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Vita Ayala Talks About Livewire

Livewire #5

Livewire #5 kicks off a brand new story arc “Guardian.” Investigating the disappearance of a young psiot girl, Livewire stumbles upon Omen’s answer to the psiot “problem,” a facility where young psiots are taken and taught to control their powers. Is this facility the safe haven Livewire’s dreamed of or is there something more sinister to this sanctuary?

Featuring art by Kano and covers by Kenneth Rocafort, Will Conrad, and Grey Williamson, the comic is written by Vita Ayala and edited by Heather Antos.

We got a chance to ask Vita a few questions about the series, creating comics, and what it’s like to work on one of Valiant’s biggest names.

Livewire #5 is out in stores April 10, 2019.


Graphic Policy: The first arc felt very personal, and dealt heavily with Amanda’s image as a villain in the post Harbinger Wars II landscape, but this one gives me the impression of her trying to be a hero regardless of what people think of her. Is there a general theme you’re exploring with each arc (that you can share)?

Vita Ayala:: The core of this story arc is about self-control.

For Livewire, having had to take responsibility of the consequences of shutting down the country and moving forward, the question of self-control is especially important. It’s at the forefront of her mind as she navigates a world that views her as a terrorist and the ultimate threat while trying to be a hero.

There’s also a juxtaposition that will go on between Amanda and the other women in the book. We were interested in touching on some of the “path that could have been” sort of ideas, between Amanda and Serena especially.

GP: Despite being very accessible for new readers, the series also plays heavily with what’s gone before. Is it difficult to keep the balance as well as you have so far?

VA: It can be tricky to navigate, yes! Especially in the first and fifth issues, because they both begin story arcs and have the heavier burden of hooking new readers.

I think it helps to approach the stories as if they are sort of the start to a television show. When you begin a series, you want the characters you introduce to have weight—to feel real and rounded and like they existed before we jumped into their lives—even though we have never seen them before.

Hopefully, we succeeded!

GP: With Livewire being one of the bigger names in Valiant’s warehouse, does that add any pressure when you write?

VA: You know, it doesn’t. That SHOULD be a factor, but I think when I pitched the character, I purposefully didn’t think about it or incorporate that weight into how I approached Livewire, if that makes sense.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous, though! Having it be the first time she has her own solo title—THAT was daunting. Collaborating with [arc 1 artists] Patricia [Martín] and Raúl [Allén] following their run on Secret Weapons with Eric Heisserer? Terrifying! Writing my first ongoing book? I can’t think about that without getting anxious.

But I think when it comes down to it, I want to write the best possible story no matter WHO the character is. That it is Amanda, who I fell in love with in
Secret Weapons, actually makes me more determined to succeed than scared to fail.

GP: One of my favorite things about this series is how you’re looking at the actions of “heroes” in less than positive ways. In a book with so many grey areas, who do you find yourself rooting for?

VA: At the end of the day, I root for Amanda. She is striving to help people and keep the more malicious powers that be from succeeding.

But, rooting for Amanda doesn’t mean always agreeing with her methods, or thinking she is perfect. Sometimes, rooting for someone means you want someone to knock some sense into them (metaphorically), because they are not able to see the bigger picture in a way that is ultimately harmful to them and their goals.

So, I root for Amanda, as a character, and also, I root for her continuing to learn better and do better.

GP: With Livewire #5 opening the door to another group training and developing psiots other than those we’ve seen in previous series, what are the chances this one is more benevolent than the others?

VA: You’ll have to read to find out, haha!

GP: Last time we got a chance to chat, you mentioned you tweaking the comic three or four times. How do you know when a comic is “done”?

VA: It’s done when my editors are happy, haha.

No, but seriously, I think it is done when the editors and I agree that the comic is serving the story we want to tell, in the way that we want it to. This process is a long one—even after art is locked in, there are tweaks to be made in lettering that can change the entire meaning of an issue.

GP: You’ve been able to make it out to some conventions recently; how has the reception been for the book from the fans?

VA: People have been incredibly supportive and wonderful! I was a little nervous, because I know Valiant has a very tight-knit and dedicated fan base, and I was a newcomer on a high-profile title, but everyone was super welcoming! They really are some of the absolute best fans in comics.

GP: Finally, perhaps the most important question of all: Which is better, pirates, zombies or ninjas?

VA: Oof, hard-hitting question! Well, I am happy not to live in a world with the living dead, so I’ll leave the zombies to others.

And, while I am low-key obsessed with pirates (I am a total mark for swagger, cool coats, and swashbuckling rogues wielding cutlasses), I enjoy not having scurvy, so, I’m gonna go with ninjas.

Full disclosure, my first tattoo ever was the symbol from Flame of Recca, a manga about ninjas with elemental powers, so I am a LITTLE biased…

Vita Ayala and Heather Antos Talk Livewire Plus an Exclusive Look at Livewire #5

Livewire #5

Livewire #5 kicks off a brand new story arc “Guardian.” Investigating the disappearance of a young psiot girl, Livewire stumbles upon Omen’s answer to the psiot “problem,” a facility where young psiots are taken and taught to control their powers. Is this facility the safe haven Livewire’s dreamed of or is there something more sinister to this sanctuary?

