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Valiant Opens Up About Hillary Clinton’s Guest-Starring Role In “Faith”

by  in Comic News Comment
Valiant Opens Up About Hillary Clinton’s Guest-Starring Role In “Faith”

Just before election day, Valiant’s “Faith” will have a truly historic run-in with one of the major players in this year’s election cycle. Announced at the Washington Post, “Faith” #5 will be a 48-page election-edition issue that will feature the titular superhero’s encounter with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The team-up tale will be written by Louise Simonson, known for her highly influential work on the X-Men and Superman, and feature art by Pere Perez. The issue, which features a cover from Paolo Rivera, will arrive in stores on November 2.

The issue will feature three stories, with regular “Faith” creative team Jody Houser and Meghan Hetrick writing the lead. The backup stories will include a prelude to “Harbinger Renegades” by Rafer Roberts, and legendary writer Louise Simonson will team up with Pere Perez for the Hillary Clinton/Faith tale. Editor Tom Brennan spoke with the Washington Post about the decision to bring Simonson into the “Faith” fold, calling the writer “one of the truly great comic-book creators and an icon in this industry. But she’s also someone who knows how to tell a good story. She can take this idea and give it something worth our readers’ time.”

In the interview, Simonson compared Faith to another superhero she’s written before: Superman. “[Faith] is so positive and she’s very much what I think a hero should be,” Simonson said. “I wrote Superman for a while and – she’s almost in her soul, she is like the female Superman. [Writer] Jody’s work is wonderful on this book, but I was glad they would let me play just a little bit in this particular sandbox.” She added that she’s excited about writing for the iconic politician. “Honestly,” Simonson added, “how many people get to put words in Hillary’s mouth?”

CBR also spoke with Valiant CEO and CCO Dinesh Shamdasani and Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons about Faith’s meeting with Clinton, working with the legendary Simonson and more.

CBR News: You have a historic comic book writer, Louise Simonson, scripting this historic meeting. How did you bring Simonson into this project?

Dinesh Shamdasani: “Faith” Editor Tom Brennan brought the incredibly talented Louise Simonson on board and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it or more excited about her take on the historic meeting between Hillary Clinton and our own Faith Herbert. Tom has been “Faith’s” lead editor since the first issue of her original mini-series, and has done a tremendous job bringing some world-class talent to Faith’s world from Jody Houser to Colleen Doran. Louise is, of course, a legend in comics, having created a number of incredible characters and having written some of the medium’s most famous stories, including one that involves perhaps comics’ most famous death that just so happens to also feature a cameo by then-first lady, Hillary Clinton.

Warren Simons: Louise is an icon, and we’re extraordinarily happy that she’s joining us for this story. She’s written an incredible number of remarkable titles in the past that I’ve absolutely loved — including “Power Pack,” “X-Factor,” “New Mutants” and “Steel” — and I think she’s perfect for Faith. All credit for bringing Louise into the project is due to Tom Brennan. She’s a great choice, and Tom mentioned her when we were discussing possibilities.

How long has this idea been in the works? Did it go into motion the minute Hillary Clinton became the presumptive nominee, or is this something that Valiant’s been eyeing for even longer?

Shamdasani: We had been talking about bringing the two together for several months before Hillary Clinton became the presumptive nominee, but the impetus was indeed the weight of that impending feat. As it became clear that Hillary Clinton was going to become the first female nominee for the presidency from a major party, we began to seriously discuss celebrating the extent of that historic achievement. The idea of teaming her with Faith, who in many ways has become the first lady of comics, felt very fitting. A presidential election is one of the most significant moments in our society and culture, and Faith is the very reflection of that same society and culture. Faith represents the comic book reader more than any other character out there, and we knew that it would provide a great storytelling opportunity that our fans would connect with. We floated the idea during an all-hands meeting to the entire office, whose political make up is as diverse as the political system itself, and the staff unanimously fell in love with the idea. So much so that they wouldn’t let us not do it!

