“Respect My Craft” – Colleen Doran

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Colleen Doran

Profession: Writer/Artist/Cartoonist

Notable WorkDistant Soil, Gone to Amerikay, Orbits, Sandman

“So, there came the self publishing movement and the Image revolution. Creators like me decided we’d had enough of being published badly, and went our own way. Image did crazy, scary business; the sales were out the roof. It was comics artist as rock star time. Good and bad for comics, because while the self publishing movement started off with a handful of people like me, everyone who could use a photocopy machine was rushing to the trough; not because they had a burning desire to make comics, but because they were hoping to get rich.” – Colleen Doran

 

Colleen Doran has had an impressive career and has been writing and making art since she could hold onto a pencil. Doran was always fascinated by animation and loved to draw. Her first realization that she could be a comic book writer came when she was ten and got really sick. An old family friend gave her a box of comic books and she devoured them. She couldn’t get enough. It was soon after this the idea of A Distant Soil came about. She has always been a big fan of superheroes. At age 15, she was commissioned by Steven Miller and Sharon Lee (writers) who wanted her to do their cover art. Steve Hickman then asked her to work on the Miss Fury revival for his fanzine Graphic Showcase. This is what got Doran her start and she hasn’t stopped since. She has left a lasting and continued presence on the comic book industry.

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On top of her extensive creative work, Doran is known for her openness about the publishing/comic book industry. She writes a lot on the topic in her blog. This website was also developed in an effort to restore Distant Soil and turn them into digital copies. Her original printer went bankrupt and the negatives (4′ x 4′ flats, not film strips) of her work were thrown out, which amassed to about 1000 pages. The process is slow – more complicated than many people realize – and eats up a lot of personal income. With the restoration effort, she can reprint Distant Soil, as well as keep a digital archive of her work. Stuff like this happens in the industry and it’s really sad that a lot of work once it goes out of print is completely lost. (Point one for the digital age). If you’re interested in her efforts, I highly recommend helping her fund the effort.

Doran’s work on Distant Soil has encapsulated three decades of work. It is about a young woman who’s born on a distant world to parents of a religious dynasty. The comic explores: politics, gender, sexual identity love. (It’s just awesome in other words) Many readers and those in the industry feel this graphic novel series is some of the greatest contributions to the industry and to literature. She creates an intense expansive world and her writing has a profound depth to it.  It was among the first graphic novels to be created solely by a female artist/writer which she came up with in started in high school. What a badass! What an awesome accomplishment, I probably won’t finish my work until my death bed. Goes to show you how consistent writing and drawing can help get work finished. Looking at her credits on her website it’s mind blowing, and I recommend taking a look. She has had her hands on a lot of work that you may not be aware of.

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Some of her latest work includes Gone to Amerikay, which came out in 2012 under Vertigo. It’s about Irish emigrants who come to New York. It spans about a century and follows several individuals whose tale intertwine and weave in out of the characters’ lives. According to scifiplus.net interview she did a lot of extensive research for the graphic novel. “Well, I care about all my books, but this is a historical work, and I don’t skimp. Research is essential to this sort of work. Not only is the story absolutely wonderful, and I owed it my very best, but it is also an important work, and I owe it to everyone involved, including the reader to provide as authentic an experience as possible. We’ve all seen comics where people simply don’t bother to do basic research” (scifiplus.net). She spent a lot of time entrenched in books for research and since a lot of her references were in black and white she had to spend more time on getting the costumes rights and the colors just so. On a cool note: Doran finished Gone to Amerikay off the coast of Tasmania while she started her work off the coast of Morocco.

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On a personal note, Doran has had to deal with a stalker over the last several years. It has been something that she has been honest and vocal about. She appeared on the show Someone’s Watching to talk about her experience.  It is really important to talk about these sorts of crimes as it impacts a person’s safety, family, and creative output. Doran has stayed away from and lot of conventions because of this in order to remain safe. Cons have a responsibility and a duty to make sure people feel protected and safe while attending conventions. In many ways, her choosing to come to Denver Comic Con is a huge deal. We in Denver are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to possibly meet her and see her on panels. (So no one fuck it up!)

