Vita Ayala talks working on the X-Men books and More! (Part 1) (2024)

Vita Ayala Interview PART 1

[00:00:00] Casey: All right, everybody. Welcome again, to another episode of spoiler country today on the show, we have a big treat for you. They are a writer and they’ve done so many amazing comics coming out lately. Specifically in the X universe. And so many other things let’s give a big hand for Vita Aja, Nina, how you doing?

Vita Ayala: I’m doing, I’m doing okay. Doing my best as well. Super excited to be

Casey: here. Awesome. Thank you so much. So I have, I’ve been fascinated with the, the work that you’ve been doing and for a while, and then when I found out that you were going to be on the X-Box, I was like, Oh, Holy sh*t. That is so rad. So CA can you tell me a little bit about how.

What, what drew you to comics? What was the thing that you made you go like, Oh, well hooked you.

Vita Ayala: Absolutely. If [00:01:00] anyone’s heard this story before I apologize, I’ll try and do it briefly. But when I was a kid my mom’s a single mom and I have brothers and sisters, blah, blah, blah. But my, primarily I have one brother who was the person that was usually living with us all.

And My mom would take us both to the bodega, to whenever she had to go shopping. That’s the corner store. Sorry. If you’re not familiar, I feel like bodega is a word that’s like pretty widespread now because of like bodega cats and stuff.

Casey: Oh

Vita Ayala: yeah. So like, it’s just, it’s our corner store. It’s not even always on the corner, but

Casey: they go to a bodega just like, I’ve never, I’ve never been to like a big like metropolitan city, like.

Maybe Atlanta, but Atlanta is okay. That’s

Vita Ayala: great.

Casey: And good food.

Vita Ayala: I was going to say that’s right. Don’t don’t don’t count Atlanta. And when, if you’re ever in New York city, I’ll take you to the best bodegas.

Casey: Well, that sounds amazing. I would love to get a bodega sandwich with you.

Vita Ayala: Oh yeah. I mean, I got spots like bodega sandwich and good chop cheese, or like a [00:02:00] super chicken Philly.

I got you.

Casey: Who’s a rapper. He has a food show on vice. Oh, my gosh, this is white dude with red hair, big guy. He has a food show and he’ll like go into a bodega and pop in and I’m just like, Oh my gosh,

Vita Ayala: that looks amazing.

Casey: I would love to do that.

Vita Ayala: That’s the way to do it. People always come to New York and take, they got to go real fancy.

And it’s like, no, you just gotta, you gotta be respectful and you gotta find the good food. The good food is often. Affordable. But anyway, sorry, I could talk about food forever. So she would take us out on bodega whenever she had to do anything, wouldn’t get a reason. We were both wild animals and could not be left alone feral creatures.

And there’s a spinner rack in our, and the bodega. And I miss those. Those were like almost like like. The book that you picked off of, it would define who you work with the rest of you it’s like choosing your weapon or like, you know what I mean? Like the a hundred days ceremony choosing, like you put the baby in front of all the stuff and they choose like [00:03:00] their future.

That’s kind of what spinner racks are like. And I’m really sad that that’s not really a thing.

Casey: It was a portal to a different world.

Vita Ayala: Yeah. And it’s so interesting what people were drawn to when it like, cause they, they was just always a hodgepodge of stuff. Oh yeah. But so on the rack were two books that immediately caught my attention.

I couldn’t read at the time I started reading pretty late around 11 or 10 or 11. So this was when I was probably seven or three, something like that. There was a wonder woman book. And an X-Men book and on the X-Men book was there was a cover and it was storm and Bishop and right away

Casey: embracing,

Vita Ayala: I don’t think so.

I think they were like back to back about to, you know, fight or whatever. I honestly, I don’t have this English anymore. It’s a sad story that I won’t tell, but I, I saw them and I misidentified wonder woman as Puerto Rican. I’m Puerto Rican, I’m Afro Lenox, I’m black and Puerto Rican. And I was like, Oh my God.

Look at [00:04:00] all these Brown people. And I brought them to my mom and she was like, Oh, you want to read? Yeah, absolutely. Like. These are like a dollar. Sure, cool. You know? And so she bought me those and I would just sit and like flip through the pages. I couldn’t read the words, but I would make up the stories and stuff.

And then for one Christmas, I can’t remember which one my parents got me, this Fisher-Price Marvel jam, where it was a Marvel graphic novel, which I still have and a Fisher-Price cassette tape. And the cassette tape would read all of the text. On the page. And it would like indicate when you should like turn the page and stuff like that.

