From Scarlett Witch to Jean Grey to Captain Marvel herself, Marvel Comics has always been known for it’s beyond strong female characters. As it’s already established male characters were also well established, it needed a character to bridge the two sides, in the most ferociously amazing way possible of course. Sina Grace has delivered that and more with the creation of Darkveil. Originally crafted to give a scene in Iceman a little extra pizzaz, Darkveil is now a fully fleshed out member of the Marvel family, with fan art drag cosplay and memes a plenty to boot! I sat down for a chat with the man behind the character, the ever imaginative Sina Grace, and we talked about the creation of Darkveil, his childhood love for comics and how it influences his career now, and why he is completely embracing the new “nice core” movement.
Michael Cook: Sina, you have managed to give the children (and the true “children”) exactly what they need with the introduction of Darkveil into the Marvel Comic Universe, premiering in December’s Iceman number four. What made you come up with the concept of the character Shade?
Sina Grace: Hi! I knew that I’d be doing a Mutant Pride Parade, and it seemed pretty frickin’ necessary to have a drag queen emceeing the event… ‘cuz duh! There’s also a pretty important collection of characters fighting off the Marauders in issue five: a survivor of conversion therapy, a female ally, a man of color, and a group of mutants marginalized within their own community- the Morlocks. If you think about who were at the front lines of Stonewall, it was those folks. While the rest of us get to enjoy the party, the most beleaguered members of our community are fighting triply hard to protect our rights. So of course I needed a drag queen there! I had the power set and the gag that a mutant could “throw shade” with voids in my back pocket for a while, so it all kind of came together perfectly with Darkveil.
MC: What or whom is Darkveil specifically patterned after or inspired by?
SG: DARKVEIL (formerly Shade) was inspired by so many drag queens, but I’ve kinda been officially quoted as saying that Shea Coulee, Dax Exclamation Point, The Vixen, and Monet XChange were my main go-tos. Honestly, I just wondered what my sister’s friend Jomar would look like as a superhero, cuz he was the first “gay person” I’d really gotten to know as a kid, and had the body of a man who wasn’t “fit,” wasn’t “fat,” which I felt was super important to put on the page. Like, I loves me some Naomi Smalls, but I wanted a full-bodied queen. I designed the outfit thinking, “what kind of iconic would she serve at an X-Men-sponsored event? Pouches, X-belts galore! ”
MC: Where do you think we can see Shade/Darkveil go? Could we possibly see a romantic entanglement possibly?
SG: Honestly, if Marvel wanted to pursue more stories with the character, I’d say the most exciting story to tell would be her origin… don’t y’all wanna know what came first- the drag queen, or the mutant? Like any character I write, there’s a whole backstory saved on my google drive just waiting to be explored. At present, I am just ultra excited to announce her new name: Darkveil!
That said, readers can see the character wear a new lewk and drop some cute lines in March’s UNCANNY X-MEN: WINTER’S END special, annnnnd we have a Marvel Spotlight about her included in the back of the book!
MC: Take me back; what brought you to your love of comic books originally? How did you make it into a full blown career?
SG: I’ve always loved comic books, and basically wanted to pursue them professionally since I was a literal ten year old child. It’s in my fifth grade yearbook as my dream career, no joke. I think like most kids my age, the Ninja Turtles, Batman and X-Men cartoons drew me to their respective comics, and from there I just tried anything and everything to break in. I interned at Top Cow Productions in high school. I self-published and apprenticed in college. Things started to click when a webcomic I drew- The Li’l Depressed Boy– got picked up for print by Image Comics. The full-blown career was quite gradual, but I’m here now henny!
MC: Who were some of your own favorite comic book heroes as a kid and how do you think they inspire you as an adult artist?
SG: Part of what makes being a writer at Marvel Comics so insane for me is that I was always drawn to Spider-Man, X-Men, and Daredevil… normal people who become heroes and have to learn to do the right thing even when there’s temptation everywhere to just be bad. I think that’s why I was also drawn to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m into characters with strong moral compasses. As an adult, I try to redefine that in our modern context. We live with a lot of grey area, so much is up for debate or interpretation. How do our heroes know they’re actually doing good? That’s kind of the question of my work these days.
MC: Iceman is currently Marvel’s only monthly series featuring a queer lead character. How does it feel to be a true groundbreaker in the medium of comic books?
SG: There are actually a lot of awesome Marvel titles on the stands featuring queer characters in their ensembles (Runaways, West Coast Avengers, etc), but I’m stalling ‘cuz… I don’t really know how it feels! I’m just here trying to make a book that I would love as a reader and an X-Fan. The lens through which I’m writing this story makes it groundbreaking, but that’s not really for me to trip about? At the end of the day, you hope your work reaches people. Iceman’s found an audience that digs the book, and that’s pretty rad.
MC: What future ideas do you have can you share for some dynamic LGBT geared stories or characters?
SG: All I can say is that I’ve got some queerness coming up in a supernatural yarn, in a time-traveling yarn, in a normcore yarn… you’ll see. Oh wait, now I can say: Kevin will be showing up in Jughead’s Time Police!
MC: What inspires you to keep creating content that those little boys and girls out there (as well as the older fans) can relate to?
SG: My motivation create comes from a Metric song where Emily Haines basically says: “To be good/ get better/ I’ll change by staying the same.” For years, my point of view wasn’t the most valuable in pop culture, because I like stories about friends standing up for each other, love finding a way, etc. I was coming up in the midst of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, where nihilism and violence pervade. Now, the tides are shifting and there’s a movement called Nicecore (examples: The Good Place, Schitt’s Creek, Kimmy Schmidt). I’m so happy that I can double down on what I believe in, and try to do it better than the last one.