LibraryCon Live! ’17: Jody Houser On Getting Into Comics, Faith, And Future Work

by Gary Catig

LibraryCon Live! is a new, free, single day virtual festival that occurred on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. The event brought together people who enjoy comics, fantasy, and science fiction along with professionals, like librarians. It was an interesting experience as you could enter their online vendor room with such publishers as Archie Comics, Lion Forge, Image, and DC.  You couldn’t do any shopping, however there were many previews of comics and promotional material like posters and cards for download.

In addition to the exhibitors, there were panels and author chats with many people from the comic industry.  alks were live streamed and viewers could submit questions via instant message.  Writer Jody Houser was one of the guests who held an author chat. She covered a variety of topics including how she got into comics, her current series, Faith, at Valiant, and some of her future plans.

Houser first became interested in comics when she watched cartoons featuring the characters. She really enjoyed Batman: The Animated Series and so she would purchase the tie in comics. That lead her to one of her favorite characters, Catwoman.  Also, she recalled how the X-Men cartoon sparked her interest into the Marvel Universe.

She began her career in the medium as a writer for webcomics and anthologies. Early on, her work caught the attention of people like Jim Lee and Mark Waid. This convinced her to pursue comics full time as she felt if big industry people like them were interested in her writing, she was probably doing something right. Furthermore, she felt working with artists like Fiona Staples, Eric Canete, and Nathan Fox helped her learn about making good comics and about the collaborative process.

One of Houser’s more acclaimed comics is Faith. The ongoing series has received nominations for both the Eisner and Ringo awards. Faith is a Valiant heroine who has the power of flight and the ability to create force fields. She has been a life long geek and is excited to be a super hero. She is trying to have a new start in LA, away from her old teammates from Harbinger, Houser said. The character was created in 1992 and was to look and sound more like the women who worked behind the scenes in comics.

Houser took the opportunity to write Faith because she wanted to tell a fun superhero story with a character who hasn’t had the chance to shine yet. She also enjoyed playing with classic superhero tropes and seeing whether they worked or not in the modern era. While working with the plus-sized psiot, Houser thought it was important to remember that her body type is only one facet of the heroine and that she is not defined by her weight.  Moreover, the writer wanted tell a story of an optimistic hero, who was happy with who she was, and have friends that accepted her.

Another character Houser mentioned was Mother Panic. She enjoys writing this character because she is the complete opposite of Faith. Coming in February, there will be a Mother Panic/Batman cross over for the Milk Wars event that Houser is involved with. She liked exploring parts of Gotham that haven’t been seen and found it interesting to work with a character with legitimate criticisms of Batman and how he operates. After all, he does beat up a lot of poor and mentally ill people in his stories.

Also to be released in February will be Star Wars: Thrawn, a comic adaptation of the novel of the same name. Houser discussed how she took a class on adaptations in graduate school and how relevant it has been. Her approach is to get to the heart of telling a good story in the medium she’s working with. She uses that as the central goal rather than cherry picking her favorite scenes from the original material. The new medium should take precedence over the old. She had previously adapted Star Wars: Rogue One to comics.

Houser ended her chat discussing he properties she would like to work with most. If she had a choice it would probably be Doctor Who or Star Trek due to her love of science fiction. If she had to do a superhero book, she would like to write, no surprise, Catwoman. Even though she is currently playing in other people’s sandboxes, she has a desire to do creator owned comics. She has been developing concepts under the umbrella of speculative fiction with a Sci-Fi bent. Unfortunately, she has been so busy working with the Big Two and Valiant, that her creator owned projects have taken a back seat.

Look out for Jody Houser’s new work in 2018 and beyond!

Gary Catig

Gary Catig is west coast raised, east coast educated, and has a touch of southern charm. He has spent most of his adult life making science fiction a reality as an engineer conducting research in the military, microprocessor, and biotechnology fields. While currently living in San Diego, he enjoys all facets of pop culture including but not limited to comics, TV, movies, and music.