Gabby Rivera on Bringing Her Queer Brown Weirdo Self to Marvel’s America

Sorry this Drawn to Comics is so late you guys!!! But I have an interview with America writer Gabby Rivera, so hopefully that will make up for it!

If you haven’t read America #1 yet, put down you computer and go buy it. Or read this interview and fall even more in love with the idea of a comic about a superpowered Latina lesbian with thick thighs that’s written by a super awesome Latina lesbian with thick thighs. This first issue is so great, you guys. America decides she’s had enough of the superhero life, and so she’s going to college, and her college is called Sotomayor University, you guys, as in Sonia, the Supreme Court Justice. She’s taking classes like “Intergalactic Revolutionaries & You” and meeting awesome sororities filled with brown and Black nerds and hanging out with other queer poc. It’s EVERYTHING. Y’all, this comic is so explicitly queer, and it’s so explicitly brown, and it just makes those things normal — it’s not treating them like they’re “other,” they’re just how things are because the main character is a Latina lesbian, and so that’s what her world is like. Plus, Joe Quinones is killing it on the art, with Joe and Paolo Rivera inking, Jose Villarrubia doing colors and Travis Lanham doing letters. This book looks AMAZING. I love it so much, you guys. And here’s an interview with Gabby, so you can learn why you’ll love it too!

Mey: How does it feel to be a queer Latina writing a comic about a queer Latina superhero? You’re the first person who can say that they’ve done that, that’s awesome!

Gabby: First, right now I’m listening to ANTI and I feel like that’s really important for folks reading this interview to know. Important music things are happening, Mey.

It’s dope as hell to be the first queer Latina (maybe even first Latina ever) writer at Marvel and I’m writing the solo series for this megababe, Latina lesbian, in ripped jeans and bamboo earrings. America’s time is right now. I need to believe in the impossible, the worlds and existences never thought possible. America is living that in this series. I’m just honored to be along for the ride, you know?

M: We see America meet some new people in this first issue, like her new professor, as well as some people from her life before, like Prodigy. How many other new and old faces will we see in this series?

G: One of the best parts about writing AMERICA was that there weren’t any limits to the characters we could create and the ones we could pull in from the Marvel Universe. Making sure that America wasn’t the only brown babe in this series was important to me. And by babe, I mean ass-kicking, brilliant as hell, free and confident person/being.

She’s going to be on the quest for her people, her roots, and the true depths of her powers. Maybe she even comes across people who knew her moms. On top of that, there’s so much knowledge and wild-ass power held by the female superheroes of Marvel and America’s going to get to connect to all of it. Be on the lookout for tough, ready to rumble women of color, and some of the our favorite high-profile superheroes that you know and love from Marvel. Maybe even some X-Men if you’re lucky…

M: I’m absolutely in love with this university that you’ve created. How important was it to you to put America in a place where she’s surrounded by other poc and learning about poc in an environment like this?

G: Yo, it’s fun, right? I wanted to explore the university of my dreams. America gets to study and learn in a place where anything is possible.

I’ve had two Puerto Rican teachers in my life: my mom in kindergarten and my college freshman Spanish class teacher. Meeting her was like magic; she knew my whole life kinda. She knew I failed my Spanish entrance exam because I didn’t care and because even though I knew the tense, no one in my house called it the “imperfect progressive.” She knew I called bus “guaga” and not “autobus.” America deserves that type of connection as her starting off point.

She deserves an entry point so normal that it doesn’t even register as remarkable. S.U. just exists without anyone perplexed as to how or why. And that’s what America’s getting.

M: What of yourself are you bringing to this comic? You’ve never written comics before, so I’m excited to see what you do with a character like this that people know and love!

G: I’m a queer brown weirdo and I love every short inch of myself. I’m bringing all that round, brown, goodness to this story. All the things that make me laugh and make me feel strong, they’re going to be in America’s world.

But really, it’s about America. It’s about this character who’s been on the Marvel come up for almost six years. She’s played the vibrant, hella powerful, tough girl to different teams of folks, shining in every moment she gets. And now, now she gets her own moment. I am honored to get to write her.

M: Are we gonna see America get a new girlfriend?

G: What makes you think she needs a new girlfriend? Maybe America just wants to punch star-shaped holes into other dimensions while looking fierce af and living her best life.

I love you, Mey!


Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.

If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.


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Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 475 articles for us.

82 Comments

  1. 8

    YES.

    I went to the comics store down the street on Wednesday and the guy at the counter and I just gushed about America for a good five minutes. She’s my favorite. I’m not Latina, but America has been my favorite character since I read Young Avengers because there are so many other parts of her I identify with (the skin color, the hair, the muscles, the attitude/temper, punching people, my mom died when I was in high school and I had already become fiercely independent when she first got sick) (also I have a deep deep love for Kate Bishop), and I really hope that people love this series. I love seeing America in a place where she has to learn and relearn things, where she’s surrounded by other POC, where she can explore herself a little more. I can’t wait to see what else Gabby has in store for us.

  2. 3

    I was looking forward to this series, but was disappointed by the first issue.

