On April 16, Marvel released the Ms. Marvel comic book #3, Side Entrance. PW spoke with its author, G. Willow Wilson, earlier this month at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, where she was a featured speaker.
What’s the significance of the title Side Entrance?
That’s a reference to a now-famous Tumblr site run by Muslim women, talking about women’s spaces in the mosque. That’s more religious than we typically get in [a Marvel] book. The issue of women’s spaces in mosques comes up in the course of the story.
Some people were wondering how a new comic series would sell if it featured a Muslim female character. What has the response been since the series debuted in February?
The first issue, I believe, sold 52,000 copies and is now in its third printing. I don’t know how big the second printing was. It sold very well. For a new book about an all-new female character, it sold astronomically well.
Why do you think readers have responded so enthusiastically?
Kamala, because of the way that we present her, is not just a character who would appeal to other Pakistani-Americans. Just the other day, someone came up to me whose parents were Polish immigrants, and this person identified with Kamala. To me, Kamala’s appeal is really about the American experience in the 21st century. It’s not limited to one particular group. So many people are of mixed heritage, everyone is from somewhere else. And she is really a character from that generation.
What do your readers most want to know?
I get a lot of questions about what kind of supervillains she’s going to face, or whether other people in her family are going to get superpowers—the kind of powers that she gets, if you’re familiar with the Marvel universe, are the kind that you inherit. And the other big question is whether we will see her team up with any of the other Marvel characters like the Avengers. And the answer to all of these questions is maybe.
What’s coming down the pike for you?
I’m finishing my second prose novel right now and I’m very excited about it. I keep setting the bar higher for myself in terms of what I’m trying to accomplish. Like Alif the Unseen [Grove, 2012], it’s in the vein of new fiction, or magical realism. One of the most popular characters from Alif will make an appearance. It’s set 500 years ago. My working title is Game of Boats because there are multiple POVs and it involves a boat. I have no idea when it will be out--it all depends on when we sell it, and how much work needs to be done to it. Grove has a first option, so they get to look at it first, but it’s not under contract yet.