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Interview – Sina Grace

Sina Grace wears many hats. He has emerged as one of the most versatile and innovative names in comics today, with queer characters and stories often at the core of his work. LA-based, Grace is the author and illustrator of the autobiographical Self-Obsessed and Not My Bag, the artist for cult favourite Li’l Depressed Boy, and has worked for comics giants IDW, Boom, Dynamiter and Marvel itself. His work with the latter, in particular, saw him at the helm of Iceman’s coming out story arc. Currently, he’s working on X-Men: Winter’s End, introducing the first-ever drag queen character, Darkveil. Snack sat down with Sina Grace to discuss queer heroes and their chosen families, barriers faced within the comics industry, and drag queens.

 

 

How did your career in comic books begin, and did you experience any initial
barriers in telling LGBT+ inclusive stories?

I’ve wanted to make comic books since I was in elementary school, and pretty much remained focused on that goal since then! The journey included me interning at Top CowProductions, working at a comic store, apprenticing for Howard Chaykin, publishing zines, editing comics for Robert Kirkman until I finally found a groove as a writer and illustrator these last few years.

The main barriers I felt were more related to my own internalized homophobia at the time; I used to think people wouldn’t want or tolerate stories with a queer lead. That being said, I always wrote autobio comics, and those stories are obviously about a gay lead.

 

 

What was your experience writing Iceman like? I remember covering it at the time,
as it felt really momentous. How did you feel the character and his arc have been
received?

Honestly, it was stressful! Well, the first two story arcs were stressful. I felt like I was carrying the weight of expectation to do amazingly, but I didn’t really know what the measure of success was for the series beyond book sales. Once the book came back for a third story arc (Volume Three: Amazing Friends- in stores now!), I felt more comfortable and was just focused on telling the story that I would be interested in reading. That’ssorta when things got more chill.

 

 

What challenges have you faced in expanding so vastly on a firmly established
character?

Honestly, it was stressful! Well, the first two story arcs were stressful. I felt like I was carrying the weight of expectation to do amazingly, but I didn’t really know what the measure of success was for the series beyond book sales. Once the book came back for a third story arc (Volume Three: Amazing Friends- in stores now!), I felt more comfortable and was just focused on telling the story that I would be interested in reading. That’ssorta when things got more chill.

 

 

What have you learned or appreciated the most about Bobby in your time writing him?

Finding the things that make the consummate funny guy a vulnerable, three-dimensional human being; that was maybe what I appreciated most about my time with Bobby. As a writer of action comics, learning to push my imagination with fight scenes was definitely a huge learning moment. Returning for a new story helped me see that I was being reluctant in my own journey to taking centre stage and owning my light. We did that together.

 

 

X-Men and its characters have always been my favourite Marvel reading: what do you believe it is about the X-Men in particular that appeals to an LGBT+ audience?

Without meaning to sound glib, I think the mutant metaphor is pretty on-the-nose with a queer person’s coming of age: around puberty, you start to become different than the other kids, and what will contribute to your general fabulosity is the thing that you get bullied for during formative years. Also, the X-Men are a chosen family. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

I adore Darkveil. Can you explain the impetus to create her, and some of the inspiration behind her? What do you see in her future? I just want more and more of her!

Darkveil was the product of me writing a Mutant Pride event in Iceman and wanting a dragqueen emcee. I had a character with her powers in an unused proposal, and it was all for the “throwing shade” pun in issue five of the latest arc. I was inspired by a slew of drag queens, but Dax, Shea, Monet, and Vixen were high on the list. Also, Sasha Velour’sbrows… those were a big inspiration! I was able to give the character a backstory and a few ideas as to where she could be taken. I’m not sure if Jonathan Hickman’s really including her in his big plans, so I’m just telling fans to hashtag #darkveil on social media and to @ Marvel for more of the character. She’s pretty neat!

 

 

I am super excited for your work on Go Go Power Rangers; what is your vision for the characters? Can you expand on what is meant by your exploration of “the secret history behind the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers?”

Go Go Power Rangers is gonna be a blast! I honestly can’t say much about the series, but what’s exciting is I jumped on the right when Go Go is introducing Tommy, aka the GreenRanger. For me, the approach has been looking at how each of these five kids deals with the constant change and raising of stakes. Similar to Iceman, I’m looking for why these kids are still happy and optimistic in the midst of dark forces constantly creating turmoil for them and the ones they love.

 

 

Have you faced any resistance or challenges being queer in the comics industry?

Of course! I remember the first time I wore a dusty rose-coloured shirt at WonderCon in college, a comic artist looked at me and called it “interesting.” That’s the world we are living in! There’s a constant fear of being pigeonholed. While I love telling stories with queer characters, that doesn’t mean I don’t wanna write Daredevil or Nightwing, y’know?

 

 

In Winter’s End’s notes, you write that you “want any youngster out there…to know that they can be heroes without hiding their light.” What are your plans to continue being such a positive force in promoting queer identity in comics?

My current plans include forcing folks upstairs to be a little more accountable for their actions. I wanna try and do more in terms of raising money and awareness for causes that can actually impact and affect the lives of individuals. I did a charity shirt benefitting (a non-profit organization) Rainbow Railroad, but I’d like to get a couple thousand more dollars their way. It’s no longer enough to be the “chill gay guy.” Shit’s still super real, and my LGBTQIA siblings need me to use my powers for more than pushing my own work.

Similarly, my new series at Boom Studios called Ghosted in LA is gonna be a fun world where I can do whatever I want with the cast… and let me tell you there’s gonna be a lot of beautiful queer energy in a book that’s essentially Melrose Place with ghosts!

 

 

Who is your favourite:

Sailor Scout: Sailor Moon or Venus

Power Ranger: Trinio

X-Men member: Constantly changing, but always love Storm and Wolverine(but not as a couple)

Avenger: Cap!

Buffy character: Buffy or Faith

Drag queen (reality or otherwise): Shea Couleéo

Popstar: Lana Del Rey

 

 

 

 

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