Each year, we at DCComics.com love to take Pride Month as a moment to not only showcase our favorite queer characters, but take stock of our place in representing the most isolated and vulnerable among us and offer a warm welcome and a lighthearted welcome. To use the power of our stories to show people who desperately need the message that they are far from secluded, and that the comics community is a place that is not only agreeable, but heroic, to get to know yourself for the person you are at heart.
Few people have accomplished this from the heart like Galaxy: the most beautiful star Author Jadzia Axelrod, whose new graphic novel for young adults with brilliant artist Jess Taylor tells the story of Taylor Barzilai, an exotic princess who must gain the courage to abandon her disguise as a human boy for a life full of happiness and self-acceptance. The strong fleeting narration appears on the inside straight from the dedication page: “For the girl who needed this book for a long time and couldn’t find it.“
We were fortunate enough to get a few moments to talk with Jadzia about the creation of this new character for the DC Universe, and the interest being taken in writing a story designed to assure readers that weirdness itself is a gift, and David Bowie’s immortality.
Unlike many DC graphic novels, galaxy The film revolves around a completely new cosmic character who has her own unique abilities and backstory. How did you handle creating a new character and setting for DC from scratch, then finding the right place to attach it to the DC Universe?
Well, it was easy and hard because there are too many aliens with super powers in the DCU. That’s cool, but it’s also, “How do you make one special?” I have a familiarity with these types of personalities, so it was like, “What haven’t I seen? What do I think would be interesting to show, visually?”
I think the key to any kind of comic book superpower is how it will look when the artist draws it. One thing I love is that galaxy He has this thing called “Cyandii Vision,” which is what we called it in the text. And Jess just ran into it and did these beautiful impressionist versions of how the Galaxy feels and dealing with the different energies around us all the time. Jess created this amazing, flowery way of looking at it with all these bright pinks, purples, and blues. It looks very unnatural and strange, but it is also recognizable. It was better than it was in my imagination, but it also worked metaphorically in the story, in that it is sensitive to things around it that others don’t. Thus, the subtle assaults and the things she feels as a gay trans woman is reflected in her strength suite, which is that she understands the bigger picture around her, even if not everyone around her does.
It was an interesting choice to compare her experience with Superman.
the correct. Its origin and that of Superman are very similar and that was intentional. I wanted her to be in a rural community because I grew up in a rural community. You can’t have a rural community superhero without at least acknowledging that this is where Superman started because all superheroes started. And so, instead of ignoring it, or trying to pretend it wasn’t true, I turned to him. But it was done in a way to show that while the concept of an alien from another planet with superpowers is a universal and lovable thing, when that character makes a white cis man, it doesn’t mean everything to everyone. It was important for me to show a person of very similar origin, but a radically different point of view.
Speaking of your inspiration, you can find David Bowie references everywhere Galaxy: the most beautiful star. What is it about Bowie’s music and character that makes her a guiding force for the book?
Well, in writing Teen Character, my motivation was to write about all the things I loved and enjoyed as a teenager, and what discoveries I made that really resonated, David Bowie being number one with a bullet. When a friend lent me some David Bowie’s, the music was… amazing. It was electrified. And they were more than just great songs, they were kind of weird I hadn’t experienced before. He was shy, unapologetic and Sexual In a way I don’t remember seeing her in the media I grew up with. And so, telling this story of weirdness and unexcused positivity and transience, I had to bring in David Bowie because David Bowie especially in the ’70s really reflects on that theme. The whole alien character. They fit perfectly together, and I was very proud of that.
David Bowie feels to me like someone who clearly stated the kind of person he was and people just didn’t believe him. They did not take it at face value. They challenged his expressions of gender and sexuality.
“I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, that’s what I am.” I felt a huge echo as my Galaxy was passing me by.
definitely. I almost didn’t include David Bowie’s references. I thought maybe we should pick someone a little newer. But I can’t think of anyone that would resonate in the same way because a lot of people who do that kind of thing that plays with sex and sex – Janelle Money is an excellent example – build on Boy! (Laugh)
Also, I did the math, and it’s been fifty years since then Ziggy Stardust went out. Then it becomes something other than just Taylor listening to the music that Gadzia listened to as a teenager, because that music was twenty years ago when I was a teenager. Being very old, it becomes a find of something typical.
On the topic of archetypes, superhero comics have, since the beginning, been based on the idea of double identity. reading galaxy The book seems to have a lot to say about it.
