Posts Tagged ‘women’

An Artist, Who Escapes

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The Holocaust is a subject that’s been covered in comics before, most notably in Art Spiegelman’s Maus, but Lily Renée, Escape Artist is a graphic novel takes a lighter approach, mostly due to the fact that its subject was lucky enough to never be in a concentration camp, though she did suffer her own trials and travails as a result of being Jewish during the time of the Nazi regime.

Lily Renée Wilheim was a teenager when the Nazis invaded Vienna, which meant she was old enough to recall the events clearly, but also young enough to be shipped out as part of Kindertransport, which means the bulk of the biography focuses on events that aren’t often talked about in the greater narrative of Jewish oppression and the Holocaust. We follow Lily’s struggles as a Jewish refugee in England, being classified as an “enemy alien,” and finally her immigrant experience in America, which leads her to her ultimate status as a pioneer in women’s comics.

The book focuses on smaller details and anecdotes in Lily’s journey, like eating too much food on a train or working as a mother’s helper. This makes it easier for younger readers to relate to Lily, but it also leaves the book feeling a bit shallow since it barely touches upon the larger war narrative going on. Lily herself may not have been too concerned with the bigger picture, as she was doing her best to survive, but the book is very much written toward an educational bent, so more historical context would have been helpful in imparting a history lesson to its readers. Most of the heavy-lifting is left to the appendix in the back, which explains some of the finer historical details. In this manner, it reminds me of the American Girl books, except that those novels are definitely intended to focus on their storytelling first and foremost, better to relate to their audience of 10-year-old girls (and sell more dolls). They aren’t sold as educational materials.

The copy on the front and back covers of Lily Renée, Escape Artist seems to be aimed toward promoting a strong female role model, except that the aspect of her they promote—her comics work—is barely touched upon in the book. She doesn’t reach that point until the last few pages of the last chapter, and it really feels like they’re name-checking the titles she worked on. I would have liked to see sample pages from her work, or maybe more audience reactions, or some further indications of how this work changed her life, beyond that it paid for her mother’s operation and that one of the characters “was a fantasy” for her. If her work in comics is being used as a hook to get people to read this book, it should have gotten a lot of more page time. While I enjoyed the book, it ultimately felt unsatisfying.

Lily Renée, Escape Artist
story by Trina Robbins
pencils by Anne Timmons
inks by Mo Oh
published by Graphic Universe (New York, 2011)
ISBN 978-0-7613-8114-3


Single Female Superhero

Monday, March 28th, 2011

David E. Kelley of The Practice and Boston Legal fame has been working on a new Wonder Woman television series for Fall 2011, and by now you’ve probably gawked at pictures of actress Adrienne Palicki in the new Wonder Woman costume, which multiple comic sites pointed out as resembling the latest costume in the comics, and Entertainment Weekly noted that it “de-emphasizes the patriotism and seems to play up the comic’s Greek mythology.”

In addition to those costume photos many sites have gotten their hands on an early draft script and have offered up their thoughts on it. All of them seem to have mixed feelings about it, though the things that stick out vary by writer. Comic creator Adam Warren also had a few things to say about the script, but rather than simply blog about it, he decided to have his character Empowered have a go at it:

(Part 1, part 2, and part 3)

She’s got kind of a point; how many “insecurity-plagued” superheroines do we need? Didn’t we already get an insecurity-plagued lawyer on Ally McBeal? And shouldn’t Wonder Woman be above that, being a literal goddess and all?

In this case, we’ll just have to wait until Fall and make our own judgments when the show premieres on NBC.

(via Bleeding Cool)

Draw an Angry Comic

Monday, January 24th, 2011

People living in cities are accustomed to experiencing all manner of unpleasant sights and sounds as they traverse through their daily lives, but there are few that are as aggressively disgusting as the Foetus-Mobile, a truck that drives through Calgary plastered with images of dismembered fetuses as part of an ongoing abortion protest by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Regardless of how you stand on abortion, showing images of this nature in public is inappropriate and disrespectful (I won’t even link you to their website, since they do the same thing on their front page). People in Calgary are getting tired of seeing this not-so-little truck of horrors drive down their streets, so the the Calgary Pro-Choice Coalition has chosen to fight back using images of their own: a comic.

