Over the years, Marvel has had its up and downs with making their comics more diverse and friendly to female, LGBT, and PoC communities. For every step forward (including a trans character in Angela: Asgard’s Assassin), there’s a step backward (Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso saying that Hercules was definitely not bisexual, no matter what happened before).
So when a new series starring America Chavez, a lesbian Latina superwoman, was announced back in October, it was met with excitement, but also trepidation. There was no creative team announced — so who would they choose?
Fascinatingly, Marvel announced today via Refinery29 that the book would be written by Gabby Rivera, a YA author who wrote Juliet Takes a Breath about a Puerto Rican lesbian, and illustrated by Joe Quinones, an artist recently off the fantastic Howard the Duck book.
The interview with Rivera and Marvel editor Will Moss sheds a lot of light on the fact that Marvel deliberately reached out to her:
“I work at an LGBTQ non-profit called GLSEN as a youth programs manager. I got an email from Marvel when I was at work. And I was like, whaaat? What?! And the office is all quiet, everyone’s just like click-clacking away and I just left and I called my mom and I was like “Mom!! I got an an email from Marvel!” My voice went up 48 octaves. I was super-excited. Getting that email from Will was the first time a man had ever written to me about my book — let alone a white guy.”
Rivera also revealed that although she read graphic novels, she hadn’t heard of America Chavez before, but she had friends who did:
“Will and Charles [Beacham, assistant editor on America] sent me all the Young Avengers to read and catch up on, and to get a sense of what has been written about America. What I also found really helpful was that there’s a huge queer women and trans women comic book online community. And one of my friends is Mey Rude — she’s a queer trans Latina, and she writes about comics for Autostraddle. And so before anything was signed, I was like, ‘Hey, have you heard about this America Chavez character?’ And Mey was like, ‘Oh my God yes.’ And so through her I was able to get an idea of what fans of America would want, her stellar moments and where there was excitement around her character. And I was able to pull those thoughts into a first outline.”
The entire interview is fascinating and includes story points for the book, which is coming out in March 2017.