 

According to various interviews, Colleen Doran has a busy year for 2014. A lot of work has been pushed off for this year. So, you can expect a lot of creative work to come out from her in the near future.

 

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight the Incredible Lou Ferrigno.

 

“Respect My Craft” – Fiona Staples

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Fiona Staples

Profession: Artist (penciler, inker and colorist)

Notable Work: SagaDV8: Gods and Monsters

“When I DO see kids, I don’t want to say I intently observe them because that’s very creepy, but I have noticed they have different mannerisms than adults. They exist in a world where nothing is really sized to their proportions, so they have funny ways of sitting and fitting themselves into spaces.” – Fiona Staples

Denver Comic-Con 2013 had a who’s who of comic-book elite.  Neal Adams, Chris Ware, Jim Steranko are literal magazine-stand juggernauts. They have stories about every character and book they ever illustrated. These men have created worlds the rest of us rely on for entertainment, and sanity. I stood in line to get into The Con for four hours, but not for them. I stood in line for Fiona Staples. If you haven’t heard of her, or read Saga, or read my review of Saga: Volume One, or have been kidnapped by Skrulls and off-world for the past 3 years, let me take this time to say, “You have no idea what you’ve been missing.”

“This is how an idea becomes real.” Fiona Staples was born in Alberta, Calgary. Like most comic artists, she began drawing at a very young age. Her work was goth and anime inspired. She created from satire and chaos. She found her calling at Sir Winston Churchill High School, and at 19, got her first work in comics shelving at her local comic book store in Calgary. She later attended Alberta College of Art and Design and majored in Digital Communication.

“But ideas are fragile things.” She self-described her earlier work as black comedy, and that attracted her to WildStorm Comics. She was soon approached by Superman Returns and X2 screenwriter, Michael Dougherty, to produce a comic adaptation of his cult classic, Trick ‘r Treat. She remained with WildStorm to illustrate for North 40.  Staples also worked with 30 Days of Night author, Steve Niles on Mystery Society published by IDW in 2010. He was so impressed with her work that he introduced her to his friend, Brian K Vaughn. Lucky us.

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“Two minds can sometimes improve the odds of an idea’s survival.” Brian Vaughn is arguably the best cross-media writer in the business.  He has written for ABC’s acclaimed series Lost, and worked with Steven Spielberg on Showtime’s Under the Dome. He also wrote Vertigo comic’s, Y: The Last Man. This pairing must have been conceived in Odin’s loins. The two began to work on a sci-fi book simply titled, Saga. The book was intentionally created so that it could not be easily adapted into a film. The duo just wanted to create a really good comic book with no gimmick or over-hyped pop culture fodder. Hopefully the rights will never be sold to a studio and we won’t be subjected to unnecessary seasons of bad TV. Both of these artists used a very non-conventional approach to story-telling, so a certain level of integrity had to be assumed. Vaughn and Staples didn’t even officially meet until their panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2011. Regardless, their finished product was astounding.

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“But there are no guarantees.” Saga is that rare work in an art form that comes around once in a lifetime. Staples is deliciously satirical. Flipping through her pages must be a little like reading Chuck Palahniuk’s mind.  It’s a wonderful blend of taboo and the absurd. Her construction is almost as interesting as her end result. Click here to visit her official website. Staples draws her panels in thumbnail format, scans them into Manga Studio where she inks them, takes selfies for reference, then colors them in Photoshop. She also hand writes text in her panels. This technique enhances the story by giving the reader a narrator’s voice through penmanship. It’s absolutely brilliant. From an artist’s perspective her technique may seem like overkill, but without it, we may not have such a polished result. So what do you get? Besides one of the most popular comics on the shelves, an Eisner Award winner for best new series, and the praise of industry peers…you get fans for life. Fans like me, who only want to be inspired again. Fans who want to visit far off lands and meet interesting characters. Staples is also co-owner of Saga and a large chunk of its universe is from her imagination.

