Sina Grace is a writer and illustrator in the comics industry. His work on Marvel’s Iceman earned him multiple GLAAD Award nominations for Outstanding Comic. Currently, he has two projects out from Boom! Studios: Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers which he co-writes with Ryan Parrot, and his creator owned series Ghosted in L.A. During this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the creator spoke with Comicon.com about both titles.
Gary Catig: It was during WonderCon that you were announced as the co-writer on Go Go Power Rangers. Ryan’s been writing that series from the start and he clearly has his own vision on where he wants to take the story. How was it coming into the series, bringing in your own ideas but not disrupting what he had planned?
Sina Grace: Well, definitely the first issue is more Ryan’s baby. I don’t say that with any connotation just because he had mapped out this arc and was assigned to take on Mighty Morphin. He reached a point where he was like, “I can’t do both. I need help”. The first issue I very much just watched and observed and I did my thing but I wasn’t trying to say like “Oh, the Blue Emissary should go and do this instead”.
It’s really taken a few issues for me to feel that confidence but I’m also just of the mind that I’m excited to learn from him. Excited to sort of watch him continue the story with these characters. I was a fan of what he was doing on Go Go Power Rangers. I’m more trying to learn how to make the cookies rather than be like “well here’s my snickerdoodle recipe”. That being said, he was really awesome with an issue that’s just been solicited with Bulk and Skull trying to get footage for their YouTube show. He gave me a lot of freedom and that was so much fun. I think that’s kind of the key. Having fun telling these massive stories.
GC: In this new arc, you plan to delve deeper into the secret history of the Rangers and you promise new characters and answers to some of the biggest questions. You’re working with a licensed book. I was curious how much leeway does Hasbro give you to introduce all these new aspects into the canon of the franchise?
SG: This is definitely speaking for Ryan, because he was the architect and sort of had planned much of this before me. I think the nice thing that I’ve noticed, you weren’t in the panel, but I mentioned that I got to create a bad guy, and what I’ve encountered is that Hasbro is very open minded. They don’t start with the word “No”. You work together and if the idea aligns with the overall brand identity, then why not. Even the success of Go Go Power Rangers speaks to that, where it’s about how we do this emotional beat looking at the first year of these five kids being frickin’ super heroes. That’s what’s been really great. You go in with an open mind, coming from a place of respecting what it all is and where it all is supposed to go. There’s stuff I can’t say. Talk to me in four months. Then again, that’s what’s been nice. I have said things and instead of being met with a wall, I’ve been met with sort of the improv rule of “Yes, and?” and that’s been great.
GC: You also have another project with Boom! You have a new creator owned series called Ghosted in L.A. I think it came out last week, possibly. I like how you describe it as Melrose Place with ghosts. Can you describe what it’s about a little bit for our readers?
SG: The book follows this eighteen-year-old girl, Daphne Walters. She moved to L.A. for her boyfriend. He dumps her and then she ends up finding an apartment complex housed entirely with ghosts. She asks if she can live there and what’s awesome is it’s basically a coming of age story. It’s about this girl, who for so long, was rolling with the tide. She did whatever her boyfriend said. She did whatever her best friend said. Now she has neither of them and she’s left with these big questions like “Who am I going to become?” The thing I didn’t realize when I pitched the book is that Daphne is the opposite of me. I have known that I wanted to make comic books since I was literally nine years old. I have been very one track minded about it.
I’ve had the best time really lovingly looking at someone who doesn’t know what they want to do because I think so many people don’t at eighteen. They don’t know what they want to become. I really wanted to explore that character. Also, as a writer, I wanted to show readers that I am able to tell a story that has this fantastical element to it. That has these long running mysteries that they wouldn’t necessarily expect because at face value, it’s a slice of life book. It’s really cool to get into the CW network vibes of love triangles and mystery and all that stuff on top of just telling a story about people you wish you could be friends with.
GC: You developed Ghosted along with editor, Shannon Watters. I think you had mentioned that it was the product of the two of you wanting to work together. How did she help shape this story?
