She Has No Head!
I’ve spent most of my life aching for great superheroine portrayals on film. To see some of my comic book heroines reflected back to me on 40-foot screens. With a few awesome exceptions (X-Men, X2) I have been disappointed again and again (Catwoman, Elektra, Sue Storm in Fantastic Four, Batgirl in Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, Supergirl, Mary Jane in Spiderman, okay not a superheroine, but still) the list of bad performances, bad writing, bad directing, and just bad ideas is painfully long.
I’ve been thinking about superhero redesigns, in part thanks to our awesome interview with Kris Anka on 3 Chicks Review Comics. We talked a lot about the difference between good artists and good designers, and how important getting an artist that knows about design and fashion is to having a modern and functional looking costume. Any time you change a costume, no matter how necessary the change is, or how great the new design might be, it tends to ruffle fan feathers as there is surprising emotional attachment to things like this. And when you change design as fundamental as a superhero costume you’re changing brand identity and recognition. It’s kind of a huge deal, and not something that should be undertaken all willy-nilly.
For this column I decided to focus on 6 recent redesigns that are actual canon (i.e. you can actually see them in comics – or will – and they have been embraced by the publisher) but because I hate actually sticking to the limits I set for myself, I added a couple brilliant redesigns that are “unofficial” or considered “fan art”, because honestly, there is A LOT of great design being done on the fringes. Skilled artists that know a lot about design and fashion and perhaps more importantly, care about characters, and the resigns for said characters are killing it out there. Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy!
With the very cool news that Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising has been optioned for television (and that could be a great show that I would LOVE to see) I started thinking about other indie properties (most with complex female characters) I’d love to see optioned for television as either an ongoing or a mini-series. With the advent of shortened series – Netflix’s House of Cards, AMC’s Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Killing all run only 13 episodes (typically) – we’re seeing a rash of new thinking in quality over quantity, which is good for a lot of comic book properties with world building or effects issues. Most of the best shows out there right now run short seasons: Showtime’s Homeland has 12 per season. Game of Thrones and Newsroom are only 10! The Walking Dead began with a 6-episode half season, then moved to a “full” 13, and for its last season delivered 16 – but still short of the formerly typical 22-episode season. Add to that a rash of recent high-quality mini-series like HBO’s six-part Mildred Pierce or Sundance’s 7-part Top of The Lake and we’re in a really interesting period of television where we’re seeing a huge uptick in great TV that equal some bold choices in both content and in the way that content is delivered. All of it makes me optimistic that smart comics properties that might have been a tough sell even a couple years ago might be more viable now. So what are five at the top of my list? Glad you asked!
OR…The Six C’s of a Badass Comic Book Cover!
We all have our own tastes when it comes to art and comic book covers are no exception. Thanks to a lot of drinking and looking at comic book covers over the last few years (in my Drunk Cover Solicits In Three Sentences or Less feature on my blog) I’ve thought a lot about comic covers over the last few years and what really makes me respond to something, or alternatively turns me off. So here are 6 C’s that make of the anatomy of a great cover for me – along with a slew of gorgeous examples. I focused on more recent stuff from the last few years, both because that’s where my focus has been for the feature on 1979 Semi-Finalist and because while I there are obviously tons of gorgeous covers through the ages, I think we’re going through a pretty great time for comic book covers. A few classics snuck their way in anyway. It should also be said that while I broke these covers up into groups based on what I was talking about, many of them could fit into multiple categories – they’re just that cool.
I spent Sunday at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.
Sculpture is perhaps my favorite art form in some ways even more so than comics (gasp!) – in part because I am so absolutely atrocious when it comes to three-dimensional work. I am so incompetent working in three dimensions, that art, which is strength of mine in general, almost becomes like math once you add that third dimension. And I am TERRIBLE at math. So, it is partly a fascination with something that I cannot fathom how one can create such excellence in a medium which I can barely grasp the most rudimentary understanding of.
I also appreciate the intense work that goes into it. Before something is sculpted there are innumerable 2-dimensional studies, and even what most of us 2-dimensional folks would call “finished work” in addition to 3-dimensional studies that prepare for whatever the actual assignment or commission is. Of course these studies, particularly the 3-d ones, have significant value and meaning as well, and in fact take on lives of their own. Becoming their own art that can stand independent of whatever they were created to “work towards.” I sometimes find I prefer these studies, the same way that I sometimes find I prefer sketches to finished work when it comes to comics as well.
Back in November of 2010 I did a massive list of my 20 favorite female characters in comics. And today I’m doing a list of 10 ladies that – thanks to some seriously awesome creator work – are poised to break into that list. And all of them are currently starring in books going on now, so get out there and get reading!
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERHERO GIRL. Faith Erin Hicks (writer/artist). Cris Peter (colors). Dark Horse. Full Color. Hardcover. 112 pages. $16.99
This collected (and fully colored) edition of Faith Erin Hicks The Adventures of Superhero Girl comics from Dark Horse is simply 100% delightful.
