G. Willow Wilson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
G. Willow Wilson
G. Willow Wilson 2020.jpg
Wilson in 2019
BornGwendolyn Willow Wilson
(1982-08-31) August 31, 1982 (age 39)
New Jersey, United States
Area(s)Writer, Artist
Notable works
Cairo, Air, Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel
AwardsHugo Award, World Fantasy Award
Spouse(s)Omar Haggag

Gwendolyn Willow Wilson (born August 31, 1982) is an American comics writer, prose author, essayist, and journalist. Her first graphic novel, Cairo (published by Vertigo in 2007), was written after living for a time in Egypt, and was listed as a top graphic novel for teens. She is well known for relaunching the Ms. Marvel title for Marvel Comics starring a 16-year-old Muslim superhero named Kamala Khan.

Early life[edit]

Wilson was born on August 31, 1982 in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and grew up in Morganville.[1][2] Wilson lived in the county until she was 12.[3] However, in an interview with Newsrama in 2013, she erroneously said she was born in Morris County and spent the first ten years of her life there.[4] Her parents were atheists who renounced Protestantism in the late 1960s,[1] hence Wilson was not raised in a religious household. Wilson first encountered comics when she read an anti-smoking pamphlet featuring the X-Men in the fifth grade. The characters fascinated her and she began watching the cartoon X-Men every Saturday.[5] Two years later she and her family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where Wilson continued to pursue her interest in comics and other forms of popular culture such as tabletop role-playing games.

Conversion to Islam[edit]

Later in her life, Wilson attended Boston University to pursue a degree in history. During her sophomore year, Wilson began experiencing adrenal problems from a Depo-Provera shot[6] and the associated discomfort resulted in her studying a number of religions, including Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Wilson first considered converting to Judaism because she admired the idea of "the indivisible God who is one and whole", but "it was created for a single tribe of people." (This is taken from her memoir of her time in Egypt, The Butterfly Mosque.[1]) After studying Judaism she focused on Islam, which appealed to her because "to become a Muslim is sort of a deal between you and God."[7] The 9/11 terrorist attack set back her religious studies – fearing she had misjudged the religion – but she later resumed her studies.[5]

In 2003, shortly before her graduation, Wilson agreed to teach English in Cairo. During the plane journey, Wilson converted to Islam; claiming she "made peace with God. I called him Allah." According to Butterfly Mosque, upon arrival in Cairo, Wilson secretly practiced Islam but after becoming engaged to an Egyptian she began to practice it more openly. She and her roommate resided in Tura, a district in Cairo, Egypt, and they initially had a difficult time purchasing food in their new environment. The pair soon met a physics teacher named Omar who offered to show them around and act as a cultural guide. Months later, Wilson and Omar became engaged.[8] Later, she moved with him back to the United States, with Wilson returning to her writing career, and Omar becoming a legal advocate for refugees.[7]


Wilson's writing career began from her work as a freelance music critic for DigBoston.[9] After moving to Cairo, she contributed articles to the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and the National Post.[10] She was also a regular contributor to the now-defunct Egyptian opposition weekly Cairo Magazine. Wilson was the first Western journalist to be granted a private interview with Ali Gomaa after his promotion to the position of Grand Mufti of Egypt.[11] Additionally, Wilson released a memoir titled The Butterfly Mosque about life in Egypt during the Mubarak regime, which was named a Seattle Times Best Book of 2010.[9]

Her first graphic novel, Cairo, with art by M.K. Perker, was published by Vertigo in 2007,[10] and named one of the best graphic novels of 2007 by Publishers Weekly, The Edmonton Journal/CanWest News, and Comics Worth Reading.[12] The paperback edition of Cairo was named one of Best Graphic Novels for High School Students in 2008 by School Library Journal, and one of 2009's Top Ten Graphic Novels for Teens by the American Library Association.[13]

Her first ongoing comic series, Air, launched by Vertigo in 2008[14][15] reunited her with Perker, and was nominated for an Eisner Award for 'Best New Series' of 2009.[16] NPR named Air one of the top comics of 2009,[17] and it also received acclaim from the Fairfield Weekly, Comic Book Resources,[18] Marie Claire,[19] and Library Journal.[20] Other works for DC include fill-in issues #704 and 706 of Superman, the five-issue mini-series Vixen: Return of the Lion, starring the Justice League member Vixen with art by CAFU,[21][22][23] and The Outsiders.

Wilson then wrote Mystic (2011), a four-issue miniseries for Marvel Comics with art by David Lopez. Although a CrossGen revival, Willow's Mystic bears little resemblance to its previous incarnation.

