Roxane Gay: Fierce Women in Comics

January 19 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Writing Worth Marveling At

I’d never really given much thought to comic books, assuming they were just for boys. But that was before I heard about Ms. Marvel, aka Kamala Khan, a 15-year-old Muslim Pakistani-American character. She’s super cool and doesn’t even wear high heels while fighting the bad guys!

I relate to her, and it got me thinking about how necessary that component can be when it comes to entertainment. The movies and books and music we love the most are often those we can best connect with. Today, do some sleuthing of your own and find your favorite new superheroine!


Marvel Comics got its start in the late 1930s and is now the quintessential brand behind recognizable characters like Spider-Man and the Avengers. While no woman has held the title of publisher or officer, girls and women have been longtime fans of Marvel, urging the brand to create more badass female protagonists.

The good news is that Marvel Comics will have 33 different female creators working on 23 different books in 2017. Considering at the start of 2016, Marvel had only 20 women working on 14 books, I’d call that progress!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Roxane Gay, Marvel Comics Lead Writer

One woman who is putting pen to paper for Marvel Comics this year is Roxane Gay. Her name probably sounds familiar because she’s a big deal, y’all. Her collection of essays called Bad Feminist became a New York Times best-seller, and she has published several pieces that poignantly delve into race and gender.

Roxane has garnered a well-deserved audience of women who may have differing views on what feminism means but who all want the same thing: equal rights. What draws readers to her writing is Roxane’s honesty. For example, she admits to having a few pop-culture guilty pleasures, like The Bachelor.

A longtime critically acclaimed writer, Roxane just released a brilliant collection of short stories called Difficult Women, and is scheduled to publish her memoir, Hunger, later this year.

But currently, Roxane is adding another stellar accomplishment to her resume: Marvel Comics’ first black female lead writer. She was asked to focus on two characters in the comic Black Panther: World of Wakanda, both of whom are lesbian women of color. The longtime writer of the Black Panther series knew Roxane would be perfect for this task for a kind of weird reason: He heard a short story Roxane wrote about zombies two years prior, recalling that it was the most surprising, unexpected and coolest zombie story he’d ever come across. Talk about a post-apocalyptic opportunity!

Roxane’s parents are from Haiti, and much of her childhood was spent traveling to various U.S. states. She adjusted to the different environments by immersing herself in books, finding kindred spirits in classic characters and authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nancy Drew. Reading was dramatically influential in her life, and was an act that led to Roxane writing her own stories by the time she was only 4 years old.

These days, it’s time for some new characters in Roxane’s life, some with a little more edge to their personalities. Roxane is proving that wonderful stories are for everyone, that great comics are for everyone. By creating a more diverse range of comics featuring some kick-butt heroines, Roxane is ensuring girls and women have a voice and can truly connect with this cool medium of storytelling.


The first African-American woman in space, Mae Jemison, said:

“I want to make sure we use all our talent, not just 25 percent. Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

Headshot Photographed by Jay Grabiec

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