“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” – 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

 

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

“Respect My Craft” – Gwendolyn Willow Wilson

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: G. Willow Wilson

Profession: Writer

Notable WorkCairo, AirVixen (mini-series), Ms. Marvel (right meow!)

“You need to have integrity, even when you’re writing fiction. If you tell a story that gives a false or misleading impression about a real person or a group of people, you’re accountable for that, just as you would be if you were writing a nonfictional story. Fiction is not a license to lie.” – Gwendolyn Willow Wilson

You may recognize the name as the writer of the new Marvel series, Ms. Marvel, but G. Willow Wilson has been dropping knowledge for over a decade. Her path to Ms. Marvel was a unique one, as where she ended up is nothing compared to the journey that got her there. We may be a little biased because Wilson hails from Boulder, Colorado. Through all her worldly travels, she still considers Boulder home, although she lives between Cairo and Seattle now. “Like Frodo at the end of The Lord of the Rings, I can’t quite go back to living in the Shire, much as I might want to. I’ve seen too much of the rest of the world, and living in a small town involves a lot of pretending that the rest of the world does not exist.” If Boulder is the Shire, then Cairo must be Mordor itself. After graduating from Boston University, where Wilson got her first gig in the industry as an intern at Komikwerks (a defunct online comics publisher), she moved to Cairo to teach English.

In Egypt, Wilson took up various journalism jobs, writing for The New York Post MagazineThe Atlantic Post and the Egyptian anti-government publication Cairo Magazine that frequently challenged the Murbarak regime, years before the Arab Spring. However, GWW’s passion wasn’t always in journalism; She is a self-claimed fangirl and has been an avid comic book reader since she was a young girl. Thus, within a day of landing in Egypt, G. Willow Wilson was writing her first graphic novel, CairoCairo is the fantastical journey of six individuals and how a stolen hookah containing a Jinn (genie) leads them to a path of enlightenment. A lot of elements in the book were borrowed from her own life, which added to the honesty of it. There is a noticeable religious undertone in Cairo, but it feels neither forced nor preachy. Wilson should be applauded for her ability to share culture with readers, as opposed to making us showing it off. From Fortieth Day to Jinn mythology to dialect, G. Willow Wilson’s Cairo is educational for some, and warmly familiar for others – the embodiment of how graphic novels should be used to explore cultural diversity.

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What makes her perspective so unique in the comic book world is that she is not a typical American, nor is she a typical Muslim. At first glance, she is not automatically accepted as either identity. As an Egyptian-American, this resonated with me. Growing up “too American” for my Egyptian peers and “too Arab” for the guys on the basketball courts, I gravitated towards books like Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Wilson’s style seems much of the same. You are who make yourself, and in a male-run industry with so few Muslim contributors, G. Willow Wilson’s success is a huge motivator for other outliers like myself trying to break out in the industry.

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Cairo opened the door for Wilson to write Air in 2008, a peculiar series about a flight attendant named Blythe who finds herself traveling through time and space. It was a “very, very weird” book, as Wilson puts it. It garnered enough acclaim to become nominated for an Eisner Award, but flat sales led to its cancellation after 24 issues. Now, this wasn’t to say that DC wasn’t impressed with her writing skills, as she wrote several one-shots and mini-series for DC over the next several years. After writing Air for Vertigo, Wilson had several runs with varying mini-series, notably the five-issue run of Vixen. G. Willow Wilson described the run as Dan Didio’s attempt to “do a DCU story set in Africa that didn’t involve armed, talking gorillas. It seemed like a worthy goal.” Vixen plays the familiar part of an outsider among her own people. It’s fascinating how universal of a feeling alienation can be, even with people of the same ethnicity, beliefs and economic background. Overcoming those feelings is the reason that we read comic books in the first place.

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Wilson has also written two novels: The Butterfly Mosque and Alif the UnseenThe Butterfly Mosque is a memoir that chronicles when she converted to Islam, fell in love with a Cairene man, and other findings during her time in Egypt. Alif the Unseen follows an Arab “hacktivist” trying to spark a digital revolution in an Arab police state. The latter was a book that was released during the Arab Spring, which has seen Egypt in political and social turmoil after the revolution that finally saw Mubarak, and subsequently the Muslim Brotherhood..

Another challenge in the transition for Wilson was writing somebody else’s character instead of her own, and it’s an especially interesting one because most writers who start out in the industry go the opposite direction – writing somebody else’s character so they may create their own work some day. However, when GWW writes a character, you know that she wrote it; her blend of down-to-earth hilarious quips is somewhat of a trademark of hers.

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G. Willow Wilson has already lived such a wondrous life, and thankfully has chosen to share it with us. She’s written a post-9/11 story about a nation drenched in ignorant fear. In Egypt, she contributed to a magazine that was a cog in the revolutionary wheel and wrote two novels that share the beauty of Islam and Egypt in a way that makes readers learn, have fun and want to come back for more. Just one issue into Ms. Marvel, and I already like I relate more to Kamala than I do to Batman (and that’s saying something).

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

G. Willow Wilson is strong on the Twitter scene, and her blog is full of social commentary about race and gender in comic books. Wilson frequently interacts with her fans on an individual level.

Staying involved in the community is important to Wilson, as she frequents comic book conventions and other geo-political conventions. We will be visiting her in just a short couple of weeks for Emerald City Comic Con.

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Marvel and DC/Vertigo 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