When writer Jody Houser was working on her popular webcomic Cupcake Pow!, she had no idea that just a few short years later she'd have a full-time career in comics. And when Valiant asked her to create the first standalone comic for Faith, aka Zephyr, from their Harbinger series, things got even better.
Faith Herbert, originally created in the '90s by Jim Shooter and David Lapham, is the West Coast flying telekinetic updated by Houser in 2016. She created a relatable character — part superhero, part super-geek — that was so popular her series became one of Valiant's best-selling comics.
After the 12th issue, Houser moved on to other work, like the gritty Mother Panic (Young Animal/DC) and Supergirl (DC), which she co-wrote with Steve Orlando.
Houser has also written for quite a few Marvel titles, including Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, featuring the crimefighting Parkers: Peter, wife Mary Jane, and daughter Annie (aka Spiderling). She also penned part of the universe splintering the Spider-Geddon storyline and the resulting Spider-Girls, featuring Annie, Mayday Parker (the original Spider-Girl), and Anya Corazon (Spider-Girl Prime).
Houser is also responsible for the Rogue One comic, which delved into Gin Erso's origin story, and the standalone Thrawn (the story that we all wish we got to see in the film). She's also written comic book adaptations of Halo, Starcraft, Orphan Black, and James Bond and was part of the all-female creative team on this year's Doctor Who for the BBC.
But this year, one of her most anticipated licensed comics was the Stranger Things comic that dropped in September in collaboration with artists Stefano Martino, Keith Champagne, and Lauren Affe. The book is a prequel centered around Eleven's story and has both a video game and an actual vinyl record released in conjunction with the comic's premiere issue.
Houser's other hotly anticipated project was her return to Valiant on Faith: Dreamside, which not only pulls Zephyr out of her element and into the Deadside in search of a captured friend but also rewires her powers and makes her confront a few things about herself. In addition, it was announced in August that Faith is coming to the big screen.
Needless to say, Jody Houser is having a very good year. I caught up with her right before the holidays and asked her about how she manages to do it all.
Did you grow up reading comics? Or did you start collecting as an adult?
I started reading as a kid after watching Batman: The Animated Series and the X-Men animated series. I've been reading comics most of my life at this point!
What was your favorite character (any medium) growing up and why?
Catwoman. She was just the coolest.
Where do you find inspiration as a writer?
Pretty much everywhere! Ideas come from the weirdest places sometimes.
How did your first webcomic, Cupcake Pow!, come about?
Comic creator Hope Larson did a survey of female comics readers years ago, and her closing comments inspired a parody "girls" comic.
You've written Poe Dameron, Thrawn, Rogue One, and more from Star Wars. The franchise has some very opinionated fans. How do you deal with the positive and negative aspects of fandom?
My experience with Star Wars fans has been incredibly positive, actually. I think that's in part due to working on aspects of the universe that people tend to agree on more. EVERYONE loves Thrawn.
Who is your favorite Star Wars character?
I don't think I have a single favorite. The universe is far too big. I do have a whole list of characters I'd love to write someday. Luke, Kylo Ren, Ahsoka, Cad Bane, Holdo, Maz... it's a long list.
How does it feel knowing that some of what you've written for Rogue One is now canon?
Weird, but cool! I think the Star Wars: Age of Republic issues that are coming out now are even more so, as there are new species and worlds in there.
You've worked on so many licensed properties, including Stranger Things. What's your process for staying true to the original storyline?
I was a big fan of the show! Honestly, research is the most important thing, along with being able to take notes.
When you first worked on Faith's storyline for Valiant, did you ever think that she would become such an icon?
It was a surprise, but a lovely one.
In returning to Faith for Dreamside, did you approach Zephyr differently this time?
Not really. I've been telling one story with Faith since I started writing her, so Faith: Dreamside is really a continuation of that.
Here's a fantasy question. Faith, Jyn, and Violet all get to be in one story. What's their mission?
They all have a soft spot for kids, so as different as they are, kids in danger would definitely bring them all together.
You've had an amazing year. What else are you working on?
Doctor Who is currently coming out monthly, as is Star Wars: Age of Republic. I should have some other fun announcements next year as well.