In Which I Am Frightfully Enthusiastic About Kick-Ass Ladies in Comics
With the news that Thor will now be a woman, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about some comics and graphic novels about awesome ladies (since, shocker, 46.67% of comic fans are female). And where do we go when we want to read something outside the mainstream? To the indies, of course!
Below are some current favorites as well as some books topping my To Read pile. What did I miss that must be added posthaste to my list? Let me know in comments (below) or on Twitter.
We can’t talk about feminism in comics without talking about Mike Madrid. Well, we could, but I don’t want to. Madrid is the author of The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics, and the forthcoming Vixens, Vamps & Vipers: Lost Villainesses of Golden Age Comics (which I review in the upcoming Fall Issue). As far as I know, Madrid is the only one writing at length about these ladies of yore (but please prove me wrong). These lovelies are from Exterminating Angel.
Five kick-ass best friends spend the summer at Lumberjane scout camp. This is Gravity Falls meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is a comic that is oh so refreshingly sans boys (some show up in the fourth issue, but, spoilers, this whole series says to hell with your gender norms). This is monsters and adventure and mystery and friendship and actually three-dimensional women (that last one is going to be the running theme today, kids) written by women. I laugh out loud reading this series. If I were rich, I’d buy you all copies and just hand them to people and say, “read this; you need this in your life, you just don’t realize it yet.” Check it out from Boom! Studios.
Eisner-nominated Luke Pearson’s Hilda books are so spectacular I can’t even handle it. Young blue-haired Hilda is spunky and curious and good-intentioned and real and constantly ending up on adventures involving some sort of creature with a Nordic mythology flavor. She lives with her mom and beloved pet, Twig, in the city of Trolberg (at least in the latter two books). These are great books for young readers (or twentysomethings), overflowing with dry humor and gorgeous illustrations. I rave about Hilda and the Black Hound in the upcoming Fall Issue. These treasures are from Flying Eye Books.
Full disclosure, I haven’t yet read Princeless. But I heard about it en route to ALA, listening to an old episode of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and have been itching to get my hands on a copy ever since. I mean, it’s about a princess who gets sick of waiting around to be rescued by prince charming and heads off on adventures with the dragon who was guarding her. What’s not to love? I’ll report back once I’ve read this Eisner-nominated gem from Action Lab.
Bee and Puppycat
I haven’t actually read this one yet either (my To Read list is SHAMEFUL), but I did participate in the very successful Kickstarter for the animated series and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. (Are you sensing a pattern yet? Hint, the pattern is that I’m ridiculously enthusiastic about a lot of things.) This is an homage to the Magical Girl trope, and Bee is hilarious and lazy and awkward and relatable (and not, I promise, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl). And she owns this series, plus women-writing-women is something I can totally get behind. Another Boom! Studios comic.
Over the Wall
I picked up Peter Wartman’s Over the Wall at Autoptic last year and holy bananas, Batman, was it worth it! Anya sneaks away from home and into the Forbidden City to rescue her brother, joining forces with a reluctant minor demon in the process. Talk about girls being awesome and having agency and saving civilization. This YALSA favorite is from Uncivilized Books.
 Though Marvel and DC are technically indies by our standards, and are making efforts towards diversity, they’re the two megapowers in comics, and I wanted to focus on the little guys. So no Marvel or DC here.
Allyce Amidon is the associate editor at Foreword Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter @allyce_amidon