Gay comic writer Gabby Rivera comes to SSU

With the recent Oscar recognition for “Black Panther,” the opening of the girl powered “Captain Marvel” and the high anticipation of “Avengers: Endgame,” Marvel Comics has been front and center of the art news circuit for months. 

Sonoma State University will have its fair share of comic excitement when Marvel Comic writer Gabby Rivera comes to visit on March 26.

America Chavez, also known as Miss America, is the brainchild of comic writer Joe Casey, bringing a couple firsts to the Marvel Comics. As well as being Latina, America Chavez also brings representation to the LGBT community.

Joe Casey along with fellow writer Nick Dragotta created the character America Chavez first debuted in 2011 limited series “Vengeance”, and she quickly became adored by fans due to her prominent role in the “Young Avengers” series. Being openly gay and raised by two mothers, she is a breath of fresh air in an often stale environment of men taking charge and saving the world. With both Casey and Dragotta leaving to create their own comic series, the character has been handed off to a young writer by the name of Gabby Rivera.

Rivera, a Latinx American and active member of the LGBTQ community, was appointed by Marvel to bring the character into a new light via ‘America’, the first work focused solely on the superhero. Equally active in the speaking circuit when it comes to her activism, Rivera will be adding Sonoma State University to her docket later this month in a talk held in Ballroom A, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 26. 

Best known for her novel ‘Juliette Takes a Breath’ which focuses on a Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx and her journey across the country to Portland, Rivera doesn’t seem to be putting down the gloves anytime soon when it comes to fighting for something she believes in.

 “I’ve always dreamt up wild, powerful and carefree superheroes that look like me and my family: thick, brown, goofy, beautiful,” Rivera told The Washington Post. “And now I get to see them come to life. ‘America’ is going to be all those things and it’s going to be wild.”

  Casey, a comic book veteran with a long resume working with Marvel, created America Chavez along with Nick Dragotta to spice up the world of Marvel, and she quickly garnered a cult following in the teenage centric show “Young Avengers” for being unapologetically queer and one of the strongest of the superheroes. Most notably known for his work on the hit animated superhero show ‘Ben 10,’ Casey still breathes life into the waxy pages of written word as well. 

Casey said in a 2011 interview with Newsarama, “I always hold this unrealistic belief in my heart that actual teenagers will be reading superhero comic books again someday and I want to try and provide characters and stories with those characters that they can recognize and maybe relate to, to some extent…”

 With Rivera now in charge, creative control has certainly taken a swing from the typical white male duo to more in line with someone who can relate to the character better.

 “One of the beautiful things about America is that she can punch portals,”  Rivera said in an interview with BookRiot in 2018. “For a Latina to not have any restrictions on where she can travel is revolutionary. There’s no borders for America Chavez. She can go wherever she wants to go.”

 As well as speaking to the influence she draws from her own life and the struggles of being brown and gay in the male dominated comic writing world.