Spotlight Interview: Talking Comics and Geekdom With Writer Amy Chu

Picture copyright Amy Chu

If you are not familiar with comics writer extraordinaire Amy Chu, you should be. If you are, then we will endeavor to share with you some great tidbits about her writing, current projects, and other passions.

We were able to catch up with Amy at Awesome-Con in Washington, DC back at the end of April. In the past five years, she has exploded into comics and has worked for DC, Marvel, Dynamite, Lion Forge, and more. Her titles include Girls Night Out, Poison Ivy, Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris, The Green Hornet, Summit, KISS, and more.  Recently, Sea Sirens, her original graphic novel with Janet Lee was published by Viking Books.

Amy has also just been announced as part of the faculty for the Kubert School starting this fall. You can see the press release here.

Besides comics, Amy Chu has led an amazing life that included suing her school under Title IX to be allowed to play on the boys’ soccer team in high school. She holds degrees from both MIT and Harvard. She is also the mother to two wonderful boys. [I’ve met them. They are good kids.]

Amy is regular on the comic convention scene. We often wonder how she has time to do all she does, and yet she manages to do it all. If you see her at a Con, she will most likely appreciate coffee and donuts, as her Twitter motto these days includes “#DonutKiller”

PopCultureSquad: We know you are very busy. What are you working on right now?

Amy Chu: I am working on a bunch of stuff right now: Kiss: The End and Betty and Veronica Meet Vampirella and Red Sonja. I am also working on Summit, issue number sixteen. Then, I am also working on a Netflix script that I cannot tell you about, but I am on my final revision that is due tomorrow [April 29]. So, just a few things.

PCS: How do you keep your projects separate, mentally. Each of those projects have vastly different styles. Do you just commit to, “I am working on this now?”

Art by Jan Duursema

AC: It’s not that hard. They are very clearly different projects. I don’t find it hard. They don’t leak into each other. Every project has a very distinct set of characters and a distinct storyline. The heavy lifting is all done in the outline; so once I get to the actual breakdown of the individual issue, it is not that difficult.

PCS: Full disclosure. I love Summit. It is my favorite thing that you write. What is it about Summit that is most attractive to you?

AC: Oh. Thank you. First of all, most of what I end up getting paid to write are existing characters. But with Summit, it’s something that I pretty much created, and that is very special, because I get to do a lot more with the characters. Lion Forge has been fantastic. They have almost never said, “No” to anything that I wanted to do.

PCS: You have done a lot of work with Darryl McDaniels (DMC of Run DMC) Darryl Makes Comics initiative. As a site that is inclusive of all aspects of pop culture, this is very interesting to us. What can you tell us about where that is now?

AC: We have been doing a lot of crafting of the universe. There have been three graphic novels so far, but we are changing things up a little. Darryl calls me the “Godmother”, but I am working with him and Riggs [Rigo Morales] to become more invested as the creatives. I think that they have been kind of shy about doing that.

They have, in the past, pulled back and said, “You are the pros. You do it,” but I keep reminding them that this is their bucket-list project. It should be their characters. Darryl is actually a really good artist, and we want him to work on the character sketches. So right now we are working on sketch cards, and moving in a different creative direction, that I feel will be a lot more fun in a lot of ways. So Riggs has come up with a new Ad line. I brought in Larry Hama to help. Larry is awesome, because he just sits there like Yoda and gives a “Yeah” or “Nah” to brainstorming ideas.

PCS: Who is your favorite comic book related character? It doesn’t have to be someone that you have written.

Art by Mike Choi

AC: That is a tough one. I will give you this answer. I still feel that Green Hornet should be a lot more popular than he is. I wouldn’t say he is my favorite, but he is the one that I am sort of fixated on. I just want that character to be more recognized in the world. He should be as big or if not bigger than Batman.

PCS: Do you have a favorite artist that you have worked with?

AC: That is dangerous territory…

PCS: We are not looking to put anyone down, I am just wondering if there is a favorite. You have worked with a lot of great artists.

AC: I almost always enjoy working with the artist. I have almost never had a bad experience with an artist. I love working with Janet Lee. We are friends and that makes it really easy working with her.

You who was really great? Gabriel Walta. We did a really short story in Where We Live. You never know going into a working relationship with someone. He had done such a great job with Vision, but he was just a fabulous person.

PCS: Do you have a dream artist that you have yet to work with?

AC: I am super friendly with Bill Sienkiewicz, but I would be a little shy. I would love to do something with him. That would be pretty cool.

PCS: Ok. Now we are taking it off comics to some of your other passions. What is your favorite Scotch?

AC: OH? Ok. Now, that again, is difficult. I tend to go super peaty like a Laphroaig or Lagavulin, but if I could only have one on a desert island, it would be the Balvenie 21.

[I consider myself a whiskey drinker, but I am good with some Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. I had to look these scotches up. They look really good. Amy’s palate is very sophisticated. Follow her on Instagram to marvel at her gastronomic conquests]

Art by Janet Lee

PCS: Where does your love for Legos come from?

AC: I grew up with Legos, but I kind of got caught up with the direction the company went when they started to go beyond the basic bricks. When they went into licensed sets, especially with Star Wars, that was it. I remember at C2E2 about five or six years ago, they had two of the large Millenium Falcon sets left. I wasn’t collecting until then. This other guy was there looking at them. He bought one, and I bought the other. I wasn’t there for the Legos, but that got me started.

PCS: This is our last question. You came to comics writing later than the average person. Do you regret not doing it sooner?

AC: No. Definitely not. I am not sure that I could have done it sooner. I don’t think I would have been in the right space mentally to write. I think that I am the writer that I am now because I have life and work experience. I think that my younger self would simply not have been as good of a writer, and possibly not even interested.

In all honesty, since this business is not super stable, I am thankful to have built up a little bit of financial security. If this didn’t work out, I have skills that I can fall back to for other jobs. So I have a safety net, and that allows me to focus on the work.

[We were then interrupted by Phil Lamarr who came up to Amy’s table and wanted to chat with her and her table neighbor Cat Staggs. Thankfully we had finished up, because, I mean, how do you go back to an interview after that?]

You can follow Amy on Twitter and Instagram

A good list of her work is found on the Comic Book Database.

Check out your LCS for new and back issues of her work. You can also find it on Comixology.

As mentioned her OGN Sea Sirens with Janet Lee is available. You can find it in bookstores or on Amazon.

Bonus Fact: If you ever find me, or my colleague on this site, Mike Gold, you should ask about how Mike claims that Amy Chu is responsible for his having a meal with Bruce Springsteen.