And so I literally, I wore the tape out until it was broken. Like it was just completely stretched out. And the, the graphic novel it’s seen better days. It was a, the Arabian nights. And so my first, my first couple of comic books were all. Either Brown people or people. I miss identify people. I have an argument for why I thought wonder woman was Puerto [00:05:00] Rican.

Her outfit is super, super Puerto Rican. She looks like she could be like, her name is Diana. Like one of my cousins, she comes from a small Island of very powerful women. I’ve just, there’s this a lot. She says Allah all the time. Like there’s a lot going on. So, so yeah, I, you know, I was drawn to them because I thought I was seeing myself.

And. You know, store membership are both black. That’s true. And so I, I thought to myself this was one of the first places that I really saw. People like me as heroes, not as either a side character or, you know, someone who’s a criminal or,

Casey: and that’s, that’s important. That’s so important.

Vita Ayala: Yeah. I mean, we were also a big star Trek family.

So like, I, I grew up on like, you know, with Uhura and Guidon and like, you know, Balana, I guess later on, like they exist in the very important Cisco clearly, but, you know, I also was, was just drawn to this thing that I could just have and re interact with whenever I wanted. And it was [00:06:00] easy, you know, it was cheap and it was easy to carry around.

And I was always just like, Like I was always drawing at that age and making up stories. So this was just a medium that really called to me. And then from there, you know, as soon as I started getting allowance, I started blowing it on comics manga.

Casey: So yeah. Yeah, there was a A grocery store down the road from us that I would walk down and we didn’t have a lot of money but Oh yards and get money that way.

And I would re I felt so guilty cause I would read off the spinner rack and then put it back. And then like the one that I did want, if I liked it enough, I would like buy it, but I always felt bad. Like, and I put one back

Vita Ayala: as long as you did it. Leave it greasy. Honestly, it’s not the worst sin having worked in comics, retail for 10 years.

Like as long as people were being respectful, I was like, I don’t care. Like you can read one or two issues. I literally do not care. Yeah, I used to, I used to. [00:07:00] Engage in some criminal activity to pay for my comics.

Casey: So you worked in comics, retail. How was that?

Vita Ayala: Intense reimagine. If the internet was like, come with, come to your job and you couldn’t leave, you couldn’t close the app.

That’s got, it was like, no, it was, it was fine. It had its ups and downs, like any other, any other job? But the ups were, were pretty high. You know, I made some of my absolute best friends in the world through working at forbidding planet. Matt Rosenberg and Danny lore. And, you know, it’s cool. You know, all these people who were now, we’re all making, which is really fun.

As well as people who work behind the scenes like Matt Klein and John Peachtree over at Valiant. So. You know, I, I think I got a lot out of it. Everyone has bad days at work, but my good days definitely outweigh the bad days. I got to stand around, not really stand around. I actually did my job, but you know, I got to talk about comics and movies and story all [00:08:00] day, every day for like 10 years.

Casey: And you apparently, you got to do it with, with people who were like-minded and also had that same ambition and drive. So that’s, that’s amazing.

Vita Ayala: I feel like a lot of people that work in comic shops do it because they want to be closer to comics and understanding comics. Rosenberg will talk about this, but this is also true for myself where it’s like, I didn’t necessarily know why I wanted to make them, but I wanted to know all about them.

And I want it to be it, you know, engaged in a community that cared about them because I would bring them home. And like, my mom is very sweet and now she’s into comics, but like, she just be like, Oh, that’s nice. We, you know, we couldn’t talk about it or like that kind of stuff. Like my brother, a lot of my brothers are more video game guys and comic guys.

And so they could be like, someone talked to me about comics. I need to talk about this nerdy stuff. They’re all nerds. Every single one of us are nerds in our own ways.

Casey: So nice. So, so [00:09:00] what, what finally pushed you over the edge and got you to, to actually start writing.

Vita Ayala: I’ve been writing since I learned how to read when I was about 10 or 11 I’ve always been a big story person.

I would make up stories in my head all the time. And I would tell stories all the time. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s a bad thing. But I, yeah, I’ve been writing since I learned how to read. And then in terms of comics, I actually, I dabbled a little bit in college, but. I didn’t really buckle down and start writing comics and thinking about comics in terms of actually pursuing them as a career until I was working with Matt Rosenberg, actually, he really encouraged me.

And, and gently, gently pushed me to do it. Cause I, you know, I, up until I was like 19, I didn’t even know that if you couldn’t draw, you still had, like, you could still make comics. I was super into Monga and like, Manga tend to be cartoonists. And so, like, I just never occurred to me to look at the, like the credit page on a comic book.

