David M. Booher is an openly gay comics writer having hit the national scene in March with his comic Powerless from Vault Comics with illustrator Nathan C. Gooden and letterer Deron Bennett. I got the chance to talk with David about his breaking into comics and what's inspired him as an LGBT comics creator. As a sidenote, I'm jealous that he has the same initials as David Bowie.
JC: Last month was your national debut as a comics writer so the comics community at large is still getting to know you. How would you like to introduce yourself to them? What's the elevator pitch for David Booher?
DB: Where do I start? How about this: I’m just a regular guy desperately trying to look cooler than I am. I grew up in Ohio and now live in Los Angeles with my husband of ten years and our adopted greyhound. I’m a lawyer by day but don’t hold that against me. I love sci-fi and horror and everything 80’s. When I’m not reading, writing, or working, you can find me running half marathons. Mostly Disney-themed. And if you see me at a convention, please say hello. I’ll be cool. Promise.
JC: Nothing wrong with being a lawyer by day. It works for Charles Soule. So what's your writing background like? Was writing comics always your goal or did it change over time?
DB: I only recently came into comics as a regular reader—probably in the last ten years or so. Just about that same time I started writing seriously. I didn’t really set out to write comics. Instead, my first writing attempts were three terrible, terrible novels. But, hey, I finished them, and I thought maybe, just maybe...I could actually do this. Then I wrote some screenplays and teleplays. Still not great, but getting better. During this time, I came up with the idea for my comic Powerless. When I began to understand the storytelling potential in comics, the story absolutely took off. Now I have the freedom to do so many crazy and awesome things. It’s made me love comics even more. I’m still a long way from being the writer I want to be, but each script gets me a little bit closer.
JC: As you’re an openly gay comic writer I wanted to ask you about the stories that inspired you. What was one of the first stories you read or watched when you were young with queer elements either perceived or intentional that stuck with you?
DB: When I was young, I was a total library rat. I lived in a small town in Ohio and I could walk or ride my bike there. I’d go through the shelves and find every sci-fi and horror book I could, scurry into a corner, and get lost. Once I found this totally obscure book of young adult short stories...I think it was called “Am I Blue?” I can’t remember most of the details, but all the stories existed in this world where gay people literally turned blue. We can talk for days about all the subtle and not-so-subtle commentary in that. But to my young brain, the idea was horrifying and thrilling all at once—What if I turned blue? But...who else would turn blue? Decades later, I still think about that blue world.
JC: Oh wow! I don't think I know that book. I'll have to check it out. Anyway, who are some of the queer writers whose work inspires you?
DB: There are so many great queer writers out there! Steve Orlando’s recent stories with ]Midnighter and Apollo](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnighter_and_Apollo) for DC have been excellent. To see one of the big two embrace a gay couple without holding anything back gives me hope we’ll see a more inclusive future for mainstream comics. I also have to mention my buddy Natasha Alterici, who created, writes, and draws Heathen from Vault Comics. She’s as awesome as she is talented. Talk about inspiration.
JC: We love Steve here at Geeks OUT! And I've been reading Natasha's Heathen. Great stuff! So how is your approach to writing influenced by being a gay man? What are some things you keep in mind as you approach developing certain characters and stories as a result of that?
DB: Being gay isn’t something I necessarily think about when I create characters and stories. Like many writers, though, lots of things from my background end up on the page, whether I plan that or not. I do make a conscious decision to write gay characters because we need more of them. They also reflect my own experience and the real world. At least at a subconscious level, I also think the insecurity and uncertainty I felt at various points in my life help me bring some depth to all my characters.
JC: Your debut comic series, Powerless, through Vault Comics just had it’s second issue released today. Tell us a bit about Powerless and what about it would appeal to the Geeks OUT readership.
DB: Powerless flips the idea of superpowers on its head. Every single person on the planet has some extraordinary ability, but a virus is spreading that takes away those powers. Using elite agents, the government has instituted Quarantine, and the infected are starting to violently fight back. Our main characters find themselves caught right in the middle.
Under all the powers and explosions and drama, though, Powerless is about fear of difference and the struggle to find a place in a world that seems overwhelming and hostile and foreign. Queer or not, we’ve all felt different and weak and helpless, especially with the horrible things happening all around us on a daily basis. Against this backdrop, Powerless asks: What is power and how do we find it?
JC: It’s obvious to anyone that’s read Powerless that diversity is important to you. How do you fit diversity and intersectionality into your comics while keeping the comic authentic? Does it involve personal experience, research, or both?
DB: There was no question for me but to include a diverse cast. Powerless exists in a world as complex as ours, and diversity is a crucial part of that. On top of all the social constructs based on race and gender and sexual identity, though, it’s been fascinating to create a society also defined by the type and strength of the superpower you have. And then I throw in a class infected with a virus that takes away their powers, which becomes yet another thing that separates their world into an “us” and a “them.” I’m excited for readers to see how that plays out, and perhaps how it reflects our own world.
JC: Since it’s early in your professional writing career, do you feel you need to strike a balance between writing stories that appeal to the LGBT community and writing stories that would be considered more accessible to a cishet white audience? Any worries of being pigeonholed as an LGBT writer?
DB: Luckily, because I’m just starting out, I haven’t felt any pressure to tell a particular type of story or appeal to a particular audience. I’ve loved Powerless since the moment I began to write it down, and it was the story I wanted to tell. I’ve definitely been thinking about others stories that might be more specifically LGBT-focused. But for me, it’s all about finding the characters and stories I fall in love with. That gives me the best chance to get readers to fall in love with them, too.
JC: Do you have any other projects on the horizon we should be on the lookout for?
DB: Powerless #2 hits shelves everywhere today; #3 hits in May and #4 hits in June. Alien Bounty Hunter, a fun new sci-fi series from Vault Comics I co-wrote with [Adrian Wassel] with art by Nick Robles, will be in shops starting in July. And a Twilight Zone-esque short story I wrote called “Fold” will appear in a Vegas-themed comic anthology from Red Stylo Media called “The Strip,” due out this fall. Beyond that, my lips are sealed. There I go again, trying to look cool.
Powerless #2 is available in comic book shops today!