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Shapeshifting along America's fault lines with G. Willow Wilson and Ms. Marvel

Comic books are more popular now than they’ve ever been. Sales have been on the rise for years and keep climbing. They are also experiencing growth in diversity. One indication is the character Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel.

Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager, a shapeshifter and a Muslim. One of her primary creators is the Seattle-based author Willow Wilson. (The G is silent.)

Bringing a young woman, a person of color and a practicing Muslim into the superhero fold has been both a huge success and a substantial challenge. Not all comic book fans applauded the move. Negative trolling has been common.

In this conversation, Wilson discusses how she became the person who could re-incarnate a modern Ms. Marvel. She was raised an atheist and converted to Islam. She lived in Egypt in her 20’s where she worked as a journalist. Her experience highlights cultural progress and setbacks in the realms of diversity, religious tolerance and gender equality.

Willow Wilson spoke with KUOW’s Jamala Henderson and took questions from the audience at The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute on October 23. Humanities Washington hosted the conversation. Jennie Cecil Moore recorded the discussion.

Listen to the full version below:

Year started with KUOW: 2006