And then, [00:10:00] you know, once I figured it out, I was like, Oh, but like, nobody liked me. Right? Like that’s not really a thing. Like all the names do not look like my names. All the people do not look like me. I don’t think that, you know, that’s something that I can do. And then when I was in my late twenties and working in forbidden planet, Matt Rosenberg was like, No, you can just do it and you should, you should just do it.

I’m gonna, you know what, it’s too late. You have a pitch meeting with my friends so that you have to do it.

And clearly he wouldn’t have pushed me to do it. If I, if I was completely unwilling you know, he’s a very supportive and caring person, so but yeah, that’s, that’s really what pushed me over the edge was someone literally like he would take me.

Literally by the hand at conventions and introduce me to people that you knew, not just like editors and stuff, but like other writers and artists and all that kind of stuff. And you kind of like. Really helped me understand the industry side of things, as opposed to just like, decide that I knew as a retailer and as a, as a, you know, as a reader. [00:11:00]

And I fell in love with it. I love the act of, you know, collaborating on comics. I love talking about story stuff and talking about comics. Like I will do it all day. If my wife. But it lose her mind.

Casey: I want to get into that later about, about how you balance the, you know, the work-life balance and stuff like that.

So, but for right now, like, like Rosenberg kind of helped. Okay, human in the ass and, and get you, like, get you in the game for lack of a better term. I’m sure. Like I’m not near as good a writer as you, so I’m gonna use something crude like that. I

Vita Ayala: think if you’re a writer, you’re a writer. So don’t you the only PR it’s like running, you’re only really competing with yourself.

Casey: Well, well, what, what’s your,

Let’s get into that a little bit. What, what. What is your situation? Like how do you go about it? Are you a morning writer? Do you just write one is inspiring you or do you, [00:12:00] I

Vita Ayala: wish that was the thing. Oh my gosh. I mean, for me, when I was. When I wasn’t doing it as a profession, I would still do it almost every day.

I, you know, I’ve, I’ve had a lot of jobs. I have a lot of interests and I have, you know, I’ve, I’m a Jack of all trades, so I’m passing at a bunch of things. But writing was the one thing that I would always be doing while I was doing anything else. I’m compelled to write. If I don’t write, you know, in.

Two days. I feel dirty. I feel gross. Like I need it. So I have to do it. So that’s part of it. And once you know, that those were the times that I would just like. You know, squirrel away a couple of minutes here or there to write when I was a, I was a security guard at the metropolitan museum of art for awhile.


Casey: that

Vita Ayala: sounds amazing. It was dope and wild and bananas and yes, it’s haunted. No, the stuff does not come to life. I would have left the city if that was true. But you know, I would believe it early. And right before my shift, I had a little [00:13:00] notebook that I would keep inside my jacket pocket and I’d write off my breaks.

And then, you know, I’d write on the way home from, from work and all that kind of stuff. And then I I started working nights at the met, and I would write, you know, whenever I could squirrel away a second. But once they’re paying you for it, you, you, you have to do it on a schedule. So my process involves Now today’s during this year getting up early, earlier than I usually would, you know, sitting down at the computer, looking at my to-do lists and trying to, you know, structure the day so that I can ride my creative wave.

I’m usually the most like creative in terms of making new content, new stuff in the early afternoon. So like, One to five. So I’ll do like edits or lettering stuff in, in the morning and answer emails and stuff. And then I’ll start doing like new stuff in the early afternoon. Oh, cool. Yeah. And then evening usually if I have any meetings or calls or whatever, I’ll [00:14:00] schedule them for, you know, late afternoon, early evening.

So that’s basically my day. Clearly COVID makes things hard because he likes just everything hard in general. But that when I’m being good, that’s the schedule that I keep too. And I tried very hard to stay off social media and I have failed very badly this week. I was doing so well for like two months.

And then I like tripped up again.

Casey: Well, I mean, it’s, it’s gotta be kind of hard when you have people like Lee Williams also, but she, she also seems to be like, She is keeping people in line also,

Vita Ayala: you know, she’s, she’s a real one. Leah does incredible work both on the page and also just in life. She is one of the most passionate and compassionate people that I know.

She’s one of my best friends.

Casey: We really read

Vita Ayala: she’s so rad. She’s incredibly smart and beautiful inside and out. And she spends a lot of her energy trying to. [00:15:00] Facilitate empathy as much as possible and to care for people whether she knows them or not as much as possible. So she is an absolute joy, but yes, that does mean sometimes we’re just on still media.

