Who Is Marjorie Liu? A Celebration of AAPI Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month so Comic Years is highlighting some of our favorite actors, actresses, writers, and illustrators from the AAPI community. We’ve looked at some big male names in the comic book world (Simu Liu and Gene Luen Yang), but today we’re going to look at a kickass female comic creator. So in this blog post, we’re asking: who is Marjorie Liu?
Liu was born in Philadelphia in 1979 to a Taiwanese father and American mother and grew up in Seattle, Washington. She became an avid reader thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Charles de Lint, just to name a few. She attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she majored in East Asian Languages and Cultures with a minor in Biomedical Ethics. She also dabbled in web designing and improved her skills by designing a fan site called The Wolverine and Jubilee page, after her discovery of numerous X-Men fan sites that she liked.
Although she had never read comics when she was younger, she had been familiar with the X-Men TV series and later learned more when she delved into writing fan fiction. She ended up purchasing X-Men and Wolverine comics as a reference and after graduating, she attended law school at the University of Wisconsin. While she liked law school, she didn’t like being a lawyer and made a 360-degree change to writing. She published several poetry pieces, short stories, and non-fiction works, but really got her foot in the door with her first novel, Tiger Eye. The novel took place in China and the United States, and was a paranormal romance adventure. It ended up winning the Best Contemporary Paranormal Romance from the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2005 and one of the sequels, A Dream of Stone and Shadows, was a 2006 New York Times bestseller. However, after seeing a little boy dressed up as Spider-Man at a convention, Liu told her former literary agent that she wanted to write for Marvel. Luckily the agent knew a Marvel acquisition editor seeking authors for Marvel tie-in novels at Pocket Books, especially for X-Men. From there Liu worked on the X-Men spinoff NYX, as well as Daken: Dark Wolverine and the Astonishing X-Men series.
What Is Marjorie Liu Known For?
Image via Image Comics
So who is Marjorie Liu? Despite writing numerous series for Marvel, Liu is probably best known for her Monstress comics series from Image Comics. “Steampunk meets Kaiju in this original fantasy epic for mature readers,” the series follows Maika Halfwolf, a teenage girl who shares a mysterious psychic link with a powerful monster. The Los Angeles Review of Books said it’s as “ambitious as George R. R. Martin or J. R. R. Tolkien” for its high fantasy concepts and heavy world-building, and earned many awards, including five Eisner Awards, four Hugo Awards, and the Harvey Awards Book of the Year in 2018. Another fun fact? Liu was also the first woman in the 30-year history of the Eisner Awards to win the Eisner Award for Best Writer for Monstress.
The first 30 comics in the Monstress series cover story arcs 1-5 and ended last year. Liu then wrote Monstress: Talk Stories, which was a two-part limited series that bridged the gap between story arc 5 and the upcoming story arc 6 (which started with Monstress Comic #31 and was released this past January). As of now, the series is at Monstress Comic #33, but Monstress Comic #34 is set to be released May 26, 2021, and Monstress Comic #35 is coming out June 30, 2021.
Monstress Comic #34
Monstress Comic #35
It’s unclear how many more comics there will be, but given the success of the series, Maika is sure to be around for a while longer.
On Diversity In Comics And Graphic Novels
It’s no surprise that there need to be more women represented in comic writing and Liu, as one of the few women, agrees. In an interview with Hypable, she said she was hopeful that there will be more female creators, but DC and Marvel are lagging behind indie comic publishers. In regards to diversity and representation, she said:
“As a woman of color, diversity in comics, both structurally and optically, feels like a natural given. The comics we read should reflect the real world, and the real world is incredibly diverse. DC and Marvel do themselves a disservice if they don’t recognize that, but I think the readers are hungry to see themselves reflected in these stories that everyone is so passionate about. We saw this with Spider-Man and we see this with Thor: These are powers and archetypes that are not dependent on race. They’re not even dependent on gender. These are fluid archetypes. All archetypes are fluid.”
When Liu was working on the Astonishing X-Men series, she was able to contribute to a groundbreaking comic milestone: the first LGBT wedding. In issue #51, Northstar (who came out as gay in a 1992 issue of Alpha Flight) got to walk down the aisle and marry his boyfriend, Kyle.
Northstar and Kyle get married/Image via Marvel
It was a win for the LGBTQ+ comic community and Liu was happy to have played a role in it.
“Northstar’s sexuality doesn’t define him, but it is an important part of him (who we love being the most important defining relationship of all), and it’s a critical fragment of his story that influences his outlook, his life, in the same way that his skin color does, and his gender, and his mutant power.”
Liu was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding media images of the LGBTQ community. She currently teaches comic book writing at MIT.
Are you still wondering who is Marjorie Liu? You can check out her website here. Let us know in the comments below what you think of her works!
Featured image by Pat Loika via Flickr
Keilin Huang is a freelance writer that likes the Oxford comma, reading from her neverending pile of books from the library, and Reeses peanut butter cups. She thanks her Dad for introducing her to his Superman comics and probably majored in Journalism because of Lois Lane. Contact her at [email protected]