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C2E2 2019: Interview with Cecil Castellucci

Cecil Castellucci

Cecil Castellucci is a talented novelist, comic book writer, and musician, who won a Joe Shuster Award for her work on 2007’s The Plain Janes. Recently, she has written the comics Shade the Changing Girl and Shade the Changing Woman for DC Comics’ Young Animal imprint. At C2E2, I had the opportunity to chat with Castellucci at the DC Comics booth about her new series, Female Furies, that brings the Me Too Movement to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.

Graphic Policy: I’m a big fan of your Young Animal work, like Shade the Changing Girl and Shade the Changing Woman. Why should fans of Shade check out Female Furies?

Cecil Castellucci: With Shade, I was looking at what [Steve] Ditko did and what [Peter] Milligan did, and I was trying to honor and echo some of things they did. But then me and Marley [Zarcone] would stake our own claim to that universe. I feel like with Female Furies, I’m looking at Kirby and his magnificent work and looking at the Female Furies and trying to put it through a different lens.

Shade the Changing Girl is dealing with a lot of the things that original Shade did and Milligan’s Shade did, but where Milligan explored a lot of darkness and cruelty, I staked a claim to heart. It complements it. I feel the same way with Female Furies. I think that Tom King did an amazing job with Mister Miracle, and it’s just got a tenderness to it. It’s very domestic drama and asked, “What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a father?” Those are wonderful things. I’m taking those same characters. Just like he took one lens on it that was different than Kirby, I’m taking a completely different lens from the same characters and showing a different point of view. One thing I love about these characters is that they’re so flexible and can withstand being put through their paces in a different way.

GP: Speaking of these characters, I came into Female Furies expecting for it to focus on Big Barda because she’s a popular, big name character. But you decided to focus on Aurelie. Why did you decide to do that?

CC: One thing I knew going in was that I was going to do the Me Too movement on Apokolips. And a feminist awakening on Apokolips. When I read the whole Fourth World omnibus, it really struck me how women and the Furies were talked about. They’re on the side all the time. They never really go to battle. They’re on the fringes. They’re badasses, but they’re on the side.

So, I wanted to bring their story forward. But, also, the way in those original texts that their bodies are talked about and the way that Granny Goodness is in charge of the children when she’s an equal too. I wanted to look at that and focus on that. When I read Kirby’s Mister Miracle, I discovered the character of Aurelie, who is Barda’s inciting incident. She is Barda’s origin story. When I read that issue, I was like “This is a way in to tell this story” because it’s part of the original thing, but it’s expanding who Aurelie is and how she got to Himon’s place. And the dancing. I really tried to stitch that in.

GP: Why is the Fourth World such a good setting about gender inequality in the world?

CC: I want to go back and say that even though I’m focusing on Aurelie, I still think that my Female Furies is the story of Granny and Big Barda. It’s just the way we’re gonna get there.

First of all, I think that the Fourth World is operatic. It is enormous with highs and lows and drama and betrayal. And Apokolips is also a hell planet. So, when you’re talking about really hard things with bad guys, you can go harsher than what you would do if it was reality or Earth based and dial up the tension of the horribleness of systemic misogyny, of sexual harassment and abuse in that way.

I think that it made it a great landscape to explore the current issues. Sometimes, it’s hard for us when we’re living in a moment in time to look at that moment in time. When it’s in outer space on hell planet, I don’t want to say it’s easier because it’s not. But it is.

GP: Yes, Female Furies is a tough read.

CC: It’s tough to write too.

GP: In Female Furies #2, you had this big character beat where Big Barda is a victim blamer. Why did you decide to make her a victim blamer?

CC: Because I think what happens sometimes is that it’s so impossible for people to believe that something has happened. I think that it’s human tendency to keep the status quo because if you actually awaken to what’s really happening, too many things have to change, and it’s very difficult. Your whole world has to change. Not just society, but your whole personal world.

I think it’s easier for people, and Barda falls victim to that because it’s quite common. You look at women who are raped or domestically abused, or men. They’re usually blamed for what happened. It’s a cycle. I wanted to mirror that to make us look at ourselves, and how we deal with people when they’re telling us the truth. That’s why there’s that thing, “Believe women.” When someone tells you something has happened, it costs them so much to speak. We still have that lesson to learn over and over.

