“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

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

 

We Can Do It! Michonne

“We Can Do It!: Women in Comics, Television and Beyond” is Hush Comics’ answer to what women in comics mean to the world and to us  Visit our page every Monday to learn about a new super lady!

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Who:

Michonne

Nicknames/Aliases:

None

Skills:

Mad Katana swinging, fencing in her younger days, combat, a vast knowledge of law, an art aficionado, and the ability to leave her emotions at the door.

Origin Story:

Oddly enough, Michonne’s history is a bit of a mystery.  In addition, Michonne’s history in the comic books is much different than it is in the TV Series of The Walking Dead.  In the comics, Michonne pre-zombie outbreak was a lawyer.  She had two daughters and a husband.  At some point she left her husband and got with Mike.  When the outbreak happened, she was not home.  She ran to the home she shared with Mike.  Mike’s friend Terry was there for protection.  Later, she goes out to scavenge for supplies and in her neighbors home finds the Katana.  The Katana.  What a lucky find!  Anyway, when she goes back home, she finds Mike and Terry have turned and she is forced to use them as a barrier between her and the other zombies.  She cuts off their arms and jaws and uses them for protection.  During the outbreak, her daughters were with a nanny and she has never seen them again.  Since finding Rick Grimes and his group, Michonne has become Rick’s number 2.  And I don’t mean girlfriend, I mean she is his warrior.  Michonne the Warrior… I like the ring of that.

Why is she important?:

Not only is Michonne the strongest female in both versions of The Walking Dead, she is also just the strongest character.  And that is straight from the source.  Creator Robert Kirkman has been quoted as such in his Letter Hacks.  For Michonne, her “stats” are kinda irrelevant, and this could be because The Walking Dead takes place in a time where gender and race don’t matter anymore.  But it does seem that whether Michonne was a man or a woman, black or white, is really a mute point.  What matters is that she is the baddest, ahem, man in the whole damn town.

In addition, she is important because of her relationship to The Governor.   TV viewers may be asking… what??? Well let me tell you, but not in great detail because this website is still rated PG-13.  Yes in the TV show, Michonne and The Governor  do have a connection, and not the good kind.  Fans cheered when she poked out his eye, murdered his daughter and then skewered him outside the prison.  Oh have you not seen TWD through the end of season 4A?  Spoiler alert…. Anyhow, in the comics, it is beyond all those things.  Like, Be. Yond.  The Governor is much worse.  And for Michonne, her hatred of him is deeply rooted.  At one point in the books, she is kidnapped by him, kept in Woodbury and kept as his rape slave.  It’s true.  Does this make her important?  Very much so.  Because when she is rescued by Rick and Glenn, she could have just left.  Instead, she fulfills everyone’s revenge fantasy and she doesn’t even blink.  Not only does she scoop out The Governor’s eye with a spoon, she chops off a few of his appendages.  I’ll let you imagine what those may be.

Most importantly, she gets out alive.  Is her psyche totally damaged?  It seems as though hers is an ebb and flow of really crazy and not so crazy.  When we meet her, she talks to her boyfriend.  Keep in mind her boyfriend is one of her zombie pets that she ended up killing when she met Rick and gang.  After her ordeal with The Governor, she is broken.  But she has always found a way to deal with her trauma.  And she can still kick some serious ass.

What she means to me:

To me, Michonne means we can all survive.  We make the choice of how we live in this world, no matter if it is with other people, or zombies, or both.  She has made some tough choices.  She lives with them and then she just keeps going.  She is strong physically and emotionally, but can show her vulnerability, too.  One of my favorite Michonne moments in the TV Series was in “Claimed” when she found the bloody pink room.  It would have pushed anyone to break down.  She shed a tear for the family in the room and the family she once had (a son in the show), but was still able to protect Carl, Rick’s son, from seeing the horrific scene.  Michonne says to world, men and women, that it is OK to be strong, logical and a woman.  Thank you, Michonne!

photos belong to Image Comics and AMC

written by Adrian Puryear

We Can Do It! Jean Grey

“We Can Do It!: Women in Comics, Television and Beyond” is Hush Comics’ answer to what women in comics mean to the world and to us  Visit our page every Monday to learn about a new super lady!

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Who:

Jean Grey

Nicknames/Aliases:

Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix

Skills:

Telepathy, telekinesis, total recall, and being the most powerful woman in the X-Men.