In it, they explain that abortion is legal and supported by the majority of Canadians, that pro-life organizations use scare tactics and disinformation to pressure women against having abortions, and most importantly, what the citizens of Calgary can do to fight back against the Foetus-Mobile.

Though the comic does dip into the “women have a right to choose” argument that many pro-life advocates are likely to ignore, most of the comic stays on target, focusing on getting rid of the truck: a target that both sides can agree is offensive.

(via Bleeding Cool)

Clinton and Palin: Part Deux

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Bluewater Productions started their Female Force line in late 2008 with biographies of two women who were very much in the public eye at the time: Sarah Palin and Hillary Rodham Clinton. As you’re probably aware, their stars haven’t faded since then, and now Bluewater has announced a pair of follow up releases to illuminate their recent exploits.

Take 2 of these and call Palin in the morning.Hillary Second Comic

Out first is Female Force Sarah Palin: Take 2, written by Dan Rafter with art by Nathan Carson, focusing on Palin’s life post-potential VP. This will include her job with FOX News, the Tea Party speeches, her reality show Sarah Palin’s Alaska, and of course, her presidential aspirations for 2012. As you can see by the cover, Bluewater is fully embracing the discomfort both Democrats and Republicans have felt at times thanks to Palin’s actions and words.

As an example, the Bluewater comic references the speech in which Palin had jotted notes on her palm. Her critics savaged her. But Palin, much like Ronald Reagan did throughout his political career, used humor to turn a potential mistake into a victory when she showed up at a later speech with the words “Hi, Mom” written on her palm.

As for Hillary Clinton, her comic lies outside the Female Force line. Writer Jerome Maida and artist Laura Guzzo present Political Power: Hillary Clinton #1, focusing on Clinton’s time after the election, including her position as President Obama’s Secretary of State. Of course, they also hint at her running for President in 2012 as well. The Palin comic is scheduled for release in January, while Hillary Clinton gets hers in March. Both issues will be 32 pages and retail at $3.99. Will I be writing a post about Palin and Clinton’s third Bluewater comic books come 2012? Probably.

Hey Ladies,

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Even though comics are still fighting a public misconception that they are “just for boys,” that hasn’t stopped marketers from aiming their laser sights at girls using comics.

It’s certainly not a new trend—as evidenced by this 1974 ad for Pursettes Tampons. They might lean on the overdramatic side, but using a comic format isn’t a bad way to illustrate why a woman might need them.

If that wasn’t enough feminine protection for you, more Pursettes ads can be found on the web, including:

In more recent years, the now-defunct CosmoGIRL magazine had The Adventures of CG! by Yishan Li and  Svetlana Chmakova, and Alloy Media has a “comix” section on their gURL website (which we’ve mentioned before). What all of these have in common is that they mine a specific and stereotypical subset of the female gender: the girly-girl.

There’s nothing wrong with that, as these companies are trying to market to the largest audience of women possible, and most women do have their girly-girl moments. And gURL does do a lot of health comics, to which every girl can relate. They even have a series of “boy’s perspective” comics by Andrew Lin.

New comics have appeared since we last talked about the site, and new comics continue to be added, but to tie this post together and wrap it up I refer you to this story: “Grossest. Story. Ever.” by Adriana Yugovich.

That’s not an exaggeration; if you don’t want to be squicked out at the end, don’t read it. I was trying to figure out if guys would find it less or more gross than a girl would, and ultimately decided it doesn’t matter. It’s just gross. But I liked reading it anyway, and so I’m linking it. You’ve been warned.