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“Sorry, getting ahead of myself.” Much of Fiona Staples personal life is a mystery. Her age is unknown, her Facebook page is filled with riddles and playful myth, but one thing is certain, her work is a breath of fresh air. She conveys emotion through the stroke of a pen, the reader is drawn into her world through color and shape first, and then writing. I won’t spoil Saga for you, if you are interested in a synopsis of the first trade, go back in the Hush Archives. Truly, I suggest picking up or downloading her entire catalog. She has some impressive cover art and variants including the Art of Archie, Ultimate Spider-Man, Superman/Batman and The Walking Dead. 

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 Art taken from http://fionastaples.tumblr.com

 After four hours in line I was able to give her a smile, thank her for renewing my love of comics and awkwardly asked for her autograph. I feel like she is one of those fanboy favorites we love to insult others lack of knowledge of. She is definitely the end to the exhausted gasp of disbelief, “You don’t know….!?” In all honesty, writing this article reminded me why I respect her craft so much. She is an artist’s artist, and the darkest corners of her mind brighten our existence.

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Fiona Staples shows some love to John Soweto

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (NY Times, Spike TV, Broadway Books). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Zombie Survival expert, Max Brooks.

Written by John Soweto

“Respect My Craft” – Marina Sirtis

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Marina Sirtis

Profession: Actress

Notable WorkStar Trek: The Next Generation, Gargoyles, Hamlet

“It covered up my cleavage and, consequently, I got all my brains back, because when you have a cleavage you can’t have brains in Hollywood. So I got all my brains back and I was allowed to do things that I hadn’t been allowed to do for five or six years. I went on away teams, I was in charge of staff, I had my pips back, I had phasers, I had all the equipment again, and it was fabulous. I was absolutely thrilled.” – Marina Sirtis

 

Marina Sirtis is coming to Denver Comic Con along with several from the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The cast reunion is going to prove to be a one hell of a time with so many from the cast in the same location. Trek has been a hotbed of talent and a cornucopia of collective work. McFadden has worked as a choreographer for Dark Crystal and the Labyrinth, Frakes has directed, Burton ran Reading Rainbow, Denise Crosby was currently on The Walking Dead and Trek fans are still waiting for a Dorn to reprise his role of Worf to be captain of his own starship.

For anyone who has seen Sirtis at a convention, it’s easy to be instantly taken with her. Her real life persona is more like that of her screen mother, Laxana Troi, than Deanna. She is a spitfire, strong and commanding – and her body of work is extensive and dynamic.

Sirtis got her start on the stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and with The Worthington Repertory Theatre Company’s production of Hamlet where Sirtis played Ophelia. She was also in a production of Rocky Horror Picture Show in which she played Magenta and toured Malian and Munich. Sirtis has never left theater and still takes the stage when she can. Her last stage performance was Neil Simon’s Hotel Suite at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

 “I would have to say that most of my other favorite things that I’ve done have been theater projects. Playing Ophelia in “Hamlet” is one of my favorites. Esmeralda in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Magenta in “Rocky Horror” are my other favorite stage roles. (1994)”

After her work on the stage, Sirtis was on several well-known British television series, such as: Up the Elephant and around the Castle, and The Return of Sherlock. Her working history is extensive, however, she is best known for her role as Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sirtis left England and came to the United States to get work here. When she originally auditioned for Trek, she was reading for Denise Crosby’s role, Tasha Yar. Rodenberry felt they were each better suited for the other’s role. In the end, Sirtis was cast as Troi, while Crosby was cast as Yar.

Sirtis, at the time she got the role, was rather shy and took some time to get out of her shell. She’s been known to say she was just hiding more of her spunk so as to keep her role for Troi. It wasn’t long before her dynamic personality shined through. She quickly became close with several of the cast members and was particularity close to Majel Barrett (Laxana Troi) Gene Rodenberry’s wife. Sirtis called her mom and was sad when she past just a few years after her mother back in England.

What is amazing about Sirtis was her dedication to her character and the advocacy to expand and grow Tori as a character. At first, the writers for TNG found it hard to write for the half-human Betazoid. After all, when you have a character who can feel others’ emotions and intentions, it can take away from conflict of the plot. After the first season, however, Rodenberry was able to figure out her character and she continued to grow as the season continued. Troi had many intriguing and dynamic relationships with the character of TNG. I was always intrigued by her interactions with the Yar and Crusher on the show. TNG did a great portrayal of the spectrum of what femininity is and could be and the strength that it could convey to an audience and Sirtis had a big influence of were the writers took her character.

