A packed house greeted bestselling novelist and comic book writer Marjorie Liu at WonderCon on Friday, as the writer of “X-23, “Black Widow” and “Astonishing X-Men” began her spotlight panel by opening the floor to questions. Moderated by comics retailer Mimi Cruz, the panel covered everything from her paranormal romance novels to the marriage of Northstar to his fiance Kyle in the pages of “Astonishing X-Men.”
The first series of questions were centered on her run on “Astonishing X-Men” and the impact it will have long term in the Marvel universe.
“It will probably be a footnote, but my hope is that comics keep pushing the envelope,” Liu said. “Gay marriage pushed the envelope, but I feel like that should be a normal thing. I feel like comics should keep pushing diversity… until a gay marriage isn’t something that hits the news but is just accepted.”
There were a number of critics who weren’t the biggest fans of the move to marry off Kyle and Northstar, but it was something that both Liu and Marvel wanted. “Marvel was definitely ready, and I was definitely very excited to be the one to write that story,” she said.
Writing comics wasn’t originally in Liu’s plan, she said. She graduated law school and was ready to shape the rest of her life down that path, but then she found herself with a large amount of time as she struggled to find her first job.
“I decided I was going to write this book, and I had always wanted to write,” Liu said. “I think I lost my mind, because I wrote this book in a month. I did nothing else other than sending out job applications, and I did it. Then I spent the next couple of months revising it, then I sold it. I got rejected 20 times, but the last publisher that I sent it to was the one that bought it. I sold a book and I had a choice; practice law and write one book a year, or literally speed things up and push my career as a writer faster. I decided to write full time. I wrote 2-3 books a year for three years. I started to write X-Men comics, and they told me they liked the work I did.”
Despite her success, Liu said she gets some flack from her parents for her writing career, even though it’s been a prosperous one.
“Just last week, my dad said, ‘You can still go back and practice law.’ He said, ‘You should go ahead and take the Massachusetts bar.’ He thinks it’s going to be the easiest thing in the world for me to go ahead and study for a month. I just sat there staring,” Liu said.
Marjorie is widely renowned for her romance novels, and a fan of them asked about the general appeal of romance.
“I think that romance novels answer a very profound hunger within people, specifically women,” Liu said. “There’s a reason why it’s a billion dollar market.”
She went on to say relationships can be hard, and romance novels offer an idealized vision of a perfect relationship.
“It’s really fun, and happy endings are fun,” Liu said. “Even if you have a great relationship. Even if you’re totally in love with your partner, romance novels are fun because you’re still reading about people falling in love. You’re reading about the first tension between a man and a woman, a man and a man, a woman and a woman about the first steps of their relationship. This is what we love. We love reading about love.”
She continues on speaking out about her “Hunter Kiss” novel series and if it will ever be adapted as a graphic novel.
“There was discussion of that a couple years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere,” Liu said. “My hope is that one day there’ll be a ‘Hunter Kiss’ graphic novel series.”
The rest of the question-and-answer session dealt with Liu giving various audience members advice on how to handle their own writing, from decompressing to working through writer’s block.
She also explained why the last issue of “X-23” was devoid of dialogue.
“I chose that deliberately,” Liu said, noting that “silence made perfect sense” for the character.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to end that series, she said. “Then also Phil (Noto) is an amazing artist, I felt like a silent issue… he can do it. That for me, that was also a way for him to give his last touch on the series, because his art was so fantastic that nothing else needed to be said. Honestly, a lot of the issues that he did, there wasn’t a need for the dialogue because his art spoke perfectly. I wanted to give that to Phil, but I [also] wanted to give that to the character.”