Writer Marjorie Liu was a successful novelist before breaking into comics in a major way at Marvel Comics, writing books including “X-23,” “Black Widow,” and writing a storyline that culminated in Marvel’s first gay marriage in the pages of “Astonishing X-Men.” Earlier this year at January’s Image Expo, the publisher revealed that she would be making her creator-owned debut alongside artist Sana Takeda with “Monstress.” “Monstress” will make its debut this November from Image, and Liu visited with CBR TV’s Albert Ching aboard the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss the new project, how it came to be, why she’s telling a period piece and more. She also looks back on her time at Marvel, commenting on Northstar’s wedding and how it feels to see X-23 announced as the publisher’s new Wolverine.
In the first part of their discussion, Liu tells CBR TV all about what inspired her to head down the creator-owned path and what “Monstress” is all about. She explains what about the story’s time period intrigues her, how writing without restrictions reminds her of writing novels, and why Image Comics is the right home for the series.
On what drew her to creator-owned comics:
Marjorie Liu: I started out, and I still am, a novelist. The beauty of writing a novel is you get to tell your own story. You can be as weird and as wacky as you want, and you can flesh out the world as much as you want. And I loved writing for Marvel. I loved writing “X-23,” I loved writing “Black Widow,” but I have to say there’s something really, really beautiful about being able to tell the story you want to tell. And for me, in comic book format. So that was the allure of doing a creator-owned project.
On what made “Monstress” the right project to make her creator-owned debut with:
I was thrilled that Image was on board for “Monstress.” It’s basically a story about — it’s set in like an alternate 1900s earth — and I call it steampunk meets kaiju. It’s about this young girl and she has a psychic bond to a monster. And that bond is slowly changing her and it’s turning her “monstress.” The journey is — the adventure follows her and her search for answers because she wants to separate herself from this thing. Unfortunately she’s going to find that’s not very easy to do and maybe she shouldn’t do it.
On making her creator-owned debut at Image Comics, which is one of the premier destinations for original comics material:
I’m thrilled. It’s been wonderful having so much freedom and room to play. Just anything I want to do. I mean, as a writer I know the dangers of that. There’s dangers to allowing oneself to just do anything, but knowing that that’s my responsibility to tell a good story within that framework it’s been just a joy. It’s been a joy just to do my thing and not worry.
On how it feels different to write you own stories as opposed to work for hire characters:
It feels very intimate. For me it’s like writing a novel except in graphic novel format, comic book format. And I love writing novels. I mean, I can’t really express sort of how pleasurable it is to be so deeply immersed in a story that you just kind of feel it pouring out of you. That’s what I feel about “Monstress.” For me it’s like writing a novel. Of course half the burden is shouldered by Sana, but it has that same immersive quality to me as I work on it, and I’ve missed that.
In part two, the veteran writer shines a spotlight on her tenure at Marvel Comics, especially given recent turns of events. First she discusses her feelings about Northstar’s wedding in “Astonishing X-Men” and how it feels now that marriage equality has passed in the United States. Next she weighs in on the “All-New Wolverine,” better known as X-23, a character Liu spent quite a bit of time with. And before things wrap up, the writer teases… something new beyond her creator-owned series, but stops short of revealing anything concrete at the moment.
On looking back on writing Northstar’s wedding in the pages of Marvel’s “Astonishing X-Men” in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality:
It’s funny, because no matter how often I get asked that question I never — it’s always hard for me to discuss it because the feeling I have is so — it’s just a huge ball of emotion inside of me. Writing it was a very intense experience and the response was very intense as well. Now that it has come to pass, that we have equality, it’s such a beautiful thing. And it’s very humbling and I feel very grateful and very honored that I was able to tell the story of Northstar and Kyle at the time that we did. And I just feel so deeply, deeply happy — more than happy — that this has come to pass, that we finally have this victory in civil rights, this victory in civil rights. It’s a beautiful thing.
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