Origin Story:

Jean Grey debuted in September of 1963 in X-Men #1.  That’s right, she was there from the beginning!  But… there is a catch.  Jean Grey was originally known as Marvel Girl, and she was only telekinetic.  In one of her many retcons (Bizarre Adventurers #27, “Secret Lives of the X-Men”), it is revealed that telepathy was a suppressed power of hers.  When Jean was a child, she witnessed a friend of hers killed by being run over by a car.  She was sent to Professor Xavier and became one of the first X-Men, and the only original female.  Jean loves Scott Summers, but also finds herself in lust with Wolverine, two other members of the X-Men.  In 1976, and many times over, Jean becomes the legendary Phoenix during an attempt to save her fellow X-Men during a plane crash.  From then on, Jean’s story is in flux between herself, Phoenix, and the Dark Phoenix.  And because of that, they both deserve articles in their own right.

Why is she important?:

Jean Grey is the ultimate ethereal mutant.  Her mind can live in your mind.  Her mind lives in other times.  Her mind is on other planes!  Her mind could be invading my mind right now!  But seriously, Jean is important because she was the first female member of the X-Men.  She goes on to become the Head Mistress in charge at the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.  She is a woman in charge!  When Marvel Girl was introduced and for many years later, she was considered the weakest member of the group.  In the late 70’s with Phoenix Unleashed (X-Men #105), Chris Claremont changed all that.  In a drastic move, he took Jean from the weak link to the brightest star in the sky.  Today, Jean Grey is considered one the most important and mighty heroes, gender aside.  To emphasize how important Jean is, she has died over a dozen times in the comics, but she is timeless.  No matter how many times she dies, Jean will always come back because she means so much to the story of the mutants.

What she means to me:

Growing up watching X-Men: The Animated Series, Jean Grey was an inspiration because she was so strong.  And not in the physical sense of the word, but she made it O.K. for women to be mentally powerful.  Jean is on the same mental level as the all-knowing Charles Xavier.  Because of her commanding mind, she is a main force to be reckoned with for enemies.  It is hard to be a young girl and not be influenced by a woman who can read and control minds.  How cool is that?

all photos belong to Marvel.

written by Adrian Puryear

Graphic Novel Review – Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds

Graphic Novel Review – Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds

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Collecting: Bids of Prey #56-61

Original Release Date: 2003

Publisher: DC Comics

Character: Black Canary, Oracle (formerly Batgirl), Huntress

Writer: Gail Simone

Art: Ed Benes

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

Storyline – 6
Art – 7
Captivity and Length – 8
Identity – 9
Use of Medium – 7
Depth – 7
Fluidity – 8
Intrigue/Originality – 8
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 8

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Think about your favorite team of heroes: Justice League (and their dozens of iterations), Avengers (and their hundred different iterations), Green Lantern Corps, X-Men… Now think about the gender representation among the group. Aside from the X-Men, women have been heavily underrepresented among the best in the universe for each team, let alone left in a position of power. Those female characters that are represented are typically typecast with revealing outfits and often find themselves “In A Refrigerator.” Well, in the mid-1990’s, Jordan Gorfinkel and DC Comics decided that readers wanted a team that they could relate to. The Birds of Prey were formed in 1996, consisting of Black Canary and Oracle. Through the years, DC’s elite women (sans Wonder Woman) have joined the Birds of Prey at some time or another. Characters like Hawkgirl, Vixen and Katana came under the spotlight of the Charlie’s Angels-esque team of strong women.

Chuck Dixon laid the groundwork for what would eventually turn into a DC Comics fan favorite. When Gail Simone took the reigns in 2003, we were already fifty-six issues in. Fortunately for readers, this was an opportune place to jump on, as Simone crafts Of Like Minds not only as an introduction to her writing, but the series, as well. Jumping into a series over fifty issues in is never an easy transition, but the dynamics of Birds of Prey is well established from the first page in. After suffering a paralyzing gunshot wound at the hands of the Joker in The Killing Joke, Barbara Gordon has become Oracle – tech extraordinaire and human calculator. Although confined to a wheelchair, Babs is the clear leader of the group and, to be honest, the most integral member of the Birds of Prey. Meanwhile, Black Canary (Dinah Lance) and Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) make the moves. Like messenger birds sent out by Oracle, they complete missions while Oracle feeds them intel.