Sirtis’ favorite time on the show came in the sixth season when she got to explore Troi outside of her Betazoid counselor self when she was disguised as a Romulan in Face the Enemy, her favorite TNG episode. It pushed her acting and her character into a new path. At first, Troi was supposed to be like the wiz kid, Weasley, and Sirtis was happy when Troi made the transition from counselor to Starfleet officer. Sirtis felt her character went through a transformation. She went from staying on the ship to leading away teams and caring phasers, and getting a different voice. In both position of the passive and the active, Sirtis brought a spark and a strength to it that was refreshing to watch on-screen. Sirtis has had a lasting impression on television with this seminal role. Those of us who go to conventions know the impression she’s had on Sci-fi and we can thank her for the dynamic women she has played throughout the years. Sirtis did more than play a character, she helped create images of strength for a generation of women.

When TNG ended, Sirtis continued on in 1994 to voice Demona for Disney’s Gargoyles. Which she did for two years along side  TNG costar Jonathan Frakes . Sirtis has lent her voice for other projects, including Mass Effect and Adventure Time. After her time with Gargoyles, she switched modalities and stared as a police detective for a British movie Gadgememant. She also had many character roles in her career which consist of: Stargate SG-1, Outer Limits, Star Trek Voyager, and NCIS. Her character work shows her versatility as an actress – how much of an awesome and inspiring personality she is on the stage. She is also still great friend with Brent Spiner and Michael Dorn (Sirtis calls him Dorny) and were even groomsmen at her wedding.

Her work with her fans is also something to note. Sirtis feels she has the best fans. It isn’t often you see such a direct relationship with the fans and all the people she has inspired. Like a lot of other Trek actors, she has worked on a lot of fan based stories and online shows. Her recent work includes the fan show, Castlevania. This is what so amazing about the creatives involved with Trek – it’s the close relationship to their art and the audience.

“I have the best time. My stand-up material is pretty well-set now. The traveling part gets me down, but the actual convention part I still love. I come home after a weekend at a convention, and you have to scrape me off the ceiling. I’m so up and high and full of self-confidence, and I thank the fans for making me feel that way. Sometimes I think I should be paying the fans money to let me be there. I bet they would like that, too. I probably get more out of it than they do. (1994)”

As of late Sirtis has been working on NCIS and Star Trek Continues, where she plays the voice of the computer. There is also a fan campaign going around to get her on Doctor Who. Sirtis loves that her fans want her to be on Doctor Who, and would be on the show if given the opportunity. She sure would make a good doctor in my opinion. I hope that this is something that will happen for her. With the magnitude of collective power her fans have, it wouldn’t surprise me if she eventually didn’t get a role on the show. Hell, maybe she could even be the next Doctor. She, after all, has the spunk for it.

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight legendary comic book artist, George Perez.

 

“Respect My Craft” – Janelle Asselin

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Janelle Asselin

Profession: Editor/Writer

Notable Work: Helped relaunch DC Comics’ New52 as editor, weekly columnist for ComicsAlliance.com

 

“If you really want to “get me” and prove that sexual harassment doesn’t exist in comics, I don’t know, maybe it’s better for you to answer honestly about how you haven’t been sexually harassed. Because certainly sending me rape threats proves my point, not yours.” Janelle Asselin

“What do you do with a BA in English?” Well if you’re Janelle Asselin, whatever the hell you want.

Like a lot of us 80’s babies, Janelle was first inspired to get into comics by the 90’s X-Men cartoon. Also, she loved going to Pizza Hut because they gave out X-Men Adventures comic books with their kids meals. Outside of that, she read a lot of X-Men and Spider-Man – and declared that Daredevil: Echo (story of a misguided deaf, Native American girl nicknamed for her ability to “echo” fighting styles – pretty badass) changed her life, but stopped reading comic books until she ended up dating somebody in college who was a huge nerd and re-introduced her to the comic book world.

