MILKFED CRIMINAL MASTERMINDS, the creative headquarters of comic book rock stars Kelly Sue DeConnick (Bitch Planet, Captain Marvel) and Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals, Hawkeye), occupies an inconspicuous green house in the sort of shady suburban Portland neighborhood where you might conceivably find porn in a tree. Inside, the word "inconspicuous" doesn’t apply, but when you’re in the home of the author of a book called Bitch Planet, subtlety isn’t the order of the day.
In front of a wall of cerulean bookshelves loaded with comics and action figures, sprightly executive assistant Kit Cox assembles the team around the kitchen table while Fraction putters in the kitchen and DeConnick organizes colored pencils by hue. Along with Cox, the crew includes Managing Editor Lauren Sankovitch and "Majordomo" Wendy Klein, who manages most of the household duties. Here’s what DeConnick and Fraction told me about running their company, crossover appeal between their comics, and how compasses work.On day-to-day operations at Milkfed Criminal Masterminds:
KELLY SUE DeCONNICK: It’s like a theater troupe. It takes a lot of people to get these books out the door. There are people who sit and do the whole thing themselves, top to bottom. Those people don’t live in my house.
MATT FRACTION: We were lucky enough to get to a place where we could hire these three amazing, competent, capable people to help us run our lives both professionally and personally, so we could not just be the writers we wanted to be, but the parents we wanted to be.
On their goals for the company:
DeCONNICK: Milkfed has been our company name and brand name for a very long time. There was a point at which we realized that, like a cycling team, we draft off of each other. And we have a lot of crossover readership. I think our goals are to keep producing content... content? I hate that word. Our goal is to continue telling stories.
On their writing styles:
DeCONNICK: We're very different writers, too. I don't know that I really understand what the crossover appeal is, but I'll take it. We just wrote our first project together, and it was a TV pilot, and the idea of it was, "All right, let's find out how this is going to work, or if this is going to work." And we stayed married, so that's cool. It was great. Our skill sets are very different but very—
DeCONNICK: Complementary, yes. It was interesting because I think it underscored how different we are as writers, but it was fun. It was genuinely fun. We had a good time. We were excited about different parts of it, but we didn't have any problems navigating disagreements or... I think part of it is, you have practice when you're married.
FRACTION: The only way any of this has worked for us has been by listening to whatever voice we have in our head, if that's conscience or instinct. No one in their right mind would set out to do a book like Bitch Planet or Sex Criminals and think, "All right, this is going to be the one that puts the kids through school." We did these books [because] they were books we wanted to do, needed to do. Not because we thought, "Oh great, and then my frozen come book will take over the world." That's been the compass so far that's gotten us here. It's not time to stop listening to that compass. Because that's how compasses work, right? You listen to them?
Milkfed Criminal Masterminds