Archive for girls and comics

Comics by women: some recs for a friend

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Manga, Science fiction, Young adult with tags , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2012 by Cara Marie

These are some recs for my friend Sarah, who has gone back to Sweden. I’d lent her some comics while she was home, and the night before she left, she commented on how all these Vertigo comics were written and drawn by men, and edited by women.

And that it was all very well that they had good female characters, but she’d like to see more women written by women.

Flatmate and I kind of laughed (it’s like self-defence).

But here are some comics recs for Sarah. I have no idea how easy they would be to get hold of in Sweden, of course!

Ōoku, by Yoshinaga Fumi

Alt-universe historical Japan: a plague has decimated the male population. Full of interesting what-if, the way things change, the way they don’t. Most of it is told from the point of view of men in the shogun’s harem, but it is a very expansive narrative – covering a huge period of time, and a variety of stories.

My favourite arc is in volumes 2 and 3. I have so much love for Iemitsu, the first female shogun. How her cruelty hides her hurt, how that hurt has shaped her, how it shapes the world. And how the male protagonist’s perspective on her changes, once he sees through her games.

It’s like ‘The Queen and the Soldier’ except (somewhat) less heartbreaking.

It’s an interesting comic intellectually, there’s a lot to chew on, but it’s also very emotionally gripping. And gorgeously drawn.

There’s a fabulous series of thinky posts on the first few volumes at The Lobster Dance – very spoilery, of course! But well worth reading.

Mystic, by G. Willow Wilson

Secondary-world fantasy, two best friends who dream of becoming magic users are torn apart when one of them is inadvertantly picked as a royal apprentice, and the other is not.

I’ve reviewed the first issue before, with pictures etc, and I found the whole thing to be very satisfying – except that I wanted more!

It’s very much a comic pre-teen Tamora Pierce fan me would have loved … and I haven’t changed that much.

Eternal Sabbath, by Soryo Fuyumi

A woman who feels disjarred from normal human relationships, who is a brilliant scientist but who is awful at social cues, gets involved with a man who can pass perfectly well in human society … but is really something else.

It’s a sci-fi thriller choc-ful of ethical dilemmas, and some of the most sparse and striking artwork I have seen. But also I can just relate a lot to Mine – knowing you’re not getting things right, but not being able to do differently; dissecting emotion, using it, and feeling like a cheat.

I could also hope to be as brave and forthright as she is.

Ceres: Celestial Legend, by Watase Yuu

I started reading this back when manga was still released issue by issue. Sarah read it then too, but I don’t think she ever got to finish it – I didn’t get all the trades for years, long after they stopped releasing the single issues.

Ceres is the story of Aya, a teenage girl who discovers the true legacy of her family: that they are descended from ‘celestial maidens’ (like selkies), and that some girls in the family are able to manifest as their foremother, Ceres.

Naturally, this means they have to die. Aya included.

The series is like, a billion doomed love stories, and the happiness you grab while you can, and not hiding from your feelings. About sacrifice, for the people who are your friends and your found family, and about the will to survive.

It has a lot about gender, not all of which I agree with, but it always feels very honest.

Also it’s just plain addictive shoujo manga, and the kind of comfort reading where you don’t mind you’ll be bawling by the end of it.

Crossgen relaunch – Mystic #1

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Middle fiction with tags , , , , on August 12, 2011 by Cara Marie

Cover art for Mystic #1

Writer: G. Willow Wilson, pencils: David López, inks: Álvaro López, colours: Nathan Fairbairn, cover: Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts

Today I picked up the first issue of Mystic, which is the third series to come out from  the new Crossgen. All of which I have been inspired to pick up, simply from the covers on the shelves.

Turns out it is not a new imprint designed specifically to appeal to me, but rather the reimagining of series from a now-defunct company. But I do feel like this is them sneakily starting an imprint aimed at getting teenage girls to read comics. They all have women or teenage girls on the cover, and the one that also has a man has the tagline: ‘He’s the world’s greatest detective. She’s even better.’

I was a teenage girl not that long ago, and I’ve clearly gone for it.

Mystic probably has the premise that appeals most to me: two (female) best friends, stuck in an ‘orphanage’ where they work off their debts to the mistress, both interested in magic. Genevieve is the optimist, the one who dreams of being an apprentice wizard. Giselle is more pragmatic, the one who always talks back, who just wants to get out.

Guess which one accidentally finds herself apprenticed to the High Artisan?

In a scan from the comic, many people are shocked or horrified that Giselle has been selected as an apprentice; Genevieve stands with tears in her eyes.

Not Genevieve

At this point, I am definitely intrigued: I like the characters, and I want to see how the conflict between them plays out. And if it has school-story elements to boot, I will be so happy.

