DC Nation interview with writer John Ridley
This graphic novel presents a dramatic and personal narrative following characters from traditionally marginalized groups as they travel through important moments – both intimate and iconic – in the fictional history of the DC Universe.
Has the current state of the world made this story even more timely than it would have been just a couple of years ago?
This story would have shouldered a certain level of importance at any time. But in the moment that we find ourselves in, where it feels like there’s so much weight being put on the scales, I hope it’s material that meets the moment.
This is your first time writing DC characters in the DC Universe—how has that experience been?
I remember when Black Lightning first came out, and what an impact that was for me as a young kid of color, to see a Black man as a hero. A Black man standing up for what was right. A Black man who in his other identity was a teacher, the way my mom was a teacher. To be able to track a lot of my personal trajectory—to wanting to be a storyteller, to becoming a storyteller, to finally having the opportunity to tell stories in the DC Universe—it was humbling. It made me want to be all the more honorific to the men and women who came before me and inspired me. It’s been remarkable.
The Other History of the DC Universe is a mix of prose and illustration. What made that the best way to tell this story?
It’s different than sequential dialogue—it’s not spot art, it’s not sequential art. [Camuncoli] did a masterful job creating true flow for the book, from one moment to the next over time. I really approached it as though it were an oral history; as though I had the opportunity to sit down with these characters, and really ask them about their lives, their relationships, their successes, their failures. It really was trying to treat these characters as though they were very real people.