated against or that there was a kind of inherent skepticism about your art for being quote-on-quote “too girly?”

Reeder: Yes, but it was never said that way. But there have been times when I could tell that editors are not happy, or not editors, actually, it’s usually higher-ups, executives and stuff. When I was on the Supergirl covers, they just weren’t happy with my covers but they never really had a good answer for why. I kind of got the feeling that it wasn’t rough and tumble enough, or she was just too wholesome, you know what I mean, and to me she’s a teenager, so I didn’t want to sexualize her too much or anything like that. I would say in general that because of that I’ve learned that I have to make sure that whatever place I work, I have to know they’ll do anything to keep me, and that everybody in the whole company that has any hand in it wants me there and will be 100% behind it.

It’s tough, there are different stages in your career and when you start out you do kind of have to suck some things up, put in the work, and deal with it, but at a certain point in your career you do kind of have to fight for yourself, which I think traditionally a lot of girls have a hard time with. You have to stand up for yourself and make demands and hope that they will either meet them or that somebody else will.

TMS: I feel like in the past year there’s been a lot of very specific discussion of objectification versus empowerment in terms of how women are drawn in comics. Is there any advice you would give to creators who want to draw women who are sexually empowered and sexy but without objectifying readers who are women?

Reeder: You know, it’s a good question. It makes me a little sad that so many guys don’t understand it, it’s really sort of what was bred into them. It’s hard for them to see because so many of these artists grew up on ’90s comics, there was such a standardization of how to portray a female figure, and it was this very specific way that wasn’t based in any kind of realism. But I did post online kind of my general rule, which is ‘if the character is there to be identified with, then it’s not being objectified. ‘ If it’s somebody who’s got life breathed into them and a personhood in them, (which is kind of in its own way a subjective term), but if it feels like this is a person and not an object, I guess that’s the way that you measure it.

But I think there is some cause to objectify a woman in certain stories, like I think it would make sense with Poison Ivy, that’s what her weapon is. I personally would like to do a story with her where you get into her mind, but if she comes into a story, objectifying her makes sense, same with Catwoman. They both use their wiles, so it makes sense with the story.

It’s kind of a hard thing, it just makes me a little sad because I don’t understand so much why some guys have such a hard time seeing women as just people like them, and I wonder if maybe what really is at the heart of that, is that as children we need to give our boys entertainment that has female leads now and then. I feel like that’s the only thing that’s going to get rid of that, having generations of people watching both G.I. Joe and Jem, so to speak. But yeah, it’s a big thing and I think in general my approach as a creator is just to make stuff, and to talk less, and to have opinions but to know when it’s a grey area. I try to just assume the best.

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This interview has been edited and condensed. 

You can find Amy Reeder on Tumblr and Twitter or catch her at Special Edition: New York June 6th and 7th. Rocket Girl #7 comes out June 25th from Image Comics; Rocket Girl swag is available for purchase over on Rocketgirl.nyc.

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