'feminine power' comic e book spotlights Brittney Griner : NPR

NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with feminine power comic e book author Michael Frizell regarding the Brittney Griner version.


Basketball star Brittney Griner was dealing with years of exhausting labor in a Russian jail camp on trumped-up drug fees earlier than she was launched final month in a prisoner change. Earlier this week, all by a go to on the White dwelling, NBA All-Star Steph Curry made some extent of thanking President Biden for his administration’s efforts to deliver her dwelling.


STEPH CURRY: It was a huge a part of our basketball household, and it means rather a lot to know that she’s right here and residential safe collectively with her household.

MARTIN: Griner’s arrest in Moscow as she tried to rejoin her Russian expert workforce was clearly a low level, however as a mannequin new graphic e book about her life makes clear, it was not the one problem she’s needed to face on her highway to the apex of women’s sports activities as a standout at Baylor college, an Olympic gold medalist and a WNBA champion. Griner’s life is the predominant goal of the most modern version of “feminine power.” that is a comic e book e book collection that celebrates women with inspirational tales. Michael Frizell is the author of “feminine power: Brittney Griner,” and he is with us now to inform us extra about it. Michael, thanks rather a lot for becoming a member of us.

MICHAEL FRIZELL: thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So for people who’ve not seen the comic collection but, it was simply launched this week. simply inform us what the “feminine power” collection is all about. because you have had, you discover, fully different celebs like Mariah Carey, Dolly Parton, Stacey Abrams. that is the predominant athlete. Why?

FRIZELL: properly, we seen, in spite of the whole lot, in our traces that we hadn’t featured a feminine athlete but. So we started to do the evaluation a quantity of years in the past. and that i researched a quantity of fully different ideas. And the writer said, hey, take a look at this. And it was an article about Brittney Griner being prime-of-the-line inside the WNBA collectively with her taking pictures report in 2017. So we did a little bit of extra digging and commenced to study a little bit of bit extra about her historic previous and thought, she’s good. She’s good for this line as a consequence of she’s actually been struggling collectively with her id. And we needed to discover that inside the comic. And we thought readers would relate to that.

MARTIN: i’ve to say that i used to be a little bit of bowled over by amongst the numerous factors that you simply discuss about inside the collection. I imply, that ought to not be very like a floor variety of biography factor right here, like, she went right here and she or he went there. I imply, you dig into some issues about amongst the numerous challenges of being a terribly tall youthful lady, being athletically gifted, however in addition not basically on a daily basis being appreciated for that and making an try to get hold of out study the means to deal with that. I imply, her sexuality, her id – these are some pretty private and intimate issues. and that i am simply curious the way you discover about these issues. I imply, did you attain out to Griner? Did she take part?

FRIZELL: properly, as quickly as we start the tactic, we start the evaluation and we variety of develop an overview of what we’d like. after which I watch an splendid deal of interviews. and that i start to try to get hold of out what makes them tick. And the subjects they frequently return to of their interviews appear to rise to the floor. And an splendid deal of that was her early formation as an athlete and as a particular person and her wrestle with id. After we acquired that executed, the writer then decides if we’ll transfer forward or not. And usually we attain out to fully different people, usually we do not. In an splendid deal of circumstances, they’re going to answer and actually take part. on this case, that did not happen.

MARTIN: okay. So are you saying that you simply did not attain out to her as a consequence of she was unavailable in any other case you probably did not attain out to her because you simply needed to get it printed to make the numerous of the very indisputable actuality that she’s inside the information?

FRIZELL: Oh, wow. Yeah. That second a part of your question. I definitely hope that wasn’t the case with the writer. as a consequence of the author, i am simply like the drummer inside the band. i am the man that is retaining the issues transferring, however I definitely do not entrance the band. And on this case, we’d attain out to their people and we do not on a daily basis get a response. The writer will transfer forward come what may. it is simply that it is so rather a lot greater as quickly as we do have their response.

