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NYCC: The Women of Marvel Celebrate Diversity in Comics

by  in Comic News Comment
NYCC: The Women of Marvel Celebrate Diversity in Comics

Content development director Sana Amanat, producer Judy Stephens, social media manager Adri Cowan, assistant editor Emily Shaw, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” costume designer Ann Foley, “A-Force” scribe Marguerite Bennett, “Black Widow: Forever Red” author Margaret Stohl, editor Katie Kubert, “Daredevil” costume designer Stephanie Maslansky, “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” writer Amy Reeder, “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” artist Erica Henderson and cover artist Afua Richardson came together Sunday afternoon at New York Comic Con for the annual “Women of Marvel” panel.

“We’re going to break this stage like we broke it last year,” Amanat promised.

Stephens opened by showing covers for seventeen female-led titles coming to Marvel, including “Black Widow,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Gamora” and “Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat.”

“Five years ago, we had zero,” Amanat said to a round of applause.

Stephens announced a “Howard the Duck/Squirrel Girl” crossover from Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quonones. This will occur in issue #6 of both books and appear in spring 2016.

Amanat also mentioned the previously announced “Spider-Women” event, joking, “I’m secretly hoping people will start calling this the Lady Bug event.”

“This is the first female-led ongoing series by an all-female team,” Stephens said of “Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat.”

“When I got the e-mail to do this cover, I think I hopped up and down so much I bore a hole in my floor,” Richardson said when her “X-Men ’92” hip-hop variant came up on the screen. She relayed her excitement about both the X-Men and hip-hop, sharing her excitement to “draw Storm with natural hair.”

“I will be working on a series,” she added slyly. “I can’t say what it is yet. No spoilers! I get a call from Axel Alonso — this is not a ‘shut up and draw’ situation. We want you to rip up the script… that’s so amazing to hear… This is not that situation at all. What I think, what I feel, completely matters… it feels like I’m being welcomed into a family.”

“We’ll announce it soon. It’s going to big monthly series and we’re excited to have Afua Richardson,” Kubert added.

“‘Black Widow: Forever Red’ comes out on Tuesday,” Stohl announced. “Make some noise! You want some Black Widow in your life; it’s up to you. I think probably the greatest my moment in my life was when I came here and you guys freaked out… I think I cried 40 times.”

“We stand very much behind this series and future series. If you’re a Black Widow fan, Margaret kills the crap out of this story,” Amanat said.

When a slide of Quake’s costume from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” appeared on screen, Foley shared, “This was definitely one of the most exciting costumes to do on the show. When we found out who she was last season, I was hoping and praying they would say, ‘Anne, we want a superhero costume.’ I was so excited! And Chloe was too. That girl rocks it like nobody else.”

“One of the things that was most important to me was staying true to the character,” she added.

“The first thing we needed to do was agree and determine the philosophy behind the show — it’s all grounded in reality… as much as we wanted to honor the original comics, we needed to bring them into the 21st century and make them people. It was a lot of fun,” Maslansky said of working on the “Daredevil” Netflix series.

Maslansky also touched on her work with “Jessica Jones,” saying, “Working with David Tennant was just a dream come true. The whole process is so collaborative; each actor brings something to the process. David in particular — his character is menacing and evil, and as much as he needed to convey the purpleness of his character in the comics… if I had designed all of his costumes to be purple, he would have been a joke… We made sure we didn’t go over the top with the color purple, incorporating maroons and navy, looks that were distinctive. He would put on his clothes and really transform.

“I was really fortunate because David is a slim guy… We found so many suits and so many ties that had a mention of the color. We felt a wide variety of colors that conveyed the menace of his character,” she concluded.

“We’re really excited to be doing a song with Married with Sea Monsters [for the Women of Marvel podcast,” Stephens announced, playing a clip from the new podcast theme.

“I edit the podcast so I’m excited to have songs,” she laughed.

Amy Reeder spoke next about her “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” series. “I’m co-writing with Brendan Monclare on this… for us, it wasn’t that we needed a specific person; we wanted to do something we could bring back. Our editors… brought up Devil Dinosaur in Moon Boy… I had this image in my head of this ‘Inspector Gadget’-like character, but not goofy.”

“I’m actually more excited about her and I love, love, love Marvel decided to put her name first,” she continued. “It’s a lot of fun; I’m drawing covers… everyone is freaking about the new pages coming in at Marvel.”

“It was the same experience I had when I saw Miles Morales come to life,” Amanat shared. “It’s the same with Lunella. She’s really adamant…. the best kind of characters are a little nuts, but adorable.”

