"Faith's" Houser Explains How Valiant's "Strong," "Optimistic" Hero Earned an Ongoing

When Valiant Entertainment first announced the publication of a "Faith" miniseries late last year, internet reaction quickly spiked to boiling hot, with everybody racing to find out more about the bubbly hero and her history within the Valiant Universe. Not only did Faith Herbert find traction and interest with long-term comics fans, her presence pulled in casual fans and readers in a way few could've predicted. Overnight, Faith went from being a fan-favorite supporting character from "Harbinger" to being one of Valiant's biggest stars.

Valiant's "Faith" Flies Solo in New Ongoing Series from Houser, Perez & Sauvage

Much of that is thanks to writer Jody Houser, who honed in on the classical trappings of the character whilst creating a contemporary, vibrant world for her to live in. As announced yesterday, that world will return later this year, as Faith will jump from the miniseries into an ongoing written by Houser and drawn by Pere Perez and the returning Marguerite Sauvage.

CBR News has the exclusive first interview with Houser since the announcement about returning to the character on an ongoing basis, one of comics' biggest -- and most unexpected -- successes in recent memory and what she has planned for the fan-favorite hero's next adventures.

CBR News: Your "Faith" miniseries had a number of sellouts. Were you expecting the response to the "Faith" miniseries to be as overwhelming as it was?

Jody Houser: I wasn't. I obviously loved the character -- that's why I wanted to write her. But you never really know how a book is going to land and if people are going to embrace the story you're telling and the character you're telling your story about. I was just really gratified to see the reaction from fans -- both old Valiant fans who were familiar with Faith beforehand, and people who were trying out the book and maybe even Valiant for the first time.

What do you think has caught on about Faith? What made her so appealing and interesting for readers, and for you to write?

For me, the big appeal for her is that she's just such a positive, optimistic character. In the face of everything she's dealing with, she's someone who sees the best in the heroes she grew up reading about. And she tries to embody that to the best of her ability. I've also had way too much fun with all of the geek and pop culture references in the book, and I think some of that is appealing to the readers, I assume.

And I think that representation is something that a lot of people have mentioned that they're happy to see. They're happy to see a character that looks like them. I think that's definitely encouraging people to check out the book, but I think without a strong character and story behind it, people aren't going to keep reading.

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At what point did "Faith" become an ongoing series? Did you know before you started writing the miniseries, after the first issue sold out, or some time later?

We actually started discussing an ongoing series back in October, I believe, and I had to wait for things to fall in line. I ended up having an emergency move toward the end of last year, so that delayed a few things. But, they were already very interested in an ongoing series before the miniseries even came out. I think even before we even knew what the sales were like for the miniseries, it was basically just on me to get a pitch in and work out all of the details of what we wanted the ongoing to be.

How is Faith doing as the series starts out? Do things kick off right after the miniseries or later down the line?

The ongoing story series does pick up after the events of the miniseries. Though she has in effect saved Los Angeles from an alien invasion, her life didn't have a big change despite that. So a lot of it is her still figuring it out. She's established who she is in the city and as a hero. But is that change going to continue working for her in the long run, now that's there's people who know who she is? Is that going to complicate things?
A lot of the series is still focused on exploring what it means to be a hero in the "real world," and for her to continue her life as a superhero and adult in L.A.

Faith has undergone a number of personal tragedies and, despite having gone through some tough experiences, she's managed to retained a positive outlook. What do you think keeps her going? How does she remain sunny through everything?

I think a lot of it is the fact that she knows she has the power to help other people. I'm sure she has the "with great power, comes great responsibility" mantra echoing through her head, probably every day. And again, she does have these great icons of comics, sci-fi and fantasy that she's looked up to for her whole life. So in essence, she's given herself some very big boots to fill. She holds herself to a higher standard than even the people around her do. She wants to be that hero she's always read and watched.

Life is never easy for a hero though, so what is Faith going up against in the first arc of this new series? Who is coming to challenge her?

Faith may actually get an arch-nemesis of her own, whether she wants to or not. You always see speculation that the existence of a hero draws out the villains, so we'll see if that's the case with a new superhero like Faith running around Los Angeles.

Pere Perez will be the new ongoing artist. What does he bring to the book with his style?

I think the fact that he's a very experienced Valiant artist and he, like Francis Portela, has that style that works very well for both the character moments and the superhero action. I think he's going to bring a lot to all aspects of the book. I'm excited to see what he brings to Faith.

And will Marguerite Sauvage be staying on the book? Will she be filling the same role as in the miniseries?

Yes, Marguerite is going to continue drawing the fantasy and dream sequences in each issue. I think that was one of the really unique things that about the miniseries, and I'm glad to see that continue in the ongoing. That's a really strong part of the book's identity.

How important is that balance of fantasy and reality that Marguerite's style plays to? Especially to Faith as both a character and a series?

I think it's a huge part of Faith, because she's building her identity around story, and fictional characters she's always loved, in a way. It's an interplay between how she thinks things should work out based on the fiction she has been exposed to, and then how it actually plays out in the real world. And it's not that she's naive necessarily, but I think sometimes she's a bit more optimistic about how things will work out in reality than they actually do.

RELATED: Valiant Puts "Faith" in Houser & Portela's Hands

Faith has been building up a life for herself, with a career, romance, friends, and the superhero-ing in her miniseries. Is it particularly exciting to get to write a character who's at this stage in her life with every opportunity ahead of her?

It really is. I think it's especially a lot of fun when you have a character in a new setting and you're building up a supporting cast for them. But at the same time, there are the other characters in the Valiant Universe that she already knows, who have already come into play, and hopefully others will to. It's etching out a new corner of the Valiant Universe for her, but making sure that she's an important part of the universe as a whole.

How long-term are your plans for the series moving forward?

We're definitely looking to do some interesting things in the long term. I don't want to give too much away, but I think people will enjoy the ride!

Valiant's "Faith" ongoing series debuts this July.

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