by Ale Bodden
Nerdist Writers Podcast hosts, Ben Blacker and Heath Corson, were joined on NYCC stage by creators Greg Pak (X-Treme X-Men) and G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) for a very interesting panel/discussion.
Blacker asked them how, as writers, do they decide where to go with a story, Pak answered that the 1st time one can constantly freak out—that once you’re done with step one every writer or artist go about it on their own way; he said that things have to change every once in a while in order to keep it fresh and accessible, but he embraces it. He added that sometimes it is about hitting at the right moment and connecting with the audience. Wilson agreed.
Blacker then turned to Wilson and told her that reading Ms. Marvel has the same feel to it than reading early issues of Spiderman– he asked her how she is doing that. Wilson responded that the expectations for Ms. Marvel at the beginning were so low that she and the rest team decided to just knock it out of the park (which they did). She said they used that freedom they had to go all out and make it a new and fresh, more authentic, story. Corson prompted her to talk more about the process of Ms. Marvel. Wilson said she first got a call from someone at Marvel asking her if she was interested in doing a Muslim superhero. She said her first thought was about making it exactly right—they spent months doing research and putting together her background story and making it as real as possible. She added that, since the expectations were low, they were left alone to do what they wanted.
Going from there Blacker asked them how they go about world building and telling an accessible story. Pak, in turn, responded that the biggest piece of advice he could give is: read everything, since everything helps and teaches something new– however, he added that it is easy to go too far sometimes either telling a back-story or giving background; that the key is to always remember what the story really is about and knowing what the emotional story is at the end. Wilson said that comic books are much better, in terms of writing, because it helps keep everything condensed, which in turn helps figure out what works or not; she said, however, that they are a pain to edit, since one small fix can change the whole outcome of the rest of the story. Pak then added that it helps to know the ending and where is it that you are going with the story, know the premise.
Blacker turned to the audience for question and someone jumped to the subject of women in comics and asked Wilson what are the things women have to look forward to and how to break into the industry—she said connections help. Wilson urged the audience to keep coming to events/conventions like these and make friends and meet people. She stressed how that truly helps. Corson, in turn, extended the question to both: how does one break into the comics industry—Pak said that that it took him over 20 years of constant writing and developing stories to get to where he is at now, urging people to keep writing (all the time) and be open to any writing opportunities that might come one’s way no matter how minimal they might seem.
After being asked how is it to write about a character and having them make decisions and mistakes that would upset readers, Wilson responded that: in order to grown a character needs to make mistakes. She added that as a writer the hardest part is conveying the thought process of a character, since it is what helps people understand the character’s actions and relate to it. Corson added that it is that struggle what makes a story or character interesting, it is where the drama is. Wilson said that she abides by the quote that reads “all art is autobiographical,” and when trying to get into a character’s mind she tries to pull on the strings of similarities that connect her to the character.
Before ending Blacker asked them one more question: what are they reading at the moment that they would recommend to the audience? Wilson answered Captain Marvel, She Hulk, and Saga. Pak recommended Wytches by Snyder.