I’m like, no, we both have to work. We both have to, we have like a distance where she teeny and I just, we just talk all day. And like, one of us will constantly be like, Hey, Hey, get up, get off social media. It’s time to write. Let’s do sprints. Let’s do you know, like and that’s a big part of my process too, is.

Working, especially with teeny Leah and Danny we’ll roll, encourage each other during the day and be like, all right, we’re going to work for 45 minutes straight and we’re not going to do anything but work. And then we’ll check in. And, you know, we give each other a little rewards, like tech talks and stuff like that is part of the process finding, finding Finding a community is really, really important when you’re a creative person, because otherwise you’re, well, one runs dry very quickly.

And so it’s even [00:16:00] harder right now because we can’t go physically see each other a big like thing, like conventions. Aren’t just, it’s like people think it’s for the. The people that enjoy partaking in, but not making, but that’s not true. Like creators go. And we hang out with our friends who we only see twice a year, you know, like we actually hug each other and we like yell at each other, say, so do karaoke and take each other dinner and like stay up late and like do our nails.

Like we, we do all this stuff that like, you know, we live, you know, when you, when you’re creating, it’s usually like, Alone at home in the room. So we have to have our like office time and pack it into like 12 days a year.

Casey: Writing is so such an insular activity. So I’m sure getting out and around people is, is almost therapeutic in a way

Vita Ayala: it is it’s.

So it’s like draining, but in the best way. And it’s also like, Conventions. I use it as an excuse to just be like, I’m [00:17:00] going to just do things I enjoy for a little bit,

Casey: like

Vita Ayala: it is technically work. So I’m gonna, you know, go hang out with my friends. And instead of going back to my room and writing till 3:00 AM or like whatever We did a teeny and I were at Miami book Fest last November.

And like, we were like, we’re just going to go to the pool. And like, we ended up talking about story and stuff with a couple of other creatives as well, but like we were like, but we’re doing it in a hot tub.

Casey: I mean, what better way to get stuff done?

Vita Ayala: Listen, I can’t afford a hot tub at home. So whenever I like have to spring for a hotel, I’m like, all right, is there a gym?

And is there a pool things

Casey: I can’t do it.

Yeah. And I see a lot of comradery there. Just, just based off of like your Twitter interaction. I see. It’s like very much a team building exercise in a way. And you y’all have captured that energy and are maintaining [00:18:00] it even through the ravages of COVID when you know, personal interaction is few and far between.

So that’s, that’s amazing that y’all have that. I

Vita Ayala: think we take turns being at the bottom of the wheel and S and the other two supporting, I think that’s, it’s, you know, that’s how friendship and relationships should be in general. Right. But we’re very lucky to have found each other. And so we kind of take turns supporting each other because you know, it does get hard sometimes even to just motivate to like, Get to the key keypad.

And so like we’ll incentivize each other. I remember a couple of weeks ago, Leah was like, I’m tired and I don’t feel good. And I was like, I will be on the computer in the voice chat in 10 minutes. If you get to your computer and she was like, I’m dressed and ready, let’s go.

Casey: So just. Looking over your, of law of comics. I mean, you have gone [00:19:00] not just in like the superhero realm, but you’ve done horror. You’ve done pretty much everything. What, what is your inspiration like, what is the thing that, that makes you excited to write?

Vita Ayala: That’s a good question. I think. If I’m talking about licensed stuff, it’s just the opportunity to work with characters.

That, that means so much to me. I don’t think I’ve worked with. On any licensed product, like, you know, book, project where I didn’t care deeply about the character or the, or the world, if that makes sense. And that’s real, super motivating. Like the, you know, the fact that I get to get up every day and write like new mutants, like that’s bananas to me.

I scarred myself for life as a child, reading the demon bear saga by accident. And it here, you know, I, you know, storm when I was a kid. Storme was my imaginary friend. [00:20:00] You know what I mean? And I’ve gotten to ride storm, like to me, being able to be involved with such incredible characters in such incredible worlds is super motivating.

And then for my own creator owned stuff, I. I am very interested in telling stories from my perspective. I don’t think, I think every single writer and artists and creators perspective is very unique and individual. I do want to say that upfront, but I think that, you know, I found it very hard to find myself in stories in just, you know, canonical stories and Western culture in general for a long time.

And so I, you know, when I’m working on my creator and stuff, I tend to write stories that I needed. You know, I wanna write stories for the five-year-olds that I was, I want to write stories for the 12 year old that I was, and, you know, the 20 year old that I was. And I think that. That doesn’t really, that doesn’t exclude anyone [00:21:00] for reading my stories.

