by Abbie Willans
One of the rising stars in the comic industry, Charles Soule, visited Ball State this weekend. He discussed his work at the Kitselman Center on Friday with students in the Religion and Comics immersive learning course and signed books at Aw Yeah Comics (formerly Alter Ego Comics) the following day.
Soule says that the majority of comments and criticisms he receives are about Death of Wolverine, one of his more recent works. He was somewhat nervous about how the fans would react to his book, given the amount of prominent authors who have also written for Wolverine (including Jason Aaron who visited Muncie last October). He knew that the element of surprise would not be that Wolverine died, but in the way he died. Soule wanted to do justice to the popular character.
“Comic readers are very difficult to please. You have to write for yourself,” said Soule. He told the class that some fans were upset he killed Wolverine at all, despite the fact that Marvel made that decision and simply gave him the opportunity to write how it happened.
“When you make the leap from doing an indie book to a character that has been around for a while that’s owned by Marvel or DC, it’s like you’re in the major leagues. You can really nail it and have a lifetime career or tank it and never get a second shot,” he said.
Death of Wolverine is far from being Soule’s first work. He recently finished writing 12 issues of She-Hulk. It’s one of the few titular female superheroes in comics with a loyal fan base, many of whom were distraught to find out the series was ending.
“I have a daughter and I really wanted to give her something that she could read,” Soule stated. This sentiment seems to be shared by a number of parents on Twitter; there is even a live tweeting event going on right now for Soule’s run on She-Hulk, using #12DaysofSheHulk. It will last twelve days and ends when the final issue of the series is released on February 18.
“It’s important that books like this continue to be made. I’m very proud of [She-Hulk],” Soule said.
In the series, She-Hulk is a lawyer who uses her wits just as much as her fists to help her clients and save the day. She breaks typical gender stereotypes in comic books by being independent and confident in her appearance without being hypersexualized.
“She doesn’t need fellas to tell her that she’s cool,” he said. “She knows she’s cool.”
Soule is currently writing Inhuman, a story about seemingly normal humans who develop superpowers after being exposed to an alien mist. Marvel is set to release a film about them in 2019.
He has also written for DC Comics, including characters such as Swamp Thing,Superman and Wonder Woman.
Soule started out writing his own stories, one of which is being turned into a television show. Letter 44 is a science fiction story in which the new president of the United States learns there are aliens in space and a team is sent out to learn more about them. It’s set to appear on SyFy, but no premiere date has been announced. According to Comics Alliance, the first episode of the show will be written and directed by Jonathan Mostow.
While giving advice to some aspiring comic book writers, he said to shorten things as much as possible.
“If you can’t do it in two sentences, you can’t do it in three pages, either,” he said.
In the opening page of She-Hulk, the “jade giantess” says that “No one is only one thing.” Readers can see this portrayed in nearly all of Soule’s characters and stories, and in the writer himself.
Before he wrote comics, Soule wrote two novels that were never published. He started out as a musician but decided to become a lawyer after attending Columbia University. He still practices law whenever he isn’t writing comics and his lawyer experiences inspire many of the stories in She-Hulk.
“To become a professional in any creative medium is very difficult. You need to really want it and be really good,” he said.
It took almost ten years before any of Soule’s writings were published, but he feels that all his hard work was worth it.
Readers can buy his work on Comixology or can pick up physical copies at Aw Yeah Comics, where Soule’s books are 50% off if you buy one at full price.