I’ve found the dialogue a bit awkward thus far: sort of pseudo-archaeic, and Giselle seems a bit modern to me, like she’s been reading up on unions. (But hey, fantasy world, maybe she has!) I think it will grow on me though. The art is Disney-esque, simple enough that the rather flat colouring doesn’t bother me, and the faces are brilliantly expressive.

I’ll definitely be reading further, and hope it delivers on its promise.

(On the copyright page at the end of the issue, there’s an invitation to send your letters in, which a note to mark them ‘okay to print’. Is it wrong that I am seriously hoping this means a LETTERS COLUMN? I do miss the letters columns. Where’s the benefits in buying single issues without them? I also hope that means this is going to be an ongoing series, rather than a four-part mini like Sigil and Ruse. It feels like it should be.)

The Plain Janes – Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Posted in Comics with tags , , , on August 5, 2007 by Cara Marie

Hera gave me The Plain Janes for my birthday, which was the first release from DC’s new Minx line. I hadn’t bought it initially despite it fitting my girls+comics interests because the art didn’t really appeal (some artists are just so good you get put off by anything less). It was good to read though. And proving that just as girls can read boys’ comics, so can boys read girls’, devilcactus read it before me. At my party. Which was a wee bit rude. But it’s not as if it’s a long read – maybe 128 pages?

So: city girl moves to the suburbs – fairly typical premise but The Plain Janes does it differently. Jane’s family has relocated after a bombing, the consequences of which affect Jane throughout the story – and rather than getting in with the cool clique, what does Jane do after arriving in her new home? Forms a terrorist art collective!

This is fun. It did end too abruptly for my liking – no real resolution. I think I would’ve enjoyed a longer version – getting to know the other Janes better, and even the main one. The story is really more than can be fully explored in a single graphic novel.

Not entirely sold on the art either – I think their heads seem too big? But the characters are very expressive. Actress Jane is my favourite, and I particularly like the image of her when they’re all dancing in the streets.

Mostly I critique because I liked it, and I would’ve liked it more fleshed out. It’s written by Cecil Castellucci, who’s written several YA novels. I don’t know anything about her, but reading this makes me wonder how many comics she actually reads. It’s not as expositiony as a lot of comics by non-comics authors are, but on the other hand whilst the page count might be right for this story if it were a novel, it’s too short as a comic. One picture does not equal a thousand words. I suppose she’s come into it writing to a page count, but isn’t experienced enough to know how a story fits that.

I do think it’s a pity she’s the only female writing for the Minx line. Yes, there are a lot less females working in the comics industry so there’s less talent to pick from, and obviously you can’t get Chynna Clugston to do everything but it is sad. And I find it interesting to consider that if not for the blurb at the back, I wouldn’t have known Cecil Castellucci was a woman. But then, you’ve got Andi Watson too, so I suppose it evens out in that respect.

In summary, a good first effort, and I’m looking forward to seeing her do better in the future. Now I feel like I have to buy the whole line… for research purposes.

Borders is open

Posted in Comics, Manga with tags , , on March 19, 2007 by Cara Marie

So, last Thursday Borders opened in Wellington. I have been waiting for this – naturally, I went the day it opened, despite being broke that day. Mind you, it was hard to do a decent shelf examination, because it was lunch-time and packed.

Here is what I like about Borders: the selection. I like the way they stock all these American-distributed books I would otherwise have to order in. I like the way they have all this manga sitting right there on the shelves. Lots of it. With the entire series in stock (at least at first…). My sister went in the afternoon and couldn’t even get in to look at the manga – the aisle was filled with Wellington Girls girls.

This makes my heart happy. I know there are lots of girls who will read comics who will not necessarily go into a comic shop. I don’t blame them. I have a friend who detests Graphic because of the unhelpfulness of the staff. I also know a lot of things that appeal to girls aren’t things that are kept in stock. So, in this respect, Borders is excellent. Oh, the joy of actually being able to browse!

She goes on, about comics, and about how Borders isn’t all that after all…

Being a girl wanting manga

Posted in Comics, Manga with tags , , on March 18, 2006 by Cara Marie

Today a girl came into the store who would’ve been about twelve, with a book token, wanting to know if it was still valid. Then later she came up and asked me if we had any manga, and I had to say no. And later I thought I should have asked if she had anything in mind, to tell her that we could actually get it for her. And I got pretty worked up because, you know, I was once a preteen girl who wanted manga, and I understand that comic stores can be intimidating. Also, they don’t necessarily have a whole lot that’s going to appeal to girls, especially young ones.

Cut because I realised how long this is.