How Do You Build a Great Girl Character?

This one time when I was at the bar (and by one time, I mean Tuesday night), I got into one of those taboo conversations about feminism and the treatment of female characters in fiction. The conversation inevitably made its way to comics; I mean this is me after all. Then my nemesis, we’ll call him Baby Bird, made the obvious and seemingly inevitable hasty generalization that men are just as objectified as women in comics. And well, that kicked me into high gear with points about inequity, marginalization and visual representation (see Kelly Thompson’s articulate essay that inspired my vein-popping rant).

Baby Bird may not have been up-to-speed on the gender bias prevalent in comics and fiction in general, but the discussion on the topic has grown exponentially over the past several years. Much of that conversation is spent calling out the bullshit. Rightfully so. While I live for a good row just like the next girl, I think it is pretty clear what the problems are. So how do we fix them? Continue reading

5 Quotes Worth Remembering From SENYC

… And they’re all from the Reimagining the Female Superhero panel!

It’s Throwback Thursday here at Girls Gone Geek, and I wanted to share a few new quotes from the panel that made the trip to SENYC worth it.

Enjoy!


By Alison Bechdel

By Alison Bechdel

On the Bechdel Test:
“I think there’s a lot of dismissal of things that do pass [The Bechdel Test]. If you have a

buddy cop movie about men, then it’s a buddy cop movie. If you have a buddy cop movie about women, it’s a chick flick. If you have a coming of age story about a boy, then it’s a coming of age story, if it’s about a girl it’s a chick flick. If it’s about a father and son relationship, it’s a father and son movie, if it’s a mother and daughter, it’s a chick flick. And I’m tired of it!” – Marguerite Bennett

On creating accurate representations of women:
“You can get a female character up on a pedestal so high, that they’re actually boring to read about. Once in awhile a female character is going to want to go on a date – it doesn’t make them less strong. They’re gonna cry – it doesn’t make them less strong. There are lots of kinds of strength, let’s explore them.” – Gail Simone

stormbp

On representation and diversity in comics:
“I think it’s a little strange that there are so many new stories coming out… but so few people of color in them. Because you can do that, you know.” – Amy Reeder

LadySkrullOn how poorly women have been written in the past:
“[Jack Kirby and Stan Lee] found it easier to identify with Skrulls than with women.” – Ben Saunders

On Wonder Woman:
“I think Wonder Woman is the strongest warrior on the planet, and maybe the universe.

She’s not gonna pull punches. And if you want to defeat her, you better not pull yours.” – Gail Simone

Wonder Woman by Marcio Takara

Wonder Woman by Marcio Takara

Reimagining the Female Superhero

Saturday I attended a panel at Special Edition: NYC, and from what I gathered it was one of the only panels that day that was even nearing maximum capacity. The Carol Corps, various members of the Young Avengers team, and plenty more in addition to myself waited patiently in the ever-growing line for this event. It was pretty much the only reason I went to the convention that day. It seems that many others had the same idea. Continue reading

Wonder Woman Is …

Imagine for a moment being on Wonder Woman’s bad side. And then she shows up unexpectedly to have a little talk with you.

Cue awe and soiled garments.

That’s a scenario writer Gail Simone and artist Nicola Scott set up beautifully when Diana confronted our favorite anti-heroes in Secret Six #12. Wonder Woman’s memorable guest appearance through issue #14 was the icing on top of one of Secret Six’s best arcs, “The Depths.” There are so many things about this story I love, starting with the stark contrast between the highly principled princess and the most delightfully morally ambiguous crew in comics. In this arc, Wonder Woman was an imposing, justice-demanding force of nature. In other words, awesome. (Spoilers ahead) Continue reading

Five Reasons to Read … Red Sonja

Those of us who have been on Team Gail (as in Simone) for years were ready for her Red Sonja reboot with illustrator Walter Geovani as soon as it was announced. It will surprise very few people that this comic has met our high expectations in its first four issues. Let us count the ways in which this exciting, engaging book deserves your attention. Continue reading

V. reviews The Movement #4 & The Legend of Luther Strode #6

Aside

Hey guys! I’m reviewing stuff again. This week is two quick reviews on Gail Simone’s slow-burn in The Movement #4 and the explosive final issue of The Legend of Luther Strode.