At the same time, the world’s response to Faith this year has been both incredibly astonishing and heartwarming. She’s being called the breakout star of comics in 2016 and we’re quickly approaching the point where that is becoming an understatement. She’s gone from starring in her very first mini-series, whose first issue went onto sell out of five printings, to starring in her own ongoing series — which has already become the biggest selling independent superhero launch of the year — to becoming a global cultural touchstone that is being talked about everywhere from The New York Times and the BBC to “The Today Show” and People Magazine. She is truly a global sensation.

Simons: Faith’s an iconic character that has taken the industry by storm — a first of her kind. As Hillary Clinton is the first woman to secure a presidential nomination — which is a groundbreaking feat, regardless of where you stand politically — we felt it was a natural fit. Valiant’s being a universe that is reflective of the real world, we thought that seeing how Faith reacted to this — and how the forces she works with might view this event — were natural areas for us to explore.

What is the process like for bringing a prominent political figure like Hillary Clinton into the comic world?

Simons: It’s obviously a very charged political environment right now, and it’s good for us to reflect that in our titles. When you see the story, I think it’ll be clearer that this is more an exploration of that environment than about endorsing a particular candidate. I work closely with a number of writers who I have an enormous amount of respect and love for, and — just like my family — some are progressive Democrats, some are conservative Republicans, and some fall in between. We’ve always fostered an editorial environment that’s open to a wide-range of ideas and beliefs, and we’ll continue to do so. So throughout this process, these are some of the conversations we’ve had and explored.

Valiant’s superhero universe really reflects the world we live in, and this is another example of that. Is there a chance we’ll see any other current political figures, like presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, in a Valiant comic?

Shamdasani: We will absolutely see more political figures in the Valiant Universe. We’ve already seen on panel appearances from President Obama, Syrian President Bassar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin to name a few. The Valiant Universe is intentionally designed to be reflective of the real world or as we often say in the Valiant offices, “the world outside your window”. As such, every athlete, movie star, cultural icon and political figure already exist in the Valiant Universe. When the opportunity arises to accentuate a story using a real world element we are cognizant of not shying away from it. And because of Faith’s strong relationship with fan culture she is uniquely qualified to connect with the larger than life elements of our world — be it a TV show like “Firefly,” which she has actively worked to bring back at times during in her adventures, or a political figures like Hillary Clinton. As for Donald Trump, we’ve had more than a few conversations about where he might turn up. I’d rather not ruin any potential surprises just yet.

Simons: The beauty of the Valiant Universe is that, as you note, it reflects the world we live in. In a lot of ways it’s an organic entity that’s fueled by our creators, employees, and fans, and it reacts to the world we live in, just like we do in our day-to-day lives. So there’s definitely a possibility that we might see Donald Trump in the future, especially if he becomes President of the United States.

How much of the titular character’s personal politics will be revealed in the issue? Is it safe to say that Faith has used the #ImWithHer hashtag?

Simons: Faith’s an optimist — she believes in the better angels of our nature, to paraphrase another President. She’d unquestionably put her life on the line to save someone, whether they were a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or somewhere in between. While I don’t want to give too much away, I’d say that Faith’s politics are about protecting and loving her fellow citizens, regardless of what candidate they’ll vote for on November 8th.

Shamdasani: Like many of us, Faith’s worldview is as much defined by the moral compass of Superman and Peter Parker as much as it is the great political figures. She believes in humanity, in being good to each other, and in helping those around you. She’s dedicated herself to helping the world in spite of the great danger it puts her in and the setbacks she’s already experienced in doing so. In fact, those setbacks have only served to further her resolve. When Faith is asked by her day job to blog and report on the Hillary Clinton rally from the perspective of a superhero, she does not accept lightly. In truth, she struggles with the place of politics in super-heroics. We’ve hopefully reflected that complicated nature. Without spoiling the book, I can say that I think readers will be surprised by the sophistication and depth of Louise Simonson’s story.

“Faith” #5 arrives in stores on November 2.

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