Female Characters / Creators

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Wednesday Haul

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Just a couple of comics today; picking up the rest at the weekend (which, FYI, I’ll be working a rare shift at the shop this Saturday, so swing on by!). Excited for the debut of SAGA from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples at Image, and picked up a copy of Princeless I was missing. When I get sad about this industry, these are the things that remind me why I looooovvvvveee cccooommmiiiicccsss!

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More Fuel for the Depressing Fire

Misery loves company, and for women in comics, it seems that their magazine counterparts have got it just as bad.  According to this article from Think Progress, America’s top magazines do just as horrendous a job of hiring ladies as the comic book industry does.  There’s some nifty pie charts there as well, illustrating the female/male ratios per publication.  Pretty ridiculous stuff we’re looking at here.  Let’s see … 165 females to 459 males?  Really, The New Yorker?

The article brings up thoughts that are only all-too-familiar:

Because really, the only answer here is not that these publications can’t find women. It’s that they don’t really care if they do or not. These numbers, and the annual discussion of them, seem to have succeeded in making a lot of female journalists and readers angry and frustrated, but they don’t appear to have made editors feel ashamed, much less called to action. And I’m not quite sure what it would take to persuade them to shake off their lethargy and acceptance of the status quo, which really means accepting sexism.

I wonder where I’ve heard/felt/read/written this before.

And hey–did you know that the new Avengers movie trailer came out today?  It’s completely awesome, of course.  But then I look at it and inevitably start counting … one female Avenger.

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and through a girl’s eyes, the world in which I live appears particularly hostile today.


“All we need to do is make sure we keep talking….”

Heeeyyyyyy!  Guess who has had no time to write things?  ME!  Guess who is not at all surprised by this, (I bet)?  YOU!

So rather than do a legit review, I’m just going to talk about anything and nothing … because I would rather make a jabbering post than no post at all.  You’re more than welcome to talk back.

 

So I’ve caught up on the last two issues of Rachel Rising, and oh crap, is Terry Moore freaking me out.  I thought issues 1-3 were creepy … until I read 4 and 5 over the weekend and was taken to a new level of disturbed.  I hope you all are reading this book.  You should have no trouble finding it at That’s E, and as much as I hate promoting digital comics, it was just newly added to Comixology with issue 1 priced at 99 cents, so you have no excuses not to at least try it.  Outside of The Walking Dead, I typically shy away from stuff like this, so the fact I’m still on board here (especially after seeing the cover to issue 9*shudder*), says a lot.

Fatale #2Another AWESOME book I started reading is Ed Brubaker’s Fatale, about which I cannot say enough good things.  Wow.  These are some great comics being made.  When I start to get depressed about stupid gimmicky junk out there, I pick up books like this and my sanity eventually returns.

Speaking of Ed Brubaker and/or, for that matter, gimmicky junk—does Winter Soldier fall into that category?  I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but if Brubaker’s name is on the cover, I can’t imagine it will be bad.  Despite my UTTER HATRED of how they handled Bucky’s “death” in Fear Itself, he’s a great character, and I’m excited to read this new title.

 

All right.  That’s enough about the guys.  Let’s talk about the wimmins.

Did you all read Kelly Thompson’s fantastic article on Comics Should be Good?  Because it’s very, very important that you do.  Check it out here.  Please.

I hear that Mera kicks all kinds of ass in this week’s issue of Aquaman.  This makes me happy.

WOMANTHOLOGY!  I preordered my copy last week and I’m soooooo excited to get my hands on it!  If you have not heard about it, this is a record-breaking Kickstarter grassroots project about women, by women, for everyone.  And it’s going to be phenomenal.  Click the link just there, or check out their Twitter page.

Lastly, even though everyone and their mom has already linked to this, I’m going to link to it, too!  A new trailer for Pixar’s Brave is out, and IT IS AWESOME:  http://spinoff.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/23/new-trailer-poster-for-brave/

Move aside, boys, move aside.

 

That’s all I have this week—check in again soon for more talk about stuff and things.  And in the meantime, you know, comment or e-mail.  It’s fun and I don’t bite that hard.

Have a great weekend, all.
xx R

 


Marjorie Liu at Pandemonium Books

Yeah, that was pretty awesome.

So I went to this signing at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge last night.  I found out about it kind of last-minute (good thing I finally signed up to Twitter) and was looking for someone to come with me, which no one did because my friends are lame and don’t like to drive out to Cambridge.  Lucky for me, I happen to work in this lovely city, so I’m here every weekday whether I want to be or not.  Last night was one of those rare occasions I actually wanted to be here.  I mean, I even stayed at work for an extra half hour for the opportunity to meet Marjorie.  That’s dedication (right?).