Featuring art by Kano and covers by Kenneth Rocafort, Will Conrad, and Grey Williamson, the comic is written by Vita Ayala and edited by Heather Antos.

We got a chance to ask Vita and Heather a few questions about the series, who Livewire is to them, and what it’s like to work with a character and world that’s so fresh.

Livewire #5 is out in stores April 10, 2019.

Graphic Policy: If you could sum up Livewire in a half dozen words, which words would you use?

Vita Ayala: Brilliant. Strong. Powerful. Empathetic. She can be gentle and kid, but she’s not the one to mess with.

Heather Antos: Fearless. Curious. Driven. Proud. Amanda is an extremely intelligent woman, with a passion for protecting those she feels responsible for. Unfortunately, like any of us, sometimes she makes mistakes. And sometimes, like any of us, it takes a good hard look in the mirror before she realizes that she could, in fact, have made the wrong call, despite the best of intentions.

GP: Comics have some very noteworthy villains who can have some very sympathetic motives; Magneto and Toyo Harada immediately spring to mind as villains of circumstance (and the story) rather than being outright evil. Livewire deals with Livewire’s actions in Harbinger Wars II, and how she’s viewed more as a villain now than a hero. What approach do you take when writing a (perceived within the universe) villain as a hero?

VA: For me, the saying that no one is the villain of their own story is very much accurate here. Part of making a character sympathetic is to align readers with them. I think that, for me, one way to do that effectively (and quickly) is to present the world through Amanda’s viewpoint. Not literally through her eyes, but figuratively. We are her, and we know the WHY of her actions and motivations like they are our own.

GP: Heather, you’ve worked on some really well-established properties. What might be different for someone in your role working with a relatively new character and series?

HA: When working on high-profile properties and characters, publishers have the luxury of a pre-established fanbase for their books. New characters don’t have that same privilege of years of loving and adoring fans. But that’s what makes creating new characters and new worlds such a fun and unique challenge! It’s all about how we can make characters like Livewire interesting and relatable to a new audience. How do we, as readers, see ourselves in Livewire? How can we get people to love to love her, as well as love to hate her? How do we make her HUMAN?

GP: What got you to come back to comics and Valiant?

HA: Technically, I never left! You can see my work on Image comics like Redlands, Injection, and Bitter Root. However, when I first met with Publisher Fred Pierce and Senior Editorial Director Robert Meyers about joining the Valiant team full-time, I was intrigued with the idea of creating new characters and titles in an already established universe. The Valiant Universe is still so young and fresh and there’s so much here ready to explore. I can’t wait until you see what we’ve been cooking up!

GP: In preparation for this, I had read the script for issue 5. This is the first comic script I’ve ever read, so I’m curious about how many changes do you find you typically make to the script during the creation process of the comic? It must be exciting seeing your vision come to life at the artist’s hands?

VA: Some scripts go through some pretty intense overhauls, so there are minor tweaks and adjustments in the dialogue phase. It depends on the goal of the issue, I think. Issue #5 may have some real changes in the dialogue, but the art is already on the way. I remember rewriting issue #1 three or four times, then going back and tweaking it a few more times after that (and then doing more tweaking in the lettering stage).

There is no way to really describe the awe I feel when I get to see the art for the first (or fifth, or one hundredth) time! There are usually things that are different from the script, so there is that thrill of newness – which, whatever I had in mind always pales in comparison. To see the story come to life in the hands of such incredible collaborators is a blessing, every single time.

GP: Phoebe Daniels seems like a very interesting character; where did she come from? Was she created because of the story, or did the story form because of her?

VA: We wanted to tell a story about self-control, coming off of her realizing her mistakes during Harbinger Wars II. We wanted to put Amanda in a situation where she couldn’t just snap her fingers and make everything better. We wanted to pit Amanda against an enemy that seemed – on the face of things – to have the same motivations as her. We also wanted a character who could almost remind Amanda of herself during her most vulnerable time. So I guess in a real way, it was a little of both?

GP: I LOVED the idea of the between panel art in the early pages, which leads me to my next question. You seem very open to allowing your artists room to create and do their thing; how important is it for you to give freedom to your collaborators?

VA: It is VERY important to me. I try and stay out of an artist’s way as much as possible, unless I have a very specific thing I want to convey (like with the art between the panels), and even then, ultimately it is up to them if they want to incorporate it. I trust my collaborators WAY more than I trust myself – I can’t draw! They have a much better sense of what will work with their style.

I think that the more freedom artists have, the more of themselves they can put into a project – and comics are a VISUAL medium. The artists (line and color, and lettering, too) are the ones that spend the most time with the book, so it makes sense to want them to feel as much ownership of it as humanly possible. I am happy to adjust any text that will appear on page to that – and usually, I end up cutting a lot of on-page text because the art says it better than my words ever could.

GP: As an editor what different approaches might you take working in the Valiant universe than your previous roles?