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To get her foot in the door, she attended cons, and gathered the courage to talk to people in the industry. One of her contacts, DC Comics’ Mike Kants was her network into the industry, as she packed her bags and moved to NYC to pursue a career in the industry. Previously, she had held editing position at Newsarama.com and the now-defunct Fangoria Graphix, as well as contributed to weekly reviews for Shotgun Reviews. Asselin started out as an editor for DC Comics, where she worked on books like Gotham City SirensRed RobinBatman and Robin, and Birds of Prey, which transitioned into the New52 run, as well as other launch titles, such as: the aforementioned Birds of PreyDetective ComicsBatwoman, and Savage Hawkman. By the time she left the company in 2011, she was credited for editing over 300 issues – many of which had a direct effect on our love for the industry.

While working at DC, she wrote her thesis, “How Can the Comic Book Industry Increase Sales Among Women? An Analysis of Factors Affecting Female Consumers” for her Masters in Publishing at Pace University. The study pointed out that DC is falling behind by ignoring the fastest growing demographic in comics (17-33 year-old women). It includes a pretty solid model that companies can follow to reach a largely untapped demographic (aside form, you know, the moral victory of becoming a more diverse company).

 

After finishing said thesis in 2011, Janelle left DC in 2011 to work for Disney Publishing Worldwide to serve as editor, and occasional writer, for publications ranging from Marvel to Mickey. When the division down-sized in 2013, Janelle moved to freelance work. Since then, Janelle has been writing for ComicsAlliance.com, which features two recurring articles: “Hire This Woman” gives exposure to women working in the industry that has the scales of gender equality tipped heavily out of their favor. She also writes “Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week),” which is a showcase of sorts for exceptional art, and the panels that string it together. Janelle also writes for Bitch magazine, writing the hilarious and aggressive piece, “Don’t Be A Dick,” taking aim at underlining issues in the industry – ranging from pet peeves to bigotry.

The boobs that started a war.
The boobs that started a war.

If you can’t tell by now, Janelle is a fervent, unapologetic feminist. She has been fighting for quality throughout her entire career, but perhaps one of her most progressive actions in her career came from a simple comic book cover critique. The review itself was harsh, but deservedly so. She tears apart the new book for looking like too much of the same thing – ridiculously-sized breasts on teenagers, subconsciously snubbing minority characters and general technical issues like signature placement and poses. However, when the net got ahold of the article, it turned into a violent “femi-nazi” shit-storm. Retorts from series’ artist, Brett Booth (who didn’t even draw the damn cover), and plenty of cyber-assholes poured in like oil on top of fire, culminating in several rape threats. Instead of retreating, Asselin used the threats, which were ironically contributing responses to an online sexual harassment survey, as a platform to reveal the ugly side of what females in this industry endure, fans and creators, just to be part of it.

It made people realize that feminism in comic books was no hidden agenda, no war against DC Comics by a disgruntled employee, and certainly not some chick who didn’t know what she was talking about. “Among other jobs I’ve held in comics, I worked for years in the Batman office at DC and worked with a lot of top-tier comics talent. In addition to years of experience actually editing comics, I also have a Masters of Science in Publishing. My entire career, particularly the last 5 years, has been based around the study of broadening comics readership to wider, more diverse demographics and I am damn well qualified to critique the cover of a comic book.” And judging by the way Marvel has embraced industry minority (gender and ethnicity) characters, it’s revealed a big reason that DC (sans-Batman) is falling behind Marvel in sales consistently. Women in the industry are gradually finding a voice, and it’s because gals like Janelle Asselin are willing to step up and let it be heard.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with the fifth Doctor in a long line of Whos, Peter Davison.

Women’s Civil Rights in Islam: A synopsis from the pages of Ms. Marvel

Women’s Civil Rights in Islam: A Synopsis From the Pages of Ms. Marvel

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The Women’s Rights Movement in Islam is a fight for more than equality and freedom. It, in some ways, is a fight for humanity. The Western world has been put on notice that the women of Islam will no longer suffer the indifference of cruel and stubborn men. We see it everyday in our high schools and malls. Young Muslim women wear colorful hijab and dazzling outfits equipped with Gucci bags and Air Jordans. We hear it in their poetry through the voices of those like Suheir Hammad and Amal Kassir. We see it on the streets of Tehran and Bahrain. Social media has made it impossible to ignore. Sites like Wikileaks and Instagram have given a face to this head covered revolution.