I hope that they are universal because I am a human being and human experience is something that we can all engage with. But I think that, you know, that’s what motives Bates me to write my creator and stuff is that, you know, I want to put those stories out there because I think that there are other people like me that are searching for themselves that might be having trouble finding themselves.

Casey: That’s that’s amazing. And you were talking about, you know, wanting to see yourself in your art and just from like a my wife teaches at a at a school in, in Birmingham and it’s mostly little, little black kids and. When, something like that comes out. I remember when black Panther came out there, wasn’t a kid on that playground that wasn’t Shuri or black Panther and just going nuts.

And it’s, it’s such a it’s so [00:22:00] important. Because people are are bombarded from a white Western perspective. And that sh*t’s harmful as, as a white dude, like, yeah,

Vita Ayala: well, I think. So I have like a couple of thoughts about this, right? Like, let me get on my tiny soapbox. It’s not fair to me, please, please.

But I mean, first year, a hundred percent, right. It’s really important to see yourself. You know, there’s the, the, the famous story of like the black astronauts, like. Being like we’re astronauts because of her, it was on TV and the famous story of Whoopi Goldberg, seeing, you know, Nichelle Nichols on star Trek back and being like, Oh my God, there’s a black woman and she’s not a maid.

And when I went to act and like all of these things, like seeing yourself. Shows you that there is a space for you in the world. And so when you don’t see yourself, you feel invisible in a very real way, in a very tangible way. You feel like you there’s, you know, I didn’t [00:23:00] know that I could write like that.

It was possible for me to write at all, like for anyone that wasn’t my own notebook until I was in high school. And one of my teachers gave me an Octavia Butler book and he was like, no, we can do this like this. He was also, he was black. And I remember to this day, he gave me his signed copy to read.

It was incredible and wow. You know, he was like, no, you, you absolutely can do this.

Casey: This is probably something he treasured. Yeah. Copy of Octavia Butler.

Vita Ayala: First edition paperback,

Casey: some punk ass kid. He just gives this book to that guy.

Vita Ayala: You know, he saved my life. That book saved my life. It was done by Tavia Butler and it absolutely saved my life.

And I remember reading it and then giving it, but I’d never taken care of the book the way it took care of it. Let me tell ya. And I gave it back and I was like, is it, did she do more? And he was like, Oh yeah, there are more books in this series. Let alone like all this other stuff that you wrote. And it just blew my mind.

And I literally didn’t know that was an option for [00:24:00] me until I was like 15, 16 years old. And that’s a small thing, but like when we think about like, we think about those astronauts, they didn’t realize that they could go to space. If that is a thing that they could go and fight for and pursue until I saw that, you know what I mean?

So it’s really important for people to see themselves, but it’s also important for people that are different from me to see me and to see people like me engaging in all sorts of activities that human beings go through. Right. Because. It’s really hard to empathize with people. If you don’t. Understand that they’re the same yes.

In terms of being a person. And I think that is also very harmful for people. I think it is a muscle

Casey: perception for sure.

Vita Ayala: I mean, absolutely. I think that, like, there is a, there’s literally like, not literally a muscle, but there’s a part of you inside that if you do not exercise it, you become less and less able to empathize.

And I think that we have a huge empathy problem. And I think that. It’s a feedback [00:25:00] loop where, you know, people go, Oh, but you know, you know, these are minority stories, so won’t apply to lots of people. So they’re not going to care. And it’s like, well, you’re telling people that they’re not capable of caring.

Like that’s insulting as hell. Like yeah, you’re a white guy. Does that make you mad? That they’re like, you’re not capable of empathizing with anyone that isn’t exactly like you, like, that’s. Like I would get into a fight with somebody. Okay. But then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Right.

Casey: I’ve gotten to like, so I’m 38 now.

And in regards to comics and, and like popular entertainment and stuff, I think one of the biggest things, a lot of people. A lot of dudes need to come to terms with is, Hey man, not everything’s written for you. Not everything is written with your perspective in mind. I

Vita Ayala: mean, also that too, like

Casey: there is

Vita Ayala: other people

Casey: is not telling you f*ck off and, and excuse my language.

[00:26:00] It’s not telling you to like to buzz off, dude is saying like, Hey, look at it this way. And that’s cool. Like get into it.

Vita Ayala: Yeah. And I think too, like there’s a larger conversation to be had about how like, you know, BiPAP people and queer people and fem people are all expected to be able to put themselves into the shoes of people that are very different than them most often, but not always you know, SIS.

Had white dudes, right? Not always, but often we are, you know, expected to be able to empathize and to connect with those characters. So why is it that when we ask the same, that there is friction and that’s a larger conversation that we don’t have to get into, but I think that part of it does go back to, you know, this idea that.

