To All My Agents of G.I.R.L.

This letter comes from the final page of The Unstoppable Wasp #10.

I love that I have a job where I get to tell stories. It’s the job I’ve wanted since I was five and I haven’t gotten tired of it. Sometimes there are roadblocks and sometimes there are stories that you just have to finish, even though you may not feel enthusiastic about them. That’s what makes it a job and not a hobby. And as you do it more, you start to realize that not every story has the luxury of being “important.” Some stories are fun. Some stories are puzzles and once they’re solved there’s little novelty to them. Some stories are just gigs.

But as I write this, we are putting the finishing touches on Volume 2 of the UNSTOPPABLE WASP and while I feel a sense of loss that Nadia won’t be in my life ever day, the thing I feel the most is profoundly thankful. I’m thankful to Marvel Comics, to C. B. Cebulski, to Tom Brevoort, to Guirihiru, to Alti Firmansyah, to Joe Caramagna, to Espen Grundetjern, to Mark Waid, to all of my consultants, all of my Agents of G.I.R.L (both in the book and on Twitter) and most of all, I’m thankful to Alanna Smith. Alanna has been my editor for both volumes of UNSTOPPABLE WASP and she’s just as much a part of this as Nadia, Janet and I. It has been her guidance that helped me turn this from a well-intentioned story to a truly well-told story.

“Nadia,” the name, means “hope.” That has been the driving force of this book from Day 1. From the Pakistani pastry shop and the immigration office to G.I.R.L. Expo and Shay’s hospital room, it has been the one constant. Nadia spreads hope to young girls, to female scientists, to friends and strangers and sometimes enemies. That’s what makes her special.

Telling a story where Nadia had to face her own mental illness and, for a time, lost sight of hope was a difficult and sometimes exhausting task. After I finished issue #5 of this series, I couldn’t write for two weeks. I kept convincing myself that I had done something terrible and I kept going back over the pages. I consulted with people who both treat and deal with mental illness every day. I talked to other writers. I talked to Alanna. I panicked. Maybe that story got better for my anxiety. I don’t really know. But I know something else for sure.

I got to write an important story here. I got to tell a story that incorporated issues with mental health, sexuality, gender expression, found family, race, ethnicity, culture and science. And the response I got from people both in person and online will never leave me. There has been some crying on both ends, and…the idea that thanks to these ten issues of comic books, I know for a fact that readers have both recognized themselves in Nadia and gone to therapy and at least one friend and reader has come out publicly about sexuality are the sorts of things that can’t be canceled. We’ve done something good here and, hopefully, along with Nadia, we’ve spread some hope. Thank you for being here and reading this, whether you’ve been with us from issue #1 or this is your first issue.

In the long scope of things, everything is a limited series. But hope…hope is ongoing. Share your love for the book and maybe we’ll get to come back to tell more stories. Alanna and Gurihiru and I will all have more books. In fact, I’m already writing FUTURE FOUNDATION as we speak. But in the meantime, please share these stories. Please share hope.

Jeremy Whitley

War Rocket Ajax: Episode 457 – The Continuity Hug

I got to catch up once again with those War Rocket Ajax boys – Matt Wilson (@TheMattDWilson)and Chris Sims (@theISB) – to talk about the finale of Wasp and the upcoming launch of Future Foundation. We also talk about whether or not Artie and Leech are trash teens. Are they? You’ll have to listen to find out!

Newsarama: JEREMY WHITLEY on PRINCELESS’ Future & Its Future with Libraries

In this interview with Zack Smith for Newsarama, I get to talk about the latest Princeless Kickstarter – aimed at getting some hardcovers for volume three.

Jeremy Whitley sees his long-running story in Princeless ending in the next few years, but the future is bright with “a whole world of new possibilities.”

The penultimate arc of the main Princeless story begins August 28 with Princeless Book 9: Save Yourself, but at the same time Whitley and publisher Action Lab Entertainment are raising funds via Kickstarter for a hardcover edition of Book 3 aimed specifically at libraries – which the writer said is the franchise’s most-prized market.

Long story short? Paperback books don’t last long in libraries.

Nrama: So why hardcover then?

Whitley: That’s a great question as, as I mentioned, we already have the book out in softcover. The thing is, being an all-ages comic with a message of reaching a diverse young audience, there is no market that’s more important to us than libraries. In libraries we have a chance to be a kid’s first comic or to reach kids that might not have the money or comic shop to go get the book in stores.

And when you talk to librarians, their number one complaint about trade paperbacks is that a number of them don’t last more than a few check outs. Kids are rough on books. Dropboxes are rough on books. Trade paperbacks aren’t built to sustain the kind of abuse they do in a library. So, if we’re going to reach this audience and help librarians do the same, hardback is the format we need to be using to reach them.

Smith, Zack. “JEREMY WHITLEY on PRINCELESS’ Future & Its Future with Libraries” Newsarama. 2 July 2019.

You can read rest of the interview at Newsarama.

You can also help support our efforts by backing our Kickstarter and picking up some copies of Princeless and Raven: the Pirate Princess comics for your own shelves!

bpHope: The Unstoppable Wasp: Fighting Bipolar & Bad Guys

I’m honored that The Unstoppable Wasp was featured in bp Magazine. This magazine is part of an online community that strives to increase awareness of bipolar disorder as well as provide support for those in the bipolar community.

How did you go about creating a realistic, respectful portrayal?

I started off by doing some reading. Informative stuff about what the symptoms are, what the onset of bipolar looks like, especially in teenagers, but from that moving out to the personal. I worked with both a psychiatrist and a professor of psychology, but also with several people who either have first-hand experience with bipolar or who have friends and family members dealing with it.

