Smash Pages Q&A | Stephanie Williams on ‘Nubia and the Amazons’

The co-writer of the DC Comics miniseries talks about her approach to writing Nubia, the Well of Souls, her journey to becoming a comics writer and more.

Stephanie Williams has been writing about comics and making her own comics for several years, with her work appearing on NPR, the AV Club, Den of Geek and more. She’s also written Living Heroes, a fan comic/mash-up of the sitcom Living Single with Marvel characters, as well as the webcomics But What If Though and Parenthood Activate.

Earlier this year, Williams began working for DC, with her first story for them appearing in Wonder Woman: Black and Gold #2. This was soon followed by the announcement that she would co-write Nubia and the Amazons with Vita Ayala, who recommended her to the Wonder Woman editorial office. Featuring art by Alitha Martinez, the story focuses on the current queen of the Amazons and also introduces Bia, a Black trans woman who emerges from the Well of Souls.

I spoke with Williams about her work on the title, her approach to writing Nubia, the introduction of Bia and much more. Big thanks to Williams for taking the time to answer my questions.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Stephanie. And congratulations on the release of Nubia and the Amazons #1, your first work for DC. Can you talk a little bit about how you became involved with this project? 

 Thank you! 

My involvement with Nubia and the Amazons came to be thanks to Vita Ayala for recommending me. They were kind enough to share a copy of my fancomic Living Heroes with an editor (Brittany Holzherr) in the Wonder Woman office. The next thing I knew, I was talking Brittany’s ear off about the Wonder Woman mythos, Diana Prince, Nubia, Hippolyta, Artemis, Phillipus and just everything related to the Amazons and sisterhood. Things unfolded from there. I was offered the opportunity to write a story for the Wonder Woman: Black and Gold series, and Nubia and the Amazons followed shortly after. 

What’s it been like working with Ayala? What have you learned from them so far? 

It’s been everything any comic writer could want. Vita is not only a talented writer, but they are phenomenal when it comes to writing mentorship. Vita has been a guiding light throughout this entire project. Because they are so great at creating a nurturing environment, I’ve been able to apply the knowledge imparted to me to each issue immediately. This is my first go at a comic series, so that felt daunting at first, still does at times, but with the support of everyone in the Wonder Woman office at DC, I’ve been able to spread my creative wings and take the leap of faith in my abilities with enthusiasm. 

Nubia and the Amazons expands the Wonder Woman family of titles, giving a prominent role to a character who has been around awhile but hasn’t really made that many appearances over the years. Can you talk about your approach to writing Nubia and what this new role means for her? 

My approach to writing Nubia has been with her long existence with an extremely thin history. There is a good chance that if someone has heard of Nubia before, they automatically think of her as Diana’s Black sister or the Black Wonder Woman. While that’s okay, Nubia as a character deserves to stand on her own out of Diana’s shadow. So the work starts with building up and out from the foundation of her character. We know Nubia is a headstrong, fierce fighter, but what are her fears, her regrets, how does she love, how does she want to be loved…etc. 

Now, getting into the first issue, the comic press has been giving it a lot of attention for the introduction of a new character (which we’ll get to in a moment), but I wanted to first ask about HOW this character was introduced, as you use a concept that was first shown during George Perez’s run on Wonder Woman several decades ago, the Cavern/Well of Souls that creates new Amazons. Can you talk about the idea behind using the Well?     

The Cavern of Souls was such a great concept when George Perez introduced it in his run on Wonder Woman. Themyscira went from the Amazons only varying in hair color to more like the Themyscira we’ve established in Nubia and the Amazons. It was pretty much a no-brainer to introduce the Well of Souls into the series, especially with it appearing in Young Diana, which was a great source of inspiration for how we went around curating Themyscira. 

Like the Cavern of Souls, the Well of Souls allows us to make Themyscira a place for ALL women definitively. 

It’s interesting that the well becomes active again as Nubia becomes queen. Are the two events coincidental?

You’ll have to keep reading to find out. 🙂

One of the characters we’re introduced to in issue #1 is Bia. Although it isn’t called out in the issue itself, you and Ayala have both said on social media that Bia was a trans woman before being resurrected as an Amazon. This is a big moment in terms of representation, as there aren’t a lot of trans characters in mainstream comics. Can you talk about the significance of the character and why it was important to you to include Bia in the story?

We needed to make sure Themyscira – this second chance at life for women harmed in man’s world – reflected the world we know. But going beyond the sad reality of who would come through the well –  this is still a place for the women who come through the well to be embraced and celebrated. Bia’s introduction was, by all accounts, natural. 

Will we learn more about Bia’s back story, before arriving on Themyscira?

 No, but readers will get the opportunity to learn how important Bia is to Themyscira. 

Finally, I know you’ve been a pop culture writer/reporter and a big comics fan prior to Nubia. Now you’re working on a prominent comics franchise and setting things up for a big crossover event, Trial of the Amazons, next year. What’s it been like for you, seeing this project “out in the wild” and the reactions to it after working on it for so long?

There are so many things I haven’t fully processed yet, but it all feels right. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. Like I’ve been working on this project for months, spent a lot of late nights and early moments with it, it’s like my baby. So, it’s been a joy to see it being embraced so enthusiastically. 

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