MARTIN: So are you saying these are factors that you simply say that she had beforehand talked about publicly? as a consequence of i’ve to say that a pair of of these are very, you discover, delicate issues about her being dealt with reasonably shabbily by classmates at instances, by fully different athletes at instances, significantly in her youthful years earlier than, as I said, she grew to become the star that she now may be. simply a pair of of these appear to be some reasonably painful episodes in her life. and that i am simply fascinated with whether or not you thought of that as you had been going forward and placing this again into the final public area. I imply, I personally – i am simply saying for myself, I observe athletics pretty carefully, and that i did not research a pair of of these issues.

FRIZELL: I simply did an splendid deal of digging. It took me about two or three months of evaluation to actually develop an overview that made sense to me. And whereas you hearken to these interviews and also you start discovering these subjects that she explores about id, about being picked on by fully different athletes or for her top and being self-acutely conscious about that, these actually felt like common issues that many people expertise. It was a method to current maybe common people who do not know a lot about Brittney Griner, the WNBA, and even the athletics usually variety of a window in. and that i felt like they needed to be included so as that we acquired a greater picture of who she was as a particular person behind the headlines. in any other case, you are simply studying a Wikipedia website.

MARTIN: Who do you hope will decide up this work or this e book, this e book or the collection, for that matter?

FRIZELL: I hoped people who needed to know a little bit of bit extra regarding the particular person behind the headline, people who had been fascinated collectively with her as an a WNBA participant, after which maybe people who discover themselves fighting their very personal id to see how somebody well-known has in the end pushed by and made it a part of who she is. as a consequence of every expertise we have gotten makes us who we’re.

MARTIN: Yeah. you discover, it is on a daily basis an fascinating – it is a troublesome question on this period the place, you discover, and that i say this with no small quantity of humility regarding the very indisputable actuality that, as journalists, we’re usually recognized as upon to jot down about or to dig into or to mirror the lives of people who discover themselves fully different from us. however inside the current second, a quantity of people want to have possession of their very personal tales and to be somebody who’s up to now fully different than her personal expertise, I imply, being a youthful African American queer lady who has at instances confronted an splendid deal of hostility and admittedly, abuse for that actuality. i do know – I simply puzzled if there was any level at which maybe you thought you can have requested your self, am I one in every of the biggest particular person to inform this story?

FRIZELL: that is an great question and one which I wrestled with early on. Do i suppose i am one in every of the biggest? properly, i do not know. i can not be any farther fully different than her than i am. i am white, male, center aged, brief, work at a college, married with two kids and couple grandkids. How far aside may I be? i used to be a theater predominant with an bronchial asthma drawback. There was no means i used to be going to play basketball. I needed to study the full the ins and outs of the sport simply to clarify what I needed the artist to draw.

What I needed to do, although, was try to get as a lot actuality as attainable by the use of as a lot of her personal phrases and her personal patterns inside the biggest means that she was telling her story to relay it. and that i hope I did a superb-enough job with that. and that i suppose that is the exhausting line that we’re crossing usually as quickly as we write about fully different people and fully different experiences, that if you happen to take what they’re saying inside the information, out of the blue it is – an splendid deal of negativity begins to get back out. and the means do you make the most of that?

after which how do you flip this so as that you simply get a properly-rounded picture of a dwelling, respiration, feeling one who has pleasure in her life, who has achieved the prime of her profession with out besmirching that? and that i actually hoped that when people study it – and that i actually hope they do – that they arrive away understanding her solely a bit bit greater than what maybe the headlines about Russia or the polarization about her launch seems to have wrought in her story.

MARTIN: Michael Frizell is the author of the newly launched “feminine power: Brittney Griner.” it is obtainable in print and on-line now. Michael Frizell, thanks rather a lot for becoming a member of us.

FRIZELL: thanks. and that i could be remiss if I did not say it was my pleasure.

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