I got to Central Square and I basically had no idea where I was going.  I’d never been to Pandemonium Books before, and for some reason I was expecting this gigantic, Borders-like book store, which could not be further from what I actually found.  It’s a tiny little thing just around a corner off Mass Ave.—not bad tiny, but more like cozy tiny (although it appears they do have a good gaming space downstairs that I didn’t check out), and when I walked in, I was immediately greeted by the kind gentleman behind the counter who asked me if I was there for the signing.

M. Liu signing at Pandemonium BooksI arrived incredibly early—the signing was at 7:00 and I’d gotten there at about 6:15, so I spent some time perusing the shelves and feeling a little awkward.  A table of Marjorie’s books was set up in the middle of the floor, with a little over a dozen chairs lined up facing it.  Let me reiterate—this place is small.  It was a small setup.  So while my brain was expecting some sort of grand assembly beforehand, when I walked in and realized we’d all be breathing down her neck, I admittedly got kind of nervous.  I’m more of a “hang back” type of person when I go to these things—sit in the middle of the pack, keep quiet, and just wait to get up to the table to get my book signed.  No nonstop chitchat from me, no hassling the creator—at most I may ask for a picture, but that’s as far as I go.

At quarter to 7:00 when it was just me and one other girl sitting there by ourselves (in the front row, no less), what I thought was panic but actually turned out to be excitement set in.  I was admittedly concerned that no one else would show up for this thing—how terrible would that be?  Well … I was concerned up until the point Marjorie walked in, immediately began talking to us, and offered to sign our books, that I relaxed a little and thought, yeah, this is completely awesome.  Others did arrive, of course, but it was still a tight-knit group, and very relaxed atmosphere—so much so that I broke my “keep quiet” attitude and asked a couple of questions.

Marjorie is incredibly sweet, fun to talk to (and listen to), and totally easy going.  She read a short excerpt from her new book, Within the Flames, and took Q&A about many topics, from her work with Marvel, to her novel writing, to her opinions on the DC reboot and whatever in between.  (I totally meant to ask her about her poodles, too, and I forgot.  Damn.)  Honestly, some of the Marvel stuff was a little depressing—such as hearing that her pitch for an all-female team book consisting of She-Hulk, Elektra, and Mystique was shot down because it “won’t sell.”  We all know Marvel and DC pander to teenage boys, but actually hearing that confirmed out loud by a creator leaves me kind of gutted.  Luckily there are still plenty of good things to keep me happy and excited, such as Marjorie’s upcoming run on Astonishing X-Men.  There were also plenty of other girls in the audience—girls who read comics and actually know what they’re talking about, and that’s always awesome.  We aren’t as rare as you might think.

At the end, I shook Marjorie’s hand and thanked her for taking the time to speak with us.  She sincerely thanked me for coming out, and I hopped out of the store to catch my late train home, quite tired but very happy.

And then the weirdest thing happened this morning (thank you, again, Twitter).

Apparently, none other than Mister Junot Diaz had been present in the audience with us last night.  I remember looking at him as he asked questions, thinking to myself that I’d surely seen him somewhere before… hmm… he’s sooooooo familiar?  Well, it turns out it was Mr. Diaz—a fact I only knew from reading my Twitter feed this morning where everyone basically had the same MIND BLOWN reaction I had.  Jesus—this man’s books were practically my college curriculum.  Fiesta 1980 is one of my all time favorite short stories.  Dude was in the same room with me all night and I had no clue.  The event was already awesome on its own, and I’d woken up this morning still floating a little from the high it gave me—to read about that just took it to another level.  Two for the price of one.

A great night.


Review: Princeless #3

Princeless #3

Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

To review a comic book you love can be extremely difficult.  I’ve said it before, but it’s maybe never been more true than it is here.  With each issue of Princeless so far, Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin have had a pretty effortless go at capturing my heart, and issue three is no exception.  If anything, they’ve only further tightened their grasp on me here, and talking about a book that I am so blindly in love with might be … well, kind of boring for you.  So my apologies ahead of time if that turns out to be the case.

There’s only so much I can say here that I haven’t already said for issues one and two.  Issue one took me so wholeheartedly by surprise that it was just like a punch in the face—a really, really GOOD punch.  The kind of punch I want more comics to give me.  Issue two, then, grabbed onto me tight and told me I’d better not think about going anywhere.  Issue three?  Swept me off my feet.

“Okay,” I hear you thinking.  “We get it.  You love the book.  WHY?”

And this is where I’m torn.  Because I don’t completely want to tell you why.