GP: Especially in issue 2, the visuals of the sexual assaults are very explicit. How do you do these kind of scenes without being overly gratuitous like some previous comics put out about this topic?

CC: I have to give a shout out to Adriana Melo. I think that Adriana does such an amazing job of handling those brutal moments with a tenderness and a care toward what’s happening to the characters. I think a lot of that has to do with our collaboration and her masterful way of doing that. I think that’s one of the hard things. Nothing that I or Adriana put in there is gratuitous. I’m not doing it willy nilly. It’s not to be titillating in any way. It’s to talk about harsh circumstances.

Also, they’re all terrible people. They’re villains. Even the people being abused are terrible people. It’s tough to write. It’s not an easy thing.

GP: Granny Goodness is the first protagonist you focus on in Female Furies. In previous stories, she’s been this caricature of evil like when Ed Asner voiced her in the DC cartoons. How do you make her sympathetic?

CC: The Female Furies have always been a part of Kirby’s Fourth World, and they’ve been on the fringe or on the side. You know that they’re all complex. When you take a sliver of the story, and you say, “I’m gonna tell this story of an awakening.” Then, you have more time to explore of how people got there.

I think that you can’t have someone like Granny Goodness without knowing that she came from somewhere. The way that she is is because she learned she had to be like that. I was really interested in figuring out how to crack that. Who is she, and how did she become such a terrible person?

GP: Your take on Darkseid is so unique. I’m used to him being a total nihilist. How do you make him go from being all about “Anti-Life” to a sexual assaulting CEO?

CC: First of all, I think that a lot of men in power express their power in many different ways, and to me, that seemed very natural. It also seemed to me that he would have a very particular relationship with Granny because she is the only woman. I think that he know that she’s probably just as powerful if not more powerful than he is. He needs to keep her under his thumb.

I looked to the history of man and womankind and sort of plucked from there. I think it’s obvious that Darkseid would have those kind of power moves.

GP: It reminds me a lot of Zeus in Greek mythology.

CC: Absolutely. You wouldn’t be like “Zeus doesn’t do it”. He did it a million ways. That’s also how he kept power. I think that Darkseid is a very smart man, and he knows how to manipulate people.


Female Furies #3 goes on sale, April 3, 2019.

Follow Cecil Castellucci on Twitter

Preview: Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1

Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special

(W) Cecil Castellucci, Magdalene Visaggio (A) Mirka Andolfo, Sonny Liew (CA) Frank Quitely
In Shops: Feb 14, 2018
SRP: $4.99

“MILK WARS” part three! Shade has been split into multiple parts, each representing a different mood, all in service to the perfect and beautiful Wonder Wife. But Happy Shade is starting to sense that not all is right in Wonderland, and she finds something strange staring back at her on the other side of the looking glass! Plus, part three of the Eternity Girl backup story!

Review: Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special “Milk Wars Part Three”

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the third part of “Milk Wars”!

Shade the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman is by Cecil Castellucci, Mirka Andolfo, Marissa Louise, Magdalene Visaggio, and Sonny Liew.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

DC Comics​ provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 2: Little Runaway

It’s Tuesday which means it’s new comic book day at book stores! This week we’ve got Shade!

Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 2: Little Runaway collects issues #7-12 by Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Marguerite Sauvage, Ande Parks, Dan Parent, Audrey Mok, Brittney Williams, Leila Del Duca, Katie Jones, and Becky Cloonan.

Get your copy. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Logan’s Favorite Comics of 2017

In 2017, I found it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the new comics releases because of personal stuff etc.. There was also the sheer hatred and bigotry of some comic book fans, who foamed at the mouth every time a character that wasn’t a straight white male starred in their own book or if female characters weren’t drawn in an early 90s Image male gaze-y way. Creators and companies weren’t exempt from this either from Howard Chaykin’s transphobia and Islamophobia in his low selling Image book Divided States of Hysteria to the revelation that new Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski lied about writing comics under the Japanese pseudonym Akira Yoshida for years and suffered little to no consequences for it.

However, there was a lot to love about the comic books of 2017, and I found solace, entertainment, and inspiration in many books from (becoming) old favorites about godly pop stars and dark knights to intriguing new titles about all girl fight clubs and young people experimented on by the government.

