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A Month of Writing Stars – Tania del Rio

Every day this month I’m going to feature a current comic book writing “star,” someone who I think is a very good writer.

I’m mostly going to try to keep from the biggest names as much as possible, because, really, do I need to talk more about the awesomeness of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis?

Here is the archive of previously featured writers.

Today we look at a writer I can’t believe I forgot to mention when I was doing the Archie writers a few days ago!!

Enjoy!

Tania del Rio burst on to the scene about five-six years ago when she won second place in Tokyopop’s second annual Rising Stars of Manga contest.

She soon began the regular writer/artist on Archie Comics’ Sabrina the Teenage Witch series, where she has given the series a manga-esque style.

Lost a bit in the style makeover is the fact that del Rio is an excellent comic book writer.

Archie gives her a bit more freedom, in the sense that the comic does have a serialized plot (a fairly unique approach for an Archie comic, especially one that lasted more than a year), but at the same time, she obviously knows that there are limits to HOW much that the book can progress, and she has been marvelous in her ability to keep the ball rolling while often sneaking little “re-sets” into the book to help her keep the book from going TOO far down the road. She basically has mastered the illusion of change that is vital to a comic that cannot move TOO forward.

But that’s really just me admiring her practicality, while her technical skills are top rate, that is not exactly the biggest compliment you can give a writer. However, she also has done a great job depicting complex interactions with fairly deep characters without ever getting too “deep.” In a lot of ways, she reminds me of Kathleen Webb’s Betty stories.

Some of her comics are awkward – quite a few do NOT have happy endings, most importantly, she allows her characters to have FAULTS, while still being endearing figures. It’s really a great comic book.

She recently began a storyline leading to issue #100 of the series (#99 just came out this past week)…

She moved to Los Angeles awhile back with her husband, and was doing a auto-bio web comic called My Poorly Drawn Life that hasn’t updated in awhile, but checking out these stories are a great insight to how well you can tell a story with, well, just a good story – even with (as the title of the series suggests ) poorly drawn art.

Click on the piece below to see an 8-page story about Tania’s experiences adjusting to LA-la land (particularly the homeless).

3 Comments

I’m so glad Tania made your list! I’ve really been enjoying her Sabrina run and hate to see it come to an end – even though I really want to know how she concludes it. :) She did a superb job of making each issue fairly easy to jump into for new readers, which is really an underappreciated writing skill. The girls (and boys in the case of Sonic) in my library don’t always read the issues in order, but they were never lost. They loved each twist and turn and were really upset when poor Harvey got mindwiped. Del Rio’s Sabrina is the only American comic I can get my shojo manga fans to read.

Oh, and speaking of Sonic. Is there any chance Ian Flynn will make your list of writers? I know a lot of people here don’t like the Archie Sonic, but I think Flynn is another underappreciated writer.

I should start reading her stuff. Well, not the Sabrina stuff . . . I’d feel weird. I checked my Flickr account and was surprised to see six sketches from her. I thought it was less, to be honest. Well worth the money.

It’s a little weird to me that she was so shaken by homeless people after coming from New York.

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