Women of Marvel is celebrating Pride Month this year with a round-table of woman Marvel creators. Each shared how their identities have shaped their creative paths. Joining hosts Sana Amanat andJudy Stephens were the following writers:
- Vita Ayala (AGE OF X-MAN: PRISONER X, ACTS OF EVIL);
- Tini Howard (THANOS, AGE OF CONAN: BELIT); and
- Leah Williams (GWENPOOL STRIKES BACK, X-TREMISTS),
All of them talked about how they’ve navigated storytelling, their careers, and their own personal journeys through a queer lens. Within the below link are video highlights and a complete podcast of what they each had to say.
The women of Marvel
Here is the text for each speaker’s comments:
“Mystique was really important to me — shapeshifters in general, but especially Mystique because here’s this character who’s designated female at birth, but once she hit her mutant awakening, that meant nothing. She could be anyone or anything almost, within reason, but she’s done a lot of really wacky stuff. And to me, that was really something that at the back of my mind, whenever I would read a Mystique thing — and I would literally read or watch anything with Mystique in it. I was like, ‘None of the boundaries that people put on themselves and other people apply to Mystique, and it’s okay?’ No one questions it because she’s a shapeshifter, so she can just do whatever she wants to do in terms of her own body and in terms of who she’s connecting with.”
“We are in this as fans, and I think as creatives, because of the community, and what is the point of having any sort of clout or power if you’re not going to use it to help people that need the most help? And I’m not just saying that because I’m brown and I’m queer and I’m also Puerto Rican. I’m saying it because there are people that are very different from me that need a lot more help than I need.”
Women of Marvel: Tini Howard
“…I got to make [Captain America] a freedom fighter again, like I got to make him actively save women and queer characters. … [I]n that issue, the character who has been rescued who is gay is like, ‘I don’t want to go back to Germany because it’s 1945.’ … [T]o have that character spit that back at Cap and expect the hero to say, ‘Oh, well I can’t do anything outside the rules. Sorry.’ It was really fun and refreshing and important as a queer writer to be able to have him say like, ‘No, I’m going to save you, and we’ll get you wherever you have to be to be safe.’ … [I]t was a really good experience to get to write the hero of heroes, like Captain freakin’ America, take the hand of a gay man and say, ‘Your life is worth saving.’”
“[B]ecause of so much of the cultural dialogue around bisexuality, I just believed that if I identify as this, then I am unprofessional in some way, and now it’s amazing that I feel like ‘I’m here now with you fine people’ to quote Titanic, but I’m here representing myself professionally not in spite of my sexuality but because of it.”
“Marvel is one of those properties that has kept me alive during the darkest points in my life, so the same sort of passion that was driving what I chose to write about before is what’s driving me writing comics now. I already had a passion for the characters and the stories.”
“But I think so much of what drives at least my willingness to be open about [my identity] is because I know that young women and young men are questioning these things themselves, and they’re watching. Lots of people are watching us for this kind of stuff, and we do get messages about how it makes them feel validated and human — and we were just talking about feeling monstrous — now they don’t have to. … Anything with an audience has a responsibility to that audience.
You have to construct a series of mirrors. The way that you construct it is up to you, but to deny someone their likeness, to leave them out by omission of a story that they would otherwise be in, to leave out people of color, to leave out queerness, it makes them feel monstrous. It denies them their reflection in a book that they’re going to for joy. So, that is why I absolutely believe in representation and firmly believe in the power that we have as creators and the responsibility we have to our readers.”