Tag Archives: comics

Comic Review: Batman: Li’l Gotham Issues 1 & 2

Batman: L’il Gotham is a digital-only series by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs uses the Batman universe to tell holiday short stories (and possibly later other stories that aren’t holiday related.) I’m a huge fan of Batman but I haven’t read any of the comics in years and I wouldn’t even know where to pick it back up (feel free to point out story arcs I should catch up on in the comments). So when I’m thrilled to have some stand alone Batman-related things I can enjoy as quick reads.

The first issue takes place on Halloween. Batman teaches Robin how to Trick or Treat. It’s as adorable as it sounds. And of course the villains, like the Joker and Harley Quinn, love Halloween because they can go out in public like normal people. (Obviously in this simplified version of Gotham, they’re not considering the option of just wearing normal clothes and ditching the makeup.) I especially enjoyed the variety of costumes in the background.

Issue #2 is the Thanksgiving episode. The Penguin takes issue to the ritual consumption of birds and thus plans to spoil the holiday. There’s a cameo by Li’l Barbara Gordon! I squeed. There are also Batman and Robin parade balloons, which Robin snarks about a little.

Nguyen’s beautiful watercolor style gives the comic a storybook feel but it’s still richly detailed and intricate. The writing is reminiscent of the older Batman cartoons, complete with cheesy villain puns (which I adore). They’re all complete stories, and read like episodes of a show.

If you like the cartoon incarnations of Batman or just fun little stories about him and Robin, you’ll enjoy this series.

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Comic Review: Watson and Holmes

I grew up watching Matlock and Murder She Wrote, so I guess it’s only natural that as a kid, I soon fell madly in love with Sherlock Holmes. I love the books, any tv adaptations I can find. I watch Sherlock and Elementary–and I apologize profusely over my doubts that the show could make a female Watson work with the usual bromance dynamic, because they have. Mea culpa. The point is, if it’s well done, I can’t get enough Holmes.

Watson and Holmes, the comic book by Bollers, Leonardi, and Menzoa, takes place in modern day Harlem. In this incarnation, Jon Watson is a medical intern who happens to be on duty when a twenty-something drug overdose patient comes in. Sherlock Holmes soon follows, and tells Watson that the guy has been drugged with “something unusual.” When Watson’s lab tests confirm it, he tracks down Sherlock and gets sucked into the case.

Sherlock is a private investigator here rather than the recently popular “police consultant,” which adds an element of danger as far as interference, but it’s a distinction I like. Holmes rarely has respect for the law; he just wants the truth. At their first meeting he tells Watson, “As for precincts, you won’t find me there… Only police and thieves. Though I’m sure there’s room for overlap.” So he retains his canonical jerkass personality–at least on the surface. Watson is an overworked doctor-in-training who’s curiosity keeps him following the PI, despite his unorthodox (and illegal) investigation methods.

The art work is gorgeous and detailed and the references to the original Sherlock Holmes are smartly done. The mystery is intriguing, complete with a gang (the Suicidaz) and a missing person. Sadly there’s only one issue out so far. But it’s only 99 cents, which is comic book dollars is basically free, so if you like Sherlock Holmes and want to see a new spin on it, it’s more than worth checking out. Hopefully the second issue will show up soon. (It looks like there’s a cover image for issue two floating around on their Facebook page, which I take as a good sign.)

Review & Giveaway: “Clockwork Angel” manga adaptation

So you guys might remember that I basically threw my hands up in the air and let The Infernal Devices fandom suck me in. I regret nothing. But thanks to the talented artist Hyekyung Baek, they’re making a manga adaptation of the series, starting with the first book, Clockwork Angel. This volume covers the entire plot of that novel by Cassandra Clare.

It goes without saying that fans of the books will love the manga. The illustrations by Hyekyung Baek are gorgeous and the story remains true to the plot, managing to somehow get a lot of side-plots into the book even though it’s necessarily shorter. The manga keeps a lot of Clare’s jokes and wit, too, and they’re actually funnier with the visual aid. This cuts both ways, of course, and things like Jem’s illness are more striking with illustrations. But it’s a really fun way to reread the books and relive your love of the characters.

The best thing about the manga version is that it might appeal to people who otherwise won’t read the book, either because it’s in the YA section (don’t get me started) or because they prefer comics (nothing wrong with that). It’s a story that lends itself well to a visual format

Jem and his violin are my OTP.

The plot is, obviously, the same as the novel: Tessa arrives in London at the behest of her brother, or so she believes. But she’s taken by the Dark Sisters, who reveal that Tessa is a shape-shifter and they plan to use her for their own nefarious purposes and then marry her off to someone called The Magister. She’s rescued when Will Herondale and other Shadowhunters end up at the Dark Sisters’ house during a murder investigation. She stays at the institute where she meets Jem, the violinist with a secret, and Jessamine, who doesn’t want to be a Shadowhunter at all, as well as Charlotte and Henry, who run the London Institute. She agrees to help them and they agree to help her track down her brother. Turns out the Magister is trying to build an army of automatons which are very creepy and faceless.

