Geeking out with CBR


Comic Book Resources (CBR) recently interviewed me about my upcoming Mockingbird comic book.  I did a little name dropping.   

CBR News:  It's easy for the bad guys of the Marvel Universe to underestimate Mockingbird since she has no super powers, but they do so at their own peril, because Bobbi Morse is a highly trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. And as both an Avenger and a spy she's used her physical prowess -- and devastating wit -- to help save the world on multiple occasions.

As an Avenger, Mockingbird fought alongside her now ex-husband Hawkeye for many years. Fans of Marvel television know Bobbi Morse as a spy, thanks to her role on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." where she's portrayed by actress Adrianne Palicki and often fights along side a different ex-husband, mercenary Lance Hunter.

This September, acclaimed thriller writer Chelsea Cain will make her comics debut with "Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary," a story that features art by Joëlle Jones and is sure to please fans of both incarnations of the title character. We spoke with Cain about the book which sends Bobbi after the murderer of a loved one and introduces her ties to the Lance Hunter of the Marvel Universe, a spy who worked for several British espionage agencies. We also touch on the fateful dinner party she and her husband hosted that lead to both her writing for Marvel, and writer Chuck Palahniuk penning "Fight Club 2" for Dark Horse.

CBR News: What made Bobbi Morse an interesting protagonist for you? Which aspects of her character are you especially interested in exploring in this story?


Artist Paul Renaud's cover for "Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary"


Chelsea Cain: I felt like I could give her a point of view. Because despite her questionable taste in men (Ka-Zar anyone?) and the fact that her reality often turns out to be a lie, she is obviously cool and smart and badass and she knows how to deliver a good zinger at her ex-husband's expense. Basically, I have a feminist agenda.

Also, I have no shame. This is important. It has gotten me far. I got this gig through sheer gall. I emailed [Brian Michael] Bendis and was like, "I want to write Mockingbird!" and he wrote back and was like, "Yeahhh, we need to talk." And he came over and sat me down and explained very patiently and gently that Marvel doesn't generally hire people with zero experience. And I was like, "I want to write Mockingbird!" And he sighed and put his head in his hands. But in a strange fit of kismet (or as my husband calls it, The Law of Everything Working Out for Chelsea), Marvel happened to be planning this Mockingbird one-off. And there I was jumping up and down with my hand in the air.

As an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a member of the Avengers Mockingbird regularly finds herself dealing with such fantastic threats as world conquering super villains and high tech terrorists, but the solicits for your story make it sound like it's more of a gritty revenge tale. So what can you tell us about the situation Mockingbird becomes embroiled in in your one-shot? How would you describe the tone?

It's a psychological thriller. Someone important to Bobbi is killed, and she goes after the killer. She doesn't even wear the costume. It's a personal mission. She saves the world all the time; that's just Tuesdays. I think the stakes can feel higher sometimes with a smaller story. Or possibly I've just really screwed up. Conquering super villains, you say?

What sort of hints can you offer up about the adversaries the title character is up against in your "Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary" special?

He wear argyle socks. So he's obviously a psychopath.

[Laughs] Who are some of the supporting players Bobbi will encounter in your story? Will we see some of her more famous associates, like her ex-husband Hawkeye, or her former Secret Avengers teammate, Black Widow?

I would love to write that book. I think the three of them should go on a cruise together. Those ladies could teach Clint a thing or two about shuffleboard. I am a big fan of the Clint-Bobbi relationship. They have great chemistry. You know who else I love? Lance Hunter. He's Bobbi's ex-husband on the TV show, because I guess Clint was busy. Hunter is a smart-ass romantic who works for a shadowy government organization. Sound familiar? I know! Bobbi sure has a type.

Anyway "the studio" wanted Hunter in the anniversary issue, so as not to confuse things (more). They never call "the studio" by name -- it's just always "the studio." I kind of thought it was funny -- the fact that Bobbi has these two almost interchangeable ex-husbands, both of whom are in no way over her, so I tried to have fun with that in the one-off. It's murder-y, yes, but not without laughs.

Bringing your characters to life is Joëlle Jones,a versatile artist who does everything from the viking horror of "Helheim" to the suburban crime/comedy "Lady Killer." She also has experience working with prose writers making their comic debut, having worked with Janet and Alex Evanovich on their graphic novel "Troublemaker."

She worked on "Troublemaker?!" I did not know that. If that's true, then I'm sure she did her very best. I am a huge fan of "Lady Killer." It's got such an amazing look -- that cool, mid-century aesthetic, plus very excellent blood spatter.

I wanted this book to have a '70s vibe -- it doesn't take place in the '70s, but I wanted the visual reference. Think, "Klute," or "The Eiger Sanction." Back when people shot each other while wearing leather jackets in front of dramatically-patterned wallpaper. Also, Joëlle draws beautiful women. She's really good at that. But she doesn't draw them through the male gaze. Let me paraphrase: Their tits and ass aren't raised like they're ready to be mounted. I considered that a plus.


