Fab Fearless Females In Comics – Summer Reading List

At the comic shop I work at we had a special event last weekend that was met with much success.  A “Ladies” night.  A night where women and woman-identified could shop, chat and just generally geek out in an open store staffed by all female staff and attended by a local female artist.  Even at my store (which is pretty damned inclusive and open) women have felt uncomfortable.  It was nice to shop without the judgement or stares from other male customers and our ladies told us so.

So in the spirit of the night here are my top recomendations of graphic novels and comics that are either written or drawn by a woman or feature a fearless female as it’s main character.  For the simplicity of this list, I’m going to avoid super hero books – even though several fit the bill (Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Young Avengers) and focus on “alternative” publishers such as Image and Boom.

Saga – A Romeo and Juliet type sci-fi fantasy that features one kick-ass mama who is on the run from multiple people trying to kill her all the while looking after (and breastfeeding!) a newborn baby.  This book is full of sex, violence, humour and fun.  Written by Brian K Vaughn (Y The Last Man, Runaways) and drawn by Fiona Staples, Saga will leave you breathless and begging for more.

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Rat Queens – What can I say, I love this all-female adventurer group as they hack, slash and sass their way through a dungeon and dragon-esque world.  With all the blood, sex and drug references this is not for the faint of heart but give these Queens a try and I assure you, you will be smitten.  (A surefire hit for anyone who has ever played D&D)

Pretty Deadly – Kelly Sue DecKonnick brings us a Western that is beautiful and dark.  The storytelling is unlike any other comic on my shelf – raw and powerful – with artwork to match.  I’m not usually a fan of westerns but Pretty Deadly had me from page one – and has left me yearning for more.

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Sex Criminals – Truthfully I don’t know what to say about this book.  It took me by surprise-I didn’t think I’d like it.  At it’s heart it seems to be about sexual awakening and our society’s opression of sexual expression.  A woman finds out that when she orgasms she can…stop time…and later meets a man who can do the same.  Then they turn to a life of crime using their, um, combined powers.  There’s more to it than that, but I’ll let you have a Sex Criminals awakening of your own.

Castle Waiting – Truly a fable for modern times – this isn’t about princesses or knights or battles against good and evil, but about being a hero in your own home (or castle).  A dysfunctional family of leftover fairy tale characters lives together looking after a somewhat lost pregnant woman.  Beautifully drawn and masterfully written – this is a fav on my shelf.

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This One Summer – A beautiful look into girlhood and growing up – this graphic novel was one of the most heartfelt things I’ve read this year.  A must read – and all ages too.  About two friends named Rose and Windy who are weathering the storms in Rose’s house – and the looming tragedy in the small summer getaway.

Strangers In Paradise – Oh how I love this book.  The complications of friendship.  The raw and powerful emotions.  The realness of the characters (from their personalities down to their angles and curves).  Terry Moore has crafted a masterpiece with SIP and if you haven’t already, I URGE you to give it a read.  There’s more to it than meets the eye at first glance – more passion, more substance, more reality – than anything else I’ve ever read.  I’ll be forever thankful to my friend for introducing me to it – and SIP will remain in my heart one of the comics that showed me comics were more than just mis-proportioned females in capes.

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Nana –  Yes, this is a manga.  And if you value women in comics at all this is a manga you will read.  Written and drawn by the Manga-ka Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss) the story about two women named Nana becoming impossible friends and the ups and downs their lives take is a rare glimpse into the Japanese music industry – but also has two of the most realistic representations of women in manga I’ve ever read.  Though it doesn’t end the ride is well worth it as we wait for the creator to feel better and perhaps, someday, we’ll find out what happened to Nana and Nana.

The Wicked and the Divine – This comic only has one issue so far, but by Gods what an issue!  I was drooling by the end of it for how amazing it was – I’ve been waiting my whole life for this comic.  By the team that brought the Young Avengers comics I love so much how could I resist?  The artwork practically sings with it’s subtle emotions and the characters are already so likeable and the ending such a twist that I cannot wait for the next issue.

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Lumberjanes – A great all-ages comic about five girlfriends at a sleepaway camp who, in scooby doo (or gravity falls) style find themselves up against all manner of supernatural strangeness.  It’s fun, it’s campy and it’s a perfect fit for a summer read.  Three issues are out now…find them as soon as you can!