Did I mention it’s gorgeously drawn? And that Will and Jem were basically born to be manga-bishounen? Because they were.

So if you haven’t read The Infernal Devices and you like manga and comics, you should check this out. If you have read them, I assume you’re already a rabid fan of Will or Jem or Tessa or Magnus Freaking Bane, and therefore I don’t have to tell you get yourself a copy. You probably already have 50 and are now using it to wallpaper your room. I mean… I’m certainly not doing that….why do you ask? That would be insane. Speaking of, I HAVE AN EXTRA COPY! You know what that means! GIVEAWAY!

To enter to win one (1) new copy of the Clockwork Angel manga vol. 1, just leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, Oct. 31st. I will have Magnus Bane use his warlock magic (and/or use a Random Number Generator if he’s unavailable) to pick one winner.

Rules: Winner must live in the US or CA. The winner will be drawn on Thursday, November 1st, and posted here in the afternoon. The book will be happily shipped to the winner as soon as possible after they send me their address. Void where prohibited and all that jazz. Entries must be posted by midnight PST on Halloween, 10/31/12. Any comments after that are not eligible. If you comment and do not wish to enter, please say so and I will merely draw a new number (or have Magnus pick a new winner) if it lands on you.

Good? Good.

FTC Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. Nothing else was exchanged.

GGC12 Panels: Why Men Write Women Poorly, With Greg Rucka

This panel was inspired by a piece comic writer and novel author Greg Rucka wrote for i09 and can be found here. But it seemed like a good topic to address at Geek Girl Con, so he took the stage with Susana Polo to talk about his article, his method of writing believable, realistic women, and answer some questions.

When Polo started reading comics it was for one character. She says it takes a while for you to pay attention to the names of the authors on the comics. And one of the names that kept coming up was Greg Rucka. No Man’s Land, Batman, etc. Rucka is also the author of the Atticus Kodiak series.

Rucka says he wrote the i09 piece in response to being asked how he writes realistic female characters. There are two part to the question: 1) how does he, having a penis, write characters without a penis? And 2) why aren’t more people doing it. “How do we do it?” Rucka asks. “I try to treat all characters with respect…. Characters are never all one thing. That is bad writing.” To assume that is the same thing as saying Harry Potter is a scar. Characterization is a million things. They are built on their history, education, experiences, sexual orientation, etc.

But when it comes to men writing women, we have to acknowledge we live in a sexist society. Rucka says, for example, he can walk down a Seattle street at 3 am, and doing that is a different experience for him than a woman. So it needs to be acknowledged, but that doesn’t mean it’s all you think about. “We ignore gender and characterization at our peril,” he says.

Of course, like any writing advice, Rucka reminds us, “Any writer who tells you this is how you do it, eye with suspicion.” One of the reasons writing works it that it’s an individual voice. There is no one right way.

His fourth Kodiak book is his first told from another character’s POV. That character is Bridgett Logan, Atticus’ ex-girlfriend, and a woman. In first person, everything is character because it is a character voice. Atticus might describe a chair as “sickly green” but Bridgett would call it “a piece of junk.” Bridgett is an Irish catholic girl from the Bronx who is a recovering junkie. Her perspective and narration are affected by those things.

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GGC12 Panels: Chicks Dig Comics

This panel discussion is about women in the comic fan community and addressed the myth of the “fake geek girl” and the new “geek is sexy” marketing that’s been cropping up.

Chicks Dig Comics is an anthology collection by female writers and artists, published by Mad Norwegian Press. The panelists were all contributors, and they are:

Sarah Kuhn. Author of One Con Glory. Her essay is Me vs. Me, and is about why she doesn’t like the conversation of who would win in a fight. She’s not a fan of pitting characters against each other. 
Jill Pantozzi.
She’s writes for The Mary Sue, among other things. Her essay is about the Green Lantern as metaphor for her life and the emotions people go through as fans of comics.
Sheena McNeil. She is currently “Editorix and Chief” of webzine Sequential Tart, which was created to support women in comics. Her essay about the evolution of the zine and her experiences with it, and her knowledge of comics.
Rachel Edidin
. Editor at Dark Horse. She works behind the scenes in comics. Her essay focuses on the editing and how she engages with comics in that way.
Erica McGillivray. Writer and blogger at 6’7″ and Green. She’s also the head of Geek Girl Con. Her essay is about Geek Girl Con and she and others decided to create it after connecting through the cosplay community.
Jen Van Meter. She has written for dc and marvel. She hesitated when asked to contribute because she was worried about writing nonfiction, since it had been a while since she’d done it. But her daughter was having issues at school and it reminded her of being young and relying on horror comics, and wanting to like scary stories. She found Vampirella, among others, so her essay is about how those comics helped her deal with fear and social anxiety.

After introductions, the panels opens by talking about Geek Girl Con and what it means to them, and how comic fandom has changed for women. Kuhn says one thing that’s really great bout GGC is the sense of community. Pantozzi is very thrilled that people and fans are happy to come together online and in person. When she started her own blog, there weren’t a lot of women out there writing about comics and that’s changing now. Twitter has helped the community grow and connect as well.

