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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.)

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Black Widow: Agent of SHIELD by Thea Rodgers (after Steranko)

Black Widow: Agent of SHIELD by Thea Rodgers (after Steranko)

Kelly Sue DeConnick's Advice on Getting Started in Comics

  • : Find a collaborator and start producing mini-comics;
  • : Produce a full-length script;
  • : Read as many scripts as you can get your hands on -- here's a free resource http://www.comicbookscriptarchive.com/archive/
  • : Take your favorite comics and reverse engineer them -- try to produce the script that would have resulted in that book;
  • : Take the worst comic you can find and reverse engineer it. What went wrong?
  • : Pick three artists whose work you admire and whose styles are different. :Write the same short script for those three different artists. Analyze your choices;
  • : Read books on craft.

ProFile Friday

Shelli Paroline (born September 30, 1983) is an American cartoonist, best known for her work on the Adventure Time tie-in comics.

Paroline attended Massachusetts College of Art and Design, earning her BFA in Studio for Interrelated Media in 2006. The same year, she co-founded the Boston Comics Roundtable, a collective for comics creators to socialize, find collaborators, and discuss projects. She has contributed to their Inbound anthology and helped to organize MICE, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo.

At Boom Studios, she has worked on such properties as Muppet Snow White and Ice Age. In 2012, Boom announced that she (along with husband and collaborator Braden Lamb) would be on art duties for the newly-licensed Adventure Time. The series was a great success, and at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 Paroline won an Eisner Award when it was awarded “Best Publication for Young Readers”.

Her independent work includes “The Trouble Is”, “The Potter’s Pet”, “Higher Ground”, and a Star Wars fan minicomic trilogy. She also drew Tricky Fox Tales for Graphic Universe.

For my first post-SDCC post, it seems appropriate to celebrate a newly-minted Eisner-winner! And she’ll be at Boston Comic Con next weekend!

Words of comfort for those lamenting you’re not at Comic-Con

All the cool news, people, and other exclusives you’re salivating over? If you were actually here, you wouldn’t be aware of 95% of it. I for one am not looking forward to a week or more of finding out about cool stuff I missed and whining, “But I was even there!”

Webcomics Wednesday
Monster Pop! by Maya Kern

Monster Pop! is a comic about two best friends and the slice of life adventures they share! Monster Pop! is set in an alternate Earth where monsters coexist with humans; sometimes they integrate well, sometimes they clash. This comic is heavily influenced by shoujo manga. Monster Pop! includes musical and interactive elements: Every now and then there will be a page with animation and/or music and most of the main characters have their own blogs (which you can find linked on the cast page).

Kern’s Tumblr

Webcomics Wednesday

Monster Pop! by Maya Kern

Monster Pop! is a comic about two best friends and the slice of life adventures they share! Monster Pop! is set in an alternate Earth where monsters coexist with humans; sometimes they integrate well, sometimes they clash. This comic is heavily influenced by shoujo manga. Monster Pop! includes musical and interactive elements: Every now and then there will be a page with animation and/or music and most of the main characters have their own blogs (which you can find linked on the cast page).

Kern’s Tumblr

Women Among the Eisner Nominees

In under two weeks at San Diego Comic Con, the 2013 Eisner Awards will be announced. And while I can’t say if this is the first time it’s happened, there is at least one woman nominated in most categories. The exceptions are for the most part based in the distant past of gender disparity in comics (Best Archival Collection/Project - Strips and Comic Books), a dearth of translated European material (Best U.S. Edition of International Material)

By far, women dominate the Early Readers award, which is very enheartening with regards to acclimating the youngest generation to the ubiquity of women in comics

There are still some strange oversights: no nominations for Fiona Staples as an artist, for Amanda Conner at all, and only one female colorist nominated when Jordie Bellaire, Bettie Breitweiser, Rachelle Rosenberg, Laura Martin, and Laura Allred have all worked regularly.

Still, it’s an impressive show of recognition for women in comics, and hopefully the sign of a regular upward trend. And I’m personally excited to see that Shelli Paroline, my fellow Boston Comics Roundtable member, nominated multiple times for her work on Adventure Time!

The full list of female nominees are under the cut.

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ProFile Friday

Liz Berube, (born January 7, 1943) also known as Elizabeth Safian, was a romance comics artist for DC Comics in the 1970s. She illustrated fashion features, horoscope pages, tables of contents and other various ornamental pieces. She was also a prolific colorist for DC and Archie comics.

Berube was born in Brooklyn, NY and attended Martin Van Buren High School in Queens where she started a comic strip for the school newspaper, which has been continued by different students to this day. She then went on to study cartooning at the School of Visual Arts. After leaving SVA, she became a colorist and assistant editor for Archie Comics. In the early 1960s, she met DC editor Jack Adler, who brought her into the publisher.

In the late 1960s, her newspaper strip Karen was carried by Newsday Syndicate in 40 newspapers at its peak. She has called Karen “my alter ego.”

In 1970, she began working on DC’s romance comics line, bringing more modern, stylized art to the genre, which was still being drawn in the realistic style that had become parodied in Pop Art. She worked on such titles as “Date with Debbi”, “Falling in Love”, “Girls’ Love Stories”, “Girls’ Romances”, “Heart Throbs”, “Secret Hearts”, “Young Love”, and “Young Romance”. She was offered the position of editor of the whole line, but as a 24-year-old single mother, she preferred the flexibility of working from home that pencilling and coloring allowed and declined. The line folded a few years later in 1973.

She worked as a colorist for Neal Adams’s Continuity Graphics from 1985 to 1989. Throughout her career she has worked on children’s books, cards, and other commissioned work.

