The Boob Test

So many times I’ll see a woman depicted in comics and my immediate reaction is “Yeah! Badass woman-hero! Woo!” …and then it’ll sink in and I’ll really look at the image and roll my eyes. In those instances, instead of inspiring an affirming “That’s a character who can kick ass and she’s a woman and it makes me proud to be a woman.” my actual reaction is “Oh look, boobs. The person who drew this loves boobs. Boobs and ass. Yay, I’m sure his male readers will really enjoy that." 

– When the boobs are where the readers’ eyes are drawn, perhaps the only thing you see when you look at the page, you have undermined the character.

– When the boobs are so large or so out of the realm of physical reality or so not in-line with who that character is… it takes a woman reader, like myself, out of the story. In cases such as these, you have undermined the character AND disrespected your readership. She is no longer my character that I relate to, she’s being drawn to be someone else’s fantasy (wank material). Right in the middle of a story I’m loving and all it takes are some rogue boobs or a pose that screams "I was made for you to fuck me” and I’m reminded that I’m reading something drawn for a specific audience of men, and my connectedness to the character is not relevant or even a concern. 

– When boobs take your readers out of the story, you have undermined the writer because it is telling the reader that you needed the boobs to distract from shoddy storytelling. …we’re onto you…

The image above: I’m not saying she should be drawn dowdy and wearing a burlap sack. And this isn’t even close to being the worst offender. All I’m saying is that the artist wanted to make her boobs the focus (and you can tell that because they are), which turns her into a pin-up and not the force-to-be-reckoned-with that Oracle is. Let’s be real, this is the pinup version of that Oracle. I love hot pinups, but when they’re drawn on the side or all up in my tumblr. Not as a cover to a real story.

Next post: Do you use big shlongs to bring in male readership? Then how can you say you’re serious about bringing in women readers when Busty McGee is the cover of a woman-centered comic? I’d be more likely to hide that I’m reading this, rather than hand it to a friend and say, “Read this!”

EDIT: Just to be clear, I take no issue at all with the body type depicted in that image. My beef is how the artist decided to make her boobs the focal point of the picture on a cover.

This is fajrdrako’s issue of X-Men #1.

She bought it when she was 11 years old at the corner-store by her house and has had it ever since. It has a faded purple stamp on the cover because that particular corner store marked when they got things in that way. It’s a little beat-up because “it spent about a decade lost under the piano”.

It’s an important little piece of history. Not because it’s old, or because it’s the first issue of one of the biggest comics franchises out there, although both these things are true.

It’s important because it’s tells a story about the woman who bought it, my amazing friend who fell in love with the X-Men as a little-girl and is still excited every Wednesday when we meet up to buy our new comics together.

It’s important because women read comics. Women have always read comics. And some marvelous women will always read comics.

Know what’s funny? I sometimes get treated like crap at comics shops, but I never get treated like crap by the people who actually write and draw comics. 

I hope any women interested in comics and worried about gatekeepers/shops/dudes-hiding-behind-counters know that, for the most part, the creators have your back.

When I walked up to a Valiant editor at Phoenix Comicon and mentioned that I wrote a Shadowman e-novella for Amazon, he was totally stoked and super nice.


Sorry not sorry that Thor is now a Female

After I made my youtube review about Thor #1 and how I love Thor’s mantle being passed to a female (you know, those things with boobs), I got a lot of  heat about it.  Not only that, but I noticed anyone making a positive video about it getting down-voted as well.  Although the people screaming “fuck you Marvel” were getting plenty of agreement on it.  

Sorry, I’m not sorry.  Just like Captain America has his mantle passed on, so can Thor. And guess what, it can be a woman too. Shock! Gasp!   I get it, Thor is Thor’s name. He can have his name but not have the mantle of being THOR (you know, like Donald Blake, Beta Ray Bill, or Eric Masterson.).  Just like if you name your kid Thor it doesn’t mean he’s the superhero Thor.  

