New York City Comic Con may have happened close to a month ago but Multiversity Comics’s coverage of the East Coast’s largest comics and pop culture event is just getting going. Multiversity sent 14 of our staff to the event this year for interviews, panel reports, and more so expect lots more to come over the next few weeks. This way, even if you couldn’t make it yourself, you can still see the con through our eyes.
After last year’s successful “Iceman” run, Sina Grace turns his attention to the supernatural. From his “Melrose Place with Ghosts” series “Ghosted in LA” to a graphic novel devoted to Disney’s classic Haunted Mansion ride, Sina’s ghosts are anything but grim and grimming. And even in darker stories such as last week’s “The Infected: King Shazam,” there’s always an element of heart and family.
At NYCC, I sat down to chat with Sina about all his new series, his favorite Disney rides, and how the kids of 2019 are pretty all right.
The fifth issue of “Ghosted in LA” is available this week, and you can also pick up “The Infected: King Shazam” and the entire run of “Jughead’s Time Police” in finer comic shops everywhere.
Your newest series with BOOM! Studios is “Ghosted in LA,” a roommate story with a supernatural twist. We’re about about a third of the way into the story that’s been going on with Daphne and her new roommate situation, and what can readers expect next?
Sina Grace: So “Ghosted in LA” I like to say is Melrose Place with ghosts. We follow Daphne Walters, and basically, in the first arc she is getting the hang of living with ghosts and also kind of on this journey of figuring herself out. Like a lot of people when they’re 18 and go to college, they don’t really have a life path set for themselves. And what’s really great about where the first arc ends is, we really start to get some deep intel onto who these ghosts are, and maybe even some information about why they’re there and how they’re there that can’t be left alone. Daphne’s starting to ask questions, and it’s going to lead into an awesome second arc where . . . minor spoilers there’s a new ghost to shows up at the end of the first arc.
And the theme of the second arc is all about exploration. So Daphne’s going to be learning more about herself, learning more about Rycroft Manor and its history, about the people who un-live there, as I like to say. And of course, another spoiler. Her ex-BFF Kristi is in a pretty bad mood from being ignored and ghosted. Because the book’s “Ghosted,” I always find a ghosted pun to put in there, an emotional ghosting. So, we see the end of the first arc with her packing up bag and being like, “I’m going to go to LA and find my best friend. I don’t know why she’s ignoring me and why she’s being weird.” So lots of drama and tension and it’s just going to be so much fun. And basically I’m hoping that moving forward it has that like Vampire Diaries season one feel where every issue feels like a season finale and you’re like, “Wait, what?! Wait, what?! Wait, what?!” I’m so excited.
Actually the character I’m wondering if there’s more of a story of is, when Daphne was in her dorm for the first time, her other roommate.
Very conservative Christian. Very, very reserved. I think there’s a story there. Am I right?
SG: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I think also, I might have took my hand a little too hard with the variant cover for issue five. That ended up being something where in making the book we wanted stuff we’re going to do that is going to be a little bit of a longer game, but it culminates so beautifully. No wasted characters, no wasted sentences. I’m definitely doing the Steven Universe thing where if even if even a memory is brought up, that memory could very well come back to be a story point by issue 12.
Now it is 12 issues. Are there plans to continue?Continued below
SG: I would love to. If I keep getting the magnificent support that I’ve been getting from my friends in the press and at comic stores, hopefully. In my head. I was like, “Oh, this is gonna be ‘Giant Days’ because I write with more of a mind to the novel. You just need to read a trade, the whole trade before you make up your mind about it. So I think what’s going to happen is, with any luck, the book will do well. Siobhan [Keenan, the artist] will get to sleep for a few weeks, and then BOOM! will say “Hey, do you want to do some more?” Because I can definitely spend a few years with these characters, and I have So much myth to build on and create with it.
With “Giant Days” concluding this year, I’ve said this series is going to fill the “Giant Days” shaped hole in my heart.
SG: I would hope.
It’s a perfect story for fans that love “Giant Days” and want another college, finding yourself, type story.
SG: If anyone’s checking the story out, please just keep on buying the single issues. In the back of every single issue, I do a little like guide to Los Angeles. So that’s never going to be in the trades. We always try to find it a special way to make the single issue feel special. So I understand waiting for the trades is great. But if people want to kind of get this book to stick around, and not take a break from the stands, it’s all about buying the single issues.
Turning to Archie now, let’s talk about your series “Jughead’s Time Police.” What can we expect from the finale?