 

  1. Batman #14-37 (DC)

In 2017, writer Tom King and a crack team of artists including David Finch, Clay Mann, Mitch Gerads, Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, and Jordie Bellaire explored almost every nook and cranny of the Dark Knight’s world in their work on Batman. Sure, there were epic arcs featuring one on one battles with Bane, a yearlong gang war with the Joker and Riddler, and a little family reunion in the “Button” crossover. But what Batman resonate as a comic book was the standalone and two part stories from King and Gerads showing the sweetness of the relationship between Batman and Catwoman to the emotional tale of Kite Man (Hell yes). King has a real knack for telling O. Henry-esque stories of ideas that humanize iconic characters none more so than “Superfriends” where Batman and Superman go on a double date with Catwoman and Lois Lane. An artistic highlight of the book was Joelle Jones’ beautiful, savage, and a little bit sexy depiction of Batman and Catwoman fighting for their love against the most evil of exes.

  1. Josie and the Pussycats #4-9 (Archie)

Josie and the Pussycats is a gorgeous, funny book that ended much too soon although it is nice to see artist Audrey Mok working on the main Archie title. Writers Cameron DeOrdio and Marguerite Bennett craft the rare Archie book that looks at both romantic and platonic relationships from the POV of young adults, not teenagers. They, artist Mok, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick imbue the title with a Saturday Morning cartoon zaniness, including high speed boat and motorcycle chases, kidnappings, and jokes about the polar bears from The Golden Compass. Yes, DeOrdio and Bennett overload all kinds of pop culture references and allusions in Josie, but it adds to the book’s energetic feel along with Mok’s fantastic fashion designs and Fitzpatrick’s bold colors. Josie and the Pussycats has some real heart to it with characters having all kinds of intense conversations about love, friendship, and fame between the over-the-top setpieces.

  1. Heavenly Blues #1-4 (Scout)

Writer Ben Kahn and artist Bruno Hidalgo’s Heavenly Blues blends the cosmology and philosophical and theological themes of Vertigo classics like Sandman and Lucifer with a quick and dirty heist thriller as a band of criminals, including a Great Depression Era thief, a girl who was sentenced to burn during the Salem Witch Trials, and a bisexual cowboy team up to break into heaven and steal something you may have heard of. Witty writing from Kahn and rhythmic art from Hidalgo that flows from the building of the Great Pyramids to the Old West and even an angel lounging in sweatpants keeps the story on its toes with flashback to each thief’s past life create an emotional connection to them. This is the perfect comic for folks who like to think about the nature of evil or the possibility of an afterlife while also watching Oceans 11 or Logan Lucky with a whiskey on the rocks.

 

  1. Shade the Changing Girl #4-12 (DC/Young Animal)

The crown jewel of DC’s Young Animal imprint, Shade: The Changing Girl is a beautiful, meditative look at identity and humanity from the perspective of a bird alien Metan girl named Loma Shade, who has possessed the body of teenage girl bully. Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s story really took off when Shade decides to hit the road first for Gotham and eventually to meet her idol, Honey Rich, the aging star of a 1950s sitcom that was popular all over the galaxy. Zarcone’s artwork is extremely fluid and complements Shade’s reaction to the influx of stimulus all around her that is humanity as she begins to understand concepts like nostalgia and of course the big ones: life and death. Shade the Changing Girl is more poem than sci-fi thriller/mindbender, and Castellucci’s poetic captions, Zarcone’s sincere facial expressions, and Fitzpatrick’s, well, groovy colors bypass the critical part of the brain and go straight for the emotional center. It is an empathetic study into how humans communicate and navigate this complex world from a visitor from an equally as complex society so hence conflict.

  1. Generation Gone #1-5 (Image)

Comics’ enfant terrible Ales Kot makes his triumphant return with Generation Gone, which is one of his most accessible works that still takes shots at the kyriarchy and patriarchy through the lens of the “superhero” origin story. Artist Andre Araujo and colorist Chris O’Halloran provide equal parts majestic, disgusting, and triumphant wide screen visuals throughout the series from bodies being stripped down to bone, muscles, and organs to flying in the sunset. The way that the three main kids Elena, Baldwin, and Nick is a little bit of techno-organic body horror like Scanners filtered through 2017. Kot avoids typical superhero team up tropes and has them constantly at each other’s throats that all really boils down to toxic masculinity, especially Nick, who is like Max Landis with a healing factor. Generation Gone is an epic and visceral story with all kinds of carnage and big explosions that is ably balanced by Ales Kot’s nuanced characterization. There’s some decent world building, but it takes a backseat to Elena, Baldwin, and Nick’s journey and squabbles along the way.

