“Every project I’ve done is pretty different from the other,’ notes Amy Reeder. “I think of Rocket Girl as my platform to really show what I’m capable of. My experience on Batwoman fell short and Halloween Eve was a testing ground to see if I could do all the art chores and create my own work and succeed. Now that I’ve got all this figured out, I can finally show people what I’m all about and what they’ve been missing. It’s a pretty exciting time for me!” Brandon Montclare remarks, “The biggest difference is that it’s an ongoing series. Everything else has been one-shots and limited, finite series. And of course, it’s a new launch with all new characters and concepts.” The Internet had a major role in raising the necessary funds for the time travel adventure tale. “We had already done a Kickstarter for Halloween Eve and were really happy with how it went,” recalls Reeder. “A lot of our backers wanted to see us at it again and we felt we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It’s a great platform to get the word out and get people literally invested in the book. I really do have a different aesthetic that makes it a little harder to succeed solely through the Direct Market. I’ll add that we’re happy to say we have delivered the rewards on both Kickstarters, on time.” Montclare observes, “One of the biggest challenges was the actual publishing. That is, to have the financing and support to make the book. We did a somewhat famous Kickstarter, but that’s only one aspect. Partnering with Image Comics was another. Outreach to comic shops yet another. Creating some merchandise—t-shirts, prints, sketchbooks—were a small part. But all these parts [and more] were necessary to achieve escape velocity. And now we have lift off. The trick is to keep flying for as long as we need to tell this story.”
“As an artist I just try to make the reader ‘feel’ what they’re seeing, whatever that is,” explains Amy Reeder. “It’s one reason I’m colouring myself. That way, her jetpack can have different exhaust-like qualities, she can travel through time lightning-fast…stuff like that, so that it feels fleshed out, even if we know it’s not real.” Brandon Montclare notes, “Rocket Girl isn’t hard sci-fi—and maybe I’m naïve but I think it’s liberating. I don’t try to undo my own ‘science’, and it seems to hold up.” All types of references were sought out. “I’m no stranger to era research because I did it constantly on Madame Xanadu,” states Reeder. “In some ways the 80’s are easier because I can sort of remember it, but it becomes more difficult when you combine it with New York in the eighties. I’m always researching which buildings were still around, or what people wore that you won’t find in a Sears catalogue. I watch a ton of movies and take screencaps. And my friends link me to scanned photos of 80’s NYC, which is becoming an online trend these days. The futuristic 2013 was tough at first to visualize, but now it’s the easier of the two. I had to get myself into the 80’s mindset of how they visualized the future. And I watched movies like Back to the Future II , Blade Runner , Akira, The Fifth Element , and Metropolis.”
Writing from a female perspective is not an easy task. “Of course, we all know teenage girls—and other people unlike ourselves—but it can cause some anxiety,” states Brandon Montclare. “I feel Amy is a tremendous asset beyond her art, in keeping DaYoung ‘real.’” Sex appeal is not an issue when depicting the heroine of the story. “People are naturally sexy and you don’t even have to try to make them that way,” notes Amy Reeder. “Rocket Girl is 15. I’m not too worried about making her sexy; she’s the main character so I’m more concerned about having readers see things from her point of view, rather than look ather. Still, she’s pretty adorable!” A prevailing theme involves the teenager maturing into an adult. “Growing up is hard to do,” remarks Brandon Montclare. “Specifically coming to realize that the world and choices create grey areas and that a black-and-white worldview is impossible to sustain into adulthood.” The repercussions of moving from the future to the past will be also be explored. “Cause and effect, the consequences of choice, are the biggest part of the time travelling. You’ll have to keep reading for the answer.” Having to write an origin tale was not a creative problem. “I wouldn’t characterize it as ‘creatively restrictive.’ All art has parameters. I think it’s safe to say any piece is defined by those parameters. It is more difficult to write than, say, the 715th issue of Spiderman because people already know Spiderman, and as a storyteller you can rely on that pre-knowledge. Rocket Girl has to both be introduced and evolve through the story. It can be a squeeze. But despite it being a more difficult task, being able to introduce new characters does have unique advantages as well.”
“While this is the first ongoing series that I’m writing, I was an editor for a number of years,” states Brandon Montclare. “Long-term planning is something I understand. This is counterintuitive, but it’s usually the integrity of the shorter arcs that suffer for the larger story. For Rocket Girl we really are keeping the shorter arcs exceptionally discrete.” Often exposition slows down the storytelling. “You have to be judicious. Rocket Girl is convenient in having a protagonist that likes talking to herself. It’s part of her ‘[voice].’ Batman and Howard the Duck have that same convenience. Plus, DaYoung is a bit of Sam Spade or other noir-ish heroes. Her voiceover should feel natural to her character, reviewing facts and piecing together clues. All of that is very fertile ground for burying exposition.” Narration and dialogue can be counterproductive if comes across as being cute. “The trick is learning how to cut out the ‘tricks.’ For me, writing dialogue [including narration—basically the stuff that gets lettered!] is the hardest part. A writer hones his or her craft. You need to learn economy and scaling back. Less is more; that kind of thing.”
Rocket Girl pages and sketches courtesy of Image Comics.