Hi Redditors! I'm G. Willow Wilson (the G is silent), writer of the Hugo Award-winning comic book series Ms. Marvel and the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Alif the Unseen. AMA!


EDIT: I have to sign-off now, but thanks for all your great questions!

Comments: 161 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

DesperatelyRandom28 karma

Are we going to see Ms. Marvel in action on the big or small screen anytime soon?

GWillowWilson38 karma

Good question! Ms Marvel is already a recurring character in the animated Disney channel series, Mighty Avengers. As for other on-screen appearances, the internet knows as much as I do at this point.

KatnissBot20 karma

So we know Kamala is a fanfic enthusiast, but do you yourself check out Marvel fics?

Also, who would Kamala most want to team up with that she hasn't worked together with yet, and why is it Squirrel Girl?

( p. s. I also wanted to say thanks. I'm a Texan Jew, and the way you tackled Kamala feeling out of place due to her religion really hit home. Also, her relationships with her friends are incredibly realistic.

So thank you, and keep on keeping on.)

GWillowWilson39 karma

So I used to check out Marvel fics semi-regularly, but now that Ms Marvel is a thing, I haven't been as regular--simply because there are now lots of Ms Marvel fanfics out there now, and running across them feels either like Inception or gets really weird really fast (I'm thinking here of the sexier ones...) I actually wrote a whole story about this very issue in that Ms Marvel fanfic one shot a couple of years ago. :D

I think the Kamala-Squirrel Girl crossover is inevitable. It's a matter of finding exactly the right storyline though, because it must be a) Perfect and b) epic.

PS Thank you. So glad the series has been meaningful to you. xo

vivvav15 karma

Unlike a lot of other legacy characters, Kamala's powers are nothing like her predecessors'. How did you land on the size-changing stuff? Was that an idea you had for a character and Ms. Marvel was later assigned to it, or did you workshop a few powers when creating a new Ms. Marvel?

GWillowWilson51 karma

Oh my God. It took Sana and I NINE MONTHS to settle on this power set. It was by far the most difficult part of the planning phase. Marvel came to me with a total tabula rasa--they wanted to do an all-ages series about an American Muslim girl (the idea was inspired by Sana's own stories about her childhood) but this character had no name, no background, no power set, no nothing. I didn't want her to have pretty powers--no sparkling, no floating in the air, no "I have a headache" telepathy. So that ruled some things out. And giving her violent powers--your laser beams, your plasma bolts--would be read as a political statement. (This is a whole 'nother AMA.) So we had to get very creative. It had to be something useful and adaptive and fun to look at on the page. Getting to this specific variety of polymorphism took quite awhile.

MrZissman15 karma

If Ms Marvel makes it to the Marvel Cinematic universe, would you rather see her as a Netflix TV show or a movie? Personally, I think a TV show would work best as it would give the writers more time to explore everything about Kamala

GWillowWilson28 karma

I really like the episodic nature of television--there's so much more room to tell complex stories. Having said that, I certainly wouldn't be sad if they decided to use her on the big screen!

JavierLoustaunau14 karma

With your profile steadily increasing at Marvel, have you been brought in to collaborate on upcoming events or been offered an event of your own?

I'm not even a fan of big events but they seem to always center around the same writers.

GWillowWilson16 karma

I've been lucky enough to attend a couple of editorial retreats to see how the event-sausage gets made, but at this point I have too many side-projects (some of which I'll be able to announce shortly!) going on to help orchestrate one of the Marvel-wide events. But we'll see what the future holds.

Vriess12 karma

Have you had any story beats that have encountered resistance due to Kamala's Muslim background? If so, what changes were requested?

Also When will we get a Moon Girl/Ms. Marvel/Squirrel Girl epic crossover series? They seem like they would make an amazing team!

GWillowWilson19 karma

Thankfully, since Sana Amanat (our fearless editor) and I are on the same page about the tone of the series, there's never really been a big conflict about content. (That I was involved with, at any rate.) As for crossovers--anything is possible! Ms Marvel has had a guest role in the Moon Girl ongoing series already, which is great.

maxmalavenda11 karma

Miles + Kamala or Bruno + Kamala?

GWillowWilson38 karma

I value my personal safety too much to answer this question. :P

rpawson577110 karma

I've loved your run on Ms. Marvel since the beginning. Do you see a day where it's feasible for you to write more than one monthly ongoing series? Is that even something you're interested in doing?

GWillowWilson15 karma

Possibly. At this point I like having a couple of weeks per month to work on novels or short stories or articles, but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to taking on another series.

jpease10 karma

Why does Kamala not use her Mystique-like powers that allow her to look like other people (e.g., like when she first made herself look like Carol Danvers)?