Women didn’t ruin your comics. We’ve been here the whole time.  This isn’t a gimmick to get more women readers. This is a new story that Aaron wanted to tell.



Written and Illustrated by Justin Madson
TPB Published by Just Mad Books in 2011

Reviewed by Lydia H.

The world has changed and yet life seems to go on pretty normally. In Breathers the air is toxic to humans, a viral plague released upon the world. But people adapted, donning respiratory masks any time they step outdoors and installing air purification chambers in most buildings.

Readers will become immersed in the worlds of a small group of characters, whose paths all eventually cross in some way or another. A brother and sister question what they’ve always known to be true; is the air really toxic? A detective succumbs to his addiction of the drug known as “Filter K.” A mother struggles to get by, while her daughter escapes into fantasy to cope with the ups and downs of her life. A travelling salesman attempts to right where he went wrong. 

There is so much to appreciate in Breathers. The characters are so well fleshed out and relatable, which can be something difficult to achieve. I love the way Madson has their lives and stories cross. This story-telling technique is often overlooked, underused, and executed poorly. The artwork has obviously been painstakingly crafted and evokes the same sense of melancholy that story exudes. 

At its core, Breathers is a story about the human struggle; to survive, to find meaning, to make amends, to reveal the truth, and to grow. This is one truly great story from an incredibly talented story teller and artist.

I happened to stumble upon my copy of Breathers at a local used book store, but I’m asking you to please purchase from Justin Madson himself, as he is an independent maker and publisher. I plan to purchase something from him soon to show my support!

Upcoming Meeting: July 16, 2015

Are you a woman who reads comics in Seattle? Our next book club pick is The Autumnlands, Volume 1: Tooth and Claw written by Kurt Busiek and illustrated by Benjamin Dewey

When the wizards of the Autumnlands reach through time to bring back a legendary hero, they don’t get the savior they expected. But in a shattered, besieged city, he’s their only hope of survival—and possibly their entire world’s, as well. Collects THE AUTUMNLANDS: TOOTH & CLAW #1-6.

Join us at Phoenix Comics and Games on Capitol Hill (113 Broadway Ave E., Seattle WA 98103) at 7pm on Thursday, July 16 for discussion of the book and other comics-related topics! RSVP at the Facebook event page!

p.s. We also recommend checking out Benjamin Dewey’s Tragedy Series!

Steph could've been the answer

DC’s reboot was 9 months ago and something that irks me to this day is the kybosh that was placed on Bryan Q. Miller’s run of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. It was youthful, funny and had so much potential.

It had such appeal for younger female readers. Here’s a relatable girl trying to make it in the hero business. Steph was earnest and headstrong and just plain fun to follow from adventure to adventure. Miller’s Batgirl brought lightness to the otherwise dark and broody. Had it been marketed to girls beyond the bubble of people who already read comics, it could have brought a whole new generation of readers to the table.  

If the question was, how can DC open itself up to new markets and initiate people into becoming lifelong comic book readers… Steph could’ve been the answer :)

Six Black Women Geeks You Should Know

“As a black woman, music producer, rapper, and retro-gamer whose geek-friendly persona and musical content has brought me to the forefront of certain geek circles, I have had the pleasure of interacting with a breadth of black women who game, read comic books, adore cartoons, and love to cosplay among other neat interests and passions. 

So, without further ado I’d like to share the important work some of these women are doing to carve out much needed spaces for black girls. Look below for my list of six black women geeks you should know, starting with yours truly.”

See the full list here


Kabuki Dreams
By David Mack
Published 2001 by Image Comics

Reviewed by Lydia H.

“The perpetual shadow is lonely. I come, clothed in a memory.’ Theirs is the untracked path of the bird in pure air. Holy magic ran through her form as heaven resumes and even the grass and the flowers pray a cry of joy from a woman’s voice, she herself invisible. the mists receive her. And now—she is a lost star. It is over. and there through clouds, and a sense of loss irreparable, weeping and crying in the wind. Is it a spirit, a form impermanent, drifting, or only a flurry of rain in the night?”

