San Francisco-based artist Kevin Wada takes center stage in this edition of Gallery of Geek. From Marvel’s X-Men and She-Hulk to DC’s Harley Quinn and the Image Comics hit Saga, fans have been geeking out over this amazing out gay artist who playfully mixes his love of fashion with his devotion to superheroes.
The Advocate: What inspires you to create?
Kevin Wada: I suppose, mainly fashion … and people — striking people, stylish people. My main impulse is to draw the human form, usually adorned in something eye-catching. I currently inhabit a part in the comic book scene, but even there, none of my work can quite escape my desire to draw pretty people in pretty clothing.
Does being queer influence your artwork?
It most definitely does, especially in the line of work I'm currently in. Comics are a boys’ game, and the industry is definitely shifting to become more inclusive, especially toward women. I enjoy being able to contribute work that is more than T&A — work that focuses on the agency of the female character, her personality and abilities, as well as her incredible style. Being queer gives me the outsider perspective in this comic world and keeps me attuned to the desires and thought processes of viewers beyond that of the straight male. The male perspective is pervasive as hell, and I enjoy helping to buck some trends in this industry.
What was your gateway art drug into the world of geek culture?
Probably my cousin's comics. We were buds growing up and I looked up to him quite a bit. He read comics and played with wrestling figures and did all the things that boys do, and I was able to latch on to comics in a very casual way. I knew the characters and the stories but only got my hands on a few copies here and there. I honestly had no idea I would end up working in the industry, but I've always enjoyed comic culture, genre cinema, and lots of things "geek." I've always felt like a satellite orbiting the planet geek. I really enjoy it and I think I'm making a place for myself in this world, hopefully.
What geeky things are you currently obsessed with?
She-Hulk, obvi. Really enjoying the angle we get to play with her. Coming up with fab lawyer duds has been a ball. Does Drag Race count? I realize it's pretty mainstream gay, but drag culture is a niche culture. I love that show so much. I want to be a pretty girl so bad.
How did the She-Hulk cover gig come about?
I was just doing my own thing, creating fashionable X-Men illustrations on my own time, when the writer of X-Men bought a print from my online store. I assume my name was passed along to the editors, and then I landed an X-Men variant cover for their first issue. Several months passed with no new word from Marvel and then bam! They dropped She-Hulk in my lap and the rest is history. I had the right look and sentiment in my work for the angle they were trying to achieve on the character and I couldn't be happier that the glass slipper fit.
You must have a favorite superhero character, right? Who might it be?
I would have to go with Storm. She's a goddess, she's a queen, she's a rebel and a leader. She's strong and ferocious and beautiful and has been reinterpreted so many times that she makes for a joy to draw. Hands down, Storm.
Take a look at Wada’s work below and to see more from this talented artist, visit his Tumblr page.