{comics} womanthology: heroic, team suzannah

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I was going to start at the beginning of the book, but since Thursday morning (my intended post date) turned into Friday afternoon, I am started by read-through of Womanthology: Hero with “Part Four” (pp 179-222). [see my plan for the read-through.]

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The indie anthology of female-only generated comic goodness is divided into sections. These sections are teams of writers, pencillers, inkers, colorists, and letterers who share an editor. “Part Four” is “Team Suzannah,” as in editor Suzannah Rowntree of Westchester, NY.  We meet Suzannah on page 179 (and in this interview), learning that she is Features Editor for Life with Archie Magazine, Archie Comics, and as with every editor page, was asked “What does Womanthology mean to you?”

“When I was a kid, I felt a lot of the time like I was the only girl reading comic books. Boys were, but they totally didn’t want to talk to girls at that time, whether they were doing cool things like reading about Spider-Man or not! Projects like this really help to foster a sense of community, whether you’re an industry veteran or an up-and-comer still in school.”

Womanthology has created a global community, age and experience vary, and every Part runs the gamut in story and style and character coloring. My comments on each of the comics or pin-ups will be brief (probably) and I will link the talents’ on-line info to their name. {I had considered a “grade” per offering, but it became complicated so I ditched it.}

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“Swimming” (180-3)

Writer: Ashley Avard (of PA), Artist: Dani Jones (of NH) {see image from sketch}, Letterer Rachel Deering.

“Swimming” opens with a girl studying the models pinned from ads and covers on her wall above her bed (where she no doubt dreams). There is a close-up of Olivia’s hand resting near an picture of a woman in a bathing suit–well, her slender thighs, hips and waist anyway. This panel is followed very neatly by an equally close frame of a plate of “processed food” set before Olivia at the kitchen table. Here we (and Olivia) observe the mother’s conversation on the phone openly criticizing her daughter’s weight and appearance, “she’s getting to that age where her pudge isn’t so cute.” Next page, she is teased at school, brought to rage and tears. And where she meets Sheila who has curves and has come to appreciate her differences. Down come the pin-ups, out comes the bathing suit without the t-shirt cover and up stands Olivia to her mother, assuring her “It’s okay. I don’t mind.”

The drawing and the coloring are pretty. The story, despite the after-school special feel to Olivia and Sheila’s interaction, is enjoyable, and obviously relevant as it hits on the major influences of both poor and positive self-image.

“The Nail” (184-7)…a favorite.

Script by Maura McHugh (of Ireland), Art by Star St. Germain (of SF, CA)

The line work, the brown cast, the scrawling letters, are all perfect for this dark historical piece about a real heroine who was imprisoned by People’s Republic of Hungary during the early 1950s. This excerpt from Dr. Edith Bone’s 7 year stint in solitary confinement is dated 1953. The story encourages the value of a strong and well-tended mind. That the female protagonist is isolated and kept beneath the watchful eye of a male guard is not lost on the reader either.

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“Pink Elephants” (188-92)

by Ellen T. Crenshaw (of Boston, MA)

What wouldn’t you do for the sake of a good night’s sleep when the pink elephants come to call? I love the hero(es) here. It would be good for the young reader to understand the reference to pink elephants, but it isn’t necessary. Crenshaw creates very expressive frames for a story that relies on the visual as much, if not more, than the text. For these short comics in this anthology, you notice some do this much better than others–or perhaps, some are more accessible than others. And what of that last page? did the mother have the key all the while, just maybe not the confidence (yet)?

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a page (193) artwork by Rachel Moir (of Ann Arbor, MI)

a fierce looking everyday woman armed with paint, defining her own self-image. Accusations washed over in read, her brush ‘whiting out’, on her palette in white paint: “You’re Wrong.” [according to her tumblr, she was a last minute addition with a one night deadline, not too shabby, eh?]

untitled (194-7)

Writer: Kayla Banks (of CT), Artist: Brenda Kirk (of Columbus, OH),

Colorist: Jordie Bellaire (of Brooklyn or Dublin), Letterer: Rachel Deering.

Even though Callie isn’t keen on the “do a good deed” assignment for class, she doesn’t want to fail the class. Hijinks ensue until she discovers one good deed that will not induce personal injury. Turns out a good deed can find a person rather unexpectedly and feel perfectly natural aka perfectly effortless–and it can even mean involving awkward human interaction. Light, fun and full of attitude, even if I wasn’t sold on the style.

“Meanwhile! on Tethys, orbiting Saturn…” (198-201)

Story by Lisa Fortuner (of Kaiserslautern, Germany), Art by Cathy Leamy (of Boston, MA), Letterer Rachel Deering.

I was not sure what to do with this one at first. It was not an immediate–ooh so pretty and smart. The style felt blobby college paper comic art. But it has the kind of bright coloring and ridiculous humor apt for critiquing classic superhero depictions. The social crit is there, as bold as the color and line and cheesy flavoring. I like the turn on compliance versus liberation, because the mask is both liberating and a hindrance for the super-space-hero. It is in-your-face and the kind of absurd that won me over and made me laugh.

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Writer: Kendra Pape-Green (of Ontario), Artist: Vanessa Satone (of Brooklyn),

Color by Kimberly Ann Black, Letter: Rachel Deering.

