Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Grace Randolph

The writer heads back to school with the Women of Marvel in MARVEL HER-OES

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By Kevin Mahadeo

School is in session beginning April 14 for some of the Marvel Universe's most popular female characters when writer Grace Randolph and artist Craig Rousseau launch the all-new limited series MARVEL HER-OES.

HER-OES-pronounced simply as "heroes-takes place in a self-contained universe that re-imagines the superhuman denizens of the Marvel U as high school students. The title focuses primarily on founding Avenger Janet Van Dyne, the school's wallflower who holds a super-powered secret. However, unbeknownst to Janet, a few other students carry some secrets of their own, including her best friend Jenny Walters and the school's resident queen bee Namora. Although part of the Women of Marvel promotion, Randolph assures readers that the series explores themes everyone can relate to.

Randolph took some time out from her multi-faceted schedule hosting web shows, doing improv and writing comics to talk about the upcoming limited series and going back to high school with the ladies of the Marvel U.

 

MARVEL HER-OES #1 cover by Craig Rousseau
Marvel.com: Now MARVEL HER-OES is so close to coming out, how are you feeling?

Grace Randolph: It's really exciting, but it's also really nerve-wracking. It's not like coming onto a book that's established, so you really have to hope that readers take a chance on what you're doing. So, that's really nerve-wracking. But the exciting thing is that I'm just so proud of how it turned out that I'm willing to bet that whoever does pick it up will enjoy it. I've been seeing the pages start to come in with colors and everything and I'm just really pleased. It looks great. Craig Rousseau just did such a nice job. It's really cool.

Marvel.com: As you mentioned, this isn't an established book, but you are working with characters that are established in the regular Marvel Universe. How do you find that balance of making these characters your own while at the same time keeping them, well, themselves?

Grace Randolph: I think that I'm fortunate-with no disrespect to Namora and Wasp fans-that their characters aren't incredibly established. I mean, every time The Wasp has shown up she's very different. I think she's largely, at this point, defined by her relationship by Hank Pym. And he's not in our story, at least not right now. I really feel that I was able to define her, and I think Namora, also. The only person I'm really tinkering with is Jennifer Walters. I'm very excited with what I'm trying to do with her, making her someone who actually Hulks out. I love the [Marvel Universe] Jennifer Walters. I loved [writer] Dan Slott's [SHE-HULK] series with her where she was a lawyer dealing with all this crazy comic book stuff. But this is a completely different Jenny.

Marvel.com: What made you decide to take that "hulk out" approach to the character?

Grace Randolph: I thought that nothing could be more "teeny"; dealing with that. I didn't want every single girl on the team to have her powers be a blessing. "Awesome! I'm like myself but better." I wanted to see Jenny as Beauty and Beast all mixed up in one. I want everyone to pick up the book, but I know it will hopefully appeal to female readers, and I think every woman has felt, "I don't look great. I wished I could look better." Everyone has had a bad day, the worst hair day from hell. I think that builds up a lot of female fears, and I want to see her overcome that.

Marvel.com: I have a feeling it'll be more than just a bad hair day for her though.

Grace Randolph: [Laughs] I just like that. How can Jenny go on dates? How can she have a relationship? She can never argue with her boyfriend. It would totally suck. I think it's an interesting thing.

MARVEL HER-OES #2 cover by Craig Rousseau
Marvel.com: Besides the main crew-Wasp, Namora, Jenny-are there any other characters that might be appearing? Any surprises in store?

Grace Randolph: There's a good one. I don't want to give it away, but at the end of issue #2, we're going to have a really nice reveal of a character you would not expect.

Marvel.com: What's it like being part of the Women of Marvel promotion? What are your thoughts on the whole thing?

Grace Randolph: I think it's wonderful. Anybody who was at San Diego Comic-Con last year will remember that it was just tons of women. It was crazy awesome. "Twilight" brought them in, but they walked the floor and they had to sit through other people's panels while holding their seats, so I hoped it started to pique their interest. Dick Wolf, who started "Law & Order," had this great quote that I read a long time ago where he was talking about how he started to bring female characters into his show and in all honesty and earnestness, he said, "The shows were surprisingly successful. What do you know, women like to watch themselves." I don't think women want to watch only women shows just like I'm sure men don't want to watch only men shows, but I think comic books have one of the most even-handed mixes of strong male characters and strong female characters on an even playing field. It's fabulous. Everyone is doing their job trying to protect the world and dealing with those [kinds] of problems and I think it's great. I think Marvel spotlighting female creators is wonderful. I think it would be great to have that even playing field that's in the comics represented in the creators. I would certainly hope this would continue. I hope this would be a starting event. But I also don't want to be given any special consideration. I would hope, like any writer, that my work stands on its own and people really enjoy it. I don't think it needs to be, "This was written by a girl. Good try, girl." [Laughs] I would like people to read it and just be like, "This is an awesome comic."

Marvel.com: Besides writing comics, you also have your online show, "Beyond the Trailer" and you do some improv comedy work. When writing your comics, does it come naturally for you to want to include comedy and throw in a little bit of humor?

Grace Randolph: I think that every comedian in the back of their head is always like, "I hope this isn't lame." It's always that fine line. For me, I just don't want to turn every character in the book into a wisecracking female. Janet is the comedic character. She's the Peter Parker of the series. I just have to make sure I don't have Namora and Jenny making jokes. I'm really careful with that. Of course, they might do something funny or say something that might make you laugh, but they're not trying

NATION X #3, featuring a story by Grace Randolph, on sale now
to be funny. It is a pet peeve of mine that so many tough female characters are always portrayed as sassy. I think that kind of bravado wouldn't fit for every woman when she became a super hero. You don't want every character to be Wolverine. I don't want to back myself into a corner here and have people read this and be like, "What a jerk!" I guess what I'm saying is that all three of these girls are different. They weren't all from the same mold of "Girl Power!"

Marvel.com: Are there any other characters you're just dying to work on in the future?

Grace Randolph: In the comic book industry, every writer and creator is like an entrepreneur, and I wouldn't want to block myself out of any opportunities. I never would have imagined that I would have been writing teen versions of female Avengers and I am just so happy that I am. I think it's a wonderful opportunity. So, I will it in the hands of the editors, who I think have an excellent eye for talent and who fits with what. Just trust fate and do your best. There's a great quote from "The Men Who Stare at Goats" from George Clooney, and I'm paraphrasing here, about how you have to find what you're meant to do in life because you'll find yourself fighting upstream, but when you get in the right groove, you'll go with the flow. I've spent a lot of time fighting upstream, so it's very nice and I'm very grateful to have a chance to go with the flow and do my thing.

 

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