If we don’t, if we’re not exposed to people that are different than us, then we don’t understand that [00:27:00] they are people or how to interact with them. And so that, you know, to me is also a reason why I. I do the things I do. I, I’m actually very like terrible self esteem and I’m very shy. And I, you know, putting yourself out there in terms of making creative work is really nerve-wracking and really scary.

But it’s worth it to me because I want to go, no, like seeing we exist, even if statistically we’re not as much as other people we exist and we’re people too. And you should, you should. Be invited to see that we are people. Why shelter yourself?

Casey: Yes. Yes. Can we talk about the wilds a little bit?

Vita Ayala: Yeah, sure.

Casey: That comic is such a beautiful zombie apocalypse,

Vita Ayala: Emily Pearson and Marissa. Oh God.

Casey: Oh my goodness. How did you, how did that come about.

Vita Ayala: So the story core idea, which was very [00:28:00] different. I’ve been fiddling around with since college Salone, long, long time and. I was on Twitter one day and I saw this fan art for for Overwatch actually, funny enough I am a video game person as well.

And I was like, Oh, this is really cool. And I reached out to the artist and was like, I really like your stuff. And we became mutuals and we started talking and. We vibed, we just vibed real hard. So I think Emily is like one of the coolest people on the planet. She’s it? She was an actual infant. She was like 20, when she drew like the first issue, like bananas, I’m so much older than her.

I’m like, Oh, my bones are turning to dust. But we started talking and because it’s creator owned, we had all the time we needed to develop it. And also we were able to collaborate on like down to the studs kind of level.

Casey: Oh, nice.

Vita Ayala: And so, you know, my original idea was much more something closer to like the crazies.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen,

Casey: I’ve seen the crazy we’re

[00:29:00] Vita Ayala: we’re around the same age. So, but also like, you know, maybe that’s not your jam, but it was much closer to something like that, where it was this thing that would slowly like. It would give you this fever and your brain would, you know, go haywire and then you go ballistic.

But we were talking about story stuff, and I was like, Hey, what do you want to draw? Cause that’s like my that’s my number one question. When talking to a collaborator, especially creator and stuff, I’m like, what are you interested in doing? Because you have to do that. For a long time.

And she was like, well, I really like cute girls and nature and mutations. And I was like, it has cute girls. And I was like, all right, I got you give me like a week.

Casey: Nice.

Vita Ayala: And then we we started talking about like just imagery stuff. I think she showed me how to use Pinterest and we were like just dropping stuff in there.

And then I was. We were talking and she was like, Oh my mom’s a horticulturalist and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, Whoa, that’s so [00:30:00] cool. And so from that kind of dialogue came the idea that they should be beautiful and there should be a lot of botanical imagery and stuff like that. And like I went in and, and, and bullsh*t science to why it works.

I did a lot of research that no one will ever see. So it is not true, but like, it. Like star Trek is science fiction heavy on the science. But yeah, that’s, that’s where that came from. That’s how that kinda came about. The core of the story, which is, you know, about exploitation and about Suppression.

And also about just having the worst job on the floor, which anyone who is worked any public facing job will understand that stuff, all, all kind of was there. But you know, working with Emily, the characters really came to life and the world really came to life. And we realized that like we wanted it to have a different visual language then.

More traditionals on B stuff, which I love. I’m a big big horror person in general, but zombie [00:31:00] stuff scares the crap out of me. So I’m extra fascinated by it. But we thought, all right, well, what are the things that we’re interested in besides the sex flotation? Well, the idea that beautiful things can be.

Kind of the most viral or vicious in nature, right? Like poison dart. Frogs are hell of poison.

Casey: Oh yeah. But they’re beautiful. Look at they’re there.

Vita Ayala: They’re amazing. Exactly. There’s all kinds of, like, there are flowers that are either poisonous or they, you know, they look beautiful, but they smell putrid.

Like there’s all kinds of cool. Like nature is wild. And so we really wanted a hook going with that. And we also kind of like wanted to, this was something that really interested me. And then when we came together really became, yeah, something was, I wasn’t really interested in telling a fall of society story.

I was like people have done it way better than me when I was writing it. The walking dead was still coming out. Romero exists. Like I was like, the masters will take it. I can’t, I can’t [00:32:00] attempt to do that. Not with zombies anyway. You know, but what, what really interested me was kind of the aftermath, right?

