Jeremy Whitley is a comic book writer and the creator of Princeless and Raven: The Pirate Princess. He has written for Marvel, IDW, Action Lab, and Red Stylo. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and lives in Durham, NC with his superheroine wife Alicia and their crime fighting daughter Zuri.
GM: Give us the basement to penthouse elevator pitch for Princeless.
JW: Princeless is the story of a princess who is locked in a tower by her parents, to await rescue by a handsome prince whom she is then to marry. Adrienne instead makes friends with the dragon guarding her and decides to save herself instead of waiting to be saved. She teams up with the dragon and runs off to go save her sisters, who are all similarly locked up.
GM: Did you have anyone particular in mind when you were working on the concepts?
JW: The character of Adrienne is both named after and initially modeled after my sister-in-law. The idea was to create a character whom my daughter could both see herself in (a strong young woman of color) and look up to (ambitious, courageous, independent). Since starting, I’m not sure whether Adrienne is becoming more like my daughter or my daughter is becoming more like Adrienne, but they’re definitely getting closer.
GM: Do you have a favorite writing genre? Least favorite? Why to both.
JW: I love writing sci-fi and fantasy. In my head, they’re very similar, it’s just the explanations and settings that change. I love to be able to make my own worlds and build them just the way I like. Maybe the most fun part of writing fantasy especially is that there is so many established tropes and expectations to work against. I love actively breaking those things. It’s one of the funnest parts of my job.
My least favorite genre to write is non-fiction. People get mad when you make stuff up there.
GM: Favorite genre to read? Least favorite? Also why?
JW: It changes. I’ve obviously read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi over time. One of the things which is fascinating me right now is horror. I’m interested in how good writers get people to be afraid with words and still images. Getting a scare in a movie is easy, but pulling that off on the page is a skill I’d like to have.
GM: Are you a comics reader? Favorite title ever?
JW: I am. I have a lot of series I’m reading right now that I really love, but I don’t like to call something my “favorite ever” until it wraps up. Endings are hard. So as far as comic stories that have an ending, I think Y: The Last Man is probably my favorite. It’s a great high concept that really delivers, has a great array of main characters, and an amazing last couple of issues.
GM: Do you view comics as a genre or a medium? Why?
JW: Increasingly it’s moving toward being a medium. It always has been, but there have been caps on what stories you can tell and still be a successful working creator. A lot of those gates are opening now and making it possible to tell all different genres of stories in comics now.
GM: How did the Unstoppable Wasp gig come about? Do you get to play in other pools as well (Champions, for example)?
JW: Well, Unstoppable Wasp came about as a result of some smaller projects I’d worked on at Marvel. I did a tie-in to Secret Wars last year called Secret Love, which was met with a lot of love and acclaim from the fan base. Then I wrote a short story for Civil War II: Choosing Sides #2, which has only just come out, but that everyone has been very enthusiastic about. I actually just did another project which hasn’t been announced to the best of my knowledge, but will be out in October and fell partially under Tom Brevoort’s office. Tom, whom I had been hassling quite a bit about working for Marvel and had hooked me up with editor Emily Shaw on Secret Love was very helpful with this story and thought I would be a great fit for the new Wasp, a character that they wanted to give more of a spotlight. I was, of course, ecstatic about the idea. I love good teen superhero stories!
I’ve written three issue already and I’ve already gotten to play in some other pools. You will see one of the members of The Champions running around in issue 1, but we’ll also pull in some guest stars from some other books. For those, you’ll have to wait and see.
GM: What can you tell us about Nadia? About her first arc outside of All-New, All-Different Avengers?
JW: Nadia was raised in The Red Room where she was trained to be an assassin on the same level as Black Widow. However, as she got a little bit older, they noticed she showed a distinct aptitude for science, one she shared with her father, Hank Pym. In order to help her become a weapon that could aid them in their cause, they told Nadia who her father was and began giving her his scientific work to read as well as the work of other scientists. Nadia was supposed to be replicating her father’s work with Pym Particles, which she successfully did–and then used them to escape in order to find her father. When she arrived, she discovered her father was dead.
Now that Nadia is on her own, she has a lot of potential and a lot of the resources her father left behind. However, she doesn’t have things like a legal residency status or friends. We’re going to see a little bit of that come into play. The rest is a surprise!
GM: Is Wasp an ongoing? What else do you have upcoming?
JW: Unstoppable Wasp is an ongoing! I’ve actually already written the first three issue and I’m working on issue four right now.
Naturally, I still have Princeless and Raven: The Pirate Princess coming out monthly-ish. Those books are still a ton of fun and aren’t going anywhere! I also have several pitches that I’m working on that haven’t found a home just yet, but that I’m very excited about getting out into the world.
GM: Who’s your favorite Avenger? Come on, be honest now.
JW: Why, The Unstoppable Wasp, of course!
I had to.
Really the Young Avengers squad tends to top my list, but if we’re looking at more classic Avengers, I have a lot of love for both female Captains Marvel–Monica Rambeau and Carol Danvers. Though I would follow MCU Captain America to the gates of hell, just so we’re clear.
GM: What color is your saber?
JW: Orange. Very Orange.
Princeless and Raven: Pirate Princess are ongoing series published by Action Labs. Unstoppable Wasp will be available starting in December of ’16 but you can get a sneak peek at her in All-New, All-Different Avengers #9 (available now) and All-New, All-Different Avengers #14 (September ’16).