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Of Like Minds gives up a lot of ground in story-telling establish an identity. Simone does an excellent job of portraying three distinct personalities among the group. While Oracle has the notable Batman influence – prepared to do whatever is needed to get the job done – Dinah is inspired by Green Arrow’s more “Robin Hood” view of how to be a superhero. Add a fired up and borderline violent Huntress to the mix, and you get an amazing chemistry that could carry its own series whether they were fighting crime or playing Cranium. Where the arc seems to falter, though, in with the characters surrounding them. The antagonist in Of Like Minds, Savant, has just enough juice to pique my interest, but not enough to be worthy of commandeering the book. That being said, there were far worse ways to introduce a villain like Savant, and his purpose seems to be solely make the Birds of Prey look good.

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Something that really impressed me about Of Like Minds was the amount of research Simone must have done to show just how legit our crew is. Take Barbara Gordon, for example. She’s no longer Batman’s sidekick, but rather one of the best most vital tools in the DC Universe for intel (really the only one until Cyborg’s rise to mainstream popularity a few years later). In fact, during Batman: No Man’s Land, which begins soon after the continuity of this book, she is crucial in Batman’s plight to take back Gotham. Throughout the pages, Babs: speaks multiple languages, quotes Benjamin Franklin and multiplies numbers together really quickly. She may be confined to a wheelchair, but Barbara Gordon uses her mind to thwart crime when her partner’s brawny methods come back fruitless.

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Keeping an open mind that this book was published over a decade ago, the idea of strong, capable characters is completely cut down by the way the characters are constantly being objectified. Ranging from blatant (Black Canary being bound and cuffed while Savant makes sexual banter) to subtle (putting the characters’ sexy parts conveniently next to word bubbles, and the awkwardly positioned poses to show off just enough butt to make it annoying), there’s no denying that DC was using sex appeal to sell Birds of Prey. With new-age super heroine books in the mainstream now like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Captain Marvel, it’s hard to imagine just how skewed the industry’s opinion of women was at the turn of the century.

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While the first arc of a Simone-written Birds of Prey shows its age in terms of the portrayal of women, the identity that Gail Simone – a woman writing a comic book about women – creates is worth the sticker price (or download price, as Of Like Minds is out of print and hard to find at a reasonable price). The pages are filled with Simone’s unique take on the Birds of Prey (a woman writer portraying a female led book – crazy, I know) was unprecedented at the time, especially ones smarter and mightier than their male counterparts. I was unimpressed with the story overall, but this is a case where style over substance is more over an investment. Gail Simone shows signs of becoming a tremendously talented writer, which really shines through in her recent work on Batgirl, one of my favorite series of the New 52.

All media credited to DC Comics

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

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“Respect My Craft” – Gail Simone

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: Gail Simone

Profession: Writer

Notable Work: Batgirl (New 52), Birds of PreyTomb RaiderThe Movement (New 52)

“Right now there are so many wonderful female things in comics; characters, creators, commentators, editors, convention organizers, store owners and readers. They don’t threaten anything in the industry, they add to it.” – Gail Simone

When you make a list of top-tier writers in the comic book industry right now, Gail Simone should always be brought up. Her great dialog and story vision has made Batgirl and The Movement two of DC Comics most intriguing titles, and garnered a strong fan-base along the way. Simone’s beginning are far simpler than the juggernaut writer she has become, though. Simone began as a blogger – well, I suppose they weren’t really known as bloggers in the late 1990’s. Through Comic Book Resources, Simone wrote a periodical called “You’ll All Be Sorry!” with a group of collaborators, writing satirical stories (one of my favorites was the “Bizarro  Preacher” article, written on my birthday). The stories must have given her the courage to piss off a whole lot of people when she launched Women in Refrigerators in 1999.

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Women in Refrigerators was originally meant to poke fun at an industry flaw, not incite rage – the same way we hoot and holler when Laurel starts making pouty faces on Arrow, chastising it for being too “C-Dub.” Anyway, the joke behind WIR is that women are constantly being used at plot pieces for either the development of male characters, or the deconstruction of the female ones. This wasn’t just some wild accusation either. On the site, which looks a whole lot like a 90’s Geocities page I made when I was in junior high, had a whole list of characters that fit the bill of expendable women in comic books. The most shocking thing about the list of that many of these characters – Storm, Supergirl, Wonder Woman – are prominent characters in the comic book world. She may not have made many friends by openly criticizing the industry, but it’s where Simone got her first job in the industry.

