Monday, June 25, 2012

Comic Review: Womanthology- Heroic

    It’s no secret that comics have long been a male dominated field, from the writers to the artists, to the target audiences.  It’s the same with my other loves, science fiction and roleplaying.  And I don’t like it.  So, when I heard about this project, an anthology created by women, featuring women of all ages and levels of experience, from young girls just starting out to industry veterans, it caught my attention.  It started as a simple tweet in May of last year, asking if any female creators were interested in putting something together, with any profits going to charity.  The interest and support was profound.  When the Kickstarter project was set up, with a goal of raising 25,000 dollars in a month, I don’t think anyone was prepared for it to reach the goal in 19 hours, or for the project to gain more than four times its goal by the end of that 30 days.  But I think this speaks to a real desire in the comic community (including and perhaps especially among males) to hear from women.

    It’s a handsome volume, well crafted and published by IDW.  Right off, there’s the story of its creation and an introduction to Renae De Liz (source of the tweet) the project manager and the assistant project manager, Laura Morley.  And you get a sense of the format, where you’ll see the creators’ bios, helpful hints from professionals, etc.

    And then it’s right into things with the first story.  As is the nature of anthologies, the art and writing are very uneven in tone, style, and skill; perhaps more so here because this project is specifically designed to include such a wide spectrum of contributors.  Some of my favorites are The Spinster by Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire (total classic pulp), I’m Not Omni Girl! By Lauren Burke and Megan Brennan (Buffy-like high school problems), In Every Heart a Masterwork by Gail Simone and Jean Kang (feels like real-world child raising stuff), Everwell by Jody Houser, Adriana Blake & Fiona Staples (a classic folk tale type story), Pink Elephants by Ellen T. Crenshaw (a kid has trouble sleeping), and The New Adventures of Queen Elizabeth I by Christianne Benedict (she has the proportional strength of a frog).  Oh, and Super Teen Slumber Party!! By Eleni Ladd, Kalyssa Ladd, Kelsie Ladd, and Samara Ladd was a fun one from the young kids.  Also, Renae De Liz and Nei Ruffino’s story about Lady Power Punch is kinda awesome.

    One of my favorite parts of the whole thing is the Women of the Past segment, exploring some of the pioneering work of women like Tarpe Mills, writer and artist of Miss Fury, who predated Wonder Woman, and Rose O’Neill creator of the Kewpies among many other things.  Now I need to track down more of their work, especially Tarpe Mills.

    Check out this book.  It’s got a good spirit, with lots of positive and supportive advice and encouragement for authors and artists.  And I think the community effort and support is genuinely heartening.  I hope it sends a message to publishers, to general readers, and to women artists that women are a valued voice in comics.  Forget the idea that comics are for kids, that they’re for boys, and that men don’t enjoy stuff created by women.  Finishing this on the morning of the first meeting of a graphic novel reading group, which was half male and half female felt like perfect timing, too.

Womanthology: Heroic
Authors: Renae De Liz, etc.
Artists: Kelly Thompson, etc.
Publisher: IDW
ISBN: 978-1613771471
Pages: @320


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