Her debut novel Alif the Unseen (Grove/Atlantic) won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for best novel.[24][25][26]

In 2014, Marvel debuted a new Ms. Marvel series written by Wilson. The book stars Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenager living in Jersey City, New Jersey, who takes up the mantle after the previous Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, took up the name Captain Marvel.

In November 2018, Wilson began writing Wonder Woman from DC Comics. The character battles Ares in an arc entitled "The Just War."[27]

Her March 2019 novel, The Bird King,[28] tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret: he can draw maps of places he's never seen and bend the shape of reality.

In 2020, she is writing The Dreaming from DC Comics, with art by Nick Robles and starting with issue #19.[29] The series is part of The Sandman Universe.

Creating Kamala Khan[edit]

Wilson had already had a few forays into the comic book industry, having worked on titles such as Superman and Vixen previously.[30][31] She received an email for an interview with David Gabriel, a senior vice-president at Marvel Entertainment.[1] By that point Wilson was almost finished with her second novel, but she took the time to speak with him. Shortly thereafter she was offered to co-create a new version of Ms. Marvel named Kamala Khan alongside Sana Amanat, a director and editor at Marvel Entertainment. The process of crafting Kamala was detailed, both artists wished to create a teenage Muslim American girl. Before settling on her Pakistani heritage the two debated the idea of making her a Somali American girl.[32] While creating Kamala as a character the duo expected negativity, not just from people who were anti-Muslim, but also from Muslims who believed Kamala should be portrayed in a certain way.[33] The crafting also focused on smaller details, Wilson did not believe Kamala should have worn a hijab due to a majority of teenage Muslim American girls not wearing them.[32] Despite their initial fears, Kamala was received positively. Some sources described her as easy to relate to, even likening her to a modern day Peter Parker.[34][35] Others even viewed Kamala as a symbol for equality and representation among different religions.[36]

Authenticity and realism[edit]

In 2017 Marvel's Vice President of Print and Sales participated in an interview with online magazine ICv2 where he suggested that, based on retailer feedback, Marvel's sales were being hurt by a lack of enthusiasm for diversity and female characters.[37] Following this, Wilson pushed back against the sentiment with her own perspective on the success and failure of "diverse" characters. She argued that the driving force behind Ms. Marvel's success was "authenticity and realism" instead of diversity; she proposed that diversity was not inherently additive to stories because it is not creating a new world but simply representative of the existing world, and that "diverse" properties that were successful were successful because of their "particularity" and "strong sense of place." Wilson cited Luke Cage, Black Panther, and Batgirl as additional examples.[38] Wilson later expanded on her vision of authenticity and realism by acknowledging the perspective that "photo-op diversity" did not actually address any institutional problems. As such, she claimed that "stories that focus on authenticity and specific experiences can be very successful because it's not about box checking. It's about reflecting — as closely as you can in pulp fiction — a real lived experience." Wilson stated that stories that can do that successfully tend to succeed with very solid fanbases, while those that don't tend to fail and as such their criticism "inevitably becomes about the diversity issue when the real cause may be diversity done poorly."[39]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson lives in Seattle with her husband, where they moved in 2007.[7] His name is Omar Haggag.[40] She has two daughters.[1][41]


Award wins[edit]


  • 2009 – Eisner Awards—Best New Series: Air, by G. Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker (Vertigo/DC) (nomination)[48]
  • 2012 – Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize—First Novel (Finalist): Alif the Unseen[49]
  • 2013 – Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction—Fiction (Nominee): Alif the Unseen[50]
  • 2013 – John W. Campbell Memorial Award—Novel (Third Place): Alif the Unseen[51]
  • 2013 – Locus Award—First Novel (Nominee): Alif the Unseen[52]
  • 2015 – Eisner Awards: Best New Series: Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (Marvel) (nomination)[53]
  • 2015 – Eisner Awards: Best Writer (nomination)[53]
  • 2015 – Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity: Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (Marvel) (nomination)[54]
  • 2015 – Harvey Awards: Best Writer (nomination)[55]
  • 2015 – Harvey Awards: Best New Series: Ms. Marvel (nomination)[55]
  • 2016 – Eisner Awards: Best Writer[56]



AiT/Planet Lar[edit]

  • Negative Burn vol. 2 #7–10, "Aces" (with Shannon Eric Denton and Curtis Square-Briggs collected in Aces: Curse Of The Red Baron (tpb, 112 pages, 2008 ISBN 1-932051-52-X)

Dark Horse Comics/Berger Books[edit]

  • Invisible Kingdom #1–present (with Christian Ward, October 2019-ongoing)

DC Comics[edit]

