Amy Chu’s Journey On Summit & Her Upcoming Sea Sirens

by Gary Catig

During Comic Con Revolution, there were many talented comic creators who attended and exhibited at the show. This year, spoke with writer, Amy Chu. We learned a little about what she looks for in a project and her titles, Catalyst Prime: Summit, and the upcoming Sea Sirens.

Gary Catig: I know you exhibit at many places. What brings you here specifically to Comic Con Revolution this weekend?

Amy Chu: Specifically? This is my first time here. They invited me and that’s always cool. Also, I’m working on a Netflix show, so it really made it easy for me to come down and kill two birds with one stone.

GC: Going through the list of all the titles you’ve written, it’s quite an eclectic mix. Poison Ivy, Kiss, you even currently have the cross over of Red Sonja and Vampirella and Betty and Veronica. I know that each project is different, but when you’re determining what you’re going to work on, is there anything that you’re looking in a project that attracts you to it?

AC: Well, it really varies. I think that in this business or any creative business, it’s very easy to get pigeonholed. I don’t want to end up just writing all female characters or all superheroes. You know, I’m looking for something that adds not just to my resumé but a new creative challenge, to put it that way. If it’s a new genre or a character that I really like, but hasn’t really gotten their fair due. Like Green Hornet, for example. I feel like Green Hornet is a property that should have done better. That’s the kind of thing I like.

GC: One comic you’re currently writing is Summit, for Lion Forge. You’ve been with Val since the very beginning, over three arcs’ worth. How has your approach changed with her since that first issue? Do you think you’ve grasped her voice now?

AC: That is so different because basically, that is one of the few characters that I’ve created. It’s a little weird, actually. That’s something where she has definitely evolved over time. She’s always been what I wanted her to be. I didn’t have to work with something existing and try to get her to that point. She’s exactly where I want her to be. I didn’t know if we were going to go through three arcs or not, but she’s where she needs to be. I don’t even know how to answer that question because it’s very rare I get to do something like that.

GC: From the start?

AC: Yeah, from the start. I do pay attention to fan reaction too but she’s a very different character. To be honest, so much of my creative output is working out her cast. Like who she interacts with, more than anything else.

GC: You can tell a lot about a character by who she keeps her company with.

AC: Right, exactly. So, a lot of my challenge is coming up with new characters that serve as a balance to her in some way.

GC: Summit is within the Catalyst Prime Universe. Coming this fall, Gail Simone has big plans for the character in the Seven Days event. She’s part of the CPU trinity with Noble and Accell. Did you have to alter any of your plans with Val leading up into this event?

AC: Oh no, no, no. Well, okay, I didn’t have to do anything. Gail is super respectful. I saw what she was doing and I’m all for it. I did make changes just because I wanted to tee up the event better. They never asked me to do anything. I was like, “Woah, there’s some opportunity here”. I saw Gail’s script and I was like, “Wow, that’s pretty awesome”. I could have chosen not to do anything, but felt that this was an opportunity where I could lead up better to her event with my own story.

GC: Kind of like planting seeds.

AC: Exactly. For me, that’s the creative opportunity. I wasn’t asked to do that. I wasn’t told to do that, but I’m like “Cool, you know I actually think I can do this”. That way, for anybody who’s been reading all along, whether you like it or not, it’s there and then you’re like, “Woah, oh my God, it makes sense now!” We’ll see if that works, but that’s what I’ve been doing.

GC: You were just on a panel with dealing with licenses and it’s cool dealing with superheroes and other popular characters. I’m sure it’s just as exciting creating your own material. You have a graphic novel, Sea Sirens, coming out next month. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

AC: Oh yeah, so that is really exciting. That is my first major middle grade novel. Eight to twelve years, although I think anyone can read it. That’s also a little weird because that’s real book money. It’s Viking Press, so we got an advance on it. It’s a two-book deal. It’s being written up, not just in comics press, but actual book press so that’s kind of like, woah. It’s really a real-life fantasy. The main character is a girl who surfs with her cat and the cat falls off the board. She, of course, dives in to save her cat and gets tangled up in an eternal war between the sea sirens and serpents. That’s where the original story comes into play. The L. Frank Baum Sea Fairies. That’s happening under water, but our outcome is different and the metaphors are different.

GC: I’m Filipino, and I like how creators like you, Greg Pak, and Gene Luen Yang are telling stories with a focus on Asians and Asian characters. For you, is it creating characters that young Asians can identify and associate with? You also implement aspects of Vietnamese mythology into this story. Are you also trying to inform people about the culture, both non-Asians and members of the diaspora who may not have the strong link to their native countries?

AC: I try to do that with all my stories. In The Green Hornet, I basically get them to go to Hong Kong. An homage to Bruce Lee. Or with Poison Ivy, I put a Filipino character in. I was at WonderCon or San Diego Comic Con. It was one of the Asian American panels where it’s like, “Where are all the Filipino characters?” I’m like, “I’ll put one in”. So, I put one into Poison Ivy and I made the male lead south Asian because I can do that as a writer. I do think it’s very important. I try to do that whenever I can. It’s never at the expense of story, but I’m thinking, “Why not?” I’m fully aware of that because I come from an Asian American non-profit background. I used to run an Asian American non-profit. You know, it’s a bonus that I can do this in my story telling. Just to be aware of what’s going on. It brings me great pleasure to be representing Asian Americans in my stories.

We appreciate Amy taking the time to chat with us. You can learn more about her and her projects on her website and follow her on Twitter.

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