What fab, fearless females do you have on your list, and why?

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And they better be good as us, *$%#&^’s!

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My Father, The Most Important Man In My Life (Also The Punniest)

When I was about twelve my father had an altercation with a lady at the bank.  They were screwing him around and he just got angrier and angrier the more she tried to justify the bank’s actions.  Thing is, he’s pretty good at hiding it.  My dad doesn’t get angry often and rarely to that level.  The lady eventually just backed away and ran into her cubicle.  He never said a mean word to her – of that I am sure – but his mere presence had her scurry away like a frightened rabbit.

As we were leaving I turned to my dad and said “Daddy, when you get angry, you get bigger.”

And he does.  Not physically bigger like the Hulk but…spiritually bigger?  It’s like his spirit becomes to large for his already massive frame (my dad is 6’4 and rotund) and seeps out around the edges.

This event sticks out in  my mind as a definitive moment in our relationship because deep down I realized that not only was my father a spiritual man – that he was human.  That he got angry and sad and all those emotions he hid from us to keep the smiles on our faces.

I love my father more than any other man alive.  He is the being to which all my relationships have been put against.  He is the person all the men in my life had to measure up to – and that’s a pretty tall order.  The only one to come close is my husband.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I know.  I have a father who is still alive, still a part of my life, who has always loved and supported me no matter what, who loves my mother with all his heart and would lay his life on the line for his family.  He’s an amazing man and wonderful father.

My dad is a martial artist.  As age and weight has set in he’s stopped practicing save for the occasional Tai-Chi in the backyard, but I say IS because he’s never truly lost it.  He didn’t join a club with levels and belts and all that jazz.  They had one belt and it was there to hold up their pants.  They met in a small club and fought, and they fought hard.  It was a small club as the amount of people who could “stand the heat” so-to-speak was small.  Once a week they’d sit under a waterfall and meditate (in Canada).  The spiritual training was as intense as the physical and he carries both to this day.  He wasn’t the best fighter, he says, but when other clubs would face his during tournaments more often than not the fighters forfeited before a punch was thrown.  So when I looked at other kids and said “My dad could beat up your dad” I wasn’t bluffing.

He told me a story of some dude trying to come up behind and mug him late at night.  That dude left with two broken arms (and I hope a new outlook on life).

I’ll never forget the time that my friend’s husband challenged my (already pushing 50) father to a fight.  Her husband was in his 20’s and as high as he could go in his martial arts club.  We all gathered on the porch to watch and it was over in seconds.  Friend’s hubby was sprawled out on the grass my dad holding onto his arm and pressing down on his chest.  Us ladies laughed our butts off.  Hubby’s pride was hurt but he found a great respect for my dad, and it carried over into a friendship for several years.

He rode dirtbikes in his younger years and met his true love through that activity.  I have a tattoo on my back of a wolf (dad) and cheetah (mom) in a circle done in a dirtbike style – in honour of them.  Dad always says that if he hadn’t met my mom he never would have married.  He’s not afraid to be alone.  He was a lone wolf most of his life before marraige.

He’s a nerd.  Since the first computer was built he’s been fascinated with them.  We had a computer long before most of my friends did, mostly so my dad could tinker with it.  I used it to write Sailor Moon fanfiction.

Now that he’s retired he spends his time on a computer creating 3D models of things he reads about in his sci-fi and fantasy books.  He’ll send them to the author when it’s done to his satisfaction.  My dad is retired and creates fan art.  I come by it honestly.

He reads comics.  He watches samurai movies.  He loves science and technology, cars and football, writing poetry and playing video games.  He’s the punniest man I’ve ever met.  A classic pun will elicit the best of groans, and they are always perfectly timed.

One time on a trip to Rome he got to take his shoes off and stand where Julius Ceasar stood.

One time he cooked macaroni and cheese for dinner and when my brother and I asked why the Kraft dinner was white, we discovered he had cooked the cheese with the macaroni.  Another time he lit a microwave on fire by putting in an Arby’s sandwich still in the tinfoil.  He’s not much of a cook.  But he does make a yummy egg dish full of cheese and hotdogs and bacon.  I used to ask him to make it for me as he took such joy in it.

