Talking With Comic Book Artist Amy Reeder, Designer of Brooklyn Brewery’s 2014 Defender Superhero

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This past weekend marked the eighth year of New York Comic Con at the outsized Javits Center in Manhattan and while NYCC isn’t known for hosting internet-breaking Marvel announcements like those at San Diego, it is a massive, heavily-attended affair.

In honor of the event, our very own Brooklyn Brewery commissioned comic book artist Amy Reeder, the creative behind Rocket Girl, a retro-futuristic story set in both 1980s New York and 2013, to create this year’s version of the superhero that would  appear on pint glasses commemorating the release of Brooklyn Defender, a red IPA the brewery releases for Comic Con each year.  We caught up with Amy on the last day of Comic Con to talk about this year’s Defender and the general state of women in comics.

What kind of interaction had you had with Brooklyn before this?

Well, ashamedly, I live in Manhattan, but I go out to Brooklyn a lot of times, visiting my friends and all that. It seems like that’s where everybody lives. So, to me, when I think of Brooklyn, I think of a center where a lot of things start, a lot of creativity starts. So, whenever I go out I’m always super inspired.

When did Brooklyn Brewery first approach you?

Well, let’s see, I would say in June. I think that’s when they contacted me and I guess they were just talking to New York Comic Con and my name came up as a person that they wanted to do the character and I definitely said yes. I was really excited about it.

Were you given total creative freedom with the project? 

It was pretty much creative freedom. I had this idea and it’s probably a terrible idea, so I support them in not letting me do it, but originally I had her in boxing gloves, because I was like, Oh, she’s a fighter. But they were like, That doesn’t make sense because then she can’t hold a beer! It was new for me. I feel embarrassed to say this and they were really nice about it and stuff, but I don’t really drink a lot of beer. I like ciders and whiskey.

But you guys did land on something! How did you end up with this character? How did you even decide it was going to be a “her?” 

I already had in my mind that I wanted to do a female character. It’s one of those things where if it were done often and right, I would mix it up a little more, but since it’s not, I kind of feel like since I know how to do it, I should do it. So, I already had that in and mind and then it sounded like they also were really hoping for that too, so we were definitely in sync with that.

And does she have a name? Maybe. I have a friend who is writing a fan fiction for me and she’s naming her Bianca, which I like!

Why did you specifically want to draw her in such a kickass way? To me, when I think of Brooklyn I think there’s a lot of value placed on homemade kind of things and so I would rather have a real person. So, generally, when you have the superheroes who are real people, they are fighters and I think I was just excited about having someone who had some spunk in them. In the design of her, she’s sort of like this homemade vigilante much like the movie Kickass. She just got upset one day and put some clothes on.

And more generally, how do you feel about the burgeoning diversity, especially gender diversity, in comics? How does that reflect on your work?

I try really hard to be aware of that. Since I know what it’s like being a female and having to be a little less represented or not in the right way, I kind of have a window into that, so I try and be aware of other people because that’s how I would like to be treated myself. Especially with the Brooklyn Defender, I wanted it to be somebody who is a person of color, maybe a little bit ambiguous, but definitely when we’re talking about Brooklyn, it can’t be this exclusionary bunch of hipsters. And even in my own work I try as much as I can—I’m not perfect—but I try to make it as diverse as possible and that also goes with age and body type and all sorts of things. And actually it’s helpful for storytelling because people look different so they’re instantly recognizable. And the reaction as has been really good, I find. That’s something that I learned when I drew Batwoman (2010-2012) because she was a lesbian character, but she was also a redhead and she was also a twin. So, I found that I had a lot of people from those three groups and they were such loyal customers, in a way, because they were excited to see themselves in the story. So, it’s just something that stuck with me.

Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk

Photo by Jane Bruce.

 

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