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf gives us a haunting description of growing up Syrian-American. When I picked the book up in 2006, I needed it to reaffirm my faith as a practicing converted Muslim. In its pages you can find similarities in almost every civil rights movement in modern history. Couple that with the struggles of assimilation in a society that perceives diversity as a weakness, and you have the basis for a constitution.

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This is why Ms. Marvel is more than a comic book. When it was first announced that Marvel would give the secondary title a much needed make-over, most of us were skeptical. In the film age of Avengers and The Dark Knight, there seems to be very little space for the lesser-known heroes. Most of the big companies are keeping their cash grabs going by reissuing past story arcs for future films and keeping the public interested in what the studios are putting out on the silver screen. But Marvel gave writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona a chance to do something out of the ordinary. The result is the tale of Kamala Khan, a teenage girl from Jersey City. She lives in world that doesn’t truly see her for who she is. At school, she and her friend Nakia are the subject of ridicule from the female Flash Thompson, Zoe Zimmer. She is not allowed to spend time with boys. Her parents, although not restricting her to strict Sharia law, do not give her the independence she believes she deserves. Her brother Aamir loves her, but is focused on prayer and devotion to Allah. Did I mention that she is nerd? This twist allows us, the reader to fall in love with this character on a very base level. Readers can connect with her through the awkwardness of being a teenager or by being a social outcast in school. She is everyone. Her accessibility gives her a human feel that most comics lack, for obvious reasons. She is empowering. Her character sees the hypocrisy in gender bias and questions it outright. This alone makes her a hero.

But Kamala is obsessed with the Avengers. She daydreams of battles with intergalactic invaders and wants nothing more than to change into her hero, Captain Marvel.

Kamala draws inspiration from the same heroes we do. Justiiiiice!
Kamala draws inspiration from the same heroes we do. Justiiiiice!

One night, her wish comes true. She transforms into Ms. Marvel, a super human with the ability to change her shape. How fitting. Whether as a nerd, woman, or culturally disenfranchised youth she dreamed of acceptance. Her newly found powers allow her to be anything she wants physically, but she remains the same inside.

Kamala sneaks out to a party that her parents forbid her to go to. Once there a strange mist envelopes her and she is greeted by the Avengers, speaking Urdu! They tell her that they are of faith, and speak all languages of beauty and hardship. This type of writing gives this book the type of authenticity it needs to be impactful. If Wilson decided to attack Islam for its treatment of woman alone, the book would take a preachy and holier-than-thou stance that would immediately offend. But this book doesn’t do that, it shows both sides, from the inside of an Islamic Masjid where women are separated in prayer, to the dinner table of a family with first generation westerners. Her first act of heroism saved the life of her mean-girl tormentor, Zoe Zimmer. This selfless act will shape the type of hero she will become. Wilson could have easily made her first heroic act saving the life of a Muslim kid in the midst of being victimized by a hate crime. But that would be the easy way out. In saving her perceived enemy this book takes a traditional Islamic pretense, to offer enemies love, from Al-Mumtahana, and that saving one life is like saving an entire people, from Al-Maida.

Sometimes, the bullies that affect us the worst are those that think they are being good people.
Sometimes, the worst bullies are those that think they are being good people.

The reality of our world is harsh. Women in most countries on this planet are subjugated to cruelty and treated as subservient. And before our glorious Stars and Stripes have their say, let’s not forget the shadow it still casts on our history. The Slavocracy of the South and Jim Crow laws that proceeded allowed for the ownership, rape and torture of African American women. Hell, the ruling class didn’t even allow their women to vote until 1920 and sexual health issues are still being fought today on a Congressional level. But Ms. Marvel is a glimmer of hope in a small pocket of our society. It’s pages are meant to inspire the oppressed, and objectified. Bravo for Marvel Comics, and Al-ḥamdu lillāh.

