Marvel editor Sana Amanat has a lot of work on her plate. Whether it’s the critically acclaimed “Ms. Marvel,” “Captain Marvel” and “Hawkeye;” the recent relaunches of “New Warriors” and “Elektra” or the upcoming “Rocket Raccoon” series, Amanat edits many of the publisher’s fan-favorite series. In March, Amanat appeared at TEDxTeen 2014 to give a talk titled “Myths, Misfits & Masks,” which addressed how societal constructs and stereotype affect self-image and worth — particularly in the younger generation — and how comic book storytelling in particular helps manage the expectations of others through a positive lens.
Amanat joined CBR Senior Editor Albert Ching at WonderCon 2014 to discuss the current crop of titles under her watch, the positive fan reaction to “Ms. Marvel,” how her personal history with comics affects her approach to editing at Marvel and more — including tidbits on developing “New Warriors,” “Elektra” and “Rocket Raccoon.”
On her recent TED Talk: It was probably the scariest moment of my life. Editors are supposed to sit behind a computer and think about things before they talk, so it’s very, very difficult to talk for 15 minutes about a subject and tell a story and have people engaged. But once I actually got up there, it was really empowering. I really enjoyed the experience, and I was among a bunch of talented kids and people who are far more accomplished than I am, so I didn’t know what I was doing there. But it was great, and people really connected with what I was talking about.
On the positive fan reaction to “Ms. Marvel”: Before the comic even came out, based on people’s reactions to it, in my mind it was already a success. People felt so excited about the fact that Marvel was doing something like this and doing something so big, but to be fair in my opinion, I think the comics audience is probably — whatever you want to say about the comments boards and the people reacting — in a lot of ways they’re probably the most accepting, because they’ve been doing the weird for such a long time, and then it trickles out to the mainstream. It’s surprising to an extent, but at the same time, I look at the audience and the types of content we’ve done in the past and how the people have really rallied behind it. They’re doing it again for Ms. Marvel. One of the things I’m really excited about is that this has been a product that is making people who have never read comics before walk into comic shops and say, “What is that?” I’ve had so many people — people of all ages, races, faces — say, “This is my first comic book ever, I want to keep reading comics, tell me where else to go.”
On editing books with a broader appeal: I think at some point, early in my career as an editor, I was trying to figure out how do I be like everyone else — everyone who knows Marvel continuity, who is steeped in continuity for the 75 years that we’ve existed — and how do I tell the stories that I, as a young Sana, would want to read? I made that decision, and not to say that all of my comics are very typical in the sense that they live in their own space, but I think it’s really important to tell stories that have their own vision and identity so that you don’t have to worry [about] reading those 50 other comics that you didn’t before. If you did, great! You’ll get a lot of the references, but at the same time, for you to be able to walk in and say, “Oh, that Elektra looks good! Here’s #1 and #2, I can still read it and know what’s going on.” I think that’s really important.
On developing “New Warriors”: Chris Yost is the type of person that you work with where you know what he’s doing and you don’t have to worry about it. I think he walked in saying, “I want to tell a superhero story with younger superheroes from all walks of life.” I thought that was interesting because it was very similar to the things that I’ve been doing, but we haven’t been able to tell a very traditional superhero story in its own right. When Chris was initially pitching it, I loved the idea of “Where are the New Warriors now and why do we need them? Do we still need them?” Especially in a world where there are so many heroes running around on the next street corner, why do we need yet another team? As much as it is about the big super heroics about it all, it’s really just a story about people coming together, young heroes coming together and trying to figure out their purpose as heroes and their purpose as a team.
On Skottie Young’s “Rocket Raccoon”: Skottie really got into who this character is supposed to be and has visualized what that world is. It’s an intergalactic mystery story and he goes off into very strange places that only Skottie can draw really well. … It’s beautiful. It’s some of Skottie’s best work I’ve ever seen.