Archive for the Western Comic/Comix Category


Western Comic: The Black Feather Falls

May 14th, 2017

Having fun at a comic show is a matter of making fun for yourself. If you like celebrity and media premieres, the big Comic-Con shows are a good bet. If you like spending time with comic artists you like, smaller shows are the way to go. And if you, like me, rejoice in explosions of creativity in independent comics, then shows that celebrate people who make, read and love comics are  a lot of fun. Of all the shows I attend, Comitia, TCAF, MoCCA and Queers & Comics are the ones that I enjoy the most. Not because I don’t love a three-ring media circus or 10,000 vendors all crammed into a huge space, but because of the sheer energy of creativity.

Today I am enjoying the final day of the Toronto Comics Arts Festival in Toronto and thought it a great day to speak of a comic I picked up at the MoCCA Fest in NYC,  sponsored by the Society of Illustrators after they acquired the titular Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. 

This year I went primarily to see a lot of people I already knew and throw money at them. I picked up the print version of Power & Magic there and literally spent my last few buck on today’s acquisition. 

Ellen Lindner’s The Black Feather Falls, is the Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery comic with a team of women leads that I needed. 

Tina Swift is an American living in 1920s London, in hopes of avoiding familial pressure to marry and  to get herself a career. Tina is working as a shopgirl, but hopes to become a newspaper reporter. When she attempts to see a man about a newspaper job, she encounters a dead man on the street, next to which a black feather has fallen.  Also strangely, she cannot find the man with whom she was supposed to meet at the paper. Instead she encounters his snarky, somewhat bitter secretary, Miss MacInteer. 

The absence of MacInteer’s boss and the black feather, launch Swift and MacInteer into a massive mystery that involves strangely insular islands off the coast of Scotland and the London underworld. The two women come to rely on and trust one another and, in the end turn up to be a great team of reporters…and detectives.

There isn’t any relationship developing between Swift and MacInteer in this story. The book itself is rated appropriate for all ages, and lacks significant violence or sex. That said, don’t underestimate the power of fandelusion. I could easily see them having an ill-advised fling. ^_^

But, more importantly, a team of adventuress-detectives have been born and I know I need more of those!

Ratings:

Art – 7 Not sophisticated, but fun
Story – 8 We all need a little female detective teamwork from time to time
Characters – 8 They rub each other the wrong way, but make a good team, just the way they should
Yuri – 0 for real, 2 inside my head
Service – 0

Overall – 8

So if you too enjoy a spot of original comics story-telling and all the 1920’s detective pairs you can get, you’ll want to take a look at The Black Feather Falls

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LGBTQ Comic: Princess Princess Ever After

May 12th, 2017

There is a (probably apocryphal) story about the late Joseph Campbell, when teaching a class about his now-classic Hero’s Journey Monomyth. The story says that at the end of a lecture on the Arthurian quest legends about the Holy Grail, one of his students asked why there were no roles in the legends with which women could identify. Campbell was puzzled and pointed out that women are present as the hero’s mother, the hero’s queen, and the damsel-in-distress. “What more do you want?” he asked. “I want to be the hero.” the student replied.”

I recall that it was Bill Moyers telling that story, but itw as also a long time ago and I could be so very wrong. But the story itself, when I heard it had me nodding like a melodramatic bobble head. Of course, you stupid-smart old man. OF COURSE we want to be the hero. How and why this confused Campbell and still confuses an awful lot of men is the history of western civilization and beyond the scope of this blog. But, what is dead-center in this blog’s wheelhouse is a story that does not need to be convinced of this simple truth. Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill is a lifetime’s worth of itch-scratching and fantasy fulfillment suitable for the youngest or oldest child you know.

Princess Amira cuts a fine figure in uniform, with her fabulous hair, riding on her unicorn mount, Celeste. And when she encounters Sadie, a princess who has been imprisoned in a tall tower, she’s sure that’s she’s found both the perfect monumental adventure, and princess, for her. But first, she has to convince Sadie to be rescued. And then both Sadie and Armina must work together to face challenges and ogres and traumatic pasts. But since they do it together, you just know they’ll triumph in the end.