Democratic Forces

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

It’s been two weeks since Election Day in the United States, but the excitement hasn’t died down one bit. Bluewater Productions didn’t waste time, announcing an addition to their Female Force line—a biography of future First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Mrs. Obama is a dynamic force and one of the most influential women in the world,” said Bluewater Productions President Darren G. Davis. “Her potential influence on future policy decisions makes her a fascinating figure to feature.”

 “In creating an image of our new first lady, Michelle Obama, it was my goal to represent her class, beauty and intelligence,” said artist Vinnie Tartamella. “I hope I reflected these qualities and characteristics in this historical piece. I’m truly honored to have been asked to create this.”

I wonder when Mr. Tartamella was commissioned to do the cover—probably before the election, which makes me wonder if this artwork would have ever seen the light of day had Barack Obama lost. Would they even produce a comic about Michelle at all? Given that Hillary is getting one despite losing the primaries months ago, and Sarah Palin’s was announced weeks ago, it’s likely Michelle Obama still would have gotten a comic, sans White House.

In other political news, Sean Tevis lost his bid for Kansas State Representative, 48% to 52%. No wrap-up comic has been produced yet, though he did mention the possibility of a sequel.

Female Force

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

The Presidental Material comics featuring the life stories of U.S. presidental nominees John McCain and Barack Obama went on sale October 8, but the political fun doesn’t stop there. Bluewater Productions announced their intention to release a series of “Female Force” comics, a continuing series spotlighting influential women in modern history. Note the “modern” part—no Susan B. Anthony or Harriet Tubman. Their first subject? Senator Hillary Clinton.

“Female Force: Hillary Clinton” will explore both sides of the issue, from her positive contribution to the new feminist ethos to the detractors who argue against her attempt to secure the nomination to the bitter end. Though the battle for the presidency now comes down to John McCain and Barack Obama, interest is still strong and steadfast for what might have been the first female presidential nominee in history. Join Bluewater Productions as we examine the enigma of Hillary Clinton.

The cover design strongly evokes the imagery of the IDW comics, though they’ve already had to redo the cover once—the flag had the wrong number of stripes.

The mistake has been corrected, but they’ve gone and done it again, putting too many stripes on their upcoming Sarah Palin comic:

Palin’s life story from PTA president to the Alaska governorship to her surprise nomination as John McCain’s running mate is scheduled to be the second story in the recently announced “Female Force” comic. A final chapter is yet to be written.

“Regardless of your opinion, Governor Palin is a phenomenon. Her historic nomination has helped shape the national debate of arguably the most important presidential election in over 75 years,” said Bluewater president Darren Davis. “No matter what happens in this election, people will still be talking about Sarah Palin, she is indeed a female force!”

For both Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Palin, they better hope interest is high—Hillary’s comic isn’t due for release until January 2009, and Sarah’s will be released in February.

gURL Power

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Back in June, during the MoCCA Art Festival, I picked up a small mini-comic for $1 titled “How to Get That Amazing Rock Star Hair” by Kiki Jones. Little did I know that it was originally created for The site itself is some lifestyle guide for teenage girls, but let’s take a look at the comics themselves.

How to Get That Amazing Rock Star Hair (That You’ve Always Wanted) is what it appears to be—a primer on how to make your hair a little more flamboyant by coloring it unnatural colors. It gives you the basics on bleaching and coloring, but always reminding the reader to seek assistance when needed, ever mindful of the fact that the site is read by teenage girls with potentially litigious parents. But despite the limitation of page size, the comic does a good job of explaining the process and making it a little less scary.

Many of the other comics on the site are your standard, quirky teen drama, but here and there are the occasional advice or instructional comics. Kiki Jones also presents A Crash Course in Coffee, which explains exactly what “espressos” and “lattes” are with simple diagrams; Bites, in which she talks about getting piercings in her lower lip; and Pop Rocks: My Anti-Drug, which is about what it’s like to be a person who doesn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs.

Though most of the comics are pretty light and fluffy, it should be noted that the lead comic on the site is Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? (about urinary tract infections). Hmm, you learn something new every day.