  • Cairo (graphic novel, with M.K. Perker, hc, 160 pages, November 2007 ISBN 1-4012-1140-2)
  • Air (August 2008 – August 2010)
    • Volume 1: Letters from Lost Countries (tpb, 144 pages, 2009, ISBN 1-4012-2153-X) collects:
      • "Letters from Lost Countries" (with M.K. Perker, in #1–3, 2008)
      • "Masks and Other Memories" (with M.K. Perker, in #4, 2008)
      • "The Engine Room" (with M.K. Perker, in #5, 2008)
    • Volume 2: Flying Machine (tpb, 128 pages, 2009, ISBN 1-4012-2483-0) collects:
      • "The Secret Life of Maps" (with M.K. Perker, in #6, 2009)
      • "The Picture of Zayn al Harrani" (with M.K. Perker, in #7, 2009)
      • "Her Own Devices" (with M.K. Perker, in #8, 2009)
      • "Mass Transit" (with M.K. Perker, in #9, 2009)
      • "Place of the Egrets" (with M.K. Perker, in #10, 2009)
    • Volume 3: Pureland (tpb, 168 pages, 2010, ISBN 1-4012-2706-6) collects:
      • "Sweet as the Tongue" (with M.K. Perker, in #11, 2009)
      • "Pureland" (with M.K. Perker, in #12–14, 2009)
      • "Air Heart" (with M.K. Perker, in #15, 2009)
      • "Infinite Shades" (with M.K. Perker, in #16, 2009)
      • "The Picture of Blythe Alice Cameron" (with M.K. Perker, in #17, 2010)
    • Volume 4: A History of the Future (tpb, 168 pages, 2011, ISBN 1-4012-2983-2) collects:
      • "Reveille" (with M.K. Perker, in #18, 2010)
      • "A History of the Future" (with M.K. Perker, in #19–21, 2010)
      • "Wild Blue Yonder" (with M.K. Perker, in #22, 2010)
      • "Dogfight!" (with M.K. Perker, in #23, 2010)
      • "The Last Horizon" (with M.K. Perker, in #24, 2010)
  • The Unexpected, "Dogs" (anthology, with Robbi Rodriguez, October 2011) collected in The Unexpected (tpb, 160 pages, 2013, ISBN 1-4012-4394-0)