Although my childhood self might have scoffed at the simplicity of the tale here (she was prone to reading the story of Marco Polo, tales of Robin Hood and King Arthur in overblown faux-medieval prose) she would definitely, positively appreciated Armina’s uniform, her unicorn and her love for Sadie.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Fun and comic strip-y
Characters – 9 Ogres and unicorns and dragons and princesses. I’m all in.
Story – 9 Ichijinsha needs to read this, then take another crack at Yuri Light Novels. See? It’s easy!
Yuri – 9 and utterly adorable
Service – Nope. Well, there’s Armina in a uniform….

Overall – 9

Do the adventurous girl children you know a favor and buy them an early holiday present. Heck, buy them a not-holiday present. And get a copy of Princess Princess Ever After for yourself, so you can dream of dancing with ogres and facing bullies down and give ole misogynist Joseph Campbell the finger. ^_^

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Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life

April 10th, 2017

Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aquirre, Zaak Saam and Katy Rex, is a much-needed entry in the “cool-protagonists-who-do-whatever-the-fuck-for-money” category of space gonzo comics. Primarily because the”cool-protagonists-who-do-whatever-the-fuck-for-money” in this case are Kim Q, a trans woman rocker, with a penchant for accelerating towards a problem, rather than away from it, and Kim A, a former necromancer, turned “whatever-the-fuck-for-money”-type bounty hunters. (Surely we have noticed that “bounty hunter” has become the catch-all category for ne’er-do-wells in pretty much all forms of fiction, including reality TV.)

The Kims are smart, fun, and like all their bounty hunter brethren of the future, chronically short on cash. Their “easy” jobs never work out, the good jobs always become bad jobs and Kim Q’s father is an oligarch who hates the fact that he has a daughter. In other words, it’s all chaos, all the time.

Like all good bounty hunter/private eyes/independent contractor stories from Marcus Didius Falco to V.I. Warshawski, the bad guy is badder than we expected (and has a stupid name,) the other bad guy is less bad than we expected, the REAL bad guy is really horrible and the other bad guy is related to us, as are some of the good guys and that long-dead relative who is very cool, but not really that dead, either. And because it’s a science fantasy comic, there are tentacles and sandworms and alien bars and a broken-down van ship. You know the drill.

But like all stories of it’s kind, it has one thing that is absolutely critical to whether it works – is it fun? Yes, Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life is fun. It’s also got a pleasantly queer outlook on life, in which Kim and Kim cheerfully slash Kim’s former partners now rivals, and Kim has that aunt who, it turns out had a female partner. Kim and Kim describe themselves as “mostly platonic soul mates.”

Ratings:

Art – 7 Cartoony, but it works
Characters – 7 Both Kim and Kim are fun, one-note characters
Story – 7 Chaos and screaming
Service – Nope*
Yuri – 2 Djuna & Mina and Kim & Kim ish

Overall – 7

*No service of the salacious kind, but as the foreword by Imogen Binnie points out, having a fun, badass trans lead still is rare enough to get a mention. (The foreword, btw, is excellent and worth reading.)

And so I welcome it to my shelves and looks forward to Volume 2. And, hopefully, a resolution to this arc so we never ever have to utter the name El Scorcho again.

 

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LGBTQ: Love is Love Anthology (English)

April 3rd, 2017

On June 12, 2016, in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida a self-loathing, broken man decided that the best way to handle his problems was to take it out on innocent strangers. He hated his ethnicity and his sexuality, so he chose a gay nightclub that served as a refuge for LGBTQ people of color. Instead of taking his own life, he took 49 other people’s. For no goddamn good reason. And, it being America, it was easy for him to get the weapons and ammunition he needed, because we wouldn’t want to regulate that even as much as we regulate driving a car.  

So one more asshole guy got to destroy lives and we got to mourn…again.

 IDW and DC Comics teamed up to create a tribute comic anthology and so Love Is Love was born to raise money for survivors and victims’ families.The 1st print edition sold out quickly, which is testament to the desire to do good so many people have. I picked up a copy of the Digital Edition.