He was a teacher and I always felt his kids must be so lucky to have him.  He taught the deaf and I would watch as he talked with others using his hands and marvel at it.  Sign language is, IMO, one of the world’s most beautiful languages.  He gave up his weekends to be with us – playing whatever sport my younger brother had decided was awesome at the time.

Through my dad I met so many fascinating people.  A card-reading woman who sparked my interest and empathy in Native affairs (and medicine cards).  A rough and tough biker who took my brother and I for rides on his motor cycle when he wasn’t roaming in a local gang.  A man from the islands who ate ox tail and watched bad martial arts movies.

He taught me compassion, empathy and to be accepting and inclusive in a time when this was still not the norm.  No matter your background, no matter your religion, no matter your sexual orientation – if you were a good person, you were welcomed.

Infinitely curious about the world around him my dad always asks me about my job at the comic shop.  One time when I was taking care of the Yaoi section of the store (romantic manga written by women for women starring guys) dad wanted to read one.  So I picked one out, gave it to him, he read it cover to cover said “Hmm, interesting,” and handed it back to me.  I laughed and handed him a samurai manga instead of a Yaoi.  “Much more my speed, but I see why it’s popular,” he said.

And as a Grandpa?  I’m so happy that I got to give him a grandchild to adore – and that Bean will get to know him at least some before the inevitable.

There are so many interesting stories, so many awesome things I could tell you about my father.  It would take up several posts!  But I think this is enough for now.  The most important thing is that I love him and he loves me and even if I’d created my own father he wouldn’t have been as good as the one I got.  It was father’s day this past Sunday and, though late, I wanted to share with all of you a bit of my daddy.

Am I a daddy’s girl?  Absolutely and I couldn’t be fucking prouder.

Dad at the local Pagan festival with me.

Dad at the local Pagan festival with me.

 

100 Likes Winner!

Hello blogosphere and hope you are having a happy stuff-your-face-with-peeps weekend!

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Mmmm.  All that sugary goodness.  Don’t worry.  Bean isn’t getting to eat any of them.  Father isn’t either.  Muahahahaha!

Ahem.

Anyways, thanks for your patience around the 100 likes giveaway!  Without further ado…here is the finished cover:

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As you can see, Rarity is spending some time taming that lovely mane of Fluttershy’s.  The picture doesn’t do the creative colouring justice – he used all the right colours but added in his own personal touch with some greens and blues.  

And the lucky winner is….”Dameon Dark”!  The winner has been contacted and the prize is in his hands.  🙂  Thank you to everyone who entered!

In other news, did you know there was a game out for the 3DS that is pretty much like animal crossing but in Disney world and you get to hob-nob with all your fav Disney characters while creating fashionable ensembles and run your own Disneyland cafe?  No?  Well you do now.  And so do I….so for now I bid you adieu and welcome you back to our regular programming.

Sticks And Stones – Building Bullies

“You’re a fat, fat gross lady.”

Those words were said to me by a young boy (about 8 I think?) at the play place the other day.  This same lad thought it alright to also berate my young son while they were in the bouncy castle.  He and his friends bounced around Bean calling him all sorts of names.  Bean is too young yet to understand what they were saying – and the malice behind it – but soon he won’t be.  Soon he’ll understand that these boys were making fun of him, not playing with him.  His laughter will turn to tears as he realizes that they were being mean, malicious little assholes.  And I have to wonder if this child had absolutely no fear at calling me fat and gross TO MY FACE what does he do to other children his own age?

And where the fuck were his parents?

Kids say things.  I know that.  Calling me fat isn’t really an insult, it’s a stated fact.  I am fat.  But also calling me GROSS…that’s learned.  Somewhere along the line this boy learned that fat = gross.  Somewhere along the line this little boy learned how to shame, how to bully.

And this is where it needs to stop.  If anyone ever told me about Bean being a bully, I would take a good hard look at OUR behavior and correct both mine and his.  Take responsibility for your children parents – if they are accused of being a bully, it’s up to you to STOP THE BEHAVIOR.  None of this “boys will be boys”.  No denial – no ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away.  Words hurt.  Words can stay with someone their entire life causing mental distress and low self esteem.

