Between packed panels and visiting fans at C2E2, Comic Watch was lucky enough to have a chat with one of the newest X-Men writers. Vita Ayala speaks about their work, zoomers on Krakoa, and comics in the information age.
Comic Watch– First off, how is C2E2 going for you?
Vita Ayala-Incredible. I have never been to Chicago before. I’ve never been to the show. And it has been nothing but wonderful.
CW – Have you been able to enjoy any of it, not just as a creator, but also just as an attendee?
VA – We stopped by the Tokidoki booth, which we didn’t actually get to go inside, but they have a menu so I was like “Alright I’m gonna come back later”. Uh yea, we haven’t had a lot of time to sit and do everything. But we’re probably gonna do that tomorrow.
CW – Okay. Yea, the con is real great. I’m glad you’re able to get the chance to see it from the other side of this table.
VA – I love cons. You know, I’ve been going to cons as a fan for like… since I was a kid. I’m from New York and there are a bunch of conventions. There was like a big horror convention that used to be in town every year. There used to be three different comic cons. So, I love this kind of stuff. To be able to come to another city and do it is really awesome.
CW – Awesome. So, you’re writing Children of the Atom, coming out soon. What is something that you feel you are adding to Dawn of X? Something that might have been missing or might not have been there as much as it could have been that you’re trying to add to or contribute?
VA – I think one of the perspectives… I think we need zoomers.* Alright, I know we’re all having this argument about how old the X-Men are. And like, I have my opinions that I’m not gonna get into, that I have definitely like had discussions about with the other people in the X-Room. I think that there is really something interesting to exploring characters who become these heroes but who have always existed in a world where They (the X-Men) exist. So like, they grew up like I did. Where like, we would watch the X-men on screen. There’s paraphernalia. What is it like to idolize someone that you could then become from that prospective? You know, the other books are really cool, I love literally all of them, that’s where all my money goes. But I was thinking of New Mutants and I was like “That is the young people but also they didn’t grow up as fans of the X-Men”.
CW – They’re not X-Men fans becoming X-Men., because when they were young the X-Men were feared and hated.
VA – Exactly. It’s like imagine… imagine us being like I wanna.. I wanna be Cyclops. I wanna be this and then doing it…. Being it. Imagine being able to manifest that. That would be so cool.
CW – That is really awesome. So what is your process for taking real world problems and then applying them to comics, whether its via symbolism or metaphors?
VA -I think with comics- superhero comics specifically. There are so many comics as a medium not a genre. But with superhero comics especially you really do have to work in the realm of more bombastic, which means you are using a lot of metaphor. But also, whatever the stakes are you have to multiple them by a billion.* You just have to go completely… I will not curse… go bonkers. And so what I try to do is find ways to take- I don’t want to say issues- but questions or struggles and go “How do I apply this to a degree that is catastrophic? How do I make it not just flashy but like so intense that you have to pay attention?” And so that’s kind of I start thinking of how about to translate a real world thing into the language of myth. Because I think that superheroes are our myths and legends in the way Hercules and Jason and the Argonauts and all that kind of stuff. And they are living with us right now, right? So they affect us as much as we affect them. So I try to think about those terms.
CW – There seems to be a bigger push now with Marvel with adding younger writers. Which comes with it increased diversity, especially with projects like Voices of Marvel, which was amazing by the way. How do you feel that comics nowadays are different from when you were growing up?
VA -I think there is more and more access to be able to create comics, whether that is through the big two or you know, making your own comics or doing web comics or whatever. And I think one of the things that this information age has given us is access as people that are creators but also access as people who are looking for comics, to see things that you wouldn’t have normally seen. So like, there has been brown people and queer people and fem people, all kinds of people making comics, as long as they existed. But now I can go online and see someone’s web comic. Now I can go online and see their portfolios and see what they are doing. And editors can do that too and so I think that some of the reason we see more and more “diversity”- I hate that word*- more inclusion, is because you no longer have to live in a certain place to be seen. Which I think is really awesome.
CW – So on that note is there any web comic or self-published comics along those lines, that you kinda would like to give a lift to, say “Hey more people need to read this”?
VA – There’s so many. I should have just brought a list. Right now I am trying to convince Regine Sawyer to continue this book called Eating Vampires that she did. It’s really good. She has a couple different series. She publishes her own books. She has a publisher called Lock it Down Productions. Love it. She also runs Women in Comics International. So anything by Regine Sawyer. Micheline Hess does a couple really great like middle grade and YA books, comics, that I really love. Malice in Wonderland is one of them. I am… I’m obsessed. I gave it to my nephew. I keep buying their books and giving them away. Those to start with, those two are really incredible.
CW –Thank you very much. And finally so some X-Fans may not be super familiar with your work. For those who aren’t, what would you recommend them to pick up to tide them over until Children of the Atom drops?
VA -If you are looking for more marvel stuff I would say Nebula. Nebula just came out. I’m super proud of that one. it’s a lot of fun and it’s also pretty rugged. Um….if you’re looking for more of an indie feel I would say Submerged or The Wilds. Both of those are my creator owned books. They’re both horror. One of them is kinda zombie horror but instead of being disgusting and rotting the zombies are beautiful. They have flowers growing out of them and stuff like that. Submerged is a queer brown retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice set in the New York City subway system, which is hell if you’ve ever been there. So yeah, I would say those.
CW – You had me at queer, brown and you just pushed it over the edge with New York City subway. So I gotta track that down. Before I go, comic watch has a huge Valiant fan base, so with the 2020 relaunch do you have any plans to return to Livewire?
VA- I… you know any time they have the space I would happily do so. But I also want to… I am a big fan of Secret Weapons. And I would like the original team back. And they can write more of that so I could read it…. But yeah I love Amanda, so.
CW– Any other valiant characters you wanna take your hand at?
VA– Alright I’ve been saying this for a long time and all of them over are going to laugh, if they listen which I’m sure they will. I just want to write a book that’s Lil’ Livewire, which was they did a like, chibi shirt with Livewire, Bloodtot and Van Goat. That’s just what I want to write. I would love to take a crack at some of their magic stuff. I think their Deadside stuff is really interesting, not Shadow Man in particular, I like that book but I don’t think I’m qualified to write that book. Any of that like supporting stuff… I also.. I don’t know. There are a lot of characters that I think would be a lot fun to write.
Changing Times- A C2E2 Interview with Vita Ayala
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