I could.  I could get all technical and analytical, and dig past the surface.  I’ve summarized the plot in previous reviews; I could use this to talk some more about the skill of the storytelling happening in this book—the message behind the tale, what audiences it plays to, what themes, and why.   I could discuss some of the more important things the book represents, such as independent publishing and why you should read more works by unknown creators.  But honestly?  I don’t want to do that.

Because this book doesn’t deserve to be dissected.

Princeless #3 Panel

One of many scenes that make Action Lab's "Princeless" worth the cover price. (Click to enlarge.)

Don’t read that the wrong way—it’s not meant negatively.  Rather, sometimes I wonder, can’t we just let the quality of things speak for themselves?  There are hundreds of other sites out there all talking about exactly the same thing as one another.  There are plenty of other blogs for you to read about all the things I just mentioned above.  I’m far from the only one “reviewing” this, and after a while, it all just starts to sound the same, doesn’t it?  This comic does a lot of things right, and you can discover on your own what those things are—because isn’t that all part of the fun?

So try Princeless for no reason other than it being a great comic.  Something new.  Surprise yourself.  Give it to the kids in your life.  Pass it on.  Don’t let a gem like this go unnoticed on the shelf because you’re too busy picking up “Fear Itself: The Fearlessly Fearful Feary Fear” that Marvel’s selling you for like five bucks a pop, that won’t satisfy you a sliver as much as a book like this will.

I mean.  At least try it.  What do you have to … Fear?

(Sorry.  Had to.)

 

___

*NOTE:  Some people have been having trouble finding this book at their LCS.  If that’s the case, you can buy it online at Graphicly; or, even better, make your voices heard at your LCS and get them to up their orders.  :)


A Terrible Oversight

It occurred to me the other day that when tallying my favorite webcomics of the year, I completely forgot about Hark! A Vagrant, and that’s just not right.  Sorry, The Trenches, but I’m bumping you out of the top five and down to “honorable mention” status.  Kate Beaton is brilliant, hilarious, and worth following.  Here’s just a very small sample:

Hark! A Vagrant


Post-Turkey Day Reviews

Hello.  Have we all recovered from our food comas yet?  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It’s tough being back to work after four lovely days off, but such, I suppose, is life.  At least there is always the promise of Wednesday and new comics.

 

Princeless #2Princeless #2
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by M. Goodwin
Publisher:  Action Lab Entertainment
Price:  $3.99

 

So … are you reading Princeless yet?  Was my earlier review of issue #1 not convincing enough?  Because I’m going to hound you all relentlessly until I get some messages saying “Yay, you’re so right, Princeless is awesome!”

Oh, issue #2—you were everything for which I’d hoped.  Princess Adrienne’s story is continued, but this time around the narrative voice is shifted in the beginning from being Adrienne’s to that of her brother, Prince Devin.  When their belligerent father, the King, is misinformed that Princess Adrienne is dead (having fled the tower atop her dragon at the end of the last issue), Devin is devastated by what’s happened to his sister and the thought that he may have had a hand in her death.  Ooohhh, yeah—weren’t expecting that, were you?  You’ll just have to read the issue to learn what I mean.  There’s a lot more that happens here, but I can’t tell you about it without an insane amount of gushing.

Jeremy Whitley’s writing keeps its momentum from issue one, and the hilarity doesn’t stop either.  A couple of scenes in particular had me laughing out loud as I read this on one of my train commutes, and the ending left me disappointed in the sense that I was sad there had to be one at all.  Two issues in, and I feel like I’ve known these characters for a while.  They’re well-developed, well-rounded, and well-illustrated.  Wonderful, wonderful comics being made.

This book is just a blast, and I’m so happy I found it.  In a week where DC didn’t release any of their New 52, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out something else and breathe a breath of fresh air instead of the same old constant disappointment.

Please read this book, and please pass it along.  I absolutely cannot fathom that you’d regret it.

 

Captain America & Bucky #624Captain America & Bucky #624
Written by Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $2.99

 

Hmm.  What can I say about this one?  I’m kind of stupid about Bucky and Natasha.  They’ve only been a relatively recent discovery for me and I really, really love the pair … my reasons are myriad.  So whenever I see the promise of some Bucky and Natasha team-up, I’m all on it.  But this was a little bit of a letdown.

The issue started off very well.  The story is set in the early days of the Winter Soldier, and Brubaker and Andreyko use it to delve into some of Bucky’s past conditioning.  We get peaks of his early missions and the formation of his romance with Black Widow, and all is well.  We also see Bucky begin to defy his programming—the writing is strong, and I have to shout out to Chris Samnee, who really draws some excellent stuff.  His style is wonderfully suited to the “throw back” feel of the book, giving it a unique flavor that’s separate from that of the main Captain America title.