GWillowWilson26 karma

So the answer to this is interesting...the way we set it up (I use the royal we because Team Ms Marvel is much more than just me...it's Sana, it's our assistant editors, it's the artists, etc), Kamala can only use her healing factor while she's in her true form, and each time she does so, it becomes a little harder to transform into other people. I frankly wanted her to have to make a choice--to be the best hero she can be, she has to be comfortable in her own body and her own self. I was never a giant fan of her turning into other people--it was useful at the beginning of the series, but I think it's less useful now. But that doesn't mean she couldn't turn into other stuff (A Kamala-shaped boat?!) which we haven't done in awhile...

Gary_Burke10 karma

As a long time resident of Jersey City, I can't for the life of me figure out where Kamala lives. The Heights? Journal Square? Downtown?

GWillowWilson17 karma

So she lives on Grove Street, though not close to the commercial area near the PATH station. I wanted to put her within walking distance of McNair Academic, the high school upon which her fictional one is based. We started out very particular about using actual landmarks within JC (in Adrian and Takeshi's arcs you should be able to google earth actual street corners) but now, with a revolving roster of artists, that continuity has gotten a big harder. Nature of the beast.

eddie-vercetti9 karma

What's the one story or piece you wrote that you wish you can redo?

GWillowWilson12 karma

WOW. What an interesting question. I frankly wish I could take a sledgehammer to a lot of my early work...I started in publishing VERY young (22! First book at 25!) and now, 10 years on, much of it feels like stuff a 22 year old would write. Which is not bad, necessarily, but it is bad when you were that 22 year old.

SoftMoonyUniverse9 karma

You talked about an Alif the Unseen prequel at one point, hinting that it would be about Vikram. Is that still a thing?

GWillowWilson15 karma

Yes and no. I really wish I could talk more about this--check back in a couple of weeks!! Sorry to be so vague! :D

MarioHerald9 karma

Hi! As someone who has consistently enjoyed Ms. Marvel for several years now: thank you for your time and for creating this superb series. The same goes to Sana and all the artists and people who had helped you along the way! Now, for the AMA, I have the following questions:

1) Lately there has been great focus on the Wakandan nation with Bruno. Will Kamala travel to T’challa/Black Panther’s homeland someday?

2) Also, in that same vein, I wanted to ask if there are long term plans for Ms. Marvel to visit other particular places and characters in the Marvel Universe. I know that for some time it would be best to continue to develop Kamala’s corner first, but I think many fans hope to one day get to see our NJ girl explore and befriend the X-men or other classic (and not so classic) characters. And in the comic you had certainly not being shy to get her elsewhere (Pakistan) and meet the strangest of people (Loki). Any you want to share with us? :)

Again, thank you for your time.

P.S. Psst! Team-up with Aracely/Hummingbird and her weird Aztec magic when? :P

P.S. Red Dagger rocks!

GWillowWilson15 karma

1) Quite possibly. I put Bruno in Wakanda specifically to make such a crossover plausible, should we want to do that one day. 2) I would love to get Kamala out of Jersey City for an arc (or two, or three), but there is now such passionate adoration for the setting in addition to the character that it's been tough to do that without seeming to go off-brand. BUT I WANT TO PUT HER ON A SPACESHIP. LOBBY MARVEL

javi1501908 karma

Have you considered having Kamala or someone from her inner circle having contact with other middle eastern diasphoras across the Americas (Chilean-Palestinean, Brazilean-Lebanesse, etc)? Do you think that mixed cultures give better oportunities for storytelling?

GWillowWilson17 karma

I think it really depends on the strengths (and weaknesses) of the artistic team. The more complex the character's background becomes, the more specific knowledge is required to do it justice. Sometimes there might be characters one would really like to tell stories about, but one's own knowledge base about those particular cultures or that particular locale really isn't up to the challenge. At that point, you either have to do a very deep dive into that culture (possibly hiring researcher or sensitivity reader) or realize that you aren't the best person to tell that story.

Adinaieros8 karma

Hello and thanks for answering some questions :) The Generations one shot was perfect : any plan to write another series at Marvel (like Captain MArvel or anything else) ?

GWillowWilson8 karma

I'm not opposed to it! It's just a matter of creating the time for it on my end...

punningpundit8 karma

To what extent does Kamala Khan have the faith of her parents vs having the traditions of her parents?
Along those lines: how does she (or many of the Marvel heroes!) reconcile a faith in the divine with her own ability to do things that are miraculous?

GWillowWilson35 karma

So "miraculous" is a big word. Generally speaking, Islam has a very high standard for what might be considered miraculous, and an even higher standard for what might be considered divine, so I ironically see less conflict between Kamala's particular faith than certain others. I get similar questions (How can you be a monotheist in a universe with gods, plural) but they operate from a fundamental misapprehension of what Islamic monotheism is. Thor or Loki or whoever can call themselves gods, but as long as they were A) born B) can die c) occupy corporeal bodies and d) inhabit time and space, they are, by the Islamic definition, not gods. It's a bit like your average street prophet: he can call himself the second coming all he likes, but that hardly makes it true.

coryrenton7 karma

what is the weirdest note or change Marvel made or requested? what's the biggest change in terms of how the artist drew something compared to how you saw it in your head?