Marvel Comics[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e Tolentino, Jia (April 29, 2017). "The Writer Behind a Muslim Marvel Superhero on Her Faith in Comics". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  2. ^ "Jersey City to feature heavily in new Marvel comic book, writer says". nj.com. November 8, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  3. ^ Wilson, G. Willow (February 27, 2018). "A Jew and a Muslim Walk Into a Comic Book Shop. The Proprietor Hands Them a Sandwich". Orthodox Union (Interview). Interviewed by Rabbi Jack Abramowitz. Retrieved February 8, 2021.
  4. ^ "G. Willow Wilson's New MS. MARVEL – Teen, Muslim, Jersey Girl, Fangirl!". Newsarama. November 6, 2013. Archived from the original on September 16, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Wilson, G. Willow (March 25, 2015). "Islam Sci-fi Interview of G. Willow Wilson (Part I)". Islam and Science Fiction (Interview). Interviewed by Rebecca Hankins. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "'The Butterfly Mosque' by G. Willow Wilson". The Denver Post. June 3, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c Wilson, G. Willow (June 20, 2010). "Beneath the veil". Boston.com (Interview). Interviewed by Ideas. Seattle. Written by Lisa Wangsness. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Wilson, G. Willow (Fall 2010). "Heart and Soul". Bostonia (Interview). Interviewed by Bostonia. Seattle: Boston University. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "ACRL 2015 keynote speakers announced". American Library Association. September 15, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Newsarama.com[dead link]
  11. ^ "The Show-Me Sheikh". The Atlantic. November 20, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  12. ^ "Comicsworthreading.com". January 4, 2008. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  13. ^ "2009 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens". Young Adult Library Services Association. 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  14. ^ Newsarama[dead link]
  15. ^ "G. Willow Wilson talks "Air"". Comic Book Resources. July 7, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  16. ^ "2009 Eisner Award Nominees Named". Newsarama. April 7, 2009. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  17. ^ Glen Weldon (December 30, 2009). "2009: The Comics That Clung : Monkey See". NPR. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  18. ^ "Best 100 Comics of 2008: Master List". Comic Book Resources. January 4, 2009. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  19. ^ Sturtz, Rachel (September 8, 2009). "Air by G. Willow Wilson – Graphic Novel Air Review". Marie Claire. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  20. ^ "Libraryjournal.com". November 15, 2009. Archived from the original on August 6, 2011. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  21. ^ "VIXEN: RETURN OF THE LION #1". DC Comics. October 1, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  22. ^ "Talking to G. Willow Wilson – Air, Vixen and More". Newsarama. August 21, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  23. ^ "G. Willow Wilson talks "Vixen"". Comic Book Resources. September 10, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  24. ^ "Wfc2013.org". Archived from the original on August 3, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  25. ^ "Announcing the 2013 World Fantasy Award Winners". Tor.com. November 3, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  26. ^ "Alif the Unseen". Aliftheunseen.co.uk. Archived from the original on May 16, 2014.
  27. ^ "A New Wonder Woman Wonders Whether War is Ever Worth It". Vogue. November 26, 2018.
  28. ^ The Bird King | Grove Atlantic.
  29. ^ "NYCC '19: G. Willow Wilson and Nick Robles take over THE DREAMING". The Beat. October 5, 2019.
  30. ^ "Wilson Gets Grounded on "Superman" #704". CBR. October 19, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  31. ^ "GCD :: Issue :: Vixen: Return of the Lion #1". Comics.org. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  32. ^ a b Wilson, G. Willow (November 14, 2016). "Interview: G. Willow Wilson on Ms. Marvel and the Muslim-American Experience". Comics Bulletin (Interview). Interviewed by Ardo Omer. Archived from the original on December 2, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  33. ^ Gustines, George Gene (November 5, 2013). "Marvel Comics Introducing a Muslim Girl Superhero". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  34. ^ Berlatsky, Noah (March 20, 2014). "What Makes the Muslim Ms. Marvel Awesome: She's Just Like Everyone". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  35. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (November 21, 2014). "Between the Panels: Why Ms. Marvel Is the New Spider-Man". IGN. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  36. ^ "This Muslim-American superhero has become a real-world protest icon". Vox. February 2, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  37. ^ Gabriel, David (March 30, 2017). "Marvel's David Gabriel on the 2016 Market Shift". icv2.com (Interview). Interviewed by ICv2. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  38. ^ "So About That Whole Thing". G. Willow Wilson. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  39. ^ Wilson, G. Willow (May 26, 2017). "FREQ #15: G. Willow Wilson: Diversity is Realism". Feminist Frequency. Interviewed by Laura Hudson. Medium. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  40. ^ Josh Lawton (photographer) (October 7, 2007). Daily Camera Archives (Photograph). Boulder, Colorado: Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images. Boulder City Council nominee Ken Wilson shows initial ballot returns for the special election to replace the late Tom Eldridge to his son-in-law, Omar Haggag, left, and daughter, Willow Wilson, during an election party at the Redfish Brewhouse in Boulder on Tuesday evening.
  41. ^ Wilson, Ken (October 9, 2011). "Ken Wilson: Boulder City Council" (Interview). Interviewed by Daily Camera. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  42. ^ "Middle East Book Award Winners Youth Literature". FictionDB. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  43. ^ "2013 Pacific Northwest Book Awards Announced". NW Book Lovers. January 7, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  44. ^ "World Fantasy Awards – Complete Listing". World Fantasy Convention. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  45. ^ Hautain, Frederik (December 22, 2014). "Broken Frontier Awards 2014: Announcing the Winners, Women and Image Dominate – Broken Frontier". Broken Frontier. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  46. ^ Colin Dwyer (August 23, 2015). "Hugo Awards: Amid A Hubbub At The Hugos, 'Puppies' See Little Success : The Two-Way". NPR. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  47. ^ "EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: G. Willow Wilson accepts the second annual Dwayne McDuffie Diversity in Comics Award for MS. MARVEL". Comicsbeat.com (Video). February 21, 2016.
  48. ^ "2009 Eisner Award Nominees Announced". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  49. ^ "The Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize". Archived from the original on June 15, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  50. ^ "WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION ANNOUNCES 2013 LONGLIST". Women's Prize for Fiction. March 13, 2013. Archived from the original on January 23, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  51. ^ "John W. Campbell Memorial Award 2013". science fiction awards database. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  52. ^ "Locus Online News » 2013 Locus Awards Finalists". Locus. May 8, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  53. ^ a b "DC, Marvel & Fantagraphics Top 2014 Eisner Award Nominations". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  54. ^ "'Ms. Marvel,' 'Shaft' among Dwayne McDuffie Diversity Award finalists". Los Angeles Times. February 18, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  55. ^ a b "2015 Harvey Awards Nominees Announced". Comic Book Resources. July 14, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  56. ^ "2016 Eisner Award Nominees". Comic-con.org. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016.

External links[edit]