REVIEW: A Distant Soil vol. 1: The Gathering by Colleen Doran
Princes and monarchs will contend
Who first unto your land shall send
And pawn the jewels of the crown
To call your distant soil their own.
—Henry David Thoreau
This weekend, I attended Boston Comic Con at which the talented Colleen Doran was a guest. Doran was literally the first woman in comic books I ever encountered, when I began reading The Sandman when I was 16 (though technically, both Jenette Kahn and Karen Berger’s names were on those books as well).
Her art struck me deeply even then, back when I barely grasped comics art and admittedly spent more time on the words than the pictures. In the third volume, Dream Country, she and Neil Gaiman reimagined the Element Girl’s existence as a tragedy. The Element Girl constructs a synthetic face from the elements so she could enjoy meeting an old friend for lunch, only to have it fall into her food— of course that sequence itself was memorable, but Doran was also able to clearly draw in the friend’s face confusion, horror, and concern in one expression, in just one panel. And Doran’s miniseries with J. Michael Straczynski, The Book of Lost Souls (soon to return, at long last, from Image Comics), was one of the first comics I started buying in issues, and the first I bought for the artist.
So it confuses even me to realize that I’ve previously never read more than a few dozen pages into A Distant Soil, Doran’s most famous work. It has been available for free on her website for as long as I can remember but whether due to my short attention span or continued attachment to paper, it just hasn’t gotten read. But I have been anticipating the definitive re-issue ever since it was first announced, and have followed the travails of the restoration process: learning the printer had destroyed the original negatives, tracking down long-sold off art, hiring restorationist Allan Harvey, and a generous gift of a high-resolution scanner and computer with the necessary processing power from JMS are but a few of the peaks and valleys. All told, the restoration has cost upwards of $100,000.
I was able to pick up a copy early at Boston Comic Con from Doran herself, and I think Doran and Image should not have too much trouble earning that back. (Full review under the cut.)
We interrupt this Market Monday to bring you this gorgeous new Stephanie Hans cover. Cover to what you may ask? To The Girl Who Would Be King, a YA(ish) novel by none other than blogger, podcaster, and Womanthology contributor, Kelly Thompson! The story:
Separated by thousands of miles, two young women are about to realize their extraordinary powers which will bind their lives together in ways they can’t begin to understand.
Protecting others. Maintaining order. Being good. These are all important things for Bonnie Braverman, even if she doesn’t understand why. Confined to a group home since she survived the car accident that killed both her parents, Bonnie has lived her life until now in self-imposed isolation and silence; but when an opportunity presents itself to help another girl in need, Bonnie has to decide whether to actually use the power she has long suspected she has. Power that frightens her.
Across the country, Lola LeFever is inheriting her own power by sending her mother over a cliff…literally. For Lola the only thing that matters is power; getting it, taking it, and eliminating anyone who would get in the way of her pursuit of it. With her mother dead and nothing to hold her back from the world any longer, Lola sets off to test her own powers on anyone unfortunate enough to cross her. And Lola’s not afraid of anything.
One girl driven to rescue, save, and heal; the other driven to punish, destroy, and kill.
And now they’re about to meet.
Kelly Thompson has been working on this novel for the better part of five years, and has even gotten interest from some of the major prose publishers, but they were ultimately scared away by the story’s violence and because they didn’t think it was “YA enough”. Did Kelly give up?
No! She’s taken to Kickstarter to drum up printing costs and whatnot to publish it herself! And she’s got both digital and print incentives, plus art prizes by none other than Ross Campbell! Check out the sample chapters on her blog, and if you like what you read, why not kick some dollars her way? It’s only been up a few hours and is already 35% funded, help her round the track!
Help me finish this list of LGBQT YA Graphic Novels and Comics
A while back, I got a request for a list of LGBQT Young Adult graphic novels for a High School library. I got a few suggestions on Twitter, but now I want to throw it open to readers for suggestions.
So far I have Young Avengers, Runaways, Pedro and Me, Tough Love, Strangers in Paradise, Skim and Batwoman.
Please let me know your recommendations and I will compile a list and publish it.
I wouldn’t exactly call SiP YA, but I think that high school aged queer girls would appreciate it. On to my recs:
- Ariel Schrag’s Awkward & Definition, Potential, and Likewise (Schrag is a queer lady who documented her teen years—including her sexual awakening—as it happened)
- Collections of Paige Braddock’s Jane’s World comic strip
- The Invisibles by Grant Morrison (again, more for high schoolers, but it features a prominent and positive depiction of a transwoman, and later a lesbian in an eyepatch!)
Everyone else, throw in your suggestions!
Robot6 has a great piece from Colleen Doran about manga and western comics, on the heels of her latest GN Mangaman, with novelist Barry Lyga, about a manga character who falls into an American high school (which is also a comic book— very meta)
Of course, I was a cartoonist before I ever saw any manga. I don’t consider myself a manga artist in the way a real Japanese artist would understand the term. People have actually published articles about my work and called it “Amerimanga.” I don’t agree. I incorporated some of the things I learned from manga in my own work later, but I think there’s a specific meaning to the term “manga” when used in Japan. I was still fascinated by the manga business, and was delighted to see more and more manga trickling into the US market. I like studying it, I like the style. But manga artist or artist who likes manga? I think the latter applies to almost all Western artists working with manga tropes. So much confusion about what is manga and what is not. Basically, manga means comics. But when speaking of a storytelling style, it means a lot more than that.
She also talks about the early days of manga coming over to the States, and consulting with Bandai when they were trying to bring over Sailor Moon for the first time.
"I’ve always read comics," [P.C.] Cast told Newsarama. "I grew up thinking that my piles and piles of comic books were completely normal. Superman was my boyfriend forever. Swamp Thing, I also had a super, giant affair with for quite a long time. Thor, the Fantastic Four — I read everything."
—Author P.C. Cast talks to Newsarama about shepherding her House of Night novels into comics form. She also discusses making the comics accessible to people who haven’t read the novels, and the vision for the evolution of the House of Night comics-verse.
House of Night #1, art by Joëlle Jones, cover by Jenny Frison, based on the novel by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Dark Swan: Storm Born #1, co-written by Richelle Mead