HA: As an editor, I’ve always seen my job as handling all the outside bullshit so that my team of writers and artists only have to focus on what it is they do best: create great stories. Whether with Marvel or Image or Valiant, that vision and responsibility hasn’t changed. It’s an insanely exciting time to be a creator at Valiant – there is an endless universe of new ground just waiting to be built upon. And I’m just here to help them do it.

GP: Thanks so much for chatting!

Livewire #5

Heather Antos Joins Valiant as Part of the Editorial Team

Valiant Entertainment has announced that editor extraordinaire Heather Antos has joined the company’s Editorial department!

Antos’ first assignment at Valiant HQ will be working with writer Vita Ayala on the recently launched Livewire series. Antos will also develop a stable of her own titles and engage with her extensive list of creator contacts. She’ll also appear with the Valiant team at conventions and live events. With a history of being an incredible story editor and having a keen eye for developing talent, Antos is a phenomenal addition to Valiant Editorial.

Heather Antos

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #23

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #23

Story: Simon Spurrier
Art: Kev Walker
Ink: Marc Deering
Color: Java Tartaglia
Cover: Ashley Witter
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman
Editor: Heather Antos, Mark Paniccia
Rated T
In Shops: Aug 22, 2018
SRP: $3.99

GOOD NEWS: THE IMPERIALS HAVE ABANDONED ACCRESKER JAIL. BAD NEWS: FIRST THEY SHOT IT AT A REBEL PLANET.
• For unscrupulous inmate DOCTOR APHRA, accompanied by former flame SANA STARROS and current flame INSPECTOR TOLVAN…
• (NB: Awkward.)
• …chances to escape are dwindling fast. Good thing Aphra’s not distracted by an expensive relic, right?
• Oh, dear.

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Darth Vader #16

Star Wars: Darth Vader #16

Writer: Charles Soule
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Daniele Orlandini
Colors: Java Tartaglia, Guru-eFX
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Elia Bonetti
Editors: Jordan D. White, Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Tom Groneman, Emily Newcomen
Rated T
In Shops: May 09, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Vader and his Inquisitors lead an elite squad of clone troopers to flush out the Jedi traitor beneath the waters of Mon Cala…and the oceans will burn with their fury.

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars #47

Star Wars #47

Story: Kieron Gillen
Art: Salvador Larroca
Color: Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: David Marquez, Matthew Wilson
Editors: Jordan D. White, Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Tom Groneman, Emily Newcomen
Rated T
In Shops: May 02, 2018
SRP: $3.99

The Rebellion’s fight to liberate Mon Cala continues! While Han, Luke and Leia undertake a perilous and nigh-impossible rescue, Threepio must keep up his vital mission…of hobnobbing at the opera?!

Preview: Marvel Rising #0

Marvel Rising #0

Story: Devin Grayson
Art: Marco Failla
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Helen Chen
Design: Jay Bowen
Editors: Heather Antos, Sarah Brunstad
Consulting Editor: Sana Amanat

This April SQUIRREL GIRL meets MS. MARVEL – for the very first time! When Doreen Green (also known as the unbeatable Squirrel Girl) volunteers as head counselor for an extra-curricular computer programming camp, little does she know that junior counselor Kamala Khan moonlights as crime fighting super hero Ms. Marvel! But this coding camp is more than just ones and zeros when A.I.M. makes an appearance! Will our heroes be able to save the campers without blowing their secret identities? Join Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, America, Inferno, and Patriot as they learn exactly what it means to be a young hero in the Marvel Universe – and what it means to be a hero to each other.

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #19

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #19

Story: Kieron Gillen, Si Spurrier
Art: Emilio Laiso
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Ashley Witter
Editors: Jordan D. White, Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Emily Newcomen
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 25, 2018
SRP: $3.99

“REMASTERED” CONTINUES!
• Evil droid mastermind Triple-Zero has been blackmailing Doctor Aphra into stealing his old memories…
• …which also has included sneaking onto Rebel training grounds run by General Hera Syndulla.
• Now hunted by both Hera of the Rebellion and Tolvan of the Empire, Aphra’s got a lot on her mind…
• But if there’s anything to know about the Doctor, it’s that she’s always got tricks up her electro-sleeve!

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars #46

Star Wars #46

Story: Kieron Gillen
Art: Salvador Larroca
Color: Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: David Marquez, Matthew Wilson
Editor: Jordan D. White
Assistant Editor: Heather Antos
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 04, 2018
SRP: $3.99

The Rebellion continues their mission to liberate Mon Cala! Princess Leia has a nearly impossible plan to unite the planet with the Rebel Alliance, one that counts on the unique skills and cultural know-how belonging to the one-and-only… See-Threepio?!

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #18

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #18

Story: Kieron Gillen, Si Spurrier Art: Emilio Laiso
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Ashley Witter
Editor: Jordan D. White Assistant Editor: Heather Antos
“REMASTERED” CONTINUES!
Rated T
In Shops: Mar 28, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Doctor Aphra is being blackmailed by Triple-Zero to run missions for his underground crime syndicate – but that doesn’t mean she can’t cause trouble and have fun along the way! Sometimes that fun means infiltrating Rebellion training grounds…and sometimes that trouble means crossing paths with famed rebel Hera Syndulla herself!

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