    Main issues I had;

    – A serious lack of ‘show don’t tell’
    – Some of the dialogue was jarring
    – Black is the absence of colour, not white
    – G-rated gay in a T+ rated comic
    – Why did someone with flight, super speed, and teleporting break up with her girlfriend over distance? Seemed contrived to me.

  3. 9

    I’ll just post what I wrote elsewhere.

    I also am a massive America Chavez fan who was so incredibly excited for this book but I didn’t enjoy the new America Chavez comic like I hoped I would and it’s made me sad. I’m hoping it gets better but the writing was just trying too hard. It wasn’t natural at all and came off as trying to be too important rather than let the character speak for herself. Also the pacing was too fast with America being impulsive in ways completely unlike her.

    America is a such a great character and she is herself without being preachy. I understand that Rivera wants to dig deep into the so far unexplored parts of America’s personality, I just feel it’s being handled poorly. And there’s way too much “look how important this book is!” kind of writing rather than just telling a good story and the importance being a natural extension from that. America doesn’t expound, she DOES. She doesn’t talk about being a brown woman kicking your ass, she’s a brown woman who kicks your ass and then you make your own connections. It feels like Rivera didn’t even try to inhabit America as a person we’ve come to know but just wrote a character she wanted to write. A book about a bulletproof Latinx lesbian space princess is important all on it’s own. You don’t have to try too hard with that concept.

    I’m worried the book will turn off a lot of readers who would love it with a more deft touch and the sales will suffer. I’m afraid it’ll be canceled in a year. This is such an important time for her and it’s her big break. If it fails who know when she’ll get another shot? I’m still hoping it gets better and ready to read more but it needs to improve fast. After Batwoman Rebirth #1 I was nothing but excited for the next issue. This time I have a lot of concerns.

    • 10

      IF YOU POSTED THIS SOMEWHERE ELSE, WHY WOULD YOU THINK WE NEEDED THIS HERE??? WHERE WE’RE CELEBRATING SOMEONE BEING THE FIRST QUEER LATINA TO WRITE A COMIC ABOUT A QUEER LATINA???? WHYYYYYYY??

      • 13

        Because I’m a long time supporter of this site and member of this community? Because I’m a massive comics fan and have done a ton to promote them and educate and help people find them? Because I am sad and disappointed and have a right to talk about it? Are we supposed to just act like everything is fine, even if I’m afraid for the future of one of my very favorite characters of all time?

        You’re being kind of abusive and I don’t expect that on Autostraddle of all places.

        • 6

          Have you read other reboots or author changes though? Writers always adapt characters into new visions, that’s the joy of taking on a new writer for a project.

          And it’s incredibly powerful that a latina superhero gets to talk about being a latina superhero rather than just being one. You seem to be complaining that she gets to express herself, which I find pretty messed up.

          • 6

            I am not. Everyone is taking it that way so I guess there’s something wrong with how I expressed myself, but if you knew the character like I have for the last FIVE YEARS, you’d understand I’m simply saying she’s not being written like the character I and so many others, knew and loved. Everyone saying I’m being “messed up” or acting like a racist for trying to talk about why I don’t like this book so far is incredibly hurtful and upsetting. I cried all night last night and today I feel really fucking depressed.

          • 3

            to Erin

            Don’t bother that much. Nothing wrong with how you expressed your opinion. Actually you did it pretty good. Problem is not you, it’s all who jumped to your throat. All they could do is screaming and throw insults, and no one could say anything constructive or well-argued. As I said: you shouldn’t take it close, they’re just toxic people. If they can’t provide any argument then they shouldn’t be listened to. So again: don’t stress yourself because of them.

          • 1

            to Carmen,

            So said what I wanted to, but much better.) Sometimes my pattern of speech could be a liiittle broken – that’s why AS needs edit comment function. Seriously, my comments here definitely need some editing. Oh well.

  4. 22

    No offense to other commenters, but I feel your criticisms of the writing are a little white? As a Latina queer millennial I can tell you that the dialogue really resonated with me and felt like real queer latina millennials talk. Also this is gabby’s first time writing a comic book! Cut her some slack!

    • 9

      It may have resonated with you personally and I have zero problem with her exploring the Latinx part of America that has been mostly a cliche to this point. My problem is it not feeling at all like the character I have loved intensely for years now and like I said, the writing being way too self important rather than letting the story and characters speak for themselves.

      Also, yes I want to cut her slack, but when this might be the ONLY shot America gets for who knows how long, we don’t have much time for her to find her feet. The stakes are very high.

  5. 11

    Y’all maybe I will buy my first ever comic book?? This seems so badass and I love the way Gabby writes dialogue, it was my fav part of Juliet Takes A Breath. G really gets how young, identity-aware people talk to each other. Thank you for this interview Mey and G!!!

  6. 15

    So like I don’t get where all the critiques of the art are coming from. I LOVE this art and the way it’s colored! To me superhero comics are so often so over-rendered and muddy that it’s a complete turn-off for me. I loved how crisp everything looks as well as the facial expressions and I dunno… It totally drew me in! Which is exciting! Because I NEVER ready superhero comics (but lots of other comics) and ~finally~ here’s one that not only grabbed me, but with a kick-ass character and interesting storyline! Thank u Gabby, I loved Juliet Takes A Breath (hell my entire Bookclub did) and I enjoyed this comic too. Thank u Mey for this insightful interview!