When you have disaster. After the disaster as we have experienced you know, the world doesn’t stop. So what happens when we kind of pick ourselves up and start to settle back in who, you know, who has power, who, you know, what expectations are on people? How do we survive as a, as a society? So that was really what was interesting to me.

And so when working with Emily and bringing in all that nature stuff I really started thinking about how kind of a reclamation of the world by nature would also affect how people interacted and stuff like that. There’s all kinds of stuff that we didn’t get to put in the first arc that if we ever get a second arc, I’d be so interested in, in.

Exploring. There’s like a, a cult of people that live in the wilds who worship like the abominations and like [00:33:00] just all kinds of weird stuff.

Casey: And the, the, the art is so compelling. It, it literally just draws you in. You’re like, Oh, I have to figure out what this is about. It’s

Vita Ayala: really, really amazing. It’s so good.

She’s so, so good. And she’s only, you know, only gotten better, which is unfair because she’s so good already. But she, she also, Emily is someone who spends a lot of time doing studies. And, and really working on her craft. She is a very, very driven person. Like I wish I had that kind of motivation.

Casey: There is there like weightlifters. They, they go about it and they’re, they’re, you know, constantly honing their skills, you know, working on their muscles, getting, getting stuff done. And it’s, it’s really, you see when they put in the work.

Vita Ayala: It’s a joy too. Like I, every time I would get new pages back, it was such a pleasure.

I felt bad that I worked her so hard, a little longer each issue right. Than the [00:34:00] traditional single issue. So like I was, I was like, I’m sorry, I’m late.

Casey: I’m working on a comic with, with a good friend and every now and then he’ll, he’ll send me a page and I’m like, Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful. I wrote that while I was on the toilet.

Vita Ayala: You never know you could have drawn it while he was on the

Casey: test. But I mean, yeah, I mean, You made me feel better.

They’re a little bit more mobile now. They’re not, they’re not chained to a a drafting table anymore.

Vita Ayala: I have like an iPad pro and a pencil. And

Casey: so how did you, what, how did you get over to Marvel?

Vita Ayala: I, that is a good question. So I like Rosenberg. I did the DC workers workshop. And so I work at marble. No, I’m just kidding. No, I w I still do work with you today.

Casey: Yeah. You’ve done stuff with DC from the dark nights black metal thing.

Vita Ayala: Heck yeah.

And I would be able to do one of the dark multi-verse like. [00:35:00] Larger larger.

Casey: I heard a, a little hint of pride in that heck. Yeah. And it made me smile like a, like a moron.

Vita Ayala: I’m

Casey: happy with that.

Vita Ayala: You’re asking me to do wonder woman shorts and I’m like, I will do that for the rest of my life. Like I said, it was one of my very first comic book characters.

She means the world to me. She is like my third favorite character of all time. Like

Casey: I look, what’s your favorite run?

Vita Ayala: I really, really damn. This is hard. This is going to get

Casey: this. If you don’t want to like

Vita Ayala: character of Twitter. No, sorry. Controversially. I think probably Greg Original run is probably my favorite.

Although there have been a bajillion incredible runs.

Casey: I think

Vita Ayala: he’s amazing. He’s absolutely amazing, amazing writer. Amazing guy.

Casey: Yeah. Super nice dude.

Vita Ayala: Yeah.

Casey: I was worried cause he seemed kind of intense. Like in other interviews I’ve heard him one. So when I talked to him, I was like, Oh, my gosh, he’s going to think I’m a jackass and a moron.

And we talked for [00:36:00] like two hours almost super nice, dude.

Vita Ayala: Casey, you need to be nice to you.

Casey: I’m trying, I’m trying

Vita Ayala: affirmations every day,

Casey: so, but yeah, you you’re you’re. Work at you did Mobius or Morbius you did so many other things that Marvel and now you’re on the X books.

Vita Ayala: I, I am very lucky. My first Marvel work I believe was the fourth issue of the Marvel Knights, 20 mini-series which was A series that was worked on by other writers, such as, Oh, Donnie Cates ran it.

Like he was a show runner and then Matt Rosenberg and Teenie Howard, we all, we all went in which is super cool because

Casey: it was just,

Vita Ayala: well, you know, it’s funny because teeny, teeny and Matt, or I guess Matt, Matt’s the class. Right ahead of us, we call it classes like basically there are peer groups that kind of come up together and it’s almost like a class in like high school or college where like, You go, [00:37:00] Oh yeah, they’re the class before me or after me, I think Teenie and I are kind of in the same class.

I mean, she’s clearly much more prolific and super incredible. But also we kind of got in at the same time. And so like for us, we’re just kind of on the come up. And Rosenberg, like I said, was very, very kind and introducing me to, you know, everyone, he knew, whether it be. On the, you know, publishing cider and the creative side.

