BY ELLA KIRBY
On Friday, Oct. 31, St. Norbert hosted a Skype conversation with Sana Amanat, an editor at Marvel Entertainment. Amanat’s talk was part of the Cassandra Voss Center’s SkypeTacular! series, titled “Ms. Marvel and the League of Marvel Women Speak.”
This talk was particularly special in the fact that it was the first time Marvel Comics has made an appearance at the college to take part in the SkypeTacular! Series, all part of the overarching CVC’s Kapow! Who’s Your Hero? yearlong programming.
Sana Amanat is one of the co-creators of Ms. Marvel, the first Marvel comic series that features a Muslim female superhero.
Amanat began her talk in explaining more about her role at Marvel. She has been working there roughly six years, and has worked in the past for several publishing lines.
As well as Ms. Marvel, Amanat is also currently working and managing creative content on Captain Marvel, Hawk Eye, and New Warriors, to name a few.
Being an editor at Marvel is not just about having to “edit the balloons and periods,” said Amanat. “There’s so much more to being an editor.”
Creating a comic is not as easy as one may think. New ideas are constantly pitched at Marvel, from characters that already exist, to characters with completely new identities.
“When you have the opportunity to pitch a new character and a new story it can be very daunting,” said Amanat.
Most of the time, the ideas are never taken further than the pitch. This makes it all the more special and rewarding when an idea is put into motion, and is transformed from a vision into a reality. “I’m still sort of in shock.” said Amanat, talking about the success of Ms. Marvel.
The representation of women and the importance of gender and diversity has become of increasing importance at Marvel Comics.
“I think we are in a very special time at Marvel and the comic book industry in general,” said Amanat.
Amanat went on to discuss how the Ms. Marvel comic came into production and where the idea stemmed from. Roughly two years ago, Sana Amanat and her Senior Editor Stephen Walker were discussing Amanat’s childhood. Walker had some trouble understanding why she would do things in certain and different ways.
For example, wearing clothes under your sports gear while playing lacrosse in already increasingly high temperatures.
“There are a lot of experiences I had growing up that a lot of people don’t necessarily connect with, or don’t understand that background or that lifestyle,” said Amanat.
The idea of Ms. Marvel was formed by wanting young girls that had the same experiences as Amanat to be able to connect to a female superhero character that was going through the same things.
The comic deals with issues of representation and how under a certain culture, one is expected to behave, dress and act in a particular way, which may not seem like the norm for others.
For Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teenager featured as the protagonist female character in Ms. Marvel, it was difficult to live up to the expectations that her family had of her.
“It’s really hard when you’re 15-years old to pull yourself out of that, to find your own identity and to be strong with that idea of who Kamala Khan is,” said Amanat. “This is a theme that everyone can relate at some point in their lives.”
Halfway through the talk, there was a special guest appearance made by Axel Alonso, Editor and Chief of Marvel Comics. Although the Ms. Marvel comic presents the universal issues to find oneself, Alonso believed that it also spoke to particular individuals.
His parents were not from the United States, and Alonso said “I find there to be a lot of truth in seeing Kamala’s experience. I know what its like to look across the river at a city that I want to be in.”
The approach to women characters has rapidly expanded within Marvel, “Axel really encouraged us to have diverse storylines and characters, and I think from that we realized it didn’t all have to look one way,” said Amanat.
The Skype conversation ended with Amanat and Alonso answering questions from the audience. The next event in the CVC’s year of Kapow! programming is on Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. with Dr. Harry Brod giving a talk called “People of the Comic Book: It’s a Man! Is He Jewish? It’s Supermensch!”