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Nostalgia As A Weapon: The Sailor Moon Renaissance Is A Feminist Mission Behind The Lines Of Pop Culture

sailor moon feminism

Sailor Moon is inescapable. There’s the new anime of course, and the new musicals, the merchandise, and the retranslation of the manga. But it’s the emblem of a wider renaissance as well, a resurgence of love for mahou shoujo, or magical girl anime and manga — a movement led by women well out of their childhood years. A quick stroll through Tumblr reveals Sailor Moon cupcakes, punky Sailor Moon jackets, heartfelt essays about what the portrayal of lesbianism in Sailor Moon meant to the reader, dozens of artists working together to reanimate an episode of the anime, Sailor Moon nail art tutorials, cats named Luna, Beryl, Haruka and everything in between, hand-sculpted figurines, ornate embroidery projects, and an endless avalanche of fanart. Sailor Moon as an Adventure Time character. Sailor Moon cheekily clutching a Hitachi Magic Wand. Sailor Moon as a vicious biker chick. Sailor Moon protesting the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling.

Sailor Moon fans have not so much rediscovered their love for Naoko Takeuchi’s sword-and-sparkle epic as they have elected her queen mother of their imaginations and ultimate aspirational self. She is, simultaneously, symbol, cause, and leader.

This resurgence is animated by more than typical fannish passion. This is a need to return to a world where young women are in charge. This is an anger at the pabulum of Good Role Models for Girls, at boob windows and “fridging" and “tits or gtfo.” This is 15-year-olds covering their notebooks in “MERMAIDS AGAINST MISOGYNY” stickers, yet also gravely serious grad students applying bell hooks to Takeuchi’s use of Greco-Roman myth. This is a collective invoking of spirits, made more potent in their absence — Usagi Tsukino and all her friends as saints and saviors, carrying the light of childhood optimism to an adulthood in sore need of it. This is nostalgia as a weapon. “Pretty soldiers” indeed.

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Hire This Woman: Cartoonist And Letterer Aubrey Aiese

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Illustrator Aubrey Aiese is the letterer of beloved new series Lumberjanes as well as some of the Adventure Time comics and graphic novels from Boom! Studios. She's also an artist who has made her own mini-comics and co-writing a comic with Zachary Sterling.

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Past Obsession: An Interview With ‘Photobooth: A Biography’ Author Meags Fitzgerald

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Last week Meags Fitzgerald's new graphic memoir Photobooth: A Biography debuted and completely blew me away. Fitzgerald is an artist who works in a variety of mediums, including improv, comics, and photobooth photography.

Photobooth, published by Condundrum Press, is not just Fizgerald's love letter to the seemingly dying phenomenon of the chemical photobooth. The author intertwines historical information about the creation and evolution of the photobooth with stories about her interactions with them, and how they changed her life. It's a book about a woman who has come to passionately love something so much that it takes over too much of her life -- an idea that should resonate with many readers.

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Hire This Woman: Artist Claire Connelly

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Speedster artist Claire Connelly can complete three-to-five pages per day, so it's no surprise that she's consistently busy with projects like her own webcomic The Last Outpost, Animals with writer Eric Grissom, and The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary with writer Erica Schultz. In addition to being a penciller and inker, she's also a writer, letterer, and painter.

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Stop The Press: Vicki Vale And The Superficial ‘Strong Female Character’

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Ah, I thought, as the camera panned lovingly down Vicki Vale’s high-heeled, black-pantyhose-clad legs — here she is. The Strong Female Character. The 1989 model had fluffier hair than her successors, but that's really the only significant difference. She establishes her Totally Empowered cred early, makes eyes at the hero, then gets the hell out of the way as he and the (male, naturally) villain go about the business of advancing the plot. She snaps a photo once or twice to remind us that she's a globe-trotting photojournalist — the kind of photojournalist with no compunction toward sleeping with her subjects, but hey, whatever. She ends the film in the hero’s arms, fulfilling her role as reward for his victory, with nary a whisper of the professional goals that drove her to him in the first place. She is pretty and in need of rescue and almost entirely in service to the male characters’ plot and characterization—but she gets to be vaguely spunky and is slapped with a typically male career, so it’s totally okay.