This really happened in Green Lantern #54 (1994)
This really happened in Green Lantern #54 (1994)

She began writing for The Simpsons in 2000, and covered several outlets for them. From the main title, to a Bart-based and Treehouse of Horror mini-series to the Sunday morning comic strips in the papers, Gail Simone was breaking out in a big way. Her work on The Simpsons led her to a job with Marvel on the Deadpool and Agent X series, where she was able to show off her humorous side – which has always been a strong suit of hers. It wasn’t until Simone got a gig writing Birds of Prey that things really took off.

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It was with DC Comics that Simone would really get the opportunity to spread her wings. Spanning 52 (heh heh, DC loves its 52’s) issues from 2003-2007, the Birds of Prey are a group of crime-fighting women working as a team. At this point in the story, Barbara Gordon AKA Oracle is confined to the seat of a wheelchair after the grueling fallout of The Killing Joke. Physically limited, yes, but Oracle is one of the team’s most valuable assets with her technical savvy. After runs on Secret SixGen13Villains United and other short runs, Simone really turned heads with her long run on Wonder Woman and The All-New Atom. Even with all that under her belt, it wasn’t until her second run on Secret Six that Gail Simone was a name that made me a fan for life.

Princess Diana's sweet armor in Wonder Woman #28
Princess Diana’s sweet armor in Wonder Woman #28

The Secret Six are a ragtag group of villains, led by the likes of Bane, that try to work as a team on contract to kill another villain. Simone was able to breathe a lot of life into these characters, most of which were unknown to casual fans. In fact, before the New 52 relaunch, Secret Six was one of the most beloved books on the shelves. The way Simone was able to turn these despicable villains into misunderstood heroes. After 36 issues of Secret Six, the series was canceled and Simone was brought on to write the new Batgirl series.

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Batgirl has ben one of my favorite books, and it’s because of the development of Barbara Gordon. The Batgirl from the first few issues is hardly recognizable to the Batgirl in issue #28. I love that her character is strong, yet shows vulnerability to the reader. That’s the result you get when you have a writer who is as passionate about the characters she or he is writing about. In a time where DC was criticized for its a lack of diversity (out of all the New 52 books released in 2011, hers was the only one written by a woman), Batgirl gave all leaders a better sense of identity. Her other DC story, The Movement, is loosely based super-hero version of the Occupy movement – once again giving a voice to those who cannot do so themselves. Unfortunately, the series will be canceled after the 12th issue in May. Lately, Simone has expanded her scope to write for other publishers now that her exclusive deal with DC Comics has ended. She has been writing the new Red Sonja series, as well as a brand new Tomb Raider. She hasn’t stopped there, either; Simone will be heading the Savage Wolverine series starting in May.

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From Killer Princesses to her upcoming Kickstarter project, Leaving Megalopolis, Gail Simone writes women characters that are capable, intelligent, and convincing. Her career in the industry started very much the way ours has – just a group of awesome friends typing out their love for comic books. Gail Simone is constantly on the floor at comic book conventions, and engages her fans via social media (Twitter, Tumblr). It might have started out as a joke, but her Women in Refrigerators piece was great commentary on the industry’s need to represent women better. One woman can’t change the world view alone, but with a work ethic like hers, you have to respect her craft! 

Checked out her bibliography and still want more? Check this out:

Gail Simone lights up the social networking with her witty, honest and often hilarious Tweets.

You can find paperback collections of her “You’ll All Be Sorry” articles on Amazon for less than $5.

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Marvel Comics & DC 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 – Captain Marvel Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight

Graphic Novel Review – Captain Marvel Volume One: In Pursuit of Flight

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Collecting: Captain Marvel #1-6

Original Release Date: 2012

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Character: Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel

Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick

Art: Dexter Soy, Emma Rios

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

Storyline – 9
Art – 9
Captivity and Length – 7
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 9
Fluidity – 9
Intrigue/Originality – 9
The Little Things – 8
Overall awesomeness – 9

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When Adrian told me she wanted to celebrate Women’s History Month the same way we did Black History Month (see #AllBlackEverything) with “You Nerd Like A Girl,” the first graphic novel I wanted to review was the new Captain Marvel book. Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Captain Marvel has received acclaim for being not just a great female book, but a great book, period. Not to be confused with the new Ms. Marvel comic book (see our review for #1 here), a superb book in its own right – Captain Marvel follows Carol Danvers, who had been the original Ms. Marvel since 1977 until the first issue.