When The Strange Talents of Luther Strode hit the shelves last year, that book was pure energy and wildly addicting. I actually didn’t catch on to that trend until about issue five, read all of them … and squirmed until issue six came out. Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore’s Luther Strode is super intense, super violent and yet quite novel.

The Legend of Luther Strode is the second mini-series featuring Luther, Petra and a bevy of other misfits and I enjoyed it. But … I think this pony needs some new tricks because the novelty is wearing thin, even though the quality is still there. Word on the wind is we will be getting The Legacy of Luther Strode next year. I am still so going to read it, but I do hope these talented creators will bring a surprise or two.

That aside, Petra totally kicks ass in this issue. She massacres a couple of female fiction tropes which is one of my favorite things to read in the whole wide world. Not hyperbole.

Now, about The Movement. We here at the Church of Gail Simone give all available benefits of doubts and trust in her ability to weave a fine web of comic bookiness. I’ll admit, The Movement has been an acquired taste, but one that I think is well worth your time … and mine. When a writer references the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, it implies a thoughtfulness and a care for the injustices suffered by marginalized people. It’s culture in our comics … the all-to-often-ignored culture is the kind of stuff I like to read and support in our sea of escapism. I’ve still got some reservations about the art. I’d like Nicola Scott or Amanda Conner drawing these characters. Rags Morales would be a good fit, too. A fangirl can dream, right?

You can read my reviews HERE.

L. reviews The Invincible Haggard West, E. reviews Red Sonja

Aside

Just in case you fine folks missed it, last week Lindsey reviewed Paul Pope’s one-shot, The Invincible Haggard West #101. She gave it very high marks. Being that Lindz is so cool and smart, this book probably is, too. You can check her review HERE.

Then, last Wednesday saw the release of Gail Simone’s much-anticipated Red Sonja from Dynamite Entertainment. Erika jumped at the chance to let the world know it’s just as good as we thought it would be. You can read that review HERE.

Red Sonja by Fiona Staples

V. reviews The Movement #1

Aside

The Movement #1I was so excited to read Gail Simone’s latest addition to the DC line-up, The Movement. I heard her say that it’s probably the most diversity in a DC comic … like ever. And not just racial diversity; The Movement will tout diverse perspectives, lifestyles, politics and beliefs. Hera knows the heteronormative world of mainstream comics needs some variation in perspective. I certainly have a strong desire for it in comics (and elsewhere).

The Movement #1 was not as strong of a first issue as I had hoped, but then I wonder if my expectations were unrealistically high. Were they high because I think Gail is a wonderful storyteller or because I want this book to beget more books like it thus prematurely placing it on a pedestal?  Or maybe … it just wasn’t a great first issue. Either way, you can read my full review here.

Have you read it? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my review?

G3 Interview: Gail Simone, Part II

No one can say that Gail Simone isn’t available to her fans. She has long maintained an open dialogue with readers on her Tumblr and Twitter, and she’ll take on the tough and controversial subjects that are bound to come up in the highly opinionated world of comics. In Part II of our interview, Gail shares her thoughts on the writer-reader relationship, talks about reuniting with artist Jim Calafiore for Leaving Megalopolis, and answers a burning question we saved for the end. Continue reading

Spotlight on Gail Simone

The powers-that-be at MegaCon 2013 exercised vast wisdom and general awesomeness by having a panel dedicated to Gail Simone. For an hour, fans got to ask questions and listen to this excellent writer talk about her craft. V. was there taking notes for those of you who couldn’t be. Here are some of the takeaways. Continue reading

E.’s Megacon Highlight Reel

If you’re ever suffering from a case of fan malaise, find the nearest comics/sci-fi/fantasy/anime convention and go. You won’t regret it.

As Megacon reminded me, there’s nothing quite like a con to reconnect a person with the joys of fandom. Spending a few days surrounded by happy people in costumes and talking to the creators who make Wednesdays special are two things that deserve spots on your bucket list.

Some highlights and observations: Continue reading

Destination: Gail

One of the beautiful things about the comics industry is that many of the writers and artists are easily accessible to the fans. They take part in the discussion and share their work and insight on the varying social media platforms. They also spend time at conventions to promote their work, appear in panels, sign books and chat with fans. It’s really quite fun, especially for blogger-types like us. Continue reading

Gail Simone on Writing Female Characters

Aside

Because diversity of female characters has been lacking in comics, film and just fiction in general, coupled with an upsurgence of feminism; there seems to be this perception that IF you choose to portray a female character, then she HAS to be a positive role model. I think that is absurd, unrealistic, and stifling of creativity.

