Shoot The Breeze Comics was honored to sit down with Eisner and GLAAD nominated writer Steven Orlando to discuss Pride Month, the importance of LGBTQ representation, and his upcoming Wonder Woman run.
Steve has written many critically acclaimed books such as Namesake, Justice League of America, Midnighter, Midnighter and Apollo, Supergirl, and (coming soon) Wonder Woman.
STBC: First of all, Happy Pride Month! In the spirit of the event, I have to ask, what are your favorite LGBTQ books to read during Pride Month? Do you have a favorite LGBTQ character?
SO: I always find myself returning to ENIGMA, which is still one of my favorite stories ever. And as for my own favorite LGBTQ+ character, it’s tough, there are many I love! But right now it would be a toss up between Sarah Lance, Batwoman and Midnighter.
STBC: You contributed to the IDW/DC benefit book Love is Love, what did it feel like to be a part of something so heartbreaking and yet so special?
SO: It was a great honor! The chance to benefit a community in loss, and try to bring an inkling of hope back into people’s lives was something I didn’t take lightly. But in a time when we could feel separated and under attack, coming together to create this symbol of unity was something very special. I’m just lucky to be a part of the whole.
STBC: Jumping to your own work: In Midnighter and Apollo, you revitalized Extraño, arguably DC’s most controversial LGBTQ+ character, what was your motivation for that?
SO: The motivation with Extraño was to look to our past and give what should be celebrated a new polish, a new coat of paint. Extrano was the first out character at Marvel or DC, he deserves attention, he deserves to be known, and along with that deserved an update to bring him into the present day and move him past any problematic roots.
STBC: Speaking of motivation, in Supergirl #19 you teamed up with non-binary writer Vita Ayala to bring more non-binary representation to DC Comics, how did that come to be?
SO: With SUPERGIRL 19, I had originally thought I’d write it about myself, and how Supergirl could’ve helped me as a bisexual youth. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in the modern day we could push that narrative of “how would an indestructible friend help me?” to be even more interesting. So I spoke with Vita, who I’d written with before at DC, about bringing their experience to the book as well, and turning the issue into a moment of power and positivity for a community that needed representation even more so than my own.
STBC: You’ve done a lot to incorporate more LGBTQ+ characters into comics with books like Namesake, Midnighter, Supergirl, and Justice League of America. We will see any other LGBTQ+ characters, aside from Diana herself, in your upcoming Wonder Woman run?
SO: Hopefully! We’re going a lot of different places during my WONDER WOMAN run, but one of them is Bana-Mighdall, home to a culture that was always strong in LGBTQ+ characters.
STBC: Will we see members of Diana’s family like Hippolyta, Philippus, Jason or Donna?
SO; You just might! Diana is currently banished from Themyscira, BUT our main WONDER WOMAN story arc is kicked off by the discovery of a lost Amazon with connections to both Diana and Artemis, which will be revealed in the book.
STBC: We know from the solicitations that you’re bringing back William Moulton Marston’s Transformation Island, are you able to tell us how yours will differ from his?
SO: To be honest, Transformation Island in the solicit is an allusion to an idea, rather than a literal place. Our story, which is actually titled The Fifty-Two Visits, will center around what Transformation Island represented: not giving up on our enemies once they’re defeated, and showing them compassion instead.
STBC: After Transformation Island we know that Diana will team up with Aztek and Artemis, can you tell us a little of what we can expect?
SO: Aztek and Artemis will join Diana to rescue an Amazon lost in Middle America, who has been spending every second of her life facing down a threat that’s deeply connected to Aztek’s backstory. If they can repel an invasion from the Sphere of the Gods, Diana and Artemis will have rescued one of their people’s great heroes. The question then becomes, was she better off as a legend? Should she have stayed lost? There are some Amazons that find the return of an ancient hero to be a threat – after all, who can ever truly live up to their myth?
STBC: In conclusion, do you have any advice for LGBTQ+ creators looking to get their foot in the door?
SO: Make comics. Make connections. And repeat. Comics, like any entertainment business, is based on personalities. Write your truth, collaborate and create your art, and while you’re doing so, either through the internet or in person at conventions, make the connections you need so that once your work is professional level, it’s YOU editors and influencers think of when new opportunities arise.
Wonder Woman #51 hits stores and Comixology July 25th. Be sure to pre-order yourself a copy!