Originally a weekly black and white comic strip available online in full and in the free Halifax newspaper called The Coast, The Adventures of Superhero Girl was a web strip Hicks worked on while doing a million other wonderful things – books like Zombies Calling, The War At Ellsmere, her latest – Friends With Boys, and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong (both from First Second, both available online in full, NCPGW due in print in May 2013). How she has the time and talent for it all, I’ll never know, but doing all of it (practically at once) has made her one of the strongest and most impressive new voices in comics, and certainly one of the creators I have found myself most excited about and most interested in watching as she develops as a writer and artist.
We’re all very excited about Brian Wood and Oliver Coipel’s X-Men debuting in April, but until then, I wanted to talk about some fantastic female-led comics you should already be reading. Like the last “8 Great” post I did, I’m going to focus on ongoing books, rather than mini-series, since I do believe that longevity of titles like this is part of winning this battle over time – i.e. good books that have a sustainable audience and can maintain quality consistently. It’s something I feel we struggle with (as evidenced by the fact that only one — sorta two — titles from my list in 2011 made it back onto the 2013 list).
I reviewed Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers for CBR this week and gave it an – apparently controversial for some – 5 stars. Given the title of this post I’m sure you can guess that I’m standing by that rating. But as I’ve said before, you have a limited word count (rightly so) on reviews, and I have lot more to say about this book, the ideas behind it, its nearly perfect execution, and how excited it makes me for the future of comics when I read a book like this. Because lists are so damn effective, I’m doing a list again…so let’s start by ticking off the boxes of what this book gets oh-so-right.
I started blogging in 2007 and in the spring of 2009 two things in comics caused me to start blogging about comics. The first was the nightmare Cry For Justice promo image from DC in which Supergirl had no head – and you guessed it – that was the primary inspiration for the name of this very column. The second, which is what we’re going to discuss today, was the promotional announcement for the book Marvel Divas.
And so today I can’t help but compare everything that was the utter fail of the Marvel Divas pitch (which was everything except the gorgeous Tonci Zonjic interior art) with how right Marvel and Brian Wood are getting Wood’s new all-female X-Men team so far.
Paul Allor and Thomas Boatright’s Orc Girl checks all the boxes for things I not only love, but ache for in fiction – non-traditional leads, surprising coming of age stories, strong female lead characters, stereotype busting, beautiful atypical art, and smart lovely writing. But sometimes creators forget that checking those boxes – whether for political correctness or passion – doesn’t make something good. It still has to be good.
Orc Girl is GOOD.
In an effort to piss off Greg Burgas (because what else in life is fun?!) I’m posting my best and worsts of 2012 before the year ends. As always, my feeling is that if I haven’t read it by the end of December (and there are MANY I have not read) then I’m not going to be able to get to it in time for it to make my bests and worsts lists anyway…so it’s all the same in the end.
Also as always, I didn’t get to nearly enough books this year. I especially failed on the Graphic Novel front, reading far too few on the whole and not getting to a ton that I’m really interested in – seriously, I’ve got a list as long as my arm to get to (and I have pretty long arms).
What’s going to be on the list? Well you can bet it’s going to be Hawkeye-Saga-rific! That’s of course not in an effort to piss off Burgas, but you know…BONUS! Seriously, I’ve never had a list so dominated by two titles…but what can I say? I really loved these books they did everything right and made me happy every time I read them.
Let’s get to it, shall we? And sound off in the comments about some of your favorites for the year.
Welcome back to my annual female positive comics holiday gift list!
So the holidays are upon us again and you’ve decided that in these tough economic times you want to support the comic industry by giving everyone on your list sweet comics. And not only that, but you want to take it one step further and only give female positive comics…well, in that super specific case you’ve found the right list.
I sometimes marvel of what the hell I ever did it without it. The latest delight it’s brought me is Noelle Stevenson (aka Gingerhaze) ‘s brilliantly adorable, hilariously self-aware Nimona web comic. And prepare to have your mind blown when I tell you that Stevenson is still a student and this is her SENIOR THESIS.
Stevenson’s work reminds me of Kate Beaton, but with a dash of Eleanor Davis, a sprinkle of Emily Carroll, and bit of Faith Erin Hicks all combined together into some delicious magic concoction. The comic feels as if she has read all the best stuff and then forged her own way with their inspiration to guide her.
I wrote a column last week for the Lit Reactor site that included 10 Things The Walking Dead needs to do in Season 3 to keep me watching. To blend my worlds completely, I thought I’d do the follow up piece after watching the premiere here.
Before we even get started on the list I have to say that the premiere was very good. Advancing the story (and characters) forward six months was a wise decision. It allows us to rejoin a group that has drastically changed. Everyone is far less whiny, and though they’re starving to death and constantly on the move, they all know their jobs and move like a well-oiled, if at times dysfunctional, machine. This is a huge improvement on last season. Beware of spoilers!
10. KILL LORI – 0/1
While they haven’t killed Lori yet, she is at least 20% less annoying in this first episode and I’m glad to see the pregnancy so advanced. She only had one ridiculous crying outburst, and had she not been that way ALL the time for seasons 1 and 2, I would have forgiven it, the woman is nine months pregnant and nearly starving to death in the zombie apocalypse after all.