Today, Gail Simone posted a respone to an anonymous question on her Tumblr addressing this very thing, and her response is highly rebloggable:

No one is ever asking for all females to be perfect avatars of all good things. Most sensible people are looking for a SPECTRUM of qualities for female (and other gender specifications) characters.

We want bad girls and good women and selfish ladies and caring mothers and terrible daughters and nasty wives and sacrificing girlfriends, we want villains and heroes and supporting cast members.

There’s no ‘wrong’ female character or scenario, it’s all purely in the execution.

Yes. It’s in the execution.

Write any kind of character that you like, that fits the story, that is creative and honest. Write every kind of female. Write lots of female characters. Then maybe we will get to a point where there is something for everyone, and she won’t have to be everything to everyone.

NRRD PROBZ – 12.11.2012

Hello, dear readers. Just as a heads up this is going to be the last NRRD PROBZ of 2012. It will return on January 8th, so have a wonderful holiday and send in those questions!

“Gail Simone got sacked! If I wanted to start reading some Gail Simone books, where do I start?”

I KNOW WHAT’S UP WIDDAT? We here at G3 are currently mourning the loss, and may continue to do so for some time.

In the interim, you could start out your Simone quest with one of her runs on Secret Six. They are great fun and really accessible to newer readers. Her first collected work on it is entitled “Six Degrees of Devastation” and includes all six issues of the mini series. I would read this first, not only because it is chronological, but because when using this as a starting point you really get to see her grow into the series later on. Continue reading

On Gail Simone’s Removal from Batgirl

No matter how you felt about Oracle and Stephanie Brown’s absence from DC’s 52, Barbara Gordon’s return as Batgirl was an undeniable success. A success for diversity.

Because Barbara being shot by the Joker in The Killing Joke remained in continuity, Barbara Gordon was healing from a traumatic injury. In returning her to the streets of Gotham, Gail gave us a clear picture of PTSD. We saw a female recover from one of the most violent assaults in DC history, and regain her power while showing vulnerability as a strength … a mechanism for the signature compassion of Barbara Gordon.

Gail Simone wrote her that way, and I doubt few (if any) other writers would have done the character such justice while showing grace under the pressure of launching a single-character title. Continue reading

G3 Cosplay: Black Canary

So impressed over the years by the cosplayers who attend Dragon*Con, cosplaying became an item on my bucket list. Finally, after a false start or two, I cosplayed my beloved Black Canary at Dragon*Con 2012. Not the one from the Golden Age, not Dixon’s Dinah, but the reason I am a comic-obsessed fanigirl at all – I was Gail Simone’s Black Canary. Continue reading

2011 Memorable Moment: A Scandalous Threesome and the Venomous Six

This memorable moment is a twofer, and probably the one nearest to my heart.

We all (should) know that Death of the New Gods was a terrible story that did nothing but muck up continuity and convolute the lead-in to Final Crisis (while also having terrible grammar throughout the series). The last thing Final Crisis needed to be was more confusing. Those annoyances aside, the most tragic part of DotNG were the deaths of some particularly awesome New Gods, specifically … Knockout. Continue reading

G3 Review: DCnU Score Card

I have intentionally been quiet about the new DC books these past couple of weeks. Mostly because every site and its mom is reviewing them, E. has covered a few, too. What more could I possibly say that hasn’t been said? Well, I’ve always got something to say. I’m not picking up all of the titles, but of the #1 DC books I have gotten, I have loved, liked, and loathed. Continue reading

Friday Favorite: Spy Smasher

“They call me the Spy Smasher because I kill terrorists, and those who wish harm against our country. You will never, ever be in a room with anyone of a higher authority. Not if you live to be a hundred.”