Take this story, for example.  A little boy is bringing his Rainbow Dash backpack to school and is being bullied.  The school reacts by banning the boy’s backpack, calling it a trigger for bullying.  But the boy says he had been bullied before, and I KNOW he’s going to be bullied after.  The backpack is just a scapegoat.  Did the school react badly?  YES.  They basically taught this boy, his bullies, and all the other kids that victim blaming is ok.  That if you are getting bullied you are asking for it.  That’s some fucked up shit right there.  I read these stories and I wonder about the bullies parents.  Do they know their kids are being little assholes?  Do they know they are building bullies?  Do they care?

Kid bullies grow up to be adult bullies.  People who feel it’s ok to shame, berate and just be complete asses to total strangers.  Like this douche-canoe in Boston who thought it was just a-ok to make an underhanded comment to a woman on a train, and then just run away like the coward we all know true bullies to be.  He probably called a fat lady gross when he was a kid too.

I’ve been bullied my entire life.  By other kids, strangers, boyfriends, supposed “friends”.  The type of bullying varied but the undercurrent remained the same – they all got off on the power it gave them to make another human being feel worthless.  To make them afraid to come to school.  To assert their beliefs on someone else with detrimental effects.

I still wear each and every scar.

Parents, PLEASE, whether your child is being bullied or is being accused of being a bully, take this seriously.  It starts with us – schools and other public places can only do so much.

No child should have to live in fear and no adult should have to suffer such scars.

The only opinion who matters to me - and he thinks I'm pwiddy.

The only opinion who matters to me – and he thinks I’m pwiddy.

NaBloPoMo FAIL – And WIN!

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Just because, here is my dog. She says, What up?

Yesterday was the second day I was unable to post for NaBloPoMo.  I’ve picked up some late night shifts at work and don’t have time to sit down and whittle out a thought-provoking or even flippant post.  

HOWEVER…

I have gained SO many new readers and am having MY FIRST CONTEST!  How exciting!

I wrote an important post that was featured on BlogHer and helped spread the word about an invisible issue here in Canada.

I’ve got the blogging bug back and won’t be disappearing anytime soon.  

So really, this is a win, despite the not-every-day posting thing.  I’ve got some great posts planned for the future, please look forward to it!

My Greatest Race

I want to tell you the story of the greatest race I was ever a part of.

A race that solidified my devotion and respect for one of our land’s most amazing birds.

Sometime in my early teen years my parents took us on a trip to a park that was having a wild bird demonstration.  We got to see owls, hawks and even an eagle.  I’ve always enjoyed this rare glimpse at birds of prey and was all pumped when they brought out a bird I didn’t really like….at first.

The Turkey Vulture.

He was a big one, with beautiful gleaming black feathers.  When his wings expanded I imagined he could block out the sun while in flight.  His head was fleshy and pink and barren of feathers.  His large beak seemed curled into a smile as he considered the audience with ancient eyes.  I was struck immediately by how perfectly gorgeous he was.  

Not a normal reaction to Turkey Vultures, I know.  

But I loved him.  When the handler asked if we would like to see him in flight I responded most emphatically and was then chosen to race beside him.

They wanted to show just how fast he could fly – as they had with the other birds – but in comparison to a human running.  

I nervously waited beside the handler, the Vulture staring down at me.  I wasn’t afraid of him at all – although close up his size was a bit intimidating.

They counted to three and gave me a head start.  I was to run across the field as fast as my feet could carry me.  So I did.

Behind me I could hear cheers and shouting as wings thundered in the air.  Mr Vulture was in flight, gliding effortlessly and closing the gap between us.

Then he did something no one expected.

When he reached me he dropped down to the ground and ran alongside me, his wings outstretched for balance.  He’d make a squawk every now and again and look at me as we ran together.  I had dropped my pace a bit so we were side by side.

It was one of the most unique and wonderful experiences of my life.  I’ll never forget it, or forget the beautiful bird that refused to fly ahead or behind me – but preferred to be at my side.

To this day I’ve always looked in the skies for signs of Turkey Vultures.  Whenever I see roadkill I look around hoping to catch just a tiny glimpse.  I bought a necklace with a turkey vulture on it to wear.

They are unique and special birds – and face a myriad of dangers.  International Vulture Awareness Day hopes to show people ways they can help.

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Turkey vultures heating up in the early morning sun by Linda Tanner (Creative Commons Attribution licence)

So everyone else can keep their ravens and robins, their parrots and their doves.  For me, my heart will forever be captivated by the Turkey Vulture.