Comics Herstory: G. Willow Wilson
By now, almost everyone with an interest in comics has at least heard of Ms. Marvel, the iconic and groundbreaking book about Muslim superhero Kamala Khan.
G. Willow Wilson spent time living in Egypt in her twenties, and this influenced much of her work. In 2007, Vertigo published her first graphic novel, titled Cairo, about six characters whose stories intertwine as they search for a stolen hookah. While in Egypt, she worked as a journalist, writing for Cairo Magazine, The Atlantic, The National Post, and The New York Times Magazine. Her series Air, also published by Vertigo, launched in 2008. While Air debuted to generally positive reviews, it was canceled after 24 issues.
Aside from comics, Wilson has also written a memoir called The Butterfly Mosque, which was released in 2010. Her first novel, Alif the Unseen, won best novel in the 2013 World Fantasy Awards. She has been nominated for several awards in comics, including both Harvey and Eisner Awards, and has also won a number of awards for different genres.
Part of what makes Wilson such a prolific writer is the way in which she treats Kamala as a character. Much of this has been said before, but Ms. Marvel invited an audience into comics that has had little chance to see themselves represented. The heart of the story is a teenage girl, a category of women that is often met with derision in the world of comics. Instead of giving readers a laugh at her expense, however, Wilson created a character whose enthusiasm and interests are dorky and typical of a teenage girl, but who is never the butt of jokes by her family and friends. Kamala’s faith is incorporated into the book, and as the first Muslim superhero to have her own title, it’s clear that Ms. Marvel isn’t just diversity for diversity’s sake–her story is her own, and it is an important story with tons of heart.
Almost everyone can relate to Kamala in some way, whether it’s in fangirling over Wolverine or in wanting to become a better person or because she represents a demographic that is rarely included in Western comics. Wilson’s work is widely celebrated, and rightly so, because it is a credit to the comics community.