  7. 7

    It’s wonderful if a bunch of people who don’t read comics before now find them through this book. I just hope that makes enough sales to keep it going. I do read comics though and the America Chavez I love and who I have championed and worked SO HARD to push Marvel to give a solo to is not present in this book. So I’d appreciate people understanding my disappointment is valid and comes from a place of love.

        • 4

          Don’t take it close. (If you can – I find it hard since I’m bipolar with clinical depression.XD) There are toxic people in any community, subculture, movement, etc. Don’t let them get to you.

          P.S. By the way: I want to apologize again for some of my behavior in other topic. Sometimes my condition makes me overreact… Which I lament afterwards. It’s not happens often, I can level-head myself most of the time, but sometimes… Sorry again.

    • 3

      I think you should give it some time to get off its feet. Sometimes comics with rough starts end up being amazing. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it’s issue one. I hope that with the next issues you’ll find the America that you’re looking for.

  8. 10

    This is amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, so I can read it.

    It’s such a HUGE moment for queer Latinas. It’s also a HUGE moment for Gabby, one of our own! Congratulations, Gabby! I can’t wait to see where life takes you.

  9. 7

    Holy crap this is fucking amazing! So many congratulations and I can’t wait to buy this comic for myself and other brown babes that neeeeed this in their life! So many congratulations! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  10. 24

    To those that feel like she sounds different than you’re used to, has it ever occurred to you that a Latinx character who has only ever been written by white folks and has always been present in the context of a part of a team with plenty of white folks might sound different in a totally different environment? Like, a super chill POC-friendly environment? If she is really finding herself in these comics then that probably sounds a lot different than her as a part of a team trying to save the world. Just sayin.

  11. 15

    I’m with Mey – I liked the comic a lot! America is a fantastic character, and her friendships with Kate and David are fantastic, and I’m intrigued by the setting and the plotline about her class. I can really see some incredible stories playing out. The minor issues that did stick out to me feel like things that Gabby and her team can smooth over in time, and they’re certainly not significant enough to detract from my excitement about a major distributor putting out a superhero comic about a lesbian Latina written by a lesbian Latina!

    That being said, if people do have criticism, I don’t think we have to jump down their throats about it. I’ve seen plenty of commenters critique other queer art by queer people, like The Fosters and OITNB, and no one ever gives them any trouble for speaking their mind. We can have different opinions about this comic! It’s all good!

  12. 13

    also, just slipping this in here from the comment policy of this very website we call autostraddle dot com which i love very much:

    “A member of the oppressor group is not qualified to tell a member of the oppressed group that they’re not entitled to feel oppressed, offended, discriminated against, bothered or threatened by something or someone. (Or empowered by something or someone, for that matter.) A cis person cannot tell a trans person that the trans person’s assessment of transphobia is wrong, a white person cannot tell a person of color that their assessment of racism is wrong. Listen.”

    Gabby. ya did good. Can’t wait to see how much America Chavez grows. <3

  13. 21

    Ok, a couple of things. This post elevates and prioritizes the voices of queer Latinas. If you are not one, and you are coming here to express negative opinions or feelings, it’s best to think twice (and maybe three times) very carefully about what you have to say. You are free to have those opinions, for sure! But this is maybe not the best place to share them without first doing some serious introspection about how you are an outsider to this discussion, and your opinions are shaped by your non-Latina experiences, so they are therefore not as relevant as you may think.

    Furthermore, when POC, who are always endlessly having their conversations taken over by white outsiders probably every day of their lives, react with frustration, it is definitely not ok to call them “assholes” or “toxic people”. You may feel hurt because you didn’t realize or intend to cause any offense, but the appropriate thing to do in this situation is quiet down, listen to what people are telling you, and try to learn so you don’t do it again.

  14. 6

    i’m not really into superheroes, so i haven’t checked this out, but this article did remind me that i’m super into gabby’s writing and miss her writing for autostraddle. glad she’s got awesome stuff like writing being the first queer latina writing for marvel going on tho. that’s pretty cool.

  15. 9

    I was a little surprised by the way America handles one of the events in the first issue as it seemed a little out of character (don’t want to spoil anyone, though), but overall I look forward to seeing where the character goes.

    I have to say though, that one of the things about comics – one of the things about the medium that I sometimes like and sometimes dislike, depending on the circumstances – is that different writers bring out different aspects of the character? That’s true of a lot of comics, that the character changes depending on who’s writing them; it’s rare to get a completely consistent character across different runs. Writers interpret characters differently, and dwell on aspects of the character that are most important to them. I do think that the America we’ve seen in America #1 is quite different from the version we saw in Young Avengers… but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, necessarily?

    I mean, if you don’t like this interpretation of America’s character, then that’s how you feel. But just because you personally don’t identify with the character anymore doesn’t necessarily mean they’re badly written, you know?

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