The Women of Marvel are taking over New York Comic Con. On Sunday morning, Content Development Director Sana Amanat, Producer Judy Stephens, Social Media Manager Adri Cowan, “Black Widow: Red Vengeance” writer Margaret Stohl, “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” scribe Amy Reeeder, “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” artist Erica Henderson, Marvel Netflix series costume designer Stephanie Maslansky and Themed Entertainment Coordinator Kelsey Damassa joined forces to explore what it means to be a woman in comics and where the industry can go from here.
Amanat kicked things off by discussing two upcoming series: “Hulk” and “America.” “It’s not ‘She-Hulk!’ It is called ‘Hulk!’ Jen Walters is the Hulk,” she shared. “I believe it will be out December 2015.”
“And then America Chavez! That’s all you’ll the information you get today about that series,” she teased. “We have been working on this a very, very long time… everything has come together for this moment, so we’re very excited.”
As to “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’s” Lunella Lafayette, who was recently announced as the smartest person in the Marvel Universe, Reeder said, “It means a ton to the fans. They’ve been coming over all week, and they’re gushing about it. They’re over the moon about it. I will say it was my co-writer Brenden [Flether]’s idea and he pushed for it and I can see why.”
“Well, right now we wanted to do a more low-key story,” Henderson said of the upcoming “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” arc. “Obviously, there’s superhero stuff, but we like to focus on her as a character… we also wanted to throw in some stuff about how we’re more terrible around our parents when we go home.”
Amanat also confirmed that Shannon and Dean Hale’s “Squirrel Girl” novel will hit shelves in February 2017.
“The middle grade novel is a really great origin tale of Squirrel Girl and her adventures,” she shared. “I definitely think it’s definitely something you can share… with someone who’s not really figured out comics… this is all in-continuity stuff.”
“Black Widow: Red Vengeance” also received a target release date: Fall 2017. Additionally, Stohl wrote a Red Widow one-shot in an upcoming issue of “Ms. Marvel,” which will explore a scene from the novel.
“We are super psyched about that. Sana and I have been working super closely,” Stohl revealed. The first issue of her new series, “Mighty Captain Marvel” #0, will arrive in December 2016; issue #1 hits shelves in January.
“[Carol]’s not like totally down with fame. It’s a little awkward,” she explained. “It’s a big year for Carol. It’s a big year for women. What happens when you really are not trying to establish yourself as a hero or as the president or the boss? All my research on being famous is based on Sana’s life,” she joked.
Amanat then brought up “Madaya Mom,” which will explore the conflict in Syria from Madaya Mom’s perspective. “This is actually a really incredible collaboration we did with ABC News. There has been this woman who has been chronicling a journal with ABC News out in Syria,” she said. “[ABC] reached out to Marvel to see if we would lend them an artist… It’s free for people to read and peruse [online]… We’re very proud of this one.”
“‘Luke Cage’ couldn’t be more timely,” Maslansky shared. “I must say, it was our wonderful showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker who initially wanted Luke Cage to appear in a hoodie… he really embodied and put this hoodie on, which became part of his psychological armor. It really offered him as much of an armor in his mind as did the fact that his skin was bulletproof. It just made sense that he needed to remain in this hoodie throughout the series, and that’s what we did.”
“Dressing Alfre Woodard as this politician… she was an incredible person to work with,” she continued. “She’s been around. She’s been an amazing actor for so long… we found that really strong, bold colors worked and really strong, bold silhouettes as well.”
“Harlem is one of our oldest neighbors, and — in a way — it hasn’t changed in its vibrancy and its cultural history, and this character Mariah came to embody what Harlem is all about,” she went on. “It just made sense to dress her in all these bold colors.”
“Our team kind of takes the characters and stories you love and… we do exhibits and attractions, anything weird,” Damassa explained. “We kind of just bring them to life for you.”
She went on to speak about Marvel’s Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend, saying, “There’s a Doctor Strange 10k, there’s a Captain America 5k.” She also mentioned an Infinity Gauntlet challenge.
One fan asked if Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers would become more likable in the “Civil War II” event and Amanat addressed the question, saying, “So there’s the thing. Whether or not you like Carol in ‘Civil War II,’ I think what is incredibly important for us is that she’s in there. Captain Marvel has been around for a while, but — for her to be a big part in the Marvel Universe — she had to be in the event.”
“In order for character to have resonance, they have to live in the gray,” she added. “We have to make her three dimensional.”
Another fan asked about the reasoning behind the yellow lining in Luke Cage’s hoodie on the Netflix show and whether or not he was, indeed, wearing a yellow T-shirt in one of his “Jessica Jones” scenes. “We love throwing out Easter Eggs to the fans, and we also like to try and incorporate a little bit of the origin story colors whenever we can. In ‘Jessica Jones,’ there he was in a gold T-shirt. The same thing happened in ‘Luke Cage,'” Maslansky said, explaining that they didn’t want to make his look too cartoon-y and thus put the character’s signature yellow color into the hoodie, “and that’s what we came up with.”
As to whether or not we’ll see more black female writers, Amanat shared, “Listen, this is why we’re all here. This is why we do the Women of Marvel Panel… seven years ago, we had zero female-led titles. We had no female writers… The fact that we are up here, seeking more opportunities for people… we are slowly transforming. Of course it’s going to take time… Simultaneously, I think there’s a lot of talent out there who realized the door is open… It takes time. We just have to be able to pass the baton forward to you guys, but do the work. Show up, and then opportunities will be there. The door is up.”
Henderson then advised the audience to put their artwork online, as that’s how she and several others — including Kate Leth and Kris Anka — were discovered and became a Marvel artist.
“All I will say is that we do not let go of good character or good talent,” Amanat said when a fan asked if Mockingbird and Chelsea Cain will remain a part of Marvel going forward.
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