I can only imagine the interviews that took place upon the release of Batman, touting her modernity, her break with the damsels of the past, her ineffable 1989-ness. I’m sure the crew patted themselves on the back heartily for providing the women and girls of America with such a vibrant reflection and role model.

I'm sure of these things because 25 years later, very little has changed regarding how women like Vicki are portrayed: superficially empowered and ultimately disposable.

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Hire This Woman: Letterer Kuen Tang

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Kuen Tang has been a busy activist since becoming a quadriplegic in 2001, including work with organizations like the Canadian Paraplegic Association, filming documentaries with Oprah Winfrey Network Canada, and teaching courses on any number of subjects. In between all of that, she's discovered a passion for lettering comics and has worked on comics for Zuda and as a staff letterer for Affinity Press. She's also an artist and a writer.

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The Revolution Will Be Pastel: ‘Bee & Puppycat’ Embraces Manga, The Web And Femininity To Maximum Effect [Video]

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Bee and Puppycat is really, really cute. It is also funny, bizarre, and occasionally wistful. Above all though, it is cute: there’s the pastel palette, the fat pink bows on Bee’s shoes, the warm roundness of its characters, literally everything about Puppycat. Its absurdism is soft and its softness is absurd -- “I got fired today,” Bee intones flatly, the rain spattering her cat-faced pinafore dress. She’s a dumpster-diving Sanrio character, Strawberry Shortcake late for her appointment at the temp agency. The beginnings of a plot prod gently at her from time to time, but never with anything like urgency -- two issues into its run, Boom! Studios' Bee and Puppycat comic has meditated on strawberry donuts, embarrassing pajamas, and platform shoes, but not much else. Creator Natasha Allegri (along with collaborators Madeleine Flores and Garrett Jackson) would rather devote three pages to QR-coded music boxes than set about untangling Puppycat’s origins or the nature of their magical, mysterious employer.

In these qualities, Bee and Puppycat is right in line with Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Bravest Warriors, its closest brethren in tone and form. Beyond the creator overlap between the four franchises and the fact that all of them now span both animation and comics, they’re all content to hunker down in that pocket of the zeitgeist that brings together childhood nostalgia and bizarre Internet-age humor, where atmosphere reigns over plot.

But Bee and Puppycat stands out among them, and marks a sea change in comics -- particularly in how franchises are formed, what is considered marketable, and what demographics are seen as worthy of being catered to. In its weird, witty way, I believe that Bee and Puppycat emblematizes the future of this industry.

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Hire This Woman: Writer Nadja Baer

From 'Impure Blood' by Nadja Baer and Nathan Lueth
From 'Impure Blood' by Nadja Baer and Nathan Lueth

In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Nadja Baer has adapted multiple written works into comics format, including an adaptation of the U.S. Constitution. She's currently working on two very different things: an ongoing webcomic called Impure and a law degree! She also appeared on the Hire This Woman panel at Denver Comic-Con.

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Hire This Woman: Artist Jamie Kinosian

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Jamie Kinosian is a comic artist and watercolor illustrator who has worked on character designs, mini-comics, and webcomics. She's also currently putting together Hot Cakes, an anthology of pornographic illustrations all created by women.

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Jen Van Meter & Joanna Estep Blast ‘Fantastic Four’ Into The Future With First Issue Created By Women

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In 53 years of publication, Fantastic Four hasn't featured a whole lot of women creators, despite having one of the most prominent superheroines, the Invisible Woman, at the heart of the team. Louise Simonson wrote the annual in 2000, and Ming Doyle drew a story in Fantastic Four #600. Marie Severin inked an annual. Several women have been colorists on the series, but a woman has never been a regular writer or artist on the book.

Perhaps that will change sometime in the next 47 years or so. There is certainly hope. The just-announced 100th Anniversary Special: Fantastic Four #1, a special issue set in 2061 boasts a creative team of highly accomplished women: writer Jen Van Meter (Hopeless Savages) and artist Joanna Estep (Fraggle Rock).

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