Kuhn agrees. She even has a Twitter list called “Nerd Girl Mafia.” As far as connecting to other female comic fans, she says things shifted when comment sections popped up on the internet. As much as we hate those, before they existed, you had to email someone to reply, which took a lot of effort. Comments allow other women to say hey, I am a lady and I like these comics too.

McNeil says that when manga peaked in the us, female readership of comics went up. Some places embraced that, and some did not. With manga you didn’t have to go to a comic book store to get it. And there’s a 50/50 chance the author is female.

Edidin got involved tn the comic book world from several different angles at the same time. Writing essays and working at Dark Horse .”One of the things that I’ve found I the feminist comic community.. is that it’s really celebratory.” There are a lot of stereotypes about women competing and being catty, but it is largely the opposite in the comic world, at least as far as she’s observed.

McGillivray came from the Buffy fandom and the world of fanfic writers, both of which are largely female, so when she got into the comic scene, she was like where are all the ladies?

“I’ve probably got ten years on very one here,” Van Meter says. Back when she was a kid who liked comics, the stereotype was closer to true. There weren’t even comic book stores, just comics on spin racks, so there was no way to really interact with other fans until one found the convention circle. Even there, she often felt like she was one of the few women there as a fan and not a girlfriend. When she first started going to SDCC twenty-one years ago, the ladies’ room was always empty. The first time she had to wait in line for the restroom, she was thrilled.

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Geek Girl Con Panels: Batgirls! (Or, Women in Comics)

Batgirl, in person

If you haven’t heard of Kyrax2, aka San Diego’s Batgirl, here’s the deal: She’s a fan of comics. This year at San Diego Comic Con, Kyrax2 went to many of the DC panels and asked questions about the lack of women both in the comics and on the panels themselves. This got various responses although she was booed at least once. Thus, at Geek Girl Con, she hosted a panel, along with DC Comics Writer Gail Simone, to address these issues and discuss the state of women in comics.

Kyrax opened by talking a little about Comic Con and her questions to DC. She was told DC wants to hire female writers, but none are applying, and no one would say how to get into it. She asked Gail Simone how to get started in writing comics.

Simone’s answer was the standard (but true) axiom: if you want to be a writer, you need to write. Start a blog or a web comic. Give it a schedule and update it regularly. This shows you can keep a schedule. And it gives you something to point to if people ask to see your work. If you want more female characters, create them.

Kyrax expanded her thought and added, “I don’t think all female characters need to be strong.”

Simone agreed, adding that there are different types of strong. Strong doesn’t mean “bad ass.” She stated that “we don’t need all female characters to be Wonder Woman. Feminisim is about choice.” What the comic book industry needs is a variety of realistic lady characters.

Kyrax thinks that “a strong woman is a lady in control of her circumstances.” Simone added that even if she isn’t, it’s the ability or desire of a character to take control of her circumstances.

An audience member asked Simone how, with a serial story that comes out in small parts, does a writer portray someone in control when the story opens with things wildly out of it? Simone answered it’s about trusting the writer to take it somewhere good. Her objection to many females in comics is that they fall into the common trope of existing solely to be the victim, so the man can go and avenge her. As a community, especially people who want to write or draw comics, Simone said we need to create more stories with different types of strength, so the woman isn’t constantly forced into the damsel role.

Simone has always been a big fan of Lois Lane. She’s not physically strong, but she’s a kick ass no-nonsense reporter who’s great at her job. Around the office, people tell Clark Kent to “be more like Lois.”

Kyrax mentions her entry point into fandom was Sailor Moon, which features not one but ten different female sailor senshi, all of whom have different personalities and strengths and weaknesses, so everyone can find someone to relate to. And that’s what a lot of geek girls want: a variety of women characters. Simone agrees, adding that the industry still needs to learn that just because you’re female, doesn’t mean you’re part of a hive mind.

Simone’s advice to help that happen (and it is happening; she cites the existence of Geek Girl Con as a prime example) is to get your voice out there. Comment on things you like as well as things you don’t, rather than just the negative. Vote with your dollars for comics you enjoy. Start blogs, visit forums, go to conventions, and join the conversation.

My Small But Sweet Jet City Comic Show Gallery

This was my first year attending the Jet City Comic Show here in Seattle, and I’m glad I went, even though I ended up spending too much money on comics. That shouldn’t be surprising since the small, one-day con is basically a giant dealer’s room. (On the plus side, I have new comics to read!) There weren’t many panels but I walked around a few dozen times, bought some great art, spoke to some artists and writers, and generally had a good time. I also took pictures!

I felt like I took a billion and a half photos but it turns out I only took a meager 27. What? How did that happen when I felt like I was snapping away constantly? I have no idea. Anyhow, if you were there, you might be in a photo. If not, you can see what it looks like.

Ladies holding down the fort at the Geek Girl Con Booth.

The rest of the photos can be found in here.