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!

Don’t Spare The Spook – Ghoulish Graphic Novels To Get You Pumped for Halloween

I love Halloween.  The candy, the costumes, the creativity.  This year our store celebrated the Halloween ComicFest and I gathered up all our best reads in the horror category and made a giant display at the front of the store.  Here is a list of my top ten favorites.

10:     Sweet Tooth – Tired of all the hype around zombies but still love yourself a good post-apocalyptic tale?  Then look no further than Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth.  The world has gone to hell in a hand basket and suddenly women are giving birth to animal-human hybrid babies – some more feral than others.  Sweet Tooth is one such hybrid named for his penchant for chocolate bars and other sweets.  The story is captivating and the artwork ranges from sweet to downright creepy.

09:     The Lost Boy – This book has beautiful artwork.  Like, blow-your-mind beautiful.  Also fairly creepy in spots.  Now this is a book on Scholastic’s print so it’s suitable for younger readers.  A boy moves into a new house and finds a tape recorder in his room – that thrusts him into a dark and dangerous mystery about a boy who went missing years ago.  It’s completely in black and white – which only adds to the spooky appeal.

Can't get enough of this work!

Can’t get enough of this work!

08:     American Vampire – Stephen King partners with Scott Snyder and they both finally do Vampires some justice.  They don’t sparkle.  It isn’t a high-school drama with fangs.  This is horror storytelling at it’s finest – I would love to see this become an HBO type show – it has that kind of potential.

07:     The Walking Dead – Speaking of television shows – The Walking Dead has hit the big time.  I always laugh internally when people come in and see the graphic novels on the walls exclaiming “Oh, Walking Dead has a comic now?”  I’ve watched the show and I have to say, I’m not a fan.  It lost so much of what made the comic so amazing.  And it IS amazing.  Also much, much, much more sinister and horror-filled.

Darker than the show!

Darker than the show!

06:     From Hell – To be honest, this is not a one night read.  Moore treads a fine line between the fact and fiction of the Jack The Ripper case.  There is social commentary here – of both London in 1888 and the world in the 1990’s.  More than a century later we are still fascinated with the Ripper case and the conspiracy theory Moore presents is as plausible as any other.  This is a heavy read but well worth it.  Brew lots of tea and settle in for the long haul if you pick this up.

05:     Bedlam – This book is so popular we can barely keep it on our shelves.  An ex-homicidal maniac is “cured” of his mania and now wants to help the police clean up his city.  But can he be trusted?  A fast-paced, often disturbing read.

04:     Locke & Key – Fantasy, mystery, horror.  This comic has all that and more.  With stunning graphics that portray the character’s emotions perfectly Locke & Key is a dark fantasy about a New England house where the keys unlock doors that transform all who walk through them.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat through each volume – I know I was.

One of the keys opens YOUR HEAD.  You can put things in...and take them out.

One of the keys opens YOUR HEAD. You can put things in…and take them out.

03:     Beasts of Burden – Some probably won’t find this scary.  I mean, it does involve talking animals.  And zombie dogs.  And witch cats.  And creepy haunted sewers filled with flesh eating rats.  All brought to life by one of my favorite artists Jill Thompson – her watercolors blow my mind.

Adorable Sandman chibis?  Yes please!

Adorable Sandman chibis? Yes please!

02:     Witchdoctor – This esteemed Doctor fell from medical grace into the waiting arms of some seriously black magic.  Now he heals the paranormally inflicted with a sarcastic wit that rivals House.  I LOVE THIS BOOK.  It’s everything I want.  Great characters you fall in love with.  A bit of off-beat humour and rawkous action.  And some seriously fucked up monsters.  Hell yeah!

01:     Uzumaki – It’s Halloween.  I’ve given you horror.  I’ve given you creepy.  I’ve given you sick humour and bloody action.  What could possibly top the vampires, zombies and witchdoctors on this list?  I present to you Uzumaki:  Spiral Into Horror.  And spiral you will.  Junji Ito is a master of horror.  Creating twisted tales that puncture your brain and sit festering in your gut long after you’ve put the book down.  His artwork and his storytelling set him apart from everything on my shelf.  I can read horror and dark fantasy but when I want to be truly scared – I read Uzumaki (or Museum of Terror)

Creeeeepy!

This page always gets me creeped out.

 

Do you have a Halloween favorite to recommend?  Please let me know!Have a safe and happy Halloween and a blessed Samhain (happy New Year) to all my pagan friends!

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My Little Doctor – Here To Save The World

Geeking Out For a Paycheque – Love What I Do

Ah, geek paradise.  A job at a local comic book shop.  Sitting around reading comics and manga all day and talking it up with local geeks on all subjects of nerdom.

Not really.

The comic shop I work at tries and succeeds at being like other retail stores in many aspects.  The customer service.  Friendly knowledgeable staff.  Open and inviting atmosphere.  It challenges the common notion that all shops are dirty, seedy hole-in-the-wall dungeons staffed by disaffected, overweight owners and frequented by customers who have never seen a girl or taken a bath.

We let in natural light.  We keep the store tidy and work hard to merchandise products in an easy to find and pleasing manner.  We sweep and mop, organize, dust, inventory and work our little butts off to make sure that all our customers (be they hardcore comic guys or confused grandmothers) have a pleasant experience in store.

So, no, we don’t have time to read comics.  However, we love the products in our store and will happily share our knowledge with you should you ask.  What do I do?  I’m a manager but my area of expertise is anime, manga and related products.  I also enjoy a hefty knowledge of comics (thanks to years of training by our resident expert) and basic knowledge in Dungeons and Dragons and various boardgames.

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