Ms. Marvel #1

Below is my review of issue #3 that I wrote for the weekly reviews (see all the week’s reviews here). The five part introduction to the new Ms. Marvel is entitled Meta-Morphosis. I suggest you purchase from comiXology or support your local comic book shop and strike a conversation with the guy behind the counter!

Ms. Marvel #3 – A
I can already envision the “What if” issue where Zoe Zimmer drowns. Tell me you saw the somewhere on the west side ave JC electronics sign or you noticed the sarcastic look on the New Jersey pigeons? This book screams of nuance. More than the cultural tension of growing up Muslim so close to Manhattan, I find the awkwardness of being a teenager compelling. Kamala frantically searches the web for answers…”Super-powers, Shape-shifting powers, Woke up as a polymorph, Embiggening. Come on interwebs, don’t fail me now–I can’t be the first person this has happened to–” The book feels real because we would ALL do the same thing. Still subservient in a world where woman are not allowed to worship with their male counter parts, Kamala struggles to find her purpose. It’s been a while since we have seen a hero’s genesis story. Watching Kamala awkwardly try to control her powers is like watching an eager tadpole.

After responding to his text, she heads to the Circle Q to meet Bruno. When she looks in the window she notices a masked man flashing a gun. Assuming that he’s being held up, she springs into action and makes a magnificent declaration.
“I am 911!”
“Strange things are afoot at the Circle Q.”

Shout out to the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure quote from Bruno.
Kamala learns a valuable lesson about being a hero this issue, if she makes it out alive she won’t make the same mistake again.

Post originally from John Soweto’s blog

“Respect My Craft” – Kelly Sue DeConnick

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Name: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Profession: Writer

Notable WorkCaptain Marvel (2012-present), Ghost (ongoing), Pretty Deadly (ongoing), Osborn: Evil Incarcerated (2011), A buttload of Manga

“I believe the feminist movement of the 1970s died of neglect somewhere along the way and armies were dismantled before battles were won.” – Kelly Sue DeConnick

Kelly Sue DeConnick is a firecracker. Feminist, whatever-ist, DeConnick represents everything that’s right in the comic book industry. In the multiple interviews that she has done, she often sounds off about feminism, females in the industry, and how her beliefs permeate through her writing. Anybody that has read her work before (see our review of Captain Marvel: Volume One – In Pursuit of Flight here) knows that she likes to let her writing do the talking.

DeConnick grew up on a military base in Germany while her father was stationed there in the Air Force. It was there that he love for comic books blossomed. GIs would regularly read and trade issues amongst themselves. Partly because there was no American television and partly because she fell in love with them, comic books were everywhere in her childhood. Later on, DeConnick obtained her BA in Theater from the University of Texas – an education she feels deeply helps her creative process today. She sees a situation playing out and, with an appropriate script, moves forward.

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Her start in the industry was unconventional, for sure. After meeting Neil Gaiman (Anansi BoysSandman) at a book signing, she wrote him a heart-felt note that somehow turned into him putting her to work and crediting her in American Gods (terrific read, by the way). With these credentials, she was able to get a gig translating Japanese manga. Doing deeper into the rabbit-hole of the industry, she also began writing for multiple online review sites; Deconnick even met her future husband and Marvel Comics BFD, Matt Fraction (writes Sex Criminals and Hawkeye currently).  After years of the blogging and writing manga – she’s translated for over one hundred volumes of it – DeConnick started rolling in the comic book writing business.

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Being featured in collections such as 24seven and Comic Book Tattoo was a great start, but when DeConnick got the opportunity to write her own mini-series with 30 Days of Night creator Steve Miles. The four issue book was titled Eben and Stella and focused on a vampire trying to keep her newly resurrected husband at bay. It was the first of many, as DeConnick was given multiple one-shots and mini-series, notably Osborn and Sif. Her unique portrayal of Thor’s warrior friend was unlike the typical Damsel in Distress. No, she was fierce, and she could whoop anybody’s butt. This was less than five years ago; since then, and the train has showed no signs of slowing down.