SG: I like to say a Crisis of Infinite Jugheads. Basically, this whole time travel thing, and I knew I was going to do this and I was so excited to weave the tangled web I did, I wanted to do a crazy crisis of infinite Jugheads. And I think there are people who have been following it and are very constantly confused, which is great. Even with the character of January McAndrews, who has been a part of Archie lore for so long, they think she’s going one way and they think she’s sort of this type of character, but I feel like with me, it’s like now by the end, you’ll see the full picture and it’s going to be cool. It turned out way funnier than I thought it would be. And I think there’s also even some poignant Jug headlines about friendship that that really mattered to me. And there’s there’s even a musical guest star that I hinted at an issue one who makes an appearance in the book. Archie’s the best. They’re clearly letting me have a lot of fun.
Archie is also launching a middle and YA line. Have you been approached at all to do anything for those two particular lines?
SG: Alex Segura, if you can hear me? Not yet. No, but luckily I think I can say the door doesn’t seem closed. But I don’t I don’t quite know yet. I would be happy to do more “Jughead’s Time Police” but they can point me in any direction and I’ll say yes.
You’re also doing a graphic novel based on The Haunted Mansion, the Disney ride. When is that due out?
SG: I’m not sure. We’re taking our time with it. The story is locked down. And it’s a really, really beautiful story. And I think I can say we get to meet a new ghost but it’s been it’s been one of those things where I think when something is so good people are like, let’s really focus on this and just make it the best it can be. I’ve seen a lot of art. I have to double check. I’ve been busy. I forgot I was doing because I turned in that script a minute ago. Disney has to go through and approve it. It’s a really it’s a really charming story. And I think I think I can say at the very least fans of Sally will be happy.Continued below
I know it’s your favorite ride. After that ride, is there another Disney ride you’d like to see do a graphic novel?
SG: I would love to set myself up for the challenge of, how do you crack the Tiki Room. I would do the Tiki Room. I want to I want to figure out a weird ass Tiki Room story because there’s not as many like landmarks you have to hit and there’s so much there’s so many places you could go.
You’re also making your DC debut this year with a one shot, “The Infected: King Shazam.” Tell us as much as you can a little bit about this one shot.
SG: I was so excited because Shazam is just such a wonderful character and the themes of family, chosen and otherwise, are so strong. And I also love characters who are built to just be their best. And now I get to do the complete opposite, and it’s great because I feel like that’s my wheelhouse. But y’all have never seen me get fucked up with shit. But it’s really exciting to pervert all of that and really show people the darker side of Billy Batson, but still honoring the notion of family. So Billy has just become the worst and is taking it out on the gods above him. And there’s this B story of his sister, Mary, trying to save her brother. It’s really really intense. It’s really painful. And Joe Bennett’s art is so so brutal and so good.
I’m getting really lucky. I’m getting gigs that I want to do because there’s some characters you don’t relate to in any publisher. And to take a good boy and make them go bad in this really personal gritty way, I feel like it’s the best way for me to like say hi to DC Comics readers and show them everything I’m worth. It’s also funny. I’m still me. There’s still weird jokes in it.
Is there a character you see in comics today that you haven’t written yet, and you’re like, “Damn, I want to write that character.” Who is that first, and then how would you put your own spin on it?
SG: I really love Catwoman. I don’t know if now is the time because Joelle [Jones] is just acing on all fronts. So I feel like anything I have to let that cool down a few years before I could be like, “Hey, I have something to say too!” And I love all of the Robins. Damian seems like his potential gets like almost tapped and then someone un-taps it. I feel like there’s so much you can do with Damian Wayne that would be super fun. And then I’ll just say I love Impulse, like old school Impulse, not when Bart became Kid Flash. I just love where he started. And then obviously like it would be fun to play in the Buffy comics. Even Zatanna, I feel like she hasn’t had the story. The story that like if there was a movie or a cartoon. Give her sort of her own rogues gallery. She’s had all that stuff but in bits and pieces, and it would be fun to really crack that nut. I really like that character. She’s so fun and also powerful and also has so much that complicates. And it’s great because she does have this veneer of being the fun one and the entertainer, and I always like finding the pain and sadness inside the happiest person.
Which is ironic because with your most recent body of work I have you sort of as this all ages guy. You definitely have made a niche for yourself in this all ages market, now you’re going dark and disturbed!
