The Pride creator/writer Joe Glass has begun to welcome other writers into the LGBTQ+ superhero franchise, starting with former Iceman writer Sina Grace.
In the upcoming The Pride Adventures #5 anthology – which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter – Grace goes from Iceman to Fab-Man to tell a story about the logistics of dating as a superhero as drawn by Joe Cairns.
(Hint: It’s “bleak”, Grace tells Newsarama.)
Newsarama spoke with Grace, Cairns, and Glass about this upcoming issue, and the further outlook for this inclusive superhero universe.
Newsarama: Joe, you're back doing comics with The Pride Adventures #5. First question is something fans of the previous issues will be asking - what took so long?
Joe Glass: Ha! Fair question.
Well, since the publication of the hardcover of volume one in November 2016, I was continuing to work on stories for the future of The Pride, including stories that make up this issue of Adventures and the second volume of the main series. But I also upped the amount of time I spent reporting on comics, and criticism - both in terms of individual comics reviews and industry discussion - for Bleeding Cool. So, plenty of people will have seen me about making a nuisance of myself there, ha!
For the last few years I've been going out to Comic-Con International: San Diego and New York Comic Con in that capacity, and as a creator in my own right. What I was startled to find was that a number of writers, artists, editors in the mainstream industry knew who I was, not just for my work at the site, but for my comics. Not to mention other general attendees of the shows. To me, so often, The Pride is still the wee little self-published comic dreamt up by a 15-year-old gay boy in the South Wales Valleys, so it surprised me to see knowledge of it spread so far; even more so learning that creators I greatly respected knew about it.
Basically, it got to a point where I realized the amount of time devoted to other things was taking away from the actual act of making comics. So, it was time to refocus. To get back to making new stories, for old readers, new readers and publishers who might have a mind to see what I have to offer. And more importantly, seeing that as much as representation took steps forward in mainstream comics during and after The Pride, seeing it recently come under fire and even take steps backwards - well, it's time for The Pride to come back.
Nrama: What are your stories about in this issue, and who draws each?
Glass: Okay, well, The Pride Adventures #5 is a whopper with five brand new stories, so I'll try to be brief with each one (while still teasing why it's worth people checking out!).
One short story, with art by United Kingdom indie scene creator Jon Scrivens, is about looking at what the purpose nowadays is of LGBTQ+ pride events, but also of the Pride itself, both in the context of the comics and metatextually as an idea.
Another, with gorgeous artwork by Elizabeth Beals, who is someone I have wanted to work with for ages, stars Muscle Mary. The Pride's powerhouse faces incredible odds in a tense look at the power of women and admiring the strength and conviction that the incredible women of the world put out every day to make things better, against incredible adversity.
Rhys Wootton, an artist from here in the U.K. again, joins me in a dark story looking at how we can stand up to rise of the far right in the world, and why that is important.
And last, Cem Iroz helps me tell a tale of Wolf and Twink as they try to handle a hostage situation with an interesting new antagonist, that explores issues of mental health and how we approach conflicts when those matters are involved.
Nrama: You’re writing all of those, but you also have a fifth story written by Sina Grace.
Glass: I'll let him break that one down, but it works so perfectly for both this issue and the future of The Pride.
Nrama: Sina, now’s your time.
Sina Grace: My involvement with The Pride started with my friendship with Joe. I'm a fan of him as a person and as a writer, so when he floated the idea of me contributing, I was actually kinda honored! The series is so him that I was nervous to jump on. Joe gave me the option of writing or drawing, and I decided to continue flexing my writer muscles and give it a shot!
Nrama: Joe, what led you to want co-writers in your superhero story?
Glass: Technically, we had a couple guest writers before, in the form of the brilliant PJ Montgomery and Mike Garley, who did excellent shorts in volume one. In a way, it's always been something I wanted to see with The Pride, that it would maybe continue after I'm done. Also, that me being one man, I cannot possibly hope to tell, authentically, the full breadth of stories in the spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community. So, I thought now was the time to make it official, so that going forward, each issues of Adventures will have at least one guest writer. Adventures just works perfectly for it, being an anthology series with short, often self-contained stories.