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The big issue that DeConnick fights is the ignorance of the lack of diversity in the industry. Her logic is that heroism comes in all shapes and sizes. “…There’s nothing innately masculine about heroism. Nothing innately masculine about science fiction. Nor about power fantasies or revenge fantasies or the pulp aesthetic.” It’s no secret that women are under-represented in th
e industry. DeConnick feels that if young girls can learn to identify with male protagonist, there should be absolutely no reason that men can’t do the same for women protagonists. I personally love anything with Deconnick’s name on it. She isn’t perfect though; DeConnick still worries about deadlines and work-life balance like the rest of us.

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DeConnick also admits to not being the complete fan – whatever the hell that is. She admits to having gapings in her knowledge. The lesson to take away from her work is that not everybody who reads comics has to know absolutely everything about what they read to be considered an active participant in the industry. There just needs to be a desire to keep narrowing that gap, keep learning. Kelly Sue DeConnick is writing out of her mind right now, with Captain Marvel just restarting, and the continuation of her creator-owned  Pretty Deadly. Witty, intelligent and motivated, DeConnick is headed for stardom; you must Respect Her Craft!

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Marvel, IDW, Dark Horse and Image Comics) . Thanks for all the love and support for You Nerd Like A Girl. Look to us next week for more “Respect My Craft!,” featuring the industries most talented contributors.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Graphic Novel Review – Persepolis

Graphic Novel Review – Persepolis

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Collecting: Persepolis Original Graphic Novel

Original Release Date: 2000

Publisher: Pantheon Books

Character: Marjane Satrapi, her family and friends

Writer: Marjane Satrapi

Art: Marjane Satrapi

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 7
Art – 7
Captivity and Length – 6
Identity – 7
Use of Medium – 7
Depth – 7
Fluidity – 7
Intrigue/Originality – 9
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 7

Chances are, unless you or your family were personally affected by the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s, those of us under thirty probably don’t know more about it than what we saw in Ben Affleck’s Argo. The revolution to get the Shah out of power was a difficult one, but it was one of the people. It was a fiery revolution by a people that had been oppressed, culminating in Black Friday, which ended up with nearly 100 dead. The revolution ended with the Shah being outed, and it also gave Marjane Satrapi the ammunition for writing Persepolis.

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Persepolis, which I believe is named for the city where the 2,500th Persian Empire anniversary took place in (an extravagant celebration held by the government in a local city where people were visibly starving), is about the Islamic Revolution – and the fallout from it. The whole story is told through the eyes and ears of a young Marji. The losses that she and her family suffered bleed through the pages and you feel genuinely shocked that things like this could have happened. These were the days before YouTube, Facebook and camera phones (a la Arab Spring), so its horrors were able to be kept under much tighter wraps.

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Satrapi’s character is brazen and unashamedly flawed. From “playing” revolution with her friends to realizing that her family was actually in danger when Iraqi scud missiles begin hitting her surrounding neighborhoods, Marji is always growing. She stays retable throughout the whole book, acting out like a pre-teen girl does, sharing relationships and reacting the way a girl does. Sometimes, almost to a point of awkwardness, Satrapi shares the most intimate details of her story.

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The transitions also fall a little flat. On one side of the coin, I can see how skipping around from subject to subject without much pause reflects not only her state of mind, but also the state of life they lived in. On the other side, though, that style can’t bode well for a 150+ page graphic novel. Numerous characters I can’t even remember the names of were introduced, just to be executed, imprisoned or tortured panels later. There are at least two characters who definitely impact Marji’s growth. Mrs. and Mr. Satrapi are held in such esteem by their daughter. The upper-class Marxist intellectuals are Marji’s rock. They are fair, and take the time to explain the ways of the world to her, and subsequently us. Ultimately, the violence in Iran forces her parents to take drastic action that sets up the second book.

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The sarcastic tone of the book and hilarious coming-of-age adventures carry it through the murder and mayhem. It’s refreshing, because it demonstrates that women all over the world aren’t too different. Satrapi might not be a war hero or a martyr like her uncle, but she’s a hero to more people all over the world for her honest portrayal of revolution, tyranny, love and loss.

All media credited to Pantheon Books

Written by Sherif Elkhatib