Combine every relentless hardass you’ve ever known, add a dose of supreme confidence and combat training, provide scary federal credentials, and put it all in one intimidating package topped off with a severe ponytail. The result? Katrina Armstrong, aka Spy Smasher. Continue reading

A Word About Diversity

 

A character, not a "statement"

By now, you’ve probably seen Gail Simone’s fierce, utterly awesome rebuttal to an aspiring comic book writer who said, essentially, that characters should not be forced on publishers for the sake of inclusion. Specifically, gay characters. This person’s argument is annoying for a number of reasons, but what struck me is how frequently I’ve heard versions of this from otherwise reasonable people. Continue reading

2010 Memorable Moment: Iron Owl

I so intensely desired the relaunch of  Birds of Prey with Gail as the writer partly because I felt a need for the proper treatment of the character Sin. It is not news that I think Ollie and Dinah’s marriage is some Grade-A bullshit, and that stunt he pulled to hide Sin … yeah, that was the worst. I knew Gail would address that at some point. When Sin was mentioned in the first issue of Birds of Prey, it was clear that it would happen soon.

In Birds of Prey #6, not only did I get Sin, but I got Lady Shiva, too. GOOD GAWD, I love Shiva! The appearance of Shiva and Sin was, indeed, extremely satisfying. But, I was not prepared for just how moved I would be by Huntress.

Helena Bertinelli is the kind of girl you want as a best friend because she has got your back. Huntress decides to take Dinah’s place in a battle to the death against Lady Shiva, one of the deadliest people on the planet. THAT is one hell of a gesture. Not only did Helena hold Dinah down to the tenth power, but she stayed on her feet while taking that ass-kicking of a lifetime from Shiva.

Huntress has more moxie than any lady in the DCU. She is Iron Owl.

2010 Memorable Moment: Cat Got Yo’ Face!

Daddy issues much?

Secret Six is a book that was consistently good throughout the year. Gail never ceases to blow the line between morality and immorality completely to smithereens in ways that only work with the Six. While there have been many, many “Oh, Shit!” moments in Secret Six, issue #22 made my jaw hit the ground so hard it nearly broke.

In the final chapter of the “Cats in the Cradle” story arc, Thomas Blake takes his animal inclinations to the extreme. After hunting his son’s kidnappers by blazing a trail of blood and entrails, he finally confronts them. A meta by the name of Wallace is particularly arrogant and sinister upon Catman’s arrival, and the fight ensues. Wallace seems to be under the impression that he has the upper hand because he’s all electrical. Whilst lightning and shit-talking are plentiful, Blake takes one lunge at Wallace, and bites his fucking face off. One bite. Then he kills him with his claw-knuckle thingie and the best one-liner … ever. Gail officially sent Thomas Blake up the river to Homocidal Maniac Town, never to return.

J. Calafiore’s illustration is so epically perfect and gruesome that one cannot help but be utterly shocked.

I’d also like to give Calafiore some major props for his work on Secret Six as a whole this past year. He’s more or less melded with the Six, and I love, LOVE how he draws them. Calafiore has stepped his game up every month, and continues to improve. I’m so impressed by this book’s consistency, which is what Secret Six deserves.

Read This, Too: Welcome to Tranquility

Gail Simone has been a regular on my pull list, thanks to her consistently top-notch work on comics like The Atom, Birds of Prey, Secret Six and, yes, Wonder Woman. But when my LCS owner asked me if I’d been reading Welcome to Tranquility, I stammered.

“If you’re a fan of hers, you should be reading this comic,” he said. “It’s her baby.”

Anyone who’s familiar with Simone’s writing knows that she does funny and macabre very well, often within a single panel. Those talents are on full display in Welcome to Tranquility, a Wildstorm comic about a town inhabited by retired superheroes and villains. And what a cast. There’s Minxy Minerva, a daffy millionaire and former child pilot prodigy who crashes frequently. Emoticon is a young troublemaker who wears a mask displaying text symbols that reveal his mood: smiley faces, for instance. Mayor Alex Fury, the former leader of a Justice Society-type group, presides over the town of Tranquility and lives with his wife and fellow former hero/pinup Pink Bunny.

In the middle of it all is beloved Sheriff Thomasina “Tommy” Lindo, who eschews profanity and instead blurts out words like “bull doody.” Personally, I’m stoked to see a black female comics character in a leading role. Sheriff Lindo is the glue and conscience of Tranquility, perhaps the most ironically named town ever. This place is anything but peaceful, roiling with secrets, intrigue, juicy backstories and crazy developments, which result in good read.

