Much like the characters she writes, Amy Chu is a superhero in her own right. She's a talented comic writer, a mom, and a beast when it comes to caffeine consumption. After graduating from MIT, Wellesley, and Harvard Business School, Amy has gone on to write for DC and Marvel on iconic comics like Poison Ivy, Wonder Woman and Deadpool. Ahead of New York Comic Con this week, we talked to Amy about how she got her start in the industry, how she's broken barriers for women in the industry and what fuels her to keep going (aka coffee).
How did you get your start in the comic world? What was your first memory of comics?
Totally by accident, actually. I was helping a writer friend of mine and I got sucked into the vortex... My grandfather, as it turns out, was a HUGE comics fan in Hong Kong in the '50s, but I didn't know that until recently. I didn't really read much in the way of comics growing up - my parents didn't have a lot of money to spend on stuff like that, but I do remember occasionally getting Archie, Wonder Woman and strangely enough some horror comics... I really didn't hit comics until college.
What is a typical day like for you? Do you have any routines?
I'm kind of anti-routine. I like variety. Also, I'm an early bird- I usually wake up around 3 or 4 am and get some work done (and hit the social media...) before my kids wake up. After I get them on the school bus, I've got a good 6 hours where I can do some solid work. I'm pretty mobile - I work out of home, any coffee shop, the soccer field, the mall, wherever I have to be.
How do you like your coffee?
I HATE WEAK COFFEE. Other than that, like writing, I like to change it up all the time. I'm not a coffee snob- I'm really not impressed with Jamaican Blue Mountain or how much it costs per pound. If I add any dairy in my coffee it's cream or half-and-half, none of this skim [milk] nonsense. Sometimes I use condensed or evaporated milk like the cheap coffee they serve in Chinatown. And sometimes I'll throw in some cardamom. I love cardamom coffee. Try it!
You have a ton of "caffeinated characters," why is that? How has coffee shaped your work and life?
I LOVE coffee. Coffee like comics is a huge part of my life. I studied architectural design in college, so we were always pulling all-nighters drawing, building, and hyped up on caffeine. There was this 24-hour coffee shop on campus right above the Newbury Comics that was always busy even at 3 am. (Yes, we had a comics store in the student center.)
What is something that you're most proud of?
Doing what I'm doing now, making comics, and hopefully inspiring more women to make comics.
When it comes to Comic-Con what do you most look forward to?
Comic-Con is non-stop work and it's tiring, but it is definitely a fun time to catch up with friends and meet new ones in the business. I have a ton of wonderful memories - they mostly involve food and taking big groups out for stuff like Korean fried chicken.
Do you have a favorite character?
That's so tough! To read, I have so many but to write, I have to say I really, really enjoyed writing Poison Ivy. She's so powerful, complex and misunderstood as a character. There's a long way to go with her.
As a woman in the comic industry, do you feel like you have a
unique perspective? Have you had barriers because of this? How have you broken through them?
Everyone's got a unique perspective. It so happens I'm a woman, I'm a Chinese-American. I grew up in the Midwest eating spaghetti-Os with chopsticks. I've got things in common and not with a lot of people.
It's really changed for women just in the last few years. I'm thrilled to see more and more women breaking in.
I like to write men, women, kids, alien characters - like I said earlier I like variety - but I think there's a tendency in the industry to steer women towards writing or drawing female characters. For the most part, there's so much support out there, but every now and then you're reminded about how much further we need to go. I've had artists who are like, "wow, you're the only female writer I've worked with in my career" My advice to anyone who's trying to break in, don't let your gender, color, sexual orientation stop you from pursuing your dreams. You just have to power through and be better than everyone else. There are moments when someone says something hurtful, deliberately or not, but then I think "Yeah, I wrote Wonder Woman and Deadpool. What have you done lately?"
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Making more comics!
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