  1. The Wicked + the Divine #25-33, 455 AD, Christmas Special (Image)

In its fourth year (Or “Imperial Phase”) as a title, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson’s The Wicked + the Divine became both more self-indulgent and introspective before the ending the year with more emotional destruction and much needed side dish of pure fanservice. The main focus is on the relationships of the Pantheon from Dionysus’ truly soulful friendship with Baphomet (They spend most of an issue talking in the dark, and it’s lovely.) to the intense connection between Persephone and Sakhmet and the older brother/little sister Baal and Minerva that takes a big turn for the disquieting. Even though McKelvie’s figures and fashion decisions are still flawless as usual, WicDiv uncovers every metaphorical wrinkle or mole on the Pantheon members by the time “Imperial Phase” ends in a truly soul crushing manner like the slow build in “In the Air Tonight” before the epic drums. And after it’s over, Gillen and a host of talented guest artists deliver a comic that is sexy, thoughtful, and filled to the brim of feels showing what the Pantheon were like when they were young and less dead. The Kris Anka and Jen Bartel Baal/Inanna short is most definitely the hottest thing I read in 2017.

 

  1. Kim and Kim: Love is A Battlefield #1-4 (Black Mask)

Shifting the focus from Kim Q to Kim D in this fantastic sequel to the Eisner nominated miniseries Kim and Kim, Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, and Claudia Aguirre confidently tell the story of a woman trying to get over an ex that she really cared for, but wasn’t good for her. There are also mech suits, space battles, basses being used as a blunt instrument, and all kinds of space bounty hunter shenanigans. The rift and reunion between the Fighting Kim’s is super relatable as who hasn’t been disappointed in a friend for returning to the same, not cool ex over and over again. However, Visaggio gives the Kim’s great growth as friends and in their chosen career as bounty hunters by the time the miniseries wraps. On the visual front, Eva Cabrera can choreograph the hell out of a fight scene, and there is still plenty of pink from Claudia Aguirre. Kim and Kim: Love is a Battlefield is a smorgasbord of quips, fun sci-fi worldbuilding, and real friend talk and improves on its already pretty awesome predecessor.

 

  1. Mister Miracle #1-5 (DC)

Jack Kirby would have turned 100 in 2017, and there was arguably no better tribute to his imaginative work as an artist and writer than Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle comic. I know I’m double dipping with King comics on the list, but he’s just that good. In his art, Gerads teaches the old dog of the nine panel grid some new tricks and uses it for everything from a tender love scene between Mister Miracle and Big Barda to him getting repeatedly beaten by his older brother Orion, who plays an antagonistic role in the series. The bar-like grid of the comic book he stars in is the one prison Mister Miracle can’t escape from. (Wow, that got meta.) Gerads uses a trippy, almost television fuzz effect to show Scott’s tattered psyche as he faces death with his escape artistry, goes to war against Apokolips, and is sentenced to execution. King’s gift of writing both the mundane and utterly cosmic comes in handy in Mister Miracle whose most memorable scenes are Scott and Barda cuddling and joking around, not the big battle scenes. Again, he and Mitch Gerads find the human and the epic, which is definitely something the King would be proud of. (Big Barda was patterned off his beloved wife Roz.)

  1. Giant Days #22-33, 2017 Special (BOOM!)

Although the facial expressions that Max Sarin and Liz Fleming draw are truly outrageous at times, Giant Days is a fairly naturally plotted comic with the friendships, relationships, and life statuses of Esther, Susan, and Daisy ebbing and flowing like normal university students. They begin the year as BFFs for life, but start to drift apart towards the end of the year as Susan and Daisy’s relationships with McGraw and Ingrid move onto the next level. Esther is kind of stuck in the lurch as her penchant for drama bombs starts to backfire. Giant Days nails the constantly evolving fluid thingamajig that is relationships as a young adult.  As an added bonus, we also get to see how the girls act and feel differently around their family versus friends as Susan’s way too big and complicated family makes quite the impression. And, of course, Giant Days is very funny, and John Allison, Max Sarin, and Liz Fleming mine the comedy out of everything from the deliciousness of home cooking, the grossness of nerd dorm food concoctions, and even a video game wedding. (Poor Dean.)