 

The Liberty Snots

You could easily start with the first three issues of the latest storyline, “One Foot in the Grave,” but I’d suggest going all the way back to Vol. 1, which launched in 2006. This is where the characters and their motivations are fleshed out, and where the arrival of two journalists sets off the town’s alarm bells. (And thanks, Gail, for not making journalists look evil. We appreciate it.)

There’s also a nifty subplot involving the Liberty Snots (formerly the Tranquili-teens), a band of young heroes that has shed its clean-cut, TV show image and gone Goth. And punk. Simone has a lot of fun with old-school comic book tropes, like random product-placement ads, one-page gags and “Scooby Doo”-like stories featuring the Tranquili-teens in their G-rated heyday.

Though Wildstorm is soon to be no more, Simone told Newsarama that the current series has been completed, and that the remaining issues will be published as planned. So go ahead and dive in.

Want more suggestions? Check out the lesser-known titles reviewed on these blogs and Read Them, Too:

Adam Strange at It’s a Dan’s World

American Vampire at Doom Patrol

Astro City at K-Squared Ramblings

Booster Gold and Zatanna at Red Tornado’s Path

Essential Man-Thing at Firestorm Fan

Forgetless at Girls Gone Geek

Franklin Richards Digests at  Once Upon a Geek

Glamourpuss at Being Carter Hall

Peter David’s Hulk at Fortress of Baileytude

Jonah Hex at Boosterrific

R.E.B.E.L.S. at Indigo Tribe

Scott Pilgrim at Toyriffic

Son of Tomahawk and Thor the Mighty Avenger at Aquaman Shrine

Spelljammer at HeroPress

Spire Christian Comics at Mail it to Team-Up

Strange Science Fantasy at Siskoid’s Blog of Geekery

The Unwritten at Speed Force

Friday Favorite: Creote & Savant

Whether it is intended or not, comic books are often a socio-political commentary. The art and stories are a reflection of culture and current events. While much ado has been made about the treatment and portrayal of female characters in comics, there is much to be said about LGBT characters or rather, the lack thereof.

More recently, mainstream comic books have seen plenty of lesbian love, and perhaps that provides extended shower time for the “target demographic.” But, we all know that people who read comics are a much more diverse and intellectual bunch than the stereotype of your middle-aged, straight white guy.

Based on the human population at large, there is a disproportionately low number of gay characters in comics, particularly gay male characters. Continue reading

Gail Simone’s Letter to “Everyone in Comics, Dammit”

E. and I are generally not “rebloggers,” but for this I make an exception.

Here at Girls Gone Geek, we are not shy about our reverence for writer Gail Simone. Her stories are wildly entertaining, witty, smart, and depraved in the best kind of way. I’ve never met her, although I hope to one of these days. Off the books, she comes across as a gracious and passionate person who cares about her fans and the dignity of people in general.

She’s known to take to Twitter, her tumblr, or the message boards voicing her opinions about various things. She is particularly froggy when injustice or dumbassery is at hand. I tend to agree with her on just about everything. Gail’s poignant letter about why people should care about women who read comics is one more instance of that.

I wanted to share what she wrote. Continue reading

Birds of Prey #2: White Witch, Crazy Bitch

The million dollar question: Who is White Canary!? Well, we still don’t know. It’s okay though, this issue was excellent.

Jumping right back into the action from issue #1, Black Canary and Huntress face off with White Canary who is serving the Birds some serious whoop ass. Black Canary manages to get a few licks in. Maybe a few licks too many as she responds emotionally to what seems to be some major hater vibes coming off of this new enemy. Continue reading

G3 Review: Secret Six #22

Cover art by Dan LuVisi

Secret Six #22

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: J. Calafiore
DC Comics
Released: June 9, 2010

The comics that I deem “good” are the ones that really tug my emotions or shock the shit out of me. The final installment of the Secret Six “Cats in the Cradle” story arc was a full on jaw-dropper, kids. If you haven’t been reading, you need to grab the trade. I went back to issue #19 and read straight through. This story is intense, fast-paced and clever, Continue reading

Birds of Prey #1: Fishnets, Fisticuffs and Fabulousness

Variant cover art by Cliff Chiang

The best friendships are the ones where, even after long stretches of little communication, everyone picks up right where they left off. There are no awkward pauses or, worse, internal monologues about how it’s just not the same.