And that’s really how, like, that is really how comics work. Like it’s a lot of like networking kind of stuff. That’s how, you know, not all networking, like with the big end, but like, you know, just like hanging out or getting to know each other. And it’s like, Oh, you’re cool. I want to do a thing with you.

That’s how, you know, like how Emily and I were like, Oh, we both think each other is cool. And like, he showed this work, let’s work together. That’s kind of how it works.

Casey: Rosenberg seems just like. He loves comics. He loves the forum and he is, he is going to cheerlead that as much as [00:38:00] possible and our respect, the hell out of it.

There’s, there’s, nobody will ever replace Stan, but people like Rosenberg out there that are just like, This is the greatest art form ever. And I’m going to show you, and if not, I’m going to, I’m going to send you a comic and I will prove to you that it’s awesome.

Vita Ayala: I, you know, he was, he was an incredible advocate.

For comics working in the comic shop. And it was really something really great to watch because you’re right. Like he really loves comics so much. And he believes in them as a medium, not just to entertain, but to transform and to educate and to, to connect people. And, you know, for me, I, I just, I, you know, comics are for people who like group projects, if that makes sense.

And so like, That’s why you find friendships that are so lasting and so meaningful. And that’s why comics, people tend to know a lot of people [00:39:00] is because we really like, even if we’re introverts, I’m not, there are plenty of comics, people that are introverts, you know, at the end of the day, I really want to do is connect with people through this work.

So, yeah, Rosenberg’s one of the best, he’s a great hype man for comics and for creators. I mean, he, he does a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that like people that might not necessarily be looked back at it looked at. No one can guarantee any sort of work, but like, it really does go a long way to put someone’s book in front of someone or something like that.

And he’s very good at making connections.

Casey: That’s awesome. So quick question concerning your, your comic shop days, is there a title or a book in particular that you would, you would send to people like that you would go like, Hey, check this out.

Vita Ayala: You know, I got really good at the. Tailoring comic suggestions to people game.

This was a game that like we would just play all the time and try to get better and better the best that is clearly Matt Klein. If you’re listening to this [00:40:00] Matt Klein, he could sell a horse. It’s unlike that guy, true story. He would just pick a book every day and be like, I’m gonna sell this book out today.

And then he would do it. For me, I really, what interested me as a, as a, like a sales person, but also in. Life is, is getting people into a story. And so for me, the best way to do that is to be like, all right, what’s your favorite book? What’s your favorite TV show? Who’s your favorite character in general?

I’ll recommend something new based on this like alchemy. Right? So, you know, if we had someone that didn’t have a lot of experience with comics, you also have to keep in mind that reading comics is not like. It’s its own language.

Casey: Oh yeah. Yeah. And there’s a tactile experience there and yeah.

Vita Ayala: It’s like, and that’s it like, they’re like advanced comics, right?

Like you can’t like, it’s hard to hand someone I would want to. And I would sometimes anyway, but it’s hard to Hanselman strangers in paradise and just be like here, read this if they’ve never read a comic before, because the language of [00:41:00] comics is, is something that isn’t just read texts. Look at picture.

Casey: Yeah,

Vita Ayala: but, you know, I, stringent paradise is always a go-to for me. He liked crime books, romance. Yeah. He’s also just a phenomenal human being. I I’m super into Hellboy. Hellboy is one of my favorite book Hellboy into someone’s hands, like, or be PRD, like I’m super into that. Y the last man was also another one that I was just.

You know, I just love that book so much. But mostly I would ask people what they were into and then kind of go through my mental Rolodex. See, I’m also in my late thirties,

Casey: you know what a roll with their

Vita Ayala: kids. They don’t know. So, yeah, but like if I had to pick a book out of a hat, like if we’re talking, you know, do you see, then it’s probably going to be something like Gotham central, right.

If we’re talking like indie stuff, it’ll be something like, hell boy, if you want more superhero or supernatural stuff or something like strangers in paradise [00:42:00] or wide last man, if you’re looking for something that’s a little more grounded, even though why wise what’s what collegic If we’re talking Marvel, I mean, that’s a hard one, but like, it depends because Marvel it’s like, I don’t know.

Do you like super powers or do you like not super bad? So, yeah, there’s, there’s a couple of books that I like to recommend to people, but generally I like to, to be, as I customize it as much as possible, because I want people to leave happy and then come back and talk to me about comics.

Vita Ayala talks working on the X-Men books and More! (Part 1) (2024)
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