  1. Heavy Vinyl #1-4 (BOOM!)

Reading Carly Usdin, Nina Vakeuva, Irene Flores, and Rebecca Palty’s Heavy Vinyl is like the comic book equivalent of relaxing in a hot tub, but the hot tub is either cupcakes or adorable Corgi puppies. (Take your pick.) It’s about a teenage girl named Chris in 1998, who has just gotten her dream job at a record store and her first big crush on Maggie, her co-worker, who is drawn like a shoujo manga protagonist. But then she’s inducted into a top secret vigilante fight club and has to rescue the frontwoman of her favorite band. It’s high concept and slice of life just like Vakueva’s art is comedic, beautiful, and a little badass. Carly Usdin does a good job in just four issues of giving each member of the fight club their own distinct personalities and relationships while doubling down on the cuteness and awkwardness of Chris and Maggie’s budding romance. But what makes Heavy Vinyl  the best comic of 2017 is its belief in the power of women and music to change the world…

Review: Shade the Changing Girl #12

Shade the Changing Girl #12 Cover

The first year of Shade the Changing Girl concludes in multiple body swapping, life and death fashion as writer Cecil Castellucci makes all the story threads collide and artists Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, and Kelly Fitzpatrick channel madness, love, and poetry in surreal psychedelic form. It’s the end of Honey Rich’s life, and the beginning of Loma Shade, Earth girl’s. The comic begins with a nod to Mulholland Drive and some satire of the Hollywood blockbuster system, but leaves Hollywood behind for human connection even if most of the characters are aliens.

I cannot praise Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors on backgrounds and the Madness circle things enough in Shade #12 throughout the series. There’s blue for when Shade (in Honey’s body) runs to reunite with Lepuck, and then an intense red when Lepuck realize that he’s talking to Honey in Shade’s body. Then, it turns a more subdued background when Lepuck remembers that Life with Honey was Shade’s favorite. The biggest highlight of Fitzpatrick’s work is the full page rainbow and pink splashes to mark Rac Shade’s triumphant return and shunning of his not-the-nicest boyfriend, Mellu.

MortalitySux

The return of Rac Shade marks the most experimental part of Shade #12 with Castellucci, Zarcone, Parks, and Fitzpatrick firing on all cylinders to craft a psychedelic delight. His words have filled the margin of numerous pages of Shade the Changing Girl, and his physical-ish presence in the Madness is pretty overwhelming. Castellucci and Zarcone show the non-linear nature of the Madness where “time means nothing” by having a double page spread where you spin a pencil to pick a scene to read. This double page spread does a decent job of distilling all the major relationships into one cohesive, color shifting, panel flipping unit. It’s an ability that only a true great soul, like Loma or Rac, can control, and Mellu ends up going all melting Nazi in the Raiders of the Lost Ark with his short lived powers.

It’s definitely more of a C-story, but I really latched onto the River, Teacup, and hippo friend, who is a Madness tracker, sub-plot throughout the second arc of Shade the Changing Girl. They are just smart, normal, yet outsider kids looking for Shade, who transformed a mean bully (Megan) into a quirky friend. I love River’s remarks about using the power of technology and the Internet (In his case, hacking his way to plane tickets, hotel, and a fake field trip to L.A.) to make a real life connection with Shade and bond with Teacup along the way. In the middle of a mind expanding, metaphysical story, Castellucci and Zarcone manage to capture the simple pleasure of meeting Internet friends in real life with a side of floating hippos, sort of chestbursters, and body swapping.

There is a real feeling of closure to Shade the Changing Girl #12, especially in Honey Rich’s death scene, which is richly philosophical (And Teacup quips about this part of it.) and down to Earth. Honey realizes that she would be pushing her boundaries to seek stardom in Shade’s body and finds a sweet release in mortality. Zarcone brings back the black and white Life with Honey Honey Rich as a final reminder that her sitcom touched the lives of people beyond the stars. Also, her death in the chrysalis shaped Madness vest gives Shade a new lease of life as a whole girl and not just an Avian messing around in Megan Boyer’s head.

Death and rebirth: it’s doesn’t get more beautiful and poetic than that. Shade the Changing Girl #12 explores these universal themes through the insights and character arcs crafted by Cecil Castellucci; the clean, yet bad dream-like art of Marley Zarcone and Ande Parks, and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s kaleidoscope rainbow color palette. It also sets up a newly whole Shade the Changing Girl for more adventures as a human girl.