Forbes, Elizabeth. “The Unstoppable Wasp: Fighting Bipolar & Bad Guys”, bpHope.com. Summer 2019.

You can read the rest of the interview online here. You can also catch it in print in the Summer 2019 issue of bp Magazine!

Screen Rant: Marvel’s FUTURE FOUNDATION Team Previews New Series

Will Robson and I talked with Screen Rant about the upcoming Future Foundation series.

While originally introduced as Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four’s collection of bright young minds, the new incarnation of the Future Foundation has a more fantastic roster than ever. Alex Power remains as the team leader, with his sister (and fellow Power Pack teammate) Julie back in all her rainbow glory. Throw in a moody genius clone, one of Wakanda’s future stars, and a literal Dragon Man just to name a few, and it’s hard to imagine what stories writer Jeremy Whitley, artist Will Robson, and colorist Greg Menzie WON’T be telling. But first, the team will need an expert in breaking people out of prison… and who better than the Guardians of the Galaxy‘s own spiritual mentor, Yondu Udonta?

To continue reading our interview with Andrew Dyce, head over to Screen Rant!

Be sure to look for Future Foundation #1 at your local comic book shop. The book comes out August 7, 2019!

Talking Comics: Special Guest Host WHITLEYYYY!!!

I’ve double checked to make sure that I added the appropriate number of Y’s to the end of Whitley. I think I have.

Though I’ve been on a few podcasts, it isn’t often that I get a chance to host one! Special thanks to The Comic Book Podcast from Talking Comics for giving me the chance to play host for “Issue 394”. In this issue, Bob, Steve, Joey and I get to talk about Future Foundation, Princeless, and more.

Did you enjoy this podcast? If so, you can get more of Steve Seigh, Bob Reyer, Joey Braccino, Jessica Garris-Schaeffer, and Sarah Miles weekly on The Comic Book Podcast. Find them on Twitter @TalkingComics!

Newsarama: The Secret Origin of JEREMY WHITLEY

In this interview I discuss the origin of my love of comics, the complexities of breaking into the comics industry, upcoming projects, and hope for the future.

Marvel Comics

Nrama: Your work primarily focuses on all-ages/coming of age stories. What do you like about this form of storytelling?

Whitley: I feel like this is the home of what’s made comics great. All-ages comics are the foundation of modern comics. Telling stories that offer hope to kids and adults alike is important. There’s a place for dark and scary stories, and I have a few of those pitches too, but comics are about hope, love, and justice for me. And while I’m unlikely to say that the world needs another gritty deconstruction of the superhero mythos, we do need hope. We always need hope.

Calamia, Kat. “The Secret Origin of JEREMY WHITLEY (And His Love of All Ages Stories)”, Newsarama. 7 June 2019.

If you’d like to continue reading, head to Newsarama to read the interview in its entirety.

SyFyWire: WHY JEREMY WHITLEY CREATES CHARACTERS AS ROLE MODELS FOR HIS DAUGHTER

In this interview with SyFy, I talk about my favorite comics and why I create them.

Where did the concept for Princeless come from?

At the point that we started working on it we were about to have my daughter, and although I’d gotten back into comics, unfortunately, there wasn’t much out there for me to read with her. The New 52 had just launched and it was a very aggressively straight white male time in comics.
And for me, especially having a daughter who’s a young woman of color, I wanted something that she could herself reflected in, where it had the kind of messages and stuff that I want her to get. So I started writing [Princeless] with the intention of meeting her and other girls where they were at with princess stuff. I’m not trying to force girls to not like princesses, but I can make a princess who actually saves herself and does the kind of things that I want my daughter to be able to see role models doing. That’s kind of where it started, re-writing the fairy tale trope. It just kept getting bigger and bigger.

Horne, Karama. “INDIE COMICS SPOTLIGHT: WHY JEREMY WHITLEY CREATES CHARACTERS AS ROLE MODELS FOR HIS DAUGHTER” SYFYWire. 8 April 2019.

WMQ Comics: Jeremy Whitley Talks Mental Health and ‘The Unstoppable Wasp’

I had a chance to talk with WMQ about the need for diversity in comics.

WMQ: Without getting too personal, have you or someone close to you had struggles with mental health? Did that make you want to write this story? I’ve struggled with anxiety and OCD for much of my life, so seeing this treated with such respect is really important and means a lot to me. 

Jeremy: Honestly, while I feel like it would be easier to say “there was this one experience I had,” it’s not that simple. There are a lot of people in my life who have struggled with mental health, be it depression, anxiety, bipolar or more often something undiagnosed. I deal a bit with anxiety myself from time to time, but honestly it’s tied to all of these things but not just any one of them.

We’re in a period where superhero comics are dealing with diversity in ways we haven’t seen in the past, and I think dealing with characters who aren’t neurotypical should be a part of that. Just like comics of the past have often relied on stereotypes about race, ethnicity, and religion to provide villains for their heroes, the same is overwhelmingly true of characters with mental illness. But for me, the best superheroes have always been ones that fight through their limitations to do amazing things, and I think it’s time we started treating mental illness with the same respect we now mostly show to things like race and ethnicity in comics.

Grote, Dan. “Jeremy Whitley Talks Mental Health” WMQ Comics. 8 April 2019.

You can read the rest of this interview with Dan Grote, and more from the folks over at WMQ Comics. You can also find Dan hanging out online and getting excited about Wednesdays @danielpgrote.