SG: Shannon knows exactly what you’re trying to say and if you haven’t said it right, she just sort of pivots you. She moves your shoulder and you’re like, “Oh my god, there’s the answer!” That’s what I love about her. Nothing is ever a hard note. It’s always a conversation. She felt that I was great with character work and she felt that I had not yet been able to sort of tell a story like this. I just think being a champion and cheerleader has been an amazing asset and her kind of talking to everyone else at Boom! and being like, “Let’s give this guy twelve issues. Let him spread his wings.” The best thing is that she is able to tell me when I don’t need to overdo it. That has been my biggest fear. We finished doing the second issue ages ago. I was like, “Oh my god! I messed up. I wasted a whole issue.” She was like, “I would have told you. I would have told you if you didn’t accomplish enough in those pages.” That’s what I love about her. We can have these frank conversations that are still all about making something our version of its best self.
GC: You’re a local boy, born and raised in the L.A. area. However, your main character, Daphne, is a recent transplant. How much research did you do to tap into this character’s fish out of water experience in L.A. considering that’s not what you’re familiar with?
SG: Luckily, for that, I had to do no research. I have so many friends who become transplants or I have so many friends who will move there for an animation gig and they’ll talk about how lonely it is. Everyone’s so nice to your face and everyone will keep you around in case you become important to them later. That is such a terrible vibe to pick up on so I didn’t have to do much research there.
Instead, I focused more on learning the history of things that I took as given within the city. Also, asking myself weird questions. This isn’t even going to be addressed or reflected upon any time soon, but it’s a question I’ve been asking because I’m a couple issues ahead of readers. Why do we have such a huge Filipino community? Weird things like that where I get to go and ask myself to find out the answer. Whether or not I put it in the book is up to me and up to the strength of the story at the time. That’s where I’ve been really focusing my research. Just learning about the history of Los Angeles outside of the big “Hollywood Land” of it all. That’s been the most fun and that’s where I feel I get to honor my city. You know?
GC: Especially in that first issue, she just moves in and the guy’s telling her you have to do all the touristy stuff first but you don’t do that as a local if you really know the city.
SG: Exactly. There’s a nice framing sequence. That’s how the arc starts and how the arc ends also touches on that. Getting across the city and what is the tourist version of L.A. and what is the citizen’s version of Los Angeles or the denizen’s version of it. There’s going to be a lot of that going on. You get that version of the city that people are trying to foist on you and then you get the city you find once you’ve lived in it for a minute.
GC: Your artist is Siobhan Keenan. How did the two of you get paired up for the project and how do you feel her art and style fit with the story’s mood and tone?
SG: I was a fan of Siobhan Keenan because she illustrated the two Clueless graphic novels that my friends wrote so I met her at the signing that they were all doing. I was immediately like, “Oh my god! This is one of the most pleasant and warm individuals I have ever met,” which I think is super important if you’re going to embark on a working relationship that will be at least a year long. We had actually collaborated together on a Jem one shot at IDW.
The thing I love about Siobhan is that she’s able to do humor. She’s able to do drama. She’s super capable with romance. Then, like me, she finds a lot of value in showing the reader who the character is based on their demeanor and their fashion and wardrobe and so on. All of those elements combined were just like, this is the person I want to draw this book. When Shannon and I were discussing artists, I just immediately said Siobhan Keenan is my number one choice. I already asked her if she has a project. She said no. Everything about it was very serendipitous.
GC: Recently, you wrote a heartfelt blog post about your time with a different publisher and some of the frustrations you experienced with them. Has Boom!’s approach with their creators provided a different working environment for you? What steps have they taken to assure you that they support your work and you as a person? I know you touched upon how Shannon’s been a champion for you but is there anything else?
SG: I think the major difference is that Boom! is always willing to have a conversation and that the company make up is such that they are more aware of how to do, say a book that could potentially have some detractors. How to do it right. How to nail it. They just have a better company foundation for a lot of those things. Boom! would not get mad if you felt like you had a perspective that they didn’t internally already come with. I think that was sort of one of the major differences. I’m still kind of processing, but not in a bad way or anything.
You go through that experience and you’re like, “Yeah, what was that?” That was never Boom!. If I ever want to take a risk in my books, again, it goes back to the Hasbro thing, that I’m not met with a wall. I’m met with, “Let’s have a conversation about it.” There’s a level of transparency that you just don’t get with Marvel, and I refuse to say, “That’s how it is with big companies.” I just think that’s how it is with certain companies and I just reached a point where I don’t have to tolerate this. Or I don’t have to excuse bad behavior anymore because it’s just not worth it for me.
We are thankful that Sina took the time out to speak with us during the show and you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr. Also, we want to express our appreciation for Boom! Studios for coordinating the interview.