How did one of the world’s foremost superhero comic authors become a fan of the Sounders? Well, he starts with Ted Lasso, and then he moves on to Sunderland ‘Til I Die, and then it’s Kelyn Rowe scoring his first goal for the local club of his boyhood. As his teammates harass him, the crowd chants “2-5-3.” At the time, G. Willow Wilson only felt the power and excitement of the team backing the local boy who had returned, but then her fandom grew and expanded, and now she has no hesitation in saying she’s one of us: she’s a Sounder. part of this community.
Wilson joined the Sounder at Heart podcast to talk about his journey into football fandom, and especially Seattle football. A journey that unlocked his ability to write again. Like so many, the stresses of the pandemic had reduced his writing, his normalcy.
Then I saw this, you know, that Sounders game, and it was like a rubber band snapped on my head. And suddenly I thought, oh, I remember how to make this work. And it was really, it was phenomenal, you know, I don’t want to derail things in one of these ‘football saved me’ stories that we all seem to have, but it was sort of.
From that hour-long discussion with Willow, there are two main themes about soccer: player art that comics can’t recreate, and the nature of community.
There’s this photo, and again, I don’t know who took it and I’ll forget what game it was from, but it was last season when someone took this beautiful photo of Raúl Ruidíaz because they were right. kick the ball with your foot. And it doesn’t look like he’s tied to the ground. It looks like you dropped him from the sky and he is landing on the ball. And I watch him two or three times a week because he reminds me that there are still things that art hasn’t touched yet, where real life exceeds our ability to replicate it in art. And to me, that’s really exciting. I think when you’re a storyteller, especially a visual storyteller, you’re always looking for ways to push back the horizon a little bit and say, “This is what I’m chasing.”
There is a moment when the forwards open their bodies in this incredible contrapposto. They all do it, but somehow only Raúl does it like that, as if he were physically descending from Mount Olympus to teach mortals about fire. pic.twitter.com/MfDArTOtdp
– Poison Ivy #1 available now (@GWillowWilson) January 27, 2022
Willow knows a bit about communities and fandom. She has written Air, Ms. Marvel, Sandman, Batman, Poison Ivy, and much, much more. Now in the mainstream, her work with Ms. Marvel is getting noticed again, as it’s her version of Ms. Marvel, her origin story, that inspired that Disney+ show.
Someone joked that Ms. Marvel’s real superpowers are her friends. And I was like, “No, it’s true.” And that’s one of her legitimate superpowers. You know, that was a very important thing for me as a writer, starting with that series is that really one of her superpowers is her community.
She sees soccer teams as part of the comedic team tradition, and specifically says that the Sounders would be the Uncanny X-Men. The group has to work together, and the coach, like the writer, has to find a way to introduce them all.
Having joined the Sounders community just under a year ago, Wilson has embraced Rave Green on Twitter and in podcasts (he mentioned listening to three other non-Sounder at Heart pods in the last week). That expanded into an interest in OL Reign. The focused dedication and generally supportive nature of the Seattle football fan is what stands out to her the most.
Having been involved in many different fandoms over the years, as part of my job, I have to say that Sounders fans are incredibly disciplined, which might seem like a strange thing to say. You know, everybody complains, there’s criticism, that’s a normal part of life, but having seen and been part of fandoms of things that melt, he’s incredibly disciplined, incredibly focused.
For those of us with over a decade following the club, like the SaH staff, it was a good reminder of the goodness of the Sounders. We are in this special moment when the MVP of the winning team of the Concacaf Champions League can wear his medals and walk on a ferry back to his house.
Stefan Frei just talked to Jeremiah Oshan about it.
Wilson is now headlining conventions with six-figure attendance. She has seen the change that occurs with the growth of the fandom and still cherishes those times when she attends a smaller convention, like her recent trip back to New Jersey for exactly that.
Sounders fans should cherish these moments while the club is a trophy behemoth and the players are still with us.
The club will get bigger, the velvet ropes will appear behind which, you know, important people sit. This is how it happens when something grows. And you know, I think that’s good. Growth is good, but people will miss it. Like, this is this moment in time that I think is really special. Once it gets big and unwieldy, it’s hard to go back to it.
There’s a freedom to just being a fan. With superhero comics, she started out as a fan, but is now a writer with significant credits. Football and the Sounders give him some room to be.
The fun thing about football for me is that I’m just a fan. I get to be a fan in a way that I haven’t been able to be of superhero comics or some of this other stuff in a long time. That’s really cathartic, just being a fan.
When asked what kinds of Sounders stories she still wants to hear, Willow noted that she’s diving into that right now as she explores the Sounders’ origin story in MLS. she is currently reading Sounders FC: true masterpiece by Mike Gastineau to learn more about the founding era of the Seattle Sounders’ MLS experience.
How can we replicate it? What are some lessons we can draw from this? Because that’s weird. It’s weird in media, it’s weird in comics, it’s weird in movies. I’m super, super into that book now and really enjoying it.
She is also committed to the media covering the Sounders because, like all of us, the process matters too.
But one thing I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed is figuring out, having watched a match, what led up to that moment.
What about football unlocking his writing again? The latest series of Poison Ivy comics is the result of that goal by Kelyn Rowe and becoming an emerging Sounder fan.
The minute after the first Sounders game… I went upstairs. I wrote a plot for a Poison Ivy series: Poison Ivy, of course, being the famous green-handed femme fatale from the Batman books. I sent it to my editor. She responded and said, ‘This is crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The first issue came out today. And there is a connection to Seattle. If it makes it to number 6, there is something very small, but very deep, that only Sounder fans will understand. It is the first book that I have written entirely in my era as a football fan.
You can find Poison Ivy #1 at your favorite comic book store or on Comixology. Ms. Marvel is currently streaming on Disney+. Willow’s comics-focused Twitter account is @GWillowWilson; his football-focused account is @GWWOffside.