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Vita Ayala: Talks Writing, Xena, and More

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Over the past couple years, Vita Ayala has taken the comic book world by storm. They were apart of the first graduating class of DC’s annual Talent Development Workshop, and their first published story featured Wonder Woman. From there they worked on BATMAN BEYOND, SUICIDE SQUA, NAD MORE WONDER WOMAN at DC.

It was their work on THEWILDS, at Black Mask, with Emily Pearson that has shown what a unique talent they really are. This zombie story about a Runner named Daisy goes looking for her missing lover, Heather, and sees that there's little difference between life behind the walls and life outside. It's a book you definitely don't want to miss.

They're currently writing LIVEWIRE, at Valiant, and just launched XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, at Dynamite. If it's one thing Vita knows, it's how to write strong female characters. Not to mention they've got books coming out for Marvel and IDW also. They're quickly rising as one of the industries highly sought after writers. They are definitely someone to keep your eye on, there's no stopping this amazing talent. I can't wait to see what they come out with next.

COMIC LOUNGE: When did you first decide to become a writer?

VITA AYALA: There wasn’t really a time when I “decided” to become a writer. As soon as I learned how to read, I started writing. I learned a little later than my peers, but I had always made up stories in my head, So, having the ability to put them down so I could get them out was amazing. I wrote compulsively. I still do. In 2012 I was strongly encouraged by Matt Rosenberg (we were working at Forbidden Planet together at the time) to pitch to Black Mask Studios and to apply for the DC Writer’s Workshop. The rest, as they say, is history.

CL: Who were some creators that inspired you?

VA: Early inspiration was Octavia Butler, who was not a comic creator, but without here I wouldn’t be alive today, figuratively (in terms of writing) and literally. Basquiat is also fundamentally important to me. Again, not a comic creator, but these two (along with Stephen King and Jim Henson) form the foundation for how I view the world, and how I think about art.

As far as comic writers go, when I was growing up Dwayne McDuffie, John Ostrander, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Warren Ellis, Brian Pulido, and (oddly) Chuck Dixon shaped a lot of how I understand comic story telling.

In terms of artists and cartoonists, the people who showed me what comics could be as a medium as I was coming up were JH Williams III, Naoko Takeuchi, Wendy Pini, Nobuyuki Anzai, Terry Moore, Yuu Watase, Mike Mignola, Osamu Tezuka, CLAMP, Alex Ross, and Rumiko Takahashi. Clearly I was a weeb, haha.

Of course, that was just as I was coming up. To be honest, there are too many creators to name that constantly inspire me as I attempt to navigate the industry today. It is stressful just to think about listing them, because I don’t want to leave anyone out, and also don’t have the 13 hours it would take to type out all the names…

CL: Growing up what were some of your favorite comics?

VA: Lady Death, X-Men, and Birds Of Prey for Western stuff. I was super into manga though. Flame Of Recca, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball and DBZ, Ranma ½ and Inuyasha, Ceres and Fushigi Yugi, Cardcaptor Sakura, X/1999, all that stuff.

I read a lot of other stuff, of course, and loved it, but again, limited time and space for lists!

CL: What was your first published work?

VA: In comics, technically it was a 10 page story that I did with Khary Randolph for the first DC NEW TALENT SHOWCASE. It was a Wonder Woman story, that was supposed to be a sort of trailer for a series, though it wasn’t in canon even at the time. Khary absolutely crushed it, it is gorgeous.

My next published work was a 2 part Amanda Waller story for the SUICIDE MOST WANTED: SECRET FILES that I did with Matt Merhoff, who is incredible. I mention this one because it felt a little more substantive/impactful in terms of being able to tell a story.

CL: You've written for most of the major publishers. Are there any characters you would like to work on in the future?

VA: Renee Montoya, always haha. Doesn’t even have to be as The Question, just, I love her so much.

CL: Your currently working on a few projects. Can you talk a little about AGE OF-MAN:PRISONER X?

VA: Sure! PRISONER X is a mini-series under the Age Of X-Man even umbrella. It centers around Bishop, who has been sent to prison in a supposedly utopian society.

CL: Do you have any Marvel work after that concludes?

VA: If I do, it would be unannounced, so I guess people will have to be on the lookout to find out!

CL: You're also writing XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS. Were you always a fan of the character?

VA: Absolutely. Xena is my number one favorite character of all time. I was a huge fan of the show, and read most of the comics in the late 90's.

CL: Can you talk about your plans for the book? How long do you plan on staying on the book?

VA: It is more of a fun adventure style story, though I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t fluff by any means. The story starts in a small village in Greece, with a big Discord problem, and then explodes into a World Tour for the Warrior Princess and Battling Bard…The current story arc is set for 6 issues.

CL: Are there any other books you're working on that you can talk about or tease?

VA: There are a couple! LIVEWIRE is coming up on issue #6, and scheduled to run to 12. MAGIC THE GATHERING: CHANDRA #2 of 4 just dropped as did BLACK AF; DEVIL"S DYE # 3 of 4.

I’m writing the second arc of the MARVEL ACTION: BLACK PANTHER book over at IDW, too!

There are a few things I have in the works that are unannounced, so I guess, just keep an eyeout for those announcements!

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