Twisty Plots and Real Relationships: An Interview with Jeremy Whitley

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Raven Pirate Princess #2Jeremy Whitley, writer of the Eisner-nominated series Princeless has been an awfully busy bee as of late! With the release of Raven: Pirate Princess #2, a short comic in Marvel’s Secret Wars: Secret Loves, and Princeless Be Yourself #3 all happening almost at once, we thought we’d sit down with Jeremy again and talk about his latest work!

First off, congratulations on getting the opportunity to write a short comic for Marvel! How does it feel to have that credit to your name?

Thanks!  It’s incredibly nice.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.  I wrote a comic about the X-Men when I was in 2nd grade and I showed it to Stan Lee when he came to sign at my comic shop.  Sure, I wanted to be an actor, playwright, screen writer, novelist, professor, and director in between–but I got back to where I started and I did something that seemed improbable not so long ago.

I know for some people (like myself) Misty and Danny might not be familiar characters. What made you decide to choose them for your Secret Wars: Secret Loves short comic?

“Misty and Danny Forever”. Marvel Comics. Secret Wars: Secret Love #1. Jeremy Whitley (words). Gurihiru (art). VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters). August 2015.

Misty Knight and Danny Rand in Secret Love #1. Art by Gurihiru.

Both Misty and Danny are among my favorite Marvel characters.  You can blame the great line of writers that have come before me writing those characters for that–especially Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker–who wrote the amazing Immortal Iron Fist and Palmiotti and Gray who wrote the fun “Daughters of the Dragon” where Misty got to step into the spotlight.

But that particular relationship has always been important to me.  Being part of an interracial marriage I am always happy to see interracial relationships presented in non-stereotypical ways.  Danny and Misty were two very distinct characters with their own roots who came together naturally.  The fact that they each had their own adventures and that when they needed each other they could count on their partner to come through was the best.

Misty is especially an underused favorite.  The fact that Marvel has a character who is a disabled leading woman of color and an ex-cop is something most people don’t even realize.  I feel like she is the character that people have been hoping somebody would create over the last five years–and she’s been here since the 70’s.

It was great to see your twitter abuzz with so many people excited about your Misty and Danny story. I noticed you even had a little poll going on there for a while now. How many retweets and likes is that up to now?

We’re at 664 retweets and 461 likes, not to mention all the hundreds of other folks I’ve seen talking about Misty and Danny but the other Secret Love stories.  And that’s just on twitter!

I put the same question to tumblr and we’ve got 4,513 notes on that post so far.

You’ve been really busy–because not only did you do that Secret Wars short, but Pirate Princess #2 was released as well! It feels like Raven’s story is aimed at a slightly older audience. Was that always your intention?

Princeless: The Pirate Princess #1/4 Publisher: ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT (W) Jeremy Whitley (A/CA) Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt

Raven, The Pirate Princess #1. Art by Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt

Absolutely.  There are a lot of issues I wanted to touch on in Princeless and I’ve been able to work with a lot of them. Honestly though, there are just as many issues that I haven’t been able to touch on that I really wanted to get to. But part of the mission of Princeless is to stay accessible to everybody, so it can’t get too violent, it can’t get too romantic, and at the end of the day I need to be able to say what I want to say in a way that a five year old can understand.

So, after I created her in Book 3 of Princeless, Raven turned out to be the perfect fit for many of these issues. Raven is aimed for toward a YA audience, so Raven can get in fist fights, raven can pick pockets, and Raven can (and will) fall in love.

Can I just say, I loved the ‘Not All Men’ joke in this issue? Actually, I loved how you brought attention to a lot of the things women–and not just those in the geek community–have to go through.

Thanks!  It’s really important to me to address real issues in my stories and while Princeless addresses issues with armor and sexualization of girls and women in fantasy and comics, Raven is in a situation where she can’t ride alone–she has to have a crew.  So I wanted to bring in some of the unfortunate issues that plague women–no matter how qualified they are–when they have to work with men in what’s perceived to be a space for men.  And of course, it’s kind of therapeutic to let Raven, Katie, and Sunshine loose to kick those scumbags in the teeth.

Are there any other issues that we should look forward to Raven tackling in the future?

Hopefully quite a few.  We’re about to throw a dozen teenage girls into an enclosed space together with nowhere else to go. Issues are bound to come up!

Princeless: Be Yourself #3 is also coming out! Without spoiling anything, we’ve really hit a critical point in this story, haven’t we?

Absolutely!  After issue 2 we have two parties–Sparky and the goblins and Raven, Bedelia, and their new guide Deloris.  Everybody is headed into harm’s way and by the end of issue 3 nobody will be safe.  They’ll be lucky if they can make it their unsinged.  There are going to be some tough choices and some hard fought battles in the next two issues!

Princeless has always been great about subverting tropes, and you’ve got a knack for great plot twists. Should we expect some surprises coming up?

Absolutely.  Both books 4 and 5 should have a lot of surprises in store.  Pirate Princess will probably be even twistier.

Is there anything else we should be on the lookout for from you?

Starting in September I have a four issue arc starting up in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  It’s called “Siege of the Crystal Empire” and it’s going to be crazy and dark and pull in all of the characters from the world of pony.  Andy Price is drawing it, so you know it’s going to look beautiful!

Hopefully I’ll have some things coming up soon at Marvel and DC, but that’s all really in their court at the moment.

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About Author

Emily Willis is the writer of Grave Impressions, If The Shoe Fits, and Cassius. She’s been traveling the USA for three years with her fiancée, Ann, attending numerous comic and anime conventions and selling their work. You can find her work at http://www.arbitrarymuse.com or talk to her on twitter at @gicomic

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