David Mack’s second installment in the Kabuki series is titled Dreams. The story is a stream-of-consciousness experience; a collection of thoughts and poetry; questions asked and answered. It picks up right at the end of Circle of Blood. What we’re reading and seeing is what Kabuki is thinking and feeling as her body struggles to survive, or is it struggling to die? It is vastly different from the first volume but that is what makes it a perfect follow up. As an artist I can appreciate and embrace what Mack is showing us in this volume. We are one with Kabuki, we aren’t just in her mind, we’re a part of it. We’re experiencing her pain, her visions, her revelations and insights. As a reader I can appreciate being allowed to partake in this intimate exploration of Kabuki’s psyche. Mack utilizes collage, poetry, and photography to tell this part of Kabuki’s story and puts it into comic book form. This kind of stuff blows my mind and is what makes me dig through those long boxes of fifty cent comics for hours. Unfortunately, this style of comic is not one that everyone will enjoy. Even if you liked Circle of Blood I’d still recommend you flip through a copy in person before you order one from Amazon or any other online retailer. 

Just watched Thor: The Dark World and I’m sorry but was the scene of topless Thor really necessary? Into Darkness got all this flack for Dr. Marcus appearing in her underwear unnecessarily. I swear Marvel only included that scene in a bid to get women to see the film because they are, for some reason, still under the delusion that women don’t read/care about comics.


Ghost World
By Daniel Clowes
Published by Fantagraphics Books 1998

Reviewed by Lydia H.

I saw the movie adaptation of this a few years back and remembered the gist of it, but most of it I had forgotten. I remembered liking the movie and deciding that I should read the novel when I had the chance. Ghost World is about two teenage girls on the precipice of adulthood. Clinging to the familiar and the irresponsibility of youth, the two struggle through the summer after high school together bitching and moaning about everything you could ever think of ever.

There were things I really liked about Ghost World and things I really disliked. As a teenager I too frequented the same hang outs, watching the regulars, making up stories or finding things to criticize about them. I can’t decide if the two main characters started to piss me off because they were so ridiculously negative and found fault in nearly every thing, every minute of every day, or if they reminded me of myself when I was once too self absorbed to see how much of an asshole I was being to pretty much everyone around me (probably the latter). As much as they got on my nerves, I still find it an accurate portrayal of most teenage girls, and therefore liked it as well.

Towards the end I started to enjoy it more. The beginnings of transformation from self absorbed kid to less self absorbed young adult were apparent. Maybe that made me feel a bit better, that the characters started to grow up a little bit. Maybe it made me feel better that I must have changed too. There’s an interesting sense of embarrassing nostalgia mixed with dry blunt humor throughout the whole thing. I can appreciate a little humility. Easily found in most comic book stores for a fair price used.

Email sent to DC Comics re: Batgirls and Pirates

My niece and I LOVE the new Batgirl. The only problem is that now that my niece is into Batgirl and desperately wants to read more, the only other age-appropriate Batgirl that is available to buy is Batgirl: Year One (which she has read and loves).

The Stephanie Brown Batgirl run would be PERFECT for her, but the only places I can find it to buy it:
Batgirl Rising …on Amazon marketplace $50  …on ebay $50
And same with Batgirl: The Flood. And none of that money is going into your pocket. And I sure as hell am not going to pay that much for it.

My point is, my niece is not alone. You have a growing market of young girls who want to buy your product, and your product is unavailable.

Please reprint the Stephanie Brown Batgirl tpbs!!!

The Stephanie Brown run is available all over the place as a torrent/download for free. Please don’t make me become a pirate in order to share Batgirl with my niece. I want to buy it legally, and I’d like the profit to go to you, so you can see that there is a market for comics of this ilk.

Thanks for your time!