By Janee Law
Escape Pod Comics in Huntington village was filled with eager fans last Wednesday, when comic book writer G. Willow Wilson and fantasy-fiction writer Tamora Pierce made appearances.
After months of planning, Escape Pod owner Menachem Luchins was excited to finally have the signing come together at the 302 Main St. shop.
“They both write incredibly believable characters who help build empathy for the reader,” he said.
Both Wilson and Pierce pen literature with strong female characters; Wilson is the current writer of the “Ms. Marvel” comics series; and Pierce is the New York Times bestselling author of over 18 novels set in the fantasy realm of “Tortall.”
Luchins added, “It’s just exciting to be able to have them in the same room.”
Didi Feuer, of Huntington, said she enjoys reading works with strong female heroes that are not stereotypes.
“They’re really paying attention to how their work affects young girls and young readers,” Feuer said. “I think these kind of community gatherings are extremely important for fostering that dialogue to kind of build enthusiasm for this kind of fiction.”
Feuer said that if characters in both authors’ series were real, they would be inspiring.
“They would be people that you’d want to gather strength from in an era of women stepping out with their truth, speaking out about their experience and not hiding who they are,” Feuer said.
Anya Sklyarova, of Wading River, said Pierce’s work had a significant impact on her childhood, helping to formulate her view of womanhood.
“I think her books taught me how to stand up for myself, be innovative and be creative,” Sklyarova said. “You have those teenage girls and boys coming out, wanting to take a stand just like [her characters] did. They always believe they have the right to say something, even when adults believe it’s not their place. In today’s political environment, we need that because so many people don’t say anything.”
Wilson currently authors the Hugo Award-winning comic book series “Ms. Marvel” for Marvel comics. She’s also written several award-winning pieces of literature, including her debut novel-without-pictures, “Alif the Unseen,” and a memoir, “The Butterfly Mosque.”
Wilson has also penned graphic novels and comic book series for DC Comics, and its literary imprint, Vertigo. She also helped launch ongoing Marvel Comics series “A-Force.”
Pierce first captured the imagination of readers with her debut novel, “Alanna: The First Adventure.” Since then, she’s produced numerous bestselling and award-winning titles that have pushed boundaries of fantasy and young adult novels. Her books have also been translated into many languages and are available on audio.
Pierce said, in an interview Friday, she enjoys coming to Escape Pod Comics for both signings and to be encircled in the variety of literature offered at the shop.
“[Luchins] doesn’t just carry the two big comic sources in the country, he carries something from everywhere,” she said.
Her inspiration to write strong female characters came from her own experience growing up, reading literature where very few female characters were allowed to be heroes in their own right — and if they were, it was to a certain extent.
“By the end of the book they were asked to settle down and take a traditional role after all the deeds they’ve done,” she said. “I didn’t understand why that was necessary, so when I started reading fantasy and found the same old same old, I just started writing what I wanted to read as a teenager: girls basically being heroes.”
Pierce said she’s noticed that her literature has stood as an inspiration for both girls and boys.
“[They] take the message from it that you can be and do whatever you want, and you can pursue aims that others will tell you are impossible for you to achieve,” Pierce said. “There are people out there who will tell you that you have to work — it’s not going to be easy — but if you want it badly enough, you’ll get there. You just have to work.”
She continued, “They also find, nowadays, an acceptance of who they are — that they are more than acceptable, they are good and they are necessary. They have a right to be here and pursue their goals the same as anyone else, and that there’s nothing wrong with them.
“In fact, there is everything right with them.”