I'd love to have all kinds of new voices involved in the series, from across the community and beyond - The Pride has a place for everyone.
Nrama: And what made Sina the ideal choice to begin with?
Glass: I had a few people in mind, and Sina was high on that list. I was such a fan of the way he can investigate and communicate emotion in his stories, from Self-Obsessed and Nothing Lasts Forever, and then in Iceman to see that he could bring that same eye to superhero stories too. That's perfect for The Pride. Finding out that he was a fan of the series too just made it feel perfect, and when I asked he jumped at the chance. Immediately, he came to me with a story idea that I am not even kidding was absolutely perfect, because it had everything I hoped he'd bring to it, plus it actually has some strong tonal connections to the next major story arc of The Pride, without me even telling him. Ultimately, it just felt like kismet.
I've spoken to a bunch of other folks about maybe doing stories in the future...I'm very excited at who may come next.
Nrama: What is your story about, Sina?
Grace: The focus of my story in The Pride Adventures #5 centers around FabMan and his interior/ dating life. The character is usually embroiled in a larger/ action-heavy storyline in the series, so I wanted to investigate who he is, what he wants for himself as a human, and how being a superhero could make that challenging for him. That's just a really long way of saying: I'm doing a story about FabMan's dating life.
Nrama: Jon, we haven’t heard from you yet – speak up!
Cairns: The story Sina wrote is a short tragicomedy about the perils of dating when you're famous. It’s simultaneously super The Pride, and super Sina, so I’m excited to be drawing it!
Nrama: Sina, how do you imagine dating life to be for a superhero?
Grace: I see dating life for superheroes to be a lot like dating for celebrities... it would be hard to trust anyone’s intentions, and near-impossible to make a real connection. I’ve got a bleak outlook on being a renowned figure with a healthy interior life!
Cairns: FabMan, who like anyone who’s instagram famous, has some media he’s created gone viral, or has just been a public figure finds himself constantly meeting people who know a lot more about him than he does about them. So, we get to see the some of the costs that his heroism takes on his ability to lead a normal life.
Nrama: And what about if you were a superhero, how would dating life be?
Grace: Dating life for me as a superhero? Probably akin to however Selena Kyle does it [painting fingernail emoji].
Joe, let’s get down to the hard facts. If the Kickstarter is successful, when do you expect this issue to be available to the general public?
Glass: As soon as it's back from the printers, I'll be shipping it out to the backers and will make it available through The Pride's online store (and the ComiXology release will hopefully line up for the same time or shortly afterwards). So, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I'm hoping around June.
As yet, The Pride and The Pride Adventures are still self-published works, without the backing of a publisher to help me reach wider audiences in terms of general comic store release. Maybe one day, I'm certainly up for the discussion. But so far this has worked and everyone has been able get access to the series through whichever means works best for them.
There's plenty of people out there looking for it. Hopefully, one day I can bring it to an even wider audience.
Nrama: Here's the question everyone gets when they're putting out a book - what's next for you and The Pride after this?
Glass: For The Pride - I'm going to be looking to do paperback versions of the first volume of The Pride and The Pride Adventures stories, and continuing the second volume/story arc of the series too. It's all written, and there are artists attached to the first three issues. And as the question to renumber or not to renumber has been on people's minds of late, I opened it up for the fans to let me know how they'd like to see that go with The Pride. Overwhelmingly, 'Legacy' numbering won out, so the next major story arc/volume begins with The Pride #7!
For me - well, I'm open to suggestions! If there are any editors or publishers out there looking to see what my brand of storytelling could bring for them, I'm happy to hear from them. But in the meantime, the continuation of The Pride and several other new projects I have cooking are right at the forefront of my mind. I've talked about a couple on my newsletter, which people can sign up for through The Pride Facebook page, which are codenamed Tough Choices and Refugees. Those are stories I can't wait to share with the world too.