Kelly Thompson talks writing female-led comics, from Sabrina to Captain Marvel


Eisner-nominated writer Kelly Thompson chats with Culturess about writing the Sabrina the Teenage Witch mini-series and other female-led comics.

Kelly Thompson has made a splash writing for some of the heavy hitters in the comic book world.

She’s most known for her work on the Jem and the Holograms, which is a reimagining of the 1980s cartoon. This year, she’s celebrating an Eisner nomination for her writing, which includes a five-issue Nancy Drew comic, as well as several Marvel works, including Hawkeye, Jessica Jones, Mr. & Mrs. X, Rogue & Gambit, Uncanny X-Men, West Coast Avengers.

On top of all of this, Thompson is writing a new five-issue Sabrina the Teenage Witch mini-series. The first issue debuted March 27, and Issue 2 will be coming out May 15.

We had a chance to talk with Thompson via email about her work with Sabrina and other comics.

For those excited for the series, we also have an exclusive inside look at the upcoming issue below.

Sabrina The Teenage Witch – Issue No. 2 Cover. Photo: Veronica Fish / Sabrina The Teenage Witch – Issue No. 2 Interior Art. Photo: Art, Veronica and Andy Fish. Letters, Jack Morelli.

How did this Sabrina the Teenage Witch mini-series come about?

I actually pitched it quite a while back… sometime in 2017, I believe, at the request of the awesome Alex Segura. But timing is everything with these things and the timing wasn’t quite right until now.

Were you a fan of the original series and/or the reboot?

I was a big fan of Archie Digests as a kid – including Sabrina comics. They were actually my first comics so I credit them with making me a comics reader, which is huge. But I’m also a huge fan of the modern horror take – The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – it’s such a bold and risky take on the classic character. But it was important for our book that we carve our own path since those two extremes of Sabrina had already been covered.

What makes Sabrina’s story so compelling?

Sabrina’s a fascinating character. She’s a wonderful mix of contrasts. You could even say she contains multitudes. And the balance she tries to find between her witch self and her mortal self is core to her stories and struggles. And she possesses one of my favorite superhero-ish traits – that of indefatigability.

I love the push and pull in Issue 1 – she doesn’t want to use magic but she can’t help herself at various points. It’s a great metaphor for how we deal with power, especially as teenagers. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Well, it’s a pretty classic approach to a teenage character with powers to have them wrestling with those powers and the push and pull of being special versus trying to fit in – it’s both metaphor and very literal, I think. But we also definitely wanted to establish that powers like Sabrina’s come with a price and also the idea that Sabrina has maybe not always been responsible with her powers. Even though we want the most new-reader-friendly book possible, it’s never a bad idea to suggest a character has a past; it creates a more realistic and intriguing history. And it’s especially helpful if you’re interested in layered plots and future threads to pursue!

You’ve also written for the Nancy Drew comic book reboot. What was the best part of writing Nancy Drew? Were you a fan as a kid?

I read some Nancy Drew as a kid and then certainly brushed up for research before writing Nancy, but I think the biggest fan was my mom. Nancy Drew (and Sabrina actually!) were the projects she’s been most excited about. But it’s always an exciting challenge to take a classic character and re-contextualize them for a modern audience.

How do you feel about the phenomena of rebooting classics?

I think rebooting classics can certainly get tiresome… People want new original content, too. But there is something thrilling in a well-done reboot of classic materials that repositions it for both old fans and potential new ones. I’m obviously biased, though; in addition to Sabrina and Nancy Drew my very first big project was the Jem & The Holograms reboot.

What do you want people to know about Sabrina?

For Sabrina, I really want people to recognize the core aspects of Sabrina – her world and who she is – that we instantly recognize all of that stuff, but that as creators we do something different and maybe even unexpected with it.

How does it feel to also be writing Captain Marvel right now? Do you think she is having a moment?

I think Captain Marvel is having the definition of a moment! It might even be two moments. It’s a huge thrill – and responsibility – to be writing Carol right now. I’m loving it.

How is it to inherit characters with history? What challenges and opportunities does it pose?

It’s certainly a responsibility and it can be a big challenge, but I definitely try to find opportunities to lean in to those histories instead of ignoring them. It doesn’t always work, nor should it, not EVERY story is worth leaning into, but when you can I think that history and connectivity makes stories so much richer.

Is there a woman (real or fictional) that you admire and why?

There are a ton of women I admire, both real and fictional, and on the real side they run the gamut from my mother to colleagues to bosses to friends… but for the sake of brevity I’ll pick just one real one: Sana Amanat. Honestly, it’s sometimes hard to believe Sana is real — she’s just that incredible. She’s been instrumental to me personally in helping to build my career, but she’s meant so much to so many people thanks to the work she’s done at Marvel Comics both as an editor and now as a VP in charge of content and character development. She’s a force of good in the world and I thank the universe that I know her all the time.

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You can pick up Issue 2 of Sabrina the Teenage Witch on May 15.