I began this by telling you that the issue was a letdown.  Then I told you the writing is good and the art is great, so obviously I’m not making much sense here, right?

I guess I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing.  I think the problem is that I’m sitting here reading this issue, things are moving, I’m getting really into what’s happening, and then … it’s over.  It just sort of … ends, and not in a “to be continued next issue” way.  At first I wondered if my copy was missing some pages or something—that’s how confused I was.  I even went online and read some web reviews, but the three reviews I read all loved the issue and said nothing much further.  I’m thinking I’m the only one who was left with this hanging feeling.  If the book were an electronic device, could we chalk this up to “user error”?  Did I somehow read the book wrong?

Despite my confusion, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed what I read, and if you’re a Bucky fan or a Black Widow fan, it’s worth the pickup.  Past that, I’m still trying to figure it out, but if the writing here is any indication of Brubaker’s new upcoming Winter Soldier title, I’ll definitely be picking that up.

 

Wolverine & the X-Men #2Wolverine & the X-Men #2
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Chris Bachalo
Publisher:  Marvel Comics
Price:  $3.99

 

I had some qualms about this title and the team split that resulted from Schism, but since the X-Men are essentially what got me into comics in the first place, I always tend to follow at least one or two of their books.  I read through the Schism event, and while I wasn’t impressed with it to start, the latter issues picked up the pace and I found myself a little more invested in the central argument of what was happening—should the X-kids be mutantkind’s soldiers, per Cyclops, or should they be children and students, per Wolverine?  You can see the pull for both sides, and the depiction of that gray area is what makes this so interesting.

So as much as I dislike the title of this and the emphasis that’s continually placed on Wolverine, the lure of most of my favorite characters siding with him as well as the promise of Chris Bachalo’s artwork convinced me to pick it up.

I’m not disappointed.  The first issue was a lot of fun, centering on Wolverine and Kitty trying to prep the newly-built Jean Grey School for opening day—and Jason Aaron’s writing was strong.  It continues to be so with issue #2, which is full of action.  Usually when an issue of a comic is nonstop action, I actually get kind of bored, because my favorite thing about comics is character interaction.  I like dialogue, I like getting in characters’ heads, I like seeing them play off of one another.  You know when Bendis writes pages and pages of Avengers where the characters are just talking and talking and talking?  A lot of people seem to hate that, but I love the stuff.  It’s vastly more interesting to me than watching the X-Men battle a giant monster for 24 pages straight.  If they aren’t saying things to one another—if I’m not learning anything about anyone by watching them fight, then for me, that “action” is boring.

Lucky enough, this seems to be where Jason Aaron shines.  The majority, if not the entirety, of issue two was the X-Men in a fight, and I was not disinterested once.  Aaron seems to have struck the perfect balance between action and character development.  We have an opening scene where Iceman unleashes his oft-discussed “potential” against the bad guys; there are shots of the X-kids holding their own while conversation and even romance brews.  There are great things here.

That said, it’s definitely not my perfect book.  For one thing, I really dislike the villains—not in the “oh man, these guys are so evil” kind of way, but more in the “wow, these guys are so lame” kind of way.  A group of rich, genius evil children taking over the Hellfire Club doesn’t do it for me.  I just have trouble buying it, and that’s all on Aaron.  His setup for them in Schism felt hackneyed and contrived, and I have no feelings invested in the group whatsoever.  I can’t connect, and really at this point, I just want the X-Men to defeat them and get it over with so they can move on to their next set of villains.

Despite that, I’m definitely enjoying this new title so far, and I’m optimistic that we can look forward to it being consistently good story-wise.  However…

In my last review of the Captain America, I complained that Steve McNiven was the artist on the book for only six issues.  Well, Bachalo’s got him beat, because he’ll be off of this after issue #3, with Nick Bradshaw taking over.  I cannot tell you how much this pains/saddens/infuriates me, and it’s taking a high degree of restraint not to fill this paragraph with cuss words.  While it isn’t a HUGE surprise that Bachalo’s tenure here is brief—I can’t remember the last time he actually stayed on a book past a few issues—it’s still a huge tease to be reeled in like this, only to have half the creative team change within three issues.  This is NOT the way to launch a new title, Marvel, and the habit is becoming unbearable.  And for goodness’ sake, this book is four bucks.  FOUR BUCKS!  Argh!  Infuriating.  Depending on how Bradshaw’s art is, this title may or may not be on a short leash for me.  Let’s give it a few more and then re-evaluate.