Berube currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Webcomics Wednesday
Witchling by Renee Nault

The small town of Lymes sits on the border of a mysterious forest that no one can enter. In the attic of Chateau Lymes, an orphan girl named Jane is haunted by strange dreams of the forest. Jane has always been different - she can talk to animals, and cats flock to her. As her dreams begin to spill into her waking life, Jane finds herself drawn toward the forest for answers.

Issue 1 available in print; Issue 2 to be posted August 1.
Nault’s Tumblr

Webcomics Wednesday

Witchling by Renee Nault

The small town of Lymes sits on the border of a mysterious forest that no one can enter. In the attic of Chateau Lymes, an orphan girl named Jane is haunted by strange dreams of the forest. Jane has always been different - she can talk to animals, and cats flock to her. As her dreams begin to spill into her waking life, Jane finds herself drawn toward the forest for answers.

Issue 1 available in print; Issue 2 to be posted August 1.

Nault’s Tumblr

A film based on a comic book that was created by a woman just won the most prestigious film prize in the world, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or, the first for a comic book movie.
It is also the first queer love story to win a Cannes Palme d’Or.
The comic is Julie Maroh‘s Le Bleu est Une Couleur Chaude. Published in French in 2010, an English translation titled Blue Angel is due out in October. It is the story of a young woman whose ideas on love and romance are turned upside down when she falls for a confident blue-haired young woman. The book is also highly acclaimed, having won the Audience Prize at the Angoulême Festival.
The film, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, appears to be titled La vie d’Adèle - chapitre 1 & 2, suggesting that this film is the first part of a multi-part adaptation. No word yet on an Anglophonic release for the film, but Blue is the Warmest Color appears to be the international title of choice.
You can watch clips of the film and press panels at Cannes on the film’s festival profile. Félicitations to Julie Maroh and everyone who worked on the film!

A film based on a comic book that was created by a woman just won the most prestigious film prize in the world, the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or, the first for a comic book movie.

It is also the first queer love story to win a Cannes Palme d’Or.

The comic is Julie Maroh‘s Le Bleu est Une Couleur Chaude. Published in French in 2010, an English translation titled Blue Angel is due out in October. It is the story of a young woman whose ideas on love and romance are turned upside down when she falls for a confident blue-haired young woman. The book is also highly acclaimed, having won the Audience Prize at the Angoulême Festival.

The film, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, appears to be titled La vie d’Adèle - chapitre 1 & 2, suggesting that this film is the first part of a multi-part adaptation. No word yet on an Anglophonic release for the film, but Blue is the Warmest Color appears to be the international title of choice.

You can watch clips of the film and press panels at Cannes on the film’s festival profile. Félicitations to Julie Maroh and everyone who worked on the film!

Webcomics Wednesday
Sticky Comics by Christiann MacAuley

Sticky Comics is my (mostly) humorous bunch of random drawings, scrawlings, and comics. (If you Google “sticky comics”, you will find there’s an erotic comic series called “Sticky”, but unfortunately, that’s not my work.)…Cartooning makes me laugh, which is one of my favorite things to do ever.

Christiann’s Tumblr
(This one’s for you, Mom)

Webcomics Wednesday

Sticky Comics by Christiann MacAuley

Sticky Comics is my (mostly) humorous bunch of random drawings, scrawlings, and comics. (If you Google “sticky comics”, you will find there’s an erotic comic series called “Sticky”, but unfortunately, that’s not my work.)…Cartooning makes me laugh, which is one of my favorite things to do ever.

Christiann’s Tumblr

(This one’s for you, Mom)

This weekend is MoCCA Fest in NYC, and that’s where I’ll be!  If you’re a lady and are going to be around Friday night, come to the Drink and Draw Like a Lady event at THE PRODUCTIVE, 40 W. 38th Street, 5th Floor.
I can’t wait to meet and discover a bunch of new lady creators and great work over the weekend!

This weekend is MoCCA Fest in NYC, and that’s where I’ll be!  If you’re a lady and are going to be around Friday night, come to the Drink and Draw Like a Lady event at THE PRODUCTIVE40 W. 38th Street, 5th Floor.

I can’t wait to meet and discover a bunch of new lady creators and great work over the weekend!

The Diary of a Teenage Girl - Teaser from Marielle Heller on Vimeo.

About three years ago, actress and playwright Marielle Heller adapted Phoebe Gloeckner’s raw and unflinching Diary of a Teenage Girl for the stage, and now she has posted what appears to be a teaser trailer for a film version!

The story revolves around 15-year-old Minnie Goetze, who lives in San Francisco in the 1970s, emerging from a neglectful homelife into an out-of-control haze of adolescent confusion and self-discovery, involving sex, drugs, street life, and suicidal feelings.

Gloeckner is one of my favorite artists, though I have trouble reading even her short stories due to the intense relationship I feel towards her characters, all of whom suffer abuse of one form or another (so trigger warnings abound!). Sean T. Collins recently posted an unpublished interview with Gloeckner from 2003 where they discuss how she handles a lot of upsetting material in a way that doesn’t sensationalize it. Which, in my opinion, is what makes it so upsetting. It is nigh impossible to keep emotional distance from a Phoebe Gloeckner story—it is just too real. In addition, her art style, due to her training as an anatomical artist, is very realistic, making the characters come to life in the reader’s mind far more intensely than most other artist. 

Collins also discusses how her work is almost totally ignored by the comics establishment except in the context of “women in comics”. While this is less true now than it was in 2003, I agree that Gloeckner is still criminally underappreciated, in far too small a proportion given her talent. Hopefully this film will help correct that oversight and bring her work both comics and mainstream attention.

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