Just A Girl (with Superpowers): Hoseley & Humphreys talk "Vix"

For the last fourteen years, Rantz Hoseley has worked in the videogame industry, but ever since his first portfolio review in the late '80s, when former Marvel editor and current “Amazing Spider-Girl” writer Tom DeFalco advised to him to become a plumber, he’s always had an eye on the comics industry. Hoseley returns big time this year, and as a triple-threat. As an artist, he can be seen in Image Comics’ “Displaced Persons” (with Derek McCulloch), and as an editor, his work can be found in “Comic Book Tattoo,” an anthology based on the songs of Tori Amos. Hoseley shows off his skills as a writer in “Vix,” and CBR News wpoke with him and rookie artist Matt Humphreys about the new three-issue Shadowline miniseries and its eponymous heroine.

“She’s somewhat puzzled by the mystery, but not really bothered by it,” Hoseley said of Vix, a teenage girl who finds herself with unusual super-human abilities that she doesn’t understand, both in regards to what she can do with them as well as where they came from. “She sees them as a great thing. The particulars don’t worry or concern her much and she’d be perfectly happy not knowing the whys and wherefores, being content to help people without them knowing she even exists.”

“It’s kind of a natural human state to some degree,” Hoseley continued. “If things go great for you, you don’t really question it a lot, especially when you’re younger and the world hasn’t made you a bitter, cynical shell of a human being.“

Matt Humphreys, for his part, doesn’t consider Vix (the girl, not the series) to be a superhero per se. “I think Rantz came up with a great title for the first issue, 'Just A Girl'. It pretty much covers the persona there,” Humphreys told CBR News. “She's not this epic over-the-top bikini-wearing, gun-toting pastiche of '90s heroism or anything like that. She's a girl you may have gone to high school with. She's how someone we know would react to sudden power. Confused, afraid… but a little bit excited.”

Celeste Boudreux, the girl also known as Vix, is not a troubled young hero. In the miniseries, Hoseley and Humphreys address just what a hard-working, thoughtful, grounded individual would do with the power to make a better world. The fact that she’s a teenager may be her greatest challenge though, as her worldview is not entirely matured. “She simply believes that what you put out is what comes back to you,“ said Hoseley. “More than anything, she wants the world to be a better place. Being 17, her notion of what defines a 'better place’ is both crystal clear in her head, and at the same time woefully incomplete. It’s one of the main reasons she doesn’t question her acquisition of strange and powerful abilities at first. She’s been granted tools to make the world a better place, and with her outlook, on some level, she thinks that if she starts questioning these abilities, she might lose them.”

Hoseley describes “Vix,” (the series, not the girl,) as being a conspiracy-laden adventure. The aforementioned whys and wherefores of Vix’s origin will figure into that aspect of the book. Said the writer, “She’ll discover the truth as to just how and why she got these 'gifts,’ which throw her whole sense of what is real in the world and who she can trust, into a complete tailspin. The choice she has to struggle with at that point... once the blinders have been taken away, is 'What does she believe?’ She knows the truth. Now the question is, what is she going to do about it?”

If it sounds like “Vix” is both mature-minded but suitable reading material for kids, that’s no accident. Hoseley credits two sources for the inspiration for the teen champion. The first is his family. “I have four daughters who love superheroes, science fiction, videogames and comics,” Hoseley said. “They have this crazy love for characters like Batgirl, Supergirl, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, the Phoenix, etc. The sad part is, they love comics and they want to read the comics about these characters. They like reading the Johnny DC superhero books, but they think it’s 'so unfair’ that they can’t read Spider-Woman or Ms. Marvel, but you know, those books aren’t really 'pre-teen safe’ Too many times there are 'kid-appropriate’ books that seem to assume that kids are functional idiots. Just because it’s 'safe’ to give your kids, shouldn’t mean that it has to make your eyes glaze over if you’re an adult.”

Hoseley’s second inspiration was professional in nature and came from talking with Shadowline’s Jim Valentino and Kris Simon at last year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. Said Hoseley, “I’ve been doing comics off and on since 1987, so Jim and I had a lot of common ground in talking about the industry and the kind of books that were our favorites, what his and Kris’ goals were for Shadowline, and what kind of books that we as fans of comics, wished the industry had more of.

“So, a few months pass, and Kris and Jim drop me an email asking if I want to put my words where my mouth is and do a book like that. At the same time, I had been thinking about the idea of a book that would be compelling and interesting for both kids and adults, so the timing just kind of collided in this opportunity and I knew if I wanted to do a book like that, doing it with Shadowline meant that I’d have Jim and Kris to backstop me as editors in case I was off in the weeds while still letting me tell the kind of story I wanted to tell, as opposed to the story they wanted me to do.”

Matt Humphreys brings an element of Hoseley’s philosophy behind the book to the art style he’s employing for “Vix.” “I'm really attempting to make this book look like it's an animated feature with each panel being a still from it,” the artist said. “Rantz came up with actual characters who are fleshed out people you'd believe were real, and I wanted to take that quality to the reader so they feel like there's a bigger project going on. Like you are watching a movie.”

Humphreys draws on many influences to achieve this style. “I watch a lot of animated films and TV shows. I've got this piecemeal of various influences in my background, but a lot of what I do is because I've surrounded myself with a great group of artistic friends who aren't afraid to tell me when they hate something I'm doing.”

Hoseley and Humphreys teamed-up in a thoroughly modern manner; they met on the Internet. Hoseley runs a comics forum called Panel & Pixel, which Humphreys read and posted on. When he shared some pages of art featuring the Marvel’s Runaways, Hoseley recognized the illustrator’s talent. “When Jim, Kris and I started talking about 'Vix,’ he was the first person I thought of,“ said Hoseley, “because his stuff straddles that line of being perfect regardless of the reader age group. Every piece he does for the book just makes me all that much more sure that he was the perfect choice for the series.”

Assuming good sales, there are future Vix stories to be told. “There are eight story arcs I have mapped out with a definitive end, if sales warrant it,” Hoseley said. “Each of those eight are related to a pivotal element of the source of where Vix’s abilities come from, and what her 'foretold destiny’ is, and how she deals with each of those trial or conflicts. I can talk more about that after the second issue comes out. To go into it any more at this point wades into the land of spoilers. To me it’s very important that each of those arcs are complete unto themselves as well, so that new readers can jump on at any point.”

“Vix” hits stands June 25 from Shadowline and Image Comics.

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