Interview With Rob Williams, Writer of Dynamite’s Miss Fury
Miss Fury #2 from Dynamite is in stores on May 1st, and we've got an interview with series writer Rob Williams about his plans for one of comics' first femme fatales!
Miss Fury is a great character with an astonishing history (a history you can read all about right here!). With Miss Fury #2 hitting stores on May 1st, Rob Williams was kind enough to sit down with Den of Geek to talk about his take on one of comics’ most underappreciated female characters. Williams is best known for his work on Judge Dredd, Captain America, Wolverine, Star Wars, Robocop, Deadpool, and his creator-owned work, Ten-Seconders, and Cla$$war, and here he dishes of the past, present, and future of Miss Fury from Dynamite!
Den of Geek: Did you pitch the series or did Dynamite approach you?
Rob Williams: I’d worked with Dynamite previously on Robocop and we were talking about my maybe doing something else for them. Nick Barrucci, the publisher there, asked if I was aware of Miss Fury and asked me to pitch.
DoG: What is your approach to the character, who is she to you?
RW: When we first meet Marla Drake she’s a bored Manhattan socialite, as per the origins of the character in the 1940s. I’ve added a degree of nihilism to her. She comes from a cold, very moneyed upbringing. Not a lot of love in her house growing up. World War 2 is going on, millions fighting for beliefs and their lives, yet this woman cares about nothing. Our initial arc is partly her discovering what she cares about, what she’s willing to fight for.
DoG: Were you familiar with the character before you got the gig?
RW: Only peripherally. I knew of the character. I think I recall her appearing in Chris Weston’s The Twelve oneshot. That was about it. I had to do a bit of research before approaching the job.
DoG: Where do you feel that Miss Fury stands in the pantheon of classic female heroes?
RW: Well, her main point of interest is the fact that she was the first female costumed hero to be written by a woman, in June Mills. She signed her name Tarpe to hide her gender, although Miss Fury was loosely based on Mills’ own appearance.
DoG: How much has the original series influenced the new series?
RW: Not a huge amount, to be honest. I used the same basis for the character. Our Miss Fury is still Marla Drake, and the costume’s largely the same. She gets a brand new origin story in #1, although I tried to incorporate the African history of her outfit in the story of how she gains her powers. Aside from that, it’s very much a new series, a new storyline and, really, a new character. We wanted to create a book that people could pick up from the start and not be bogged down by past history. And, given the character’s obvious similarities to Catwoman, I wanted to try and create a book that takes the origins and then goes in a very different direction. A time travell-y direction.
DoG: Any characters from the old strip showing up? There were some strange ones to say the least!
RW: No, as I said above, the only original character we’re using is Miss Fury herself. Everything else is all new
DoG: How will the modern world perceive Miss Fury and her time travel exploits?
RW: In 2013, she’s going to be wanted by the authorities for actions that you’ll see in issue two as she becomes an assassin. She believes that she’s doing the right thing and fighting the good fight, but that could easily not be the case. This isn’t a Captain America thing where she’s pulled from ice and becomes a hero. Miss Fury falls into a time machine in #1 and is then trapped within the timestream, flipping between eras without any control of this. She experiences her past, the present and the future the way our thoughts spring between memories. And the question throughout is – is any of this real? Or is she a damaged, insane woman back in 1943?
DoG: Tarpe Mills was known for her subtle sexual overtones, does this play any part in your series?
RW: Sexuality seems an integral part of the character, and that’s in our series, certainly. But this isn’t purely a book about titillation. Marla Drake is a confident, beautiful, sexual woman in our story, but she’s lost, in many ways. This book is her journey to discovering some basic truths about herself.
DoG: How will Miss Fury view the modern world, in her time she was considered risqué, in our world she is kind of tame. How will she react?
RW: I don’t think she has time to consider that. She switches between time periods without warning and discovers, in 2013, that time travelling cloaked Nazi agents are everywhere in our present. Then, in the not-so-far future, she shes a Manhattan that’s been turned into a warzone. Her fashion sense and peccadilloes don’t really come up. She’s either fighting for her life or for her sanity.
DoG: Describe your collaboration with Jack Herbert.
RW: Jack’s done some terrific work on the book. I wasn’t too aware of his work beforehand but he’s really got a great handle on the character’s pulp background and draws a stunning-looking Miss Fury. I love his use of heavy blacks. It’s a very challenging script too, considering the fact that it shifts between different eras. There’s a fair bit of reference, but he’s handled it all brilliantly. I’m delighted with how the book looks.
DoG: What has the experience working for Dynamite been like?
RW: It’s been great. They’re good guys and give you a lot of freedom to tell the story you want to tell, which is manna from heaven for a writer. They don’t micro-edit things. And they’ve given me a great team on Miss Fury – artist, colourist, letterer. You can’t ask for more as a writer. Oh, and they’ve provided covers by the likes of Alex Ross!
DoG: Anything else coming up you’d like to talk about?
RW: I have a bunch of things upcoming from various publishers. A number of Judge Dredds for 2000AD with some amazing artists onboard, I’m writing a new series of The Ten-Seconders for 2000AD with art by Edmund Bagwell (Cradlegrave). The thing I’m probably most excited about right now, though is Ordinary, my creator-owned series, which will be coming out in 2013, I hope. And more Miss Fury, of course.