The anthology is beautifully done, with a lot of different perspectives…many of them exceptionally beautifully rendered. 

And it made me so angry I could barely get through it.

Batman was not going to help those kids. Neither was Superman or Wonder Woman. Every time a DC character made an appearance, I wanted to scream. Particularly during a story by Dan fucking Didio, the woman-hating fragile white dude  who had to be pulled from DC panels some years ago because he was so rude to fans, especially to women. What does that say about the horrible wasteful loss of life? What lesson did he learn imagining Batman in rainbow colors, lecturing us on loss? Fuck that so very much.

/Deep breath./

Legitimately, every use of DC characters fell flat as a board for me. Even the exceptionally pretty Batwoman with Gay Pride Flag by Rafael Albuquerque.

It was just all so “Nope.”

That said, there were a lot of genuinely touching stories. The ones that worked, dropped the facade if the superhero tie-in and talked about how heroic it is to be gay and joyful in a world with fragile cowardly assholes with guns.  I particularly like the one-pager by Teddy Tennebaum, Mike Huudleston and Corey Breen that called the bravery it takes – still – to love freely and openly “super-love.”

I was very glad to see openly gay artists like Ed Luce and Paige Braddock included.  I also very much appreciated those well-known straight artists who took the time to portray LGBTQ people, People of color, gay kids and trans kids, at The Pulse itself, rather than stupid Batman. 

Ratings:

Overall – I don’t know what to say. Probably it’s an 8, but it made me so angry I can’t even.

I’m pretty sure I’m not sorry I got this collection and maybe one day I’ll be able to read it without white-hot searing rage.

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LGBTQ: Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

April 2nd, 2017

Aw yeah. Last year, Joamette Gil teamed up with a number of creative talents to launch Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology on Kickstarter and I jumped all over that so fast. ^_^

Although I have the PDF, when I saw the print version (both of which are available on Gumroad) yesterday at the MoCCA Arts Festival, I threw even more money at the group. I know I talk about the comics ecosystem a lot here. but the bottom line is that creators cannot eat your admiration. I was glad to back this project, it was my pleasure to buy the book, but it was pure joy to actually read. This scan of the cover does not do it justice – the colors are resonant.

I consumed the whole book on my train ride home, and can’t think of a single story I didn’t like. ^_^ But a few of them had me choked up and one or two even threatened gushy happy tears which is awfully awkward on the train.

Power & Magic is, well, it’s kind of a book I’ve been waiting for. By and about people of color, inclusive in every way, including really lovely stories about gender, ability, mental and physical health. “Fluid,” by Veronica Agrawal was a particularly nice tale about expectations and gender roles. And magic. Multiple ways of looking at multiple traditions, fantasy and real magic, paganism and Santeria, natural and human-made.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on Okazu, but I’m a pagan, so it was really nice to have a collection about “magic” that wasn’t exclusively about Harry Potter-type wizards. Not that I object to that, but sometimes I’d like to see a little more depth. “Te Perdi” by Maria Llorens and Devaki Neogi and “As The Roots Undo” by Joamette Gil gave me that depth I was looking for.

I also quite liked “Your Heart is an Apple”by Nevedita Sekar which riffed on modern dating and classic fairy tales and had a fucking fantastic ending. And Aatmaja Pandya’s “You’ll Know When It’s Time To Go” spoke to ancient quest stories and their place in our modern searches for acceptance.

I also want to stand up for “The Whisperer” by Ariann Hokoki, which is a parable about mental health and healing and love that was one of those stories that brought tears to my eyes. 

“The Shop That Never Stays” by Gabrielle Robinson and Hannah Lavarte was fabulous. “Deaf Together” by fydbac is an absolutely gorgeous silent comic. And honestly, there were no stories that weren’t a pleasure to read. I feel like I must apologize to anyone I haven’t mentioned specifically, though, because really, every story was uniquely excellent.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

Can you tell I loved this book? I did. It made me actively happy to read this collection. I hope you’ll feel the same way and pick it up on Gumroad, in PDF or softcover print version.

(I don’t doubt that they magicked the fuck out of this book, by the way. And good for them if they did.)

 

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