Well, I guess having a secret identity is something that every weirdo knows. It’s something we’ve grown up knowing and understanding – that there’s a part of yourself that maybe for safety reasons, and maybe to others, that you can’t share. So, this analogy is already there for me. I didn’t have to do anything. It has already been set. So, I didn’t delve into it. Also, I didn’t want to have a secret Galaxy ID in the end. I didn’t want her to be able to revert back to a human at the drop of a hat. I wanted to be like this she is. This has Always She was who she is. The outfit, the disguise everyone was accustomed to, was a temporary look. This is it, and it will never come back.
When telling these ephemeral or queer narratives, there is sometimes a discussion about losing the message by having a queer hero who is a supernatural, artificial, or detached species, obscuring his humanity by alienating truly abstract and marginalized people. Were you worried about Galaxy’s identity as an alien conflicting with the mutants story you were trying to tell?
Sure, because as a geek and trans woman, I read and watched all those stories and was disappointed. So, I was definitely wary of what I was doing and really wanted to stick with this. I could have told this story without the gloss of science fiction. Or by using a different sci-fi sheen that would have kept Taylor human.
And… I didn’t want to do that for two reasons. The first is that I Poetry Like an alien growing up. I felt like everyone else was following certain rules and scripts that were normal for them and definitely not normal for me. So, this metaphor immediately spoke to me in a way that sums up my teenage anxiety. But on top of that, the other element is that I didn’t want to write this for transgender people only. I also wanted it to resonate with people who were from CIS countries, or who weren’t transgender. I didn’t want to get bogged down in details that would take them away from a story they could relate to so much. I think we’ve all felt that people don’t see who we are, and we have to live up to a certain degree of expectations. I think that’s something a lot of teens feel, and a lot of adults feel.
I am a trans woman. I want trans women to see themselves in this because I want to see myself. So, I wanted the details to get just right, and the hope was for the trans feminine person to see these details and resonate that way. And that a cis person, a masculine trans person, a non-binary person, or anyone else will see the broad strokes and it will resonate with them.
In “Up at Bat” your story this year DC Pride Special, you’ll be the first trans author to write to Barbara Gordon’s former roommate Alicia Yeoh. Until now, we’ve often known Alicia as “Batgirl’s Girlfriend”. But who is in her right?
That was something I really wanted to do with this story – to focus on it. There’s always a risk when you put someone next to someone as cool as Batgirl – and it doesn’t matter which Batgirl we’re talking about – no one next to that will get as much attention. So, it was really important to me to make Alicia’s focus the focus. Part of that was going back to the old Jill Simon books where Alicia first appeared and finding out who Alicia really is.
I was looking at those comics, and one of the great things about them is the omnipresent Batgirl novel. She’s constantly talking about what’s going on and it’s done with wit, humor, and panicked in places, which is amazing. So, what I wanted to do with Alicia’s story was flip that.
Alicia Troy now. We know what’s going on in her head. Once I figured it out, it centered on it as it tells the story. So it’s a Batgirl story in the sense that Batgirl exists, but Batgirl is not central. Alysia centered. She controls the narrative.
It also means I can spend more time enjoying Alicia’s voice and her own way of seeing things. We’ve put together some really great ideas for where to go and I’d love to explore them further. I have a lot of ideas about where the story we prepared pride He can go.
The best thing about galaxy And “Up at Bat”, is that they feel are primarily designed to inspire and encourage trans readers who need to feel seen and talk to them on their own terms. For readers seeing themselves in Galaxy and Alysia for the first time — and I know they’re there, I’ve been seeing them on Twitter — what advice can you give about where to go and what to do next?
I think the main thing I want to give people with these stories is pride. I want them not to view their crossing and crows as something to be an obstacle, or even a neutral. I want them to be proud of who they are and what happened to them in their lives. Because that point of view makes them…cool. It is something worth celebrating.
As much as they need to be done moving forward, I’d like to see them come forward as loud and speechless as possible. mocking and enjoying their identity, in grand Walt Whitman style. Because a lot of people right now, especially those in positions of power in government, don’t want to see us and would rather not have us. I can think of no better response to that than to be proud and happy for who we are.
Not everyone can. Because of these people and others, there are all kinds of safety issues. If you have to stay hidden for safety reasons, then by all means… but if you don’t? So why not be as loud and proud as possible?
I think this is a message galaxy Itself. That being your true self is, in and of itself, a heroic act.
I like to think so yes.
Galaxy: The Prettiest Star by Jadzia Axelrod and Jess Taylor is now available in bookstores, comic stores, bookstores, and as a digital comic novel. DC Pride 2022 #1, featuring “Up at Bat” directed by Jadzia Axelrod and Lynne Yoshii, will be available in print and as a digital comic book on June 7, 2022.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly Ask the Question column and writes about television, movies, comics, and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed You find it in the DC community as HubCityQuestion.