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{comics} womanthology: team mariah (1/2)

Womanthology-Cover-BigI am reading through IDW’s Womanthology: Heroic, a themed anthology featuring work by female artists of all ages and geographic locations who write, pencil, color, ink, letter, edit or some combination of the above. The anthology is divided into Teams, groups organized under a comic-industry professional: usually an editor. We’ve met with Team Suzannah and Team Bonnie. Today, I will be featuring half of  Team Mariah, which is “Part 2” of the 5-partitioned book—a huge section spanning pages 79-141. I will try to keep my comments on pin-ups and comics brief and as the book provides site addresses, I will link them to the names (upon first mention) so you can check out more of their work. Images are hard to come by without planning—and one of these years I will be organized enough to allow sufficient time. The !! marks my faves.

mariahmccourtblogpicThe team leader Mariah McCourt is a Writer, Editor & Artist out of San Francisco who loves “squidly octopi and cupcakes.” And “ever since [she] was a little kid [she has] wanted to ride a dragon.” I know, they found the coolest women for this project. She has written comics like True Blood, Angel, Illyria: Haunted, and was editor of The Last Unicorn graphic novel. And Mariah’s reply to the anthology’s question: what does Womanthology mean to her?

Helping creators break into comics is one of the things that is most rewarding about working in this industry. […] so working on Womanthology, which is entirely about giving new creators an opportunity to work with professionals and tell stories they want to tell, there way no way I was going to say no to that.

Team Mariah

Camilla provides an image here.

“untitled” (80-4); writer: Raven Moore (Chicago); penciller: Camilla D’Errico (Vancouver); colorist: Alicia Fernandez (Barcelona); Letterer: Rachel Deering

A girl wanders aimlessly, “preying upon innocent creatures” (80), a hunter who one day finds herself the guardian of a glowy spirit blob who is lost. The two travel together in search of the creatures forgotten destiny, “a perilous journey” (82) leading them to an important realization regarding will and purpose; bodies and souls.

The violet hues are lovely, a dusky palette and thematic predecessor to a dawn, to a life giving season like Spring beyond the door. The anime influence and the steampunk elements should be pretty pleasing to most.


“Jeanine d’Arc” (85) by Tyler Lee (San Diego).

There is a simplicity, a cleanliness that makes this portrait appealing; her standing before contained storytelling images. There is a calm, far-seeing look to the armored woman’s face—a lack of ferocity in posture and visage.

“Snow White, Blood Red” (86-9). Story by Peggy von Burkleo (CA); Art/Lettering by Alexis Hernandez (CA).

This one is a dark tale, and I don’t only mean the deep colors in and out of frame. A young woman peddling wares would see the queen, and having gained entrance we anticipate the true purpose of her visit. Objects the young woman uses to tantalize the vain Queen are used as weapons against her. There is a wonderfully rendered scene captured in silhouette. The “Snow White” story finds its revision in the rescue of the Prince, the awakening kiss is hers to give. A disturbing aspect can be found in the girl having found the Prince unconscious on a bed in the Queen’s bedchamber. Selene came to mind there (unintended?). Anyway, an interesting aspect for older readers, likely won’t register for the younger who should be taken with the idea that Snow White is the hero here.

The artwork and palette made me think a spare Ted Naifeh’s Courtney Crumrin.



!! “In Every Heart a Masterwork” (90-4) Writer Gail Simone (OR); Art: Jean Kang (CA); Letters: Rachel Deering.

Kid sister in her purple bunny suit finds her teenaged brother’s room temporarily vacated, and after perusing a few of the many comics littering the room retrieves her children’s art kit. Alongside popular genre driven frames of brother’s comics (depicted in true fashion), little sister is reinterpreting them in her own way—which are notably sweeter and more innocent. Mother comes along as the bunny-clad girl is leaving her brother’s room, “Maybe we’ll go buy you comics a girl might like;” to which the girl replies from one page to the next: “Its okay Mama—I made my own” (93-94). And she did make her own, pasting and drawing atop the pages of her older brother’s comics. It is an awesome moment that holds both terror and excitement.

Everything in the crafting of this comic is pitch-perfect. {image via Jean Kang’s blogspot}

“What Goes Around Comes Around” (?) (95) by Naan (IA).