Highly accessible art, but I totally dig the textured (mixed-media) backgrounds in some of the panels. the story is a bit of an oddity as well, a bit of a “no good deed goes unpunished” sort of tale. A sitcom feel replete with the laugh track, this is a light comic read about a young modern witch who has very naughty house guests. {image from Satone’s DeviantArt gallery, “Fairies in the kitchen,” is the first page of the story minus textured walls and speech bubbles (obviously)}

“Seeing Eye Sheila” (206-9).

Writer: Kayla Cagan (of LA, CA), Artist: Joanne Ellen Hansen (of Ontario),

Colorist: Dawn Best (of Columbus, OH), Letterer: Rachel Deering.

A girl named Sheila volunteers at a pet retirement home and on her first day takes a seeing eye dog for a walk. The dog makes some sort of supernatural connection and now Sheila can hear him. They converse and as they walk the dog encourages her to see the world differently and become a more compassionate individual–to become a seeing eye helper. “You can teach the world to see differently and look deeper Sheila,” yeah, no hidden messages, no effort for subtly here. I really like how Sheila is illustrated though.

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untitled (210-13)

Writer: Jenni Goodchild (of Oxford, UK), Artist: Sherri Rose (of FL), Inker: Nicole Goff (of VA),

Colorist: Dawn Best, Letterer: Rachel Deering.

Set in a mideval fantasy, a father tells his child about the sword on the mantel. he used to be the hero of the land, but he fell in love and wanted to settle down. So a new hero stepped forward and the world was re-written–her name is Caitlin the Brave and she reminds me of Zoe (from Firefly). I really really liked that it is a story where everyone could be whom they wanted. The father wanted to reside in a different role, and Caitlin steps up from the shadows where she’d been fighting at his side all the while. The art is not my cup of tea, but the story is.

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“Down the Line” (214-7)

Writer: Georgie Lee (of NC), Artist: Beatriz Bravo (of NJ), Color: Dawn Best, Lettering: Rachel Deering

This one is pretty. Vibrant colors mark out the animated (or soon-to-be) from the blue wash of the rest of the landscape. This comic is sharing an idea, the idea of “pay it forward” where there are “plenty of opportunities to do something less impersonal and more influential than writing a check.” A “chain effect begins,” the comic says and will illustrate. “Fate is always watching,” a young figure in a black hoodie and skull and sickle tattoos, and it is suggested that a good action/person does not go unnoticed, and that these acts may not only save another, but your self as well. {image, sketches of her “main bohemian girl” from Bravo’s tumblr)

a page 218, artwork by Darla G. Ecklund (of Columbia Heights, MN).

A dog resting, the front and foreground w/ text in a celtic (?) type, “Meet the hero that rescues your heart without even trying…And when you didn’t even know it needed rescuing.” the coloring and delicate lines…

untitled (219) by Nicole Sixx (of LA, CA)

A mother (a queen) tells her daughter (a princess) a “Once upon at time” where there was a “great warrior.” The warrior who is “a giver of life, and, if need be, death” is “beauty,” “power,” “light” and “love” and when the warrior meets The Great Darkness it gives way saying, “The only thing I have ever feared is hurting you.” The warrior is a knight in black and rides a white unicorn with a purple mane and tail. Deceptively simple.

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a page 220, artwork by Jennifer Mercer (of FL)

An athletic woman in a full body suit (urban ninja style) stands with a sword in front of her Wanted Poster, gesturing and smiling. a nice juxtaposition with page 221’s portrait of a heroic female. {I think the artist calls the picture “revenge,” found here.}

a page 221, artwork by Meng Tian Zhang (of Toronto)

Under “Skills” it reads “Painter” which we already know from this image above it (as seen here, the 5th image “Heroic” in the portfolio, a rapunzel-like figure)

“We Can be Heroes” by Rori (of St. Louis) (222)

A look at how women in comics (both writer and character) inspire young reader. A comic providing insight and inspiration. and I adore the purple and the personality. A gorgeous inclusion for this anthology.

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sprinkled throughout Womanthology: Heroic there are “Pro-Tips.” In “Part Four:”

“Self-Employed” by Devin Grayson (188). “Almost all comic creators are independent contractors […] you’re going to have to learn to market yourself and negotiate contracts…”

“Tools” by Renae De Liz (192). “It’s not the tool that makes the artist…” an encouraging tip on building a tool kit.

“Inking Portfolio” by Stacie Ponder (193). what every Inker should include.

“Dress” by Barbara Kaalberg (195). what to and not to wear to interviews; for instance cos-play may not be wise.

“Criticism” by Stacie Ponder (207). something we all should keep in mind.

“Kindness” by Renae De Liz (218). In a world where networking keeps people in work…

“Blah Blah Blah” by Annie Nocenti (219). “Talk back to your writer.” Comics are collaborative work…

“Editing” by Barbara Randall Kesel (220). “If you’re editing because you want to be a penciller or writer, remember that you’re not the penciller or writer. your job is to inspire, motivate, and enhance their work, not substitute your own.”

“Portfolio” by Nicole Falk (221). have a portfolio that shows a work you can be confident in.

“Ruts” by Kimberly De Liz (222), “Avoid ruts. Mix up your media and try new techniques.”

–there are plenty of samples of media and technique on Team Suzannah, more on the rest of Womanthology: Heroic next Thursday (or Friday)…

6 Comments Add yours

  1. this looks amazing! thanks for letting us know about it!

  2. I LOVE that cover image. So clever and creative.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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