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Okay, I can see where this can be misleading. Let’s start by introducing the newly donned Captain Marvel to most of our readers. Carol Danvers first took flight in 1968 as an Air Force pilot, and her love for flight and exploration is one of the main focuses throughout In Pursuit of Flight. She meets a Kree (advanced technological race – don’t worry about it, really) named Captain Marvel. While dealing with Kree tech, there is an explosion, which somehow melds Kree DNA to Danvers, making her one tough cookie. There is more to her backstory, including her apparent death that results in Rogue gaining the ability to fly, but that’s neither here nor there.

Captain Marvel is a modern take on her origin story with a twist. The explosion that gave Danvers her powers also consequently killed the original Captain Marvel, or Mar-Vell; how snooty of him, “It’s not Marvel, its Mar-Vell.” No spoilers here, as Mar-Vell comes back from, and returns to, the dead as a sacrifice in order to try to stop the Phoenix Force in Avengers vs. X-Men, but that is a story for another day. In memory of Mar-Vell, Danvers has cut her hair and adorned herself with his uniform, and eventually his name.

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Right off the bat, you could tell that Captain Marvel was going to be all about “girl power,” and I mean that in a good way. We open up with an exciting brawl between The Absorbing Man against Danvers and Captain America. While the Absorbing Man throws all he can at the duo, they are barely breaking a sweat. Not only is Danvers running circles around Absorbing Man, but she is coming up with the wittiest lines, and commanding Captain America around the fight. It immediately sets the tone that she is not only Rogers’ equal, but in some ways superior. It doesn’t feel preachy at all, either, as Captain Marvel backs up her words by beating Absorbing Man silly.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg, however. A majority of the story has absolutely nothing to do with Captain America, The Avengers, or even the current time. Marvel Comics has really been able to hit the nail on the head when it comes to humanizing their characters, cosmic super-powers be damned. After all, most Marvel characters were just normal people at one point, so why should their feelings and everyday life be ignored? By relating readers to a heroic “normal” person, it draws me in that much more to the super-strength and . Exploring Danvers’ past, before she was an accomplished pilot or superhero, Danvers’ hero growing up was Helen Cobb. Helen was cocky, with the skills to back up her claims. A “gift” from Helen somehow sends Danvers back in time – to WWII.

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When Danvers wakes up in the middle of a battlefield. In the 1940s. Before we can wonder how or why, our hero is thrust into war. Who will save this damsel in distress? The answer lies in the Banshee Squad, a bad-ass group of Fly Girls. Based off women (and men) who volunteered as pilots in WWII, the Banshee Squad is every bit as brave and valorous as the men that media portrays. In fact, there is a ton of correlation between the Fly Girls and the Tuskegee Airmen; both were second-class citizen patriots who would put their lives on the line for their country. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Deconnick had an agenda, but she definitely did her homework.

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Story-wise, a lot of the time travel and reasoning had me lost, as I just wanted more Carol, and more Helen. After reading the book the whole way through, I see why the story was arranged the way it was and reveals came at the points that they did, but I felt confused by the complex plot while I was reading and it detracted by the awe of what was happening. Aesthetically, Captain Marvel is pleasing. The art feels suave and appropriate, reminding me a bit of the new Street Fighter art style – very raw and engaging. Although, there is a point near the end of the book where we switch artists that it becomes an unfair distraction to the superb writing. I’m never a fan of switching creative teams in the middle of a story arc, and this didn’t make me change my stance on it at all.

This isn’t a book for women, and this isn’t a book for men. There are no boobs, and no sappy love stories. This is the story of a bad mamma jamma named Carol Danvers and her search for her own identity. She’s funny, determined and relatable. In a time where gender-swapping popular characters, the move to a female Captain Marvel proves valuable, not just for diversity’s sake, but because her character demands your attention.

All media credited to Marvel Comics

Written by Sherif Elkhatib