The page is bibliocentric with two females in respective frames (top left & right) and time periods reading Sherlock Holmes and Manga. below, flanking an oval, are mothers with their imaginative young daughters dressed up in “boyish” action. Another set of framed corners feature a woman holding a baby (left) and a girl graduating, a family pic with a spectre at the furthest edge (right). Between these two panels and below the oval is “At some point in the future” a young woman reading on a futuristic screen. And the oval we’ve been circling? a female head as a silhouette in profile, presumably and ancestress, and presumably Marie whom the young woman facing her addresses her as in her thanks. The timeline runs top left to bottom left to top right to bottom right to move left to bottom middle and upward, tracking a sense of female empowerment through generations of women in lineage via images that depict education and pushed boundaries.



!!“Everwell” (96-101) writer: Jody Houser (CA); art: Adriana Blake (Ontario) and Fiona Staples (Canada); letters: Rachel Deering.

Explaining this will sound more complicated than the actual reading of the story. “Everwell” is a place and there is a nursery song that tells a story of a magical flower with healing properties. It was sought by a King with many and powerful resources and they did not survive the journey or the arriving for there is a fearsome creature guarding the flower. But one young man, fearing the death of his beloved braves the journey and the creature and returns—the only one to do so. His story, illustrated in pencil-work on yellowish-tint and muted frame, is told by an old woman to her granddaughter as they garden in a modern time—she wants to relay the power of the song of the story in it. Their story overlays an earlier time (though after the young man’s) of a woman who’s husband and son will not survive without the flower. Having nothing more to lose she sets out to find the flower with all that she has in offering to the creature with her. Each time line is tinted differently, which is important because while the story holds a strong narrative thread, its parts come from a splicing out of time visually and textually. The truth of the old woman’s words “songs and stories have power” is shown in a few ways. A perfect comic for lovers of old song and tales making use of the unique qualities of the graphic form in the telling; while performing in its own way the story can be told and can inspire.

I do not know which artist did what, but there are shifts in the drawing style of the timelines—all of which are beautiful—but could also merely aid in differentiating time/personality.


“What’s Lost is Lost” (102-5) by Annie Nocenti (NYC); Penciller, Colorist, Letterer: Alicia Fernandez (Barcelona).

In what appears to be a post-apocalyptic setting replete with a grey-yellow sky, a young woman is headed to someone who can help her remember something her accompanying boyfriend is trying to persuade her to leave alone. A few key phrases/quotes question the importance of seeking memory versus moving forward, ahead and well beyond it. I like the move from the devastated urban space to the garden at the end…w/ a haunting figure peeking from grass. The artwork is good, and I like the exploration here in story, but sometimes the voice-over and the dialog texts competed for attention and were interruptive to each other. I like the determination of the female protag over her jealousy, and am unsure of what to do with the “memory” found or an ending that proved everyone else right. Adore the conversation of memory overlaying a post-apocalyptic relationship.

!!“Places” (106-9) Writer: Ariel Rivas (midwest); Illustrator: Amelia Altavena (SF)

A young adult daughter is derisive of her mother’s interest in UFO’s let alone her other nerdy pursuits. But the mother is unapologetic about her interest in Science, Science-fiction, and Comics. Dining at a campus of some sort during some sort of science-fiction convention, the mother relays her encounters with science and the science-fiction—the story informing the daughter of her craziness. And then a sweet moment with a young girl softens the daughter and suggests the mother is hardly ridiculous (though we understand her coolness unquestionably). The mother and the little girl share a familiarity with the guides that lead them out of other dimensions, the kind that draw the open-minded to explore further the imagination that accompanies the more didactic academic lessons on the scientific realms.

The bright colors are attractive, youthful and energetic and science-fictiony. The dialog is nice, moving quickly and easily over the action on a page. The generational aspect is smart. A fun comic all around.

womanthology banner

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

“Colors” by Kali Fontecchio (81) “color choice is super important,” tips on harmony, popping color, and contrast.

“History” by Gail Simone (85) recommends building a library of history books for inspired writing among other writerly tips.

“Gutters” by Barbara Kaalberg (95) know the anatomy of a comic…

“Editors” by Robin Furth (97) “In my experience, a good editor is an artistic collaborator,” and other identifying traits.

“Visual Detail” by Robin Furth (119) things to remember when scripting out a panel writers.

“Professionalism” by Jessica Hickman (123) “conduct yourself in a professional manner on-line” –when and why.

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