“We’re all a little nuts and adorable,” she laughed.

Henderson spoke a little about Squirrel Girl. “I’m still working on Squirrel
Girl. We just announced the crossover… We have something really cool coming up. It’s something so secret that there’s a big square on the cover. I’m so excited for people to see it.”

Amanat invited audience members looking to make comics stand up. “Everyone in this room, continue this conversation outside of these doors. We’re here; we’re here to stay, and it’s a safe place to stay.”

“If you don’t want to make a comic, there are so many jobs out there in this community… Adri [Cowan] manages our social media,” Stephens added.

“If you’re a lawyer, if you’re really into finance, there are people out there,” she said. “There are people who manage the creators. There are people who help us manage convention spaces… you can e-mail us and we’ll tell you all about it.”

When asked plans for “civilian” female characters like Mary Jane, Stohl shared, “The Red Widow is a teen! She’s kind of forcing her way into superheroism.”

“For ‘Squirrel Girl,’ we’re definitely focusing more on Nancy,” Henderson added. “I think she’s staying in civilian mode… you don’t need to have superheroes to be awesome at what you do.”

“Everyone is important whether you have powers or not. In ‘Ms. Marvel,’ Bruno and her family are as important as Kamala Kahn,” Amanat shared.

“I have to say I was inspired the moment I was asked to collaborate on the vigilante costume. I was doing something I had never done before. There were so many challenges to it. I realized it was the beginning of something special. I spent a week designing his mask on the kitchen table,” Maslansky explained to a fan.

“First of all, they’re all like my children. I love them all equally… I am very fond of the Quake costume… We don’t have a lot of time, so sometimes I’m not getting a lot of leeway. I’m always really happy when they turn out as well as they do. I do love Mockingbird and Quake. What’s great and what’s important to me that these costumes make them feel empowered and make them feel strong without oversexualizing them,” Foley said of “S.H.I.E.L.D.”

When a fan asked if any female creators would be on a “Star Wars” book, Reeder said, “I’d like to do an Endor story” and donned an Ewok scarf.

“In terms of Jessica Drew, that very much came from Dennis Hopeless,” Amanat explained. “He had just become a father… he developed such an amazement and respect. He wanted to share it… we rarely talk about women outside of them being tough superheroes… it’s very well done.”

When asked who each creator had on their bucket list to work with, Henderson responded immediately: “Dazzler.”

“I’m actually hoping and praying and I’ve heard some rumors — I want to get my hands on a series with Hellcat,” Maslansky revealed.

“America Chavez,” Amanat pitched in.

“Can we get a Mystique book?” Stephens asked.

“Where did Kitty Pryde go?” Richardson added.

“I’m working on the new ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ book… it’s my goal to get more shirtless, sexy men in comics. I’ve been succeeding! ‘Hercules’ is my book. In the first issue, we have a sexy shirtless Coulson,” Kubert said.

“I’ll talk to Clark [Gregg] about that,” Foley joked.

“I think we’ve already started seeing that shift as women who are more conscious of these ideas work in comics,” Henderson said of the shift of comic book costumes for female characters. “As more women draw women.”

“‘Squirrel Girl’ is going to be part of the New Avengers and it’s great news to get more of him,” Kubert added. “Bless the artist, but he kept drawing her with big books… we had to tell him, ‘This is who the character is. This is what she’s about.’ I saw him at the con today and I said, ‘Small chest, big butt.’ It’s definitely something we keep in mind.”

“I’m a big fan of Yelena [Belova]… I do work closely with Sana. Marvel is a huge partner… we have been so lucky to have the chance to break Natasha open and do an origin and have a new legacy character,” Stohl shared. “You will see Red Widow in the comics. You will see more and more of her. I love #WheresWidow on Twitter. I love how you call them out of everything. Do your job! That’s how we got to do this book!”

“It’s happening, it’s already there,” Amanat said when asked about intersectionality. “Keep asking that question. Understand that is absolutely what we think about. Just be patient.”

“The new younger X-Men title by Dennis Hopeless will deal with young Iceman’ coming out of the comic. Pick that up. Give that a read. That’s going to be at the forefront of that big,” Kubert added.

“I would really like to see a ‘Ms. Marvel’ movie,” Stohl said.

“The variety of life — there are so many different kinds of people and stories that need to be told… Already, but the things to come, I’m super excited about,” Richardson shared.

When asked if Moon Boy will appear in “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” Reeder responded definitively, “Yes.”