For fans of Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey run, reading issue #1 of the revived series is like that great reunion with an old friend. Simone stepped away from the book three years ago, and it was canceled in 2009. However, she and original collaborator Ed Benes have wasted no time in returning the Birds to classic, crime-busting form — and we missed them terribly. (Spoilers await.)

The four-part “Endgame” story opens in Iceland, where Black Canary has arrived to rescue a diplomat’s 5-year-old daughter from a terrorist/kidnapper. The beauty of this sequence is that it firmly re-establishes Dinah Lance as one of the world’s most skilled combatants, obliterating the sad-sack wife nonsense other writers saddled her with. Let’s just say there’s a lot of blood on the snow in Reykjavik, and it’s not Dinah’s. Or the 5-year-old’s.

"Where my girls at?"

Shortly, Oracle begins reassembling the team to deal with an anonymous mofo who has a frightening amount of information about the Birds and all their friends/associates. Zinda is dispatched to recruit Hawk and Dove, one of whom has some serious anger management issues. (I wouldn’t have held it against Hawk if he’d tossed that silly, bank-robbing cheerleader off the roof, but that’s just me.) The addition of these newbies to a well-established group is potentially rich with drama, and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone adjusts, or doesn’t.

This is the REAL DC Trinity

Simone’s affection for these characters comes through on every page, especially in the funny, familiar banter that flies between Canary, Zinda, Huntress and Oracle. The Birds also look fabulous, thanks to Benes’ gourmet cheesecake illustrations and colorist Nei Ruffino’s glowing, moody palette, which really suits poured-on leather under moonlight. Those panels of Huntress cracking skulls while talking to Oracle via cell phone could launch 1,000 gym memberships alone.

As if that weren’t enough, the Big Villain Reveal on the final page is a total surprise, and still a bit of a mystery. I figured it would be Lady Shiva, or even a tween Sin, but the ending suggests that our heroines are in for even bigger trouble. It is totally on — and I couldn’t be happier.

Gail Was Robbed!

Cover art by Dan LuVisi

Secret Six #20 played out like a well-acted revenge thriller. Catman reminded me of Liam Neeson in Taken. Those baddies effed with the wrong guy! Still, I wish Cheshire had come along to help with the revenge portion of the show. Maybe Gail will bring her around later. Let’s hope.

On the whole, this issue was fast-paced and full of that shock factor these characters are known for, and it set the stage for a hell of a story arc. Thanks again, Gail, for reminding me why I buy monthly issues instead of waiting for the trade. Continue reading

Simone Departs from Wonder Woman

DC announced on Friday that Gail Simone will be leaving Wonder Woman. As much as we’d like her to stay on the book, she is not Wonder Woman. With the return of the Birds, I suppose she can’t do it all. I was disappointed, but not surprised. Gail’s replacement, announced this morning, will be J. Michael Straczynski. This guy has got some serious writing cred behind him, but in his interview he seemed more stoked about writing Supes than Wondy. Through hell or high water, Wonder Woman will stay on my pull list, but I’m a little worried.

The Question: Will Lady Shiva Be Redeemed?

I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Gail Simone. Her writing is smart, interesting and fun, and she can write the hell out of a kick-ass chick. Many of my favorite characters are so because of her capable hand in their development. At the top of that list is Lady Shiva. I’ll keep it real. I didn’t know much about Sandra Wu-San until she showed up in Birds of Prey. OK, I didn’t know much of anything before I read BoP, but there was a long list of supporting characters throughout Simone’s arc. Shiva was my favorite by far.

As we’ve seen in Secret Six, no one does amoral with Gail’s flair. Amoral characters are intriguing because they do the things our conscience and social mores prevent us from doing. We get to live our fantasies through them, and their writers aren’t limited by pesky issues like virtue. Plus, Shiva is a straight-up beast. She’s kicked more asses than you’ve read comics. She’s fast, ingenious, wicked, and not at all afraid to die. That final fact alone makes her a force to be reckoned with. I firmly believe that she could defeat Deathstroke (See previous poll). All Shiva needs is a two-second window, and he’s done for — genetic engineering be damned. Shiva would engineer a beatdown. Continue reading