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MAGIC: THE GATHERING: CHANDRA’s Vita Ayala Talks About Decks & The Multiverse (EXCLUSIVE)

MAGIC: THE GATHERING: CHANDRA’s Vita Ayala Talks About Decks & The Multiverse (EXCLUSIVE)

It is always amazing to see what fun projects people are working on and I am exceptionally excited to see how Wizards of the Coast is trying to make new avenues for people to explore the world of Magic: The Gathering.  Teaming up with comic publisher IDW Publishing, a new series is coming next month to your friendly local comic book store.

Magic: The Gathering: Chandra is written by Vita Ayala (SupergirlThe Wilds) with interior art by Harvey Tolibao (X-MenGreen Arrow) and features all-new adventures of fan-favorite pyromancer Planeswalker Chandra Nalaar.  I got the opportunity to ask Vita a few questions about exploring the lore of Magic: The Gathering, what color his decks are, and turning a geeky passion in a profession. We also got an exclusive sneak peek of the Tyle Kirkham variant cover for the upcoming comic (below).


Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity. 

Jackson: First of all, it is a pleasure to get to ask you these questions! How are you and what has you most excited to write these days?

Vita: Pleasure to be talking with you, thanks for taking the time! It’s going to sound a little hokey, but what has me excited to write right now is what is on my desk! I am doing four work for hire projects right now (three announced, one pending), and all of them are characters and worlds that I have loved for years. I wake up jazzed to get to work every morning!

What has been the most engaging and interesting aspect of writing for this new Magic: The Gathering comic series?

Getting to play around with the Planes is so much fun! For me, the idea of taking a character I know fairly well, and putting her into strange worlds, really test what she’s made of in very different settings, is a thrill. There are some Planes I could spend an entire series on, if I had the chance!

Also, working with Harvey Tolibao (the artist), seeing him take ideas and suggestions and turn them into a dynamic, action packed piece of art makes writing this so fun. I can’t wait to see what he brings, and I try and give him as much cool stuff to draw as I can think of. He always elevates things to a level beyond what I could dream!

What have been the most challenging aspects to this new series for you?

I think the biggest challenge for me on this series has been trying to find a good balance of smaller, emotional moments and bigger, action sequences. I always love stories that bring it back to the personal level, that center on those character moments and interactions that make it feel tangible, and there have been a few times where my poor editors have had to remind me that I need to amp up the pace and get to the fireworks! But with their help, I think we’ve got a book that blends those two aspects well, and has plenty of action!

From my understanding, these are all new stories and all new adventures set in the multiverse. You’ve got the opportunity to help build and establish the lore of Magic: The Gathering in all new ways. What are your personal goals as a writer when doing that?

I have always been incredibly interested in figuring out what makes a character tick. With this project, I wanted to see if I could really delve into Chandra and how she relates to the multiverse.

What was your introduction to the world of Magic: The Gathering if any before this project? I ask because this is another wonderful outlet that can help to inspire and build with a franchise. I feel if I was more aware of comics for this universe then I would have gotten into Magic far more quickly than I did.

My introduction to Magic was the game itself, back when I was in high school. I am a bit of a collector in terms of personality, and also a gamer across the board, and the idea that there was a game that came out with more and more collectible pieces every year was my sweet spot!

But what kept me coming back were the stories – in game, and outside – because I am a lover of story above all, and having a kind of through-line for the franchise was amazing. I think that having works like novels, short stories, and comics makes approaching such a well-established game and universe MUCH more accessible, and I really hope that this book helps get more people into it as much as the collecting aspect did for me!

In making things a bit more personal, we’ve seen tons of different styles of magic users all around the Magic multiverse. If you were a planeswalker, what kind of magic would you use?

I am Green-Red, absolutely. Gruul for life!  I have probably around 3 dozen decks (all but 2 for super casual play), but the ones that I go back to the most are my Green Devotion deck (centered around 4 different Garruks), my Green-Red Bloodrush deck, and my Stomp & Burn Xenagos deck!

I absolutely love that you’ve entered into a world driven by your passions. What is the best advice you can give to others out there that want to get into the industry like you have?

I say this a lot, but there are four bits of advice I have that were earned in the hustle:

1. The Hustle is 80% HARD work, and 20% luck/being in the right place at the right time. If you don’t have the work ethic and drive to back up the want, you will burn out. But on the flip side, you can have all the skill and the best portfolio in the world, if you are not putting yourself out there then no one will see you. Work at the craft everyday, but also, try and make contacts, both of people at the level of breaking in and above.

2. FOR THE LOVE OF MANA, PUT YOUR NAME (pen name is fine) AND CONTACT INFO (even if it is “DM for my email”) ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA AND/OR WEBSITES!

3. Learn how to take notes gracefully as you can. Your editors are trying to bring out the best in YOUR story, and you have to remember that your eyes only see outward. This is a hard earned nuggets here. It is absolutely part of your job to take notes and incorporate them into your work. That doesn’t necessarily mean following every note to the letter – part of learning to take notes is learning to interprate/see the spirit of the note.

4. Be KIND to people, both those you work with and those you don’t. Kind doesn’t mean being nice all the time, but remember that the people on your team, the people working in the industry in general, are as complex and full of feelings as you. Treat them with the same consideration that you would want. This also includes things like “please” and “thank you” and hitting deadlines so that your collaborators are not pressed for time and therefore super stressed. (Another hard-earned nugget.) Sounds like a no brainer, but you need to understand, this is a small community and how you comport yourself is known.

If you had one piece of parting advice for those reading, what would it be and why?

Watch your wallet, because you may find yourself wanting to pick up entire booster boxes after you read this!

No, but seriously, less advice and more assurance, you absolutely do not have to have any experience with the game to enjoy it! But if you do, I hope that you will find your understanding of Chandra is deeper and that you are amped up for whatever comes next!

What has you most excited about this comic series? Where do you hope to see Chandra venture to? Let us know in the comments below!

More Comic Goodness!


Image Credits: Wizards of the Coast

Variant Cover Credit: Tyler Kirkham and IDW Publishing

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