We Interview Writer Gabby Rivera and Talk America Chavez, Wrasslin’, and Queer Latinas Flourishing

There shouldn’t be a question of how hard we ride for America Chavez. A queer brown girl with the power to punch a black hole outta here? We’re with it. America has risen through the ranks of the Marvel universe by appearing in multiple team books. America Chavez finally got her own series written by Gabby Rivera with art by Joe Quinones in 2017. Gabby has given America Chavez a hell of a year expanding not only her origin but her present and future. We were lucky enough to get to interview Gabby Rivera about her work on fleshing out America Chavez as a character as well as bringing her lineage to light.

Black Nerd Problems: You came in to write America Chavez right as the character is becoming more of a household name for Marvel. This gave you the opportunity to lay the groundwork for her origin story and mythos for the coming years. That’s a heavy task for your first time at bat writing comics (nailed it by the way). How did it dawn on you to plot out such a cosmic Amazon-like space fantasy for the tale of America’s grandmother, Madrimar, and her two moms?

Gabby Rivera: Ahh! Thank you for the love and compliments. I’m so happy you’re vibing with AMERICA, like it means the world. As for coming up with all the wild things, I mean, why not? Yeah AMERICA is weird and a little bumpy but damn if it’s not so fun and so full of heart. And that’s me and those are the stories I like to tell. Also, I’m so glad you acknowledged that this is my first comic ever. I’ve spent the last 10 issues learning how to create in this highly technical and gorgeous genre of all sorts in public.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world, Marvel has helped me grow as an artist and has supported all my wild and fantastical ideas. Like bringing two gorgeous Black and brown spiritual femmes into the galaxy and having them fall in love and create Planeta Fuertona. Like hahahahaha, eat that and savor it. It’s delicious. It feels good just saying all those words in one sentence.

I wouldn’t be a thriving artist without the love and guidance of my grandmas and my mom. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of women. Period.

BNP: I ask because I can’t name a character with a similar parentage as America Chavez, a Brown woman with two Brown women for parents. We talk a lot about wanting to see these types of stories; this is a rare case where we not only got a queer woman of color at the center of the character but a person of color penning the narrative. What triumphs and obstacles arise when you get that opportunity?

GR: Writing the AMERICA series is one of the greatest experiences of my whole life. Like, c’mon, how many kids from the Bronx are out there right now dreaming big? Hoping they can use their creative talents to thrive and survive out in the world and like, wow, I’m 35 and I get to do this!

My queerness and Latinidad are my glory and where I find my words. I’m honored to bring all that to the AMERICA series and more. First and foremost, her story needed to be wild and free. A little chaotic, full of love and explosions because that’s the stuff I love and we NEVER get to see queer Latinas doing that stuff. Any obstacles I’ve faced with the comic have been from people’s prejudices. Their racism and sexism and long-winded but short-sighted Twitter fingers. But most of that is just static, doesn’t bother me.

My triumphs come in the forms of best friends dressed as America coming to a signing and emails from queer Latinas across the U.S. telling me they love her and are so excited to see themselves in a comic.

BNP: You were sure to highlight the friendship between America Chavez and Kate Bishop by having Kate drop in. How much fun was it to not only have Kate team up with America Chavez but to get to tag team with Hawkeye’s current writer, Kelly Thompson, on the track as well?

GR: Writing the America and Kate issues was so much fun! Getting them together for a road trip to Las Vegas laid the foundation for the ultimate best friend story. And Kelly was game for all of it.

Straight out the gate, Kelly was supportive of my ideas and offered ways to elevate them. And we talked through everything and knew right away that we wanted to highlight the strength of Kate and America’s friendship. And we wanted to send them on a bad ass adventure that could also be one hell of a movie.

BNP: For the longest, I’ve been saying America Chavez is the best-dressed hero in the game (her kicks game still untouchable). Throughout the series, there’ve been more and more homages to wrestling and Lucha Libre culture incorporated into America’s outfits. Can you tell us why and how this specific wrestling culture is now being explored with America Chavez?

GR: It’s funny cuz I grew up with wrestling. Like, as a kid my whole church would get together after services and watch the Royal Rumble and all that WWE stuff. Weird but true! Madrimar, America’s grandma, is a powerhouse. She embodies that tough, fighter grandma spirit. By connecting Madrimar to Luchadora culture through clothing and wrestling, we hope to honor the culture and offer further representation for Luchadoras everywhere.

I also have a soft spot for dramatic capes, tights and boot sets, and over the top, campy-ass fun. I try to weave that throughout the series cuz it should be fun and goofy. And I really dig when women are shown as being tough and ready to scrap, you know?

BNP: Now America been flexing the wrestling in her fashion. Y’all got her grandma sporting a title too. I gotta ask if you’re a fan or follow wrestling at all? If so, who are your current favorite wrestlers and if you were to step into the ring, what would your finisher be?

GR: I’m definitely not up on current wrestling but if this was the 90s, oohhh that’s a different story. Back in the day, my fave wrestlers were The Rock, Ultimate Warrior, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Hulk Hogan. Maybe at one point I was a Hulk-a-Maniac and had a talking Hulk Hogan doll. Maybe that was my childhood, ok?!

And back then if I coulda fought anyone, it would have been Ted Dibiase aka The Million Dollar Man. I hated him! And so did all the abuelas in the church.

BNP: Niiiiiiice, I’ma 90s era Shawn Michaels guy myself.

You can catch more of Gabby Rivera’s work in the upcoming issues of AMERICA (America Chavez) series. Be sure to check out Gabby’s other projects on her website GabbyRivera.com.

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  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

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