GWillowWilson22 karma

I'll occasionally be asked to dial a plot point or character back if it/they are too on-the-nose in terms of satirizing a real event or individual. But that's about it. I try not to lean over the artist's shoulder too much--I don't over-script things in order to avoid interfering with the artist's particular vision. So I'm often surprised! This was especially true when Adrian Alphona was on the book--he is the master of background errata and subtext.

TagGTSolo7 karma

If the Marvel Entertainment LLC higher ups wanted to turn Ms. Marvel in a not-so-subtle political direction, how much say do you have in preventing that from happening? Thank you for being such an inspiring author by standing by your morals and sacrificing so much material gain while staying true to your ideals.

GWillowWilson7 karma

In theory no say whatsoever--from a legal vantage point--but I doubt they would do that. It wouldn't be in their interest. We live in a strange timeline, however. Thanks for your support!

nitai4andra6 karma


Internet says that first Kamala appearance was in one panel of Captain Marvel #14, but there she looks nothing like Ms. Marvel we know and love: older, different hairstyle and cloth. Is it really her?

Thanks in advance!

GWillowWilson11 karma

It's her, but at that point, we didn't have the genius of Adrian Alphona to give her powers the specific, surreal look they have now. In the Super Serious Superhero logic of the time, her 'embiggening' was too goofy to work. So they went with a more Hulk-style polymorphism in that first appearance. Thank God Adrian was enthusiastic about making her powers delightfully weird.

GWillowWilson16 karma

Wait, it occurs to me that I am talking about Captain Marvel #17 and you are talking about #14. Yes, it is her (as far as I know), but her appearance wasn't quite set yet, so they were going off of a very generic description.

madmoneymcgee5 karma

I loved Alif the Unseen and one of my favorite parts was the fractured fairy tales nature of the Alf Yeom. Can I just get one whole Alf Yeom?

If we can't do that can you talk about anything you remember writing about the lessons and morals you came up with writing from the perspective of the nurse?

GWillowWilson6 karma

The Alf Yeom is VERY loosely based on a real set of stories "translated" by M Petis De La Croix (most serious scholars believe he made it all up himself) called Les Mille Et Un Jours in French and The Persian and Turkish Tales in English. The book has been out of print for over 100 years, so getting your hands on a copy is difficult--but check your nearest university library!

i_am_the_devil_5 karma

If the 'G' is silent, why not just go by Willow Wilson and leave the 'G' out?

GWillowWilson15 karma

The G isn't really silent; I've just been asked "Should I call you G. Willow?" so many times (the answer is: obviously not) that I throw that out there to preempt the question.

Emthree35 karma

Would there be any chance of a Ms. Marvel/Ghost Rider crossover? (Outside of that one-shot that came out a year or two ago)

GWillowWilson7 karma

There is certainly a chance, though no concrete plans at the moment!

Tuwonwon4 karma

What/when can you tell us about the upcoming novel(?) that you've been alluding to on Twitter for the past year or so?

Also, I've read a good chunk of Ms Marvel (I'm one of the hardcover collection readers) and Alif and love them both, and I'd like to thank you for being one of the forces that kickstarted me becoming a beginner Arabic student back in January: https://twitter.com/GWillowWilson/status/818343230731218944

GWillowWilson8 karma

That is awesome. Good luck in your journey learning a very demanding but rewarding language. I can't tell you anything about the novel yet (argh!) but should have news in a couple of weeks.

StephenNein3 karma

Willow, how would you sell me on picking up Alif the Unseen? It's been a book in my buy queue for years now, but every time I look at it, I always chicken out because other people love it or don't understand it at all.

GWillowWilson9 karma

Hah! That's a common reaction. One reviewer described reading Alif to being dragged behind a runaway train. If you are into being dragged behind a runaway train piloted by genies and half baked but highly entertaining allegories about quantum computing and mythology, Alif is the book for you. If not...I apologize.

coryrenton3 karma

What is the best way to contact writers/artists for signings -- do most people have agents or handlers at the publisher?

GWillowWilson9 karma

Many do, but not all--it depends on the creator and on the publisher. Asking the creator directly on social media isn't a bad starting point; you can also email the publisher. Most will have some kind of PR or contact info on their website.

Necropoliskull2 karma

What translation of the Qur'an would you recommend to someone who's never read it?

GWillowWilson13 karma

I've always liked MH Shakir's translation, which walks an admirably fine line between literalism, lyricism and modernism. If you want something sexier and more rationalist, try either The Study Quran or Muhammad Assad's translation. (The latter excises the jinn--it refers to them as 'evil energies' or something similar--so you lose a lot of the fun stuff, fwiw.) In any case, I recommend reading back to front, so that you get the shorter, more accessible Meccan surahs first. Gives you a better idea of the spiritual dimension. The longer surahs at the front contain a lot of very dry contract law.