Christian Ward's variant covers for every "S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary" one-shot


You're best known as a thriller writer, but comics have been a big part of your life. You co-wrote a parody self help book for super heroes with your husband, Marc Mohan, titled "Does this Cape Make Me Look Fat?" and you're friends with a number of comic creators. How long have you been interested in comics? And what made you want to try your hand at the format?

Marc and I hang out with a lot of comics people. They are like pigeons here in Portland. If you stop and pay attention to one the next thing you know there are thirty-five of them standing around you with their heads cocked. If the first pigeon likes you, you're in. You know what comics people like to talk about? Comics. I have never met people more interested in discussing their work, with the possible exception of PhD candidates. I started asking questions just to get a word in edgewise. I'm a casual comics fan compared to my husband (he bags and boards and enters each issue in his database). But I'm a fan.

I remember buying the first issue of Bendis' "Alias" when it came out, and it really re-lit my appreciation of the form. Much the same way that Matt Fraction's "Hawkeye" did, or Kelly Sue DeConnick's "Captain Marvel." There was just this sense of reinvention and smarts. I can't talk about comics the way my husband can, but I can talk about story. I am endlessly interested in narrative, and pretty soon I found myself at parties full of comics people, having these conversations with Matt Fraction. He'd be going on about shape and time and the page turn, and I had no fucking idea what he was talking about. He thinks about story in this whole different way. Which, out of professional jealousy, made me want to crack it.

That said, "Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary" is your first comics work. Aside form emailing Bendis, how did it come about? Were the seeds for this project planted at the same dinner party where Chuck Palahniuk was convinced to do "Fight Club 2" as a comic project?

Marc and I hosted that dinner party with the singular goal of convincing Chuck to write a comic. Marc was the one who came up with the idea. It was just an aside, "You know who should write a comic? Chuck!" Then I went with it with the tenacity of a terrier. It just made so much sense to me. Bendis, his wife Alisa, Matt, Kelly Sue, and Marc and I had spent the whole evening plying Chuck with wine and explaining why this comic book needed to happen. We were making great headway, too. Then Matt looked up at me and said, "You should write a comic book, too." (I had clearly been dazzling him with my insights into shape and time and the page turn.) I practically choked, because I found the idea of writing a comic book thrilling and terrifying and intimidating, and also because Chuck was looking right at me and I didn't want him to think that I was trying to talk him into doing something that I was too chicken to try myself.

That was like two years ago. So obviously I was a little chicken. Probably because -- despite what we all told Chuck that evening -- I read enough comic books to know that prose writers should not write them, because they almost always suck.

Mockingbird and other comic book news

Yes, I have somehow convinced Marvel to let me write a comic book.  Those of you who know me will understand what a huge moment this is for those of us over at the Cain-Mohan house.  Mama made good.  This is a one-shot issue.  Listen to me, using the comics lingo.  That means that it's a single issue, one and done.  Available Sept. 2nd.  So for all that is sacred in the world order your copy now from your local comic book shop.  You don't want to miss this.  Some of you may know Mockingbird as Bobbi Morse from the TV show Marvel: Agents of SHIELD.  Some of you may know Mockingbird from the comics (she is a biochemist and a New Avenger, but she is mostly known for being Hawkeye's "cool ex-wife").  She is also tough and beautiful and interesting and waaaaayyyy complicated.  So she's super pissed when someone from her past is murdered.  Yes, I wrote a super hero comic book without any costumes.  Just some crime and psychological warfare.  You know.  How I like it.  Joelle Jones is doing the art, which I will post some of once someone tells me I can if not a few seconds sooner.  The comic looks amazing.  Bonus points if you can identify all Mockingbird's tattoos.  


In other comic book news a friend of mine continues to slay the industry with his comic book series.  It's called Fight Club 2, have you heard of it?  This kid Chuck Palahniuk really has potential - keep your eye on him.  And keep your eye out for me too, as I will be appearing, with the rest of our writing group, in an upcoming FC2 issue. Meta, right?  He better hope it's a flattering likeness.

Praise for ONE KICK

  • “A propulsive new thriller.” - PEOPLE MAGAZINE
  • “There are echoes of Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson’s steely heroine, in Kick Lannigan…but she’s a far more human and likable protagonist than Lisbeth Salander could ever be.” - THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
  • “When Kick returns next August, she’ll deserve a warm welcome.” Janet Maslin, THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • “This book is nothing short of a heart-pounding thriller and it will definitely give you goose bumps all the way to the end.” - BUZZFEED
  • “A Summer Must Read.” - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
  • “ONE KICK has a knockout punch of an opening chapter – one of the best I've read in a long time – and it just keeps going from there… Kick is a wonderful, multi-dimensional character, a bundle of anxieties and neuroses wrapped up in a focused, lethal package.” - STRAND MAGAZINE
  • “Masterful storytelling!” - LIBRARY JOURNAL
  • “Cain skillfully maintains an edgy level of tension throughout.” - THE BOSTON GLOBE
  • “Compulsively readable…This is a perfect book for someone who loves thrillers and who really wants…a female main character who really can take care of herself.” - NANCY PEARL
  • iBooks pick of the month, Amazon pick of the month, Library Reads pick of the month, an Indie Next List Pick, Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten pick for fall, starred reviews in Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, and more.