SG: I think it’s that I don’t want to talk down to a younger reader. I love young readers. And I think that’s the thing. Even if I did Zatanna, I wouldn’t make it bleak. I wouldn’t make it nihilistic. And that’s that’s all I would do, if I ever go dark, is just open open that doorway to people and let them see that. But because it’s me, I always like to find the happy ending. I always like to find the rainbow. I always like to find the message that makes someone sleep better at night and and have some kind of peace. I’ll never get as grisly as like . . . Neil Gaiman can get real dark. But anyway, yeah, I’ll never get too dark.Continued below
In addition to finding that thread of hope, you’ve also been, throughout your entire career, outspoken on topics of tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. And we are in an era where representation in comics is much better than it was a generation ago. How are you feeling about the state of diversity and inclusion in comics? Where have we done right and where do we still need to go?
SG: I think this is partially why there’s been a symbiotic relationship with me and YA readers and YA editors. I screengrabbed something from Vixen the drag queen’s Instagram that says it perfectly, and I think I can kind of connect this to where different aspects of comics are. But the quote is, and I don’t know where Vixen got it: diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice to be heard and identified. I feel like YA is at the at a place of belonging. Mariko Tamaki was saying it at a panel the other night where the characters in “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me,” their sexuality is not a plot point. It’s just who they are. No one has to go through any kind of journey of acceptance about being queer. It’s just about why doesn’t this person like me, and why am I being such a bad friend to my friends? So I think that we’re really getting that in those worlds. “Bloom” is a beautiful book. First Second is just a wonderful publisher, same with Kaboom! and BOOM! Box.
But I think with the bigger two, there is the sort of somewhere between those two other words. And there’s a movement, and I think DC is is leaps and bounds ahead of Marvel. And all I can say after already having said what I’ve said about these things, I hope for better, I don’t expect better, but that’s why I’m here: to just let people know what’s up. And I think also remind people that it’s not bravery if we’re all speaking in numbers. If we’re all together, then it’s just the norm. And I think we’re noticing that across all boards, not just with the notion of queer representation. I think now more than ever, people of color, women of all identities and sizes and ages, are finally just being emboldened to protect these stories and tell a different kind of story rather than telling the story that we think is going to sell. And it’s just been great. I think there has been some great stuff.
I think more on an editorial side, there’s just been a lot of agency being given to creators. And I think it’s because people higher up are empowering editors to hire and work with people they want to work with, and to take risks and tell stories. I know it’s not called DC Ink anymore, but DC Ink I think is giving space for a lot of great stories and moving a lot of narratives out of the subtext and it’s just awesome, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
And if you think about all the bandwidth we had spent being scared about whatever the fuck we were scared about as kids, if we had that bandwidth to go and do something and organize.I think that’s the scariest thing people don’t realize, is that the minute all of us become empowered and emboldened and are spending less time hiding and being nervous, we’re going to get a lot of crap done. I’m hoping for because I’m definitely getting tuckered out and I definitely need the kids to take over.
Outside of all the other projects we’ve talked about, is there anything else coming up later this year that you can share with us?
SG: I can actually! IDW announced at NYCC I’m continuing some stories in the Read Only Memories game franchise world. It’s a really really cool game, like Veronica Mars meets Westworld. I love it because I’ve only played the game once. The story I ended up telling has just become so special. I was meeting with the game people and I was like, “I don’t know how to say this without being rude but like, like I’m really happy with this. I think this is a story that people are gonna like if they’ve never even played the game.” And it follows this queer private investigator Lexi Rivers. She is following a missing persons case where a robot has fallen in love with a human and the human is gone missing. And in this game’s universe robots have achieved sentience. They are fully their own individuals now.Continued below
I don’t know if you remember a series at Image called “Alex and Ada.” It’s got those similar themes to it.
SG: This one is way more steampunk, way more neo-noir, if you like that Blade Runner aesthetic. It takes place in Santa Cruz so there’s this cool juxtaposition of ultra ultra neo-noir future stuff against a beach town. And it’s just really turned into a book that I personally like. And our artist, Stefano Simeone, I think we’re both working to one up each other. Like he sent the first issue of art so I redid the second issue to be crazier, and then he wrote me and thanked me for making that issue super crazy. So now I’m like, “how do I make the third issue even wilder?!” So I really hope it finds an audience and people give it a shot because it is a newer brand and a newer concept. It’s the sleeper project of the year that I was like, well I like this thing anyway.
Thank you so much.
SG: Thank you!