ONE KICK tour dates announced

The tour for ONE KICK is coming together.  Lots of events scheduled for August and September.  Here is the crazy thing: I have actually updated my events calendar!  I know!  Crazy!  Who is this person claiming to be Chelsea Cain?  It is the new and improved I-get-around-to-updating-my-website Chelsea!  She is awesome. You will like her.  In the meantime, take a gander at the events page of this website.  You never know - I may be coming to your town.  I can stay with you, right?  (More events to come, so stay tuned.) 

The new book

One Kick - the launch of my new thriller series - is available for pre-order on the usual internet sites and at real-life bookstores (just ask the nice people at the desk, if they don't have a method to do this on their website).  It's out for real in August.  In the meantime, here's the scoop. (And don't worry, Archie and Gretchen will be back soon.) 

From the author (that's me!) of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell thrillers: The first in a nail-biting new series featuring Kick Lannigan, a young woman whose complicated past has given her a very special skill set.

Famously kidnapped at age six, Kick captured America’s hearts when she was rescued five years later. Now, twenty-one, she finds herself unexpectedly entangled in a missing child case that will put her talents to the test. 

Trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of the average young girl after her release. So, in lieu of therapy, she mastered martial arts, boxing, and knife throwing; learned how to escape from the trunk of a car, jimmy a pair of handcuffs, and walk without making a sound—all before she was thirteen.

Kick has trained herself to be safe. But then two children go missing in three weeks, and an enigmatic and wealthy former weapons dealer approaches her with a proposition. John Bishop uses his fortune and contacts to track down missing children. Not only is he convinced Kick can help recover the two children—he won’t take no for an answer. 

With lives hanging in the balance, Kick is set to be the crusader she has always imagined herself. Little does she know that the answers she and Bishop seek are hidden in one of the few places she doesn’t want to navigate—the dark corners of her own mind. 

A heart-stopping, entertaining thrill ride, One Kick announces the arrival of a blistering new series by a stunning talent in the thriller realm. (Aw shucks.)

Coming to a city near-ish you

I'm touring with Chuck Palahniuk and Monica Drake this week.  These events will be EPIC. We'll be in Tulsa, Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Nashville.  (And Chuck is in Kansas, solo, on Monday.)  The venues will sell out, so if you think you might want to come, get tickets soon.  (Nashville isn't ticketed, so get there early.)  Check the events page on this site for more info. And don't forget to wear your PJs, and bring a stuffed animal and a flashlight.  We've got a whole PJ-party-burlesque-book-rave vibe going on.  Like I said, EPIC.  

Touring with Chuck Palahniuk & Monica Drake in Oct


Chuck Palahniuk, Monica Drake, and I are taking Bedtime Stories for Grownups on the road in October to promote Chuck's new book, Doomed.  This a terrific event, you guys.  Pajamas are required.  Content is disturbing.  And much fun is had.  Also, I'll be visiting places where I've never every had an event before - I'm looking at you, Tulsa!  Get tickets ASAP if you want to come to any of these, because they will all sell out.  Here's a list of the six cities.  I'll get these posted on the events page, too.    
Tuesday, October 8 – Tulsa
7:00pm  Booksmart Tulsa - offsite 
Tulsa Central Library 
400 Civic Center  
 Tulsa, OK 74103
Ticket info - On sale Oct 1 via phone 918-665-4580 or email [email protected] or at the Tulsa Barnes & Noble at 41st and Yale Avenue.
Wednesday, October 9 – Houston
 7:00pm  Murder By the Book - offsite
At The Firehouse Saloon
5930 Southwest Freeway
 Houston, TX 77057
Thursday, October 10 – New Orleans
8:00pm  Garden District Bookshop-offsite 
501 Napoleon Ave.
 New Orleans, LA 70115
Friday, October 11 – Baltimore
7:00pm  Enoch Pratt Free Library 
400 Cathedral Street   
Baltimore, MD 21201
 Contact: Judy Cooper, 410-396-5494
Saturday, October 12 – Milwaukee
7:00pm  Boswell Book Company-offsite
At the UWM Union Wisconsin Room
2200 E. Kenwood Boulevard
 Milwaukee, WI 53211
Sunday, October 13 – Nashville
Southern Festival of Books 
War Memorial Auditorium
7th Avenue between Union and Charlotte
Nashville, TN



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