Story: Cecil Castellucci Art: Marley Zarcone with Ande Parks
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick Backup Art: Katie Jones 
Story: 8.2 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Shade, the Changing Girl #12

Shade, the Changing Girl #12

(W) Cecil Castellucci (A) Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Katie Jones (CA) Becky Cloonan
In Shops: Sep 06, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Shade’s Earthly wanderings reach a dangerous crescendo, as the Metans descend on Hollywood. Can Loma escape by hiding out in Honey’s body, or will that just mean Honey goes with Megan’s body to a Metan jail? Plus, learn the fates of Lepuck, River, and Teacup in the brain-melting conclusion of our first story arc.

Preview: Shade the Changing Girl #11

Shade the Changing Girl #11

(W) Cecil Castellucci (A) Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Marguerite Sauvage (CA) Becky Cloonan
In Shops: Aug 02, 2017
SRP: $3.99

Shade goes to Hollywood! Following her adventures in New Mexico, our girl heads to Tinseltown on her search to find the actress who played Honey in her favorite Earth TV show. What she finds is a woman who is older than the one she saw on the black-and-white broadcast, but also one whose years and experience will teach her more than Shade could ever expect. Now, if Shade can just apply those life lessons before her pursuers from Meta catch up with her…

Review: Shade the Changing Girl #11

Loma Shade hits Hollywood, or mostly a rest home for old actors and actresses in Shade the Changing Girl #11, and finally meets her idol, Honey Rich, who is ready to die. However, Shade grabs Honey just before she reaches the afterlife, and they switch bodies. For most of the issue, Shade is in Honey’s body, and Honey is in Shade’s body. It’s a little bit of a mind screw from writer Cecil Castellucci, artists Marley Zarcone and Ande Parks, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick. The plot veers from poetic meditations to soap opera, but Zarcone and Fitzpatrick’s visuals and the bits of Rac Shade poetry keeps the story beautiful. Who doesn’t love a comic book that has a cut out paper doll double page spread?

At this point of the series, I enjoy Shade the Changing Girl #11 far more as a character piece, a meandering poem about love and death that happens to be a comic, or a gingerly paced road trip than Castellucci’s “plot beats” of the Metans and Shade’s friends River and Teacup trying to track her down and/or grab the M-vest. It bypasses the logical, structural part of my brain and goes straight to my emotions thanks to the sincerity of the expressions that Zarcone draws both Honey and Shade that overcomes the general strangeness of the body swap.

Their first meeting is happiness personified with Shade leaping and exclaiming, “I’ve come light years to meet you.” Even though all her friends are dead and her show all but forgotten, a girl from the planet Meta still deeply cares about Honey Rich. It’s like the bendy, pops of color from Fitzpatrick version of It’s A Wonderful Life where Honey doesn’t realize how much her life and career meant to certain people, er, Avians.

The body swapping, location hopping story of Shade of the Changing Girl #11 is tied together in a sort of sunny way by Kelly Fitzpatrick’s use of yellows and golds from the stars above Hollywood on the first page to the life Shade. breathes into Honey. It kind of climaxes with the sixteen suns that shine about Honey’s rest home and alert River and the Metans to Shade’s location. Throughout the book, it reoccurs in the background when a life altering decision is about to happen like when River asks Teacup to go to L.A. with him to find Shade, or Mellu reveals his true motivation for wanting the M-Vest and becomes slightly sympathetic. The colors that Fitzpatrick chooses throughout Shade #11 are like notes on a keyboard with the rainbow, M-vest induced bursts acting like glorious chords during memorable parts of the story.

Shade the Changing Girl is a comic that is all about what it means to be human through the POV of an alien girl in a teenage girl’s body. She’s been faking it until she’s kind of, sort of, well, not really made it as a human being, and that little mantra easily applies to acting and is even said by Honey while she is in Shade’s body. Like actors who play a variety of different roles, we have to act certain ways around certain people to get what we want or make sure they don’t hate us and *insert any human motivation here*. Shade learns this important truth while in the body of her favorite actor and finally learns that there is a huge difference between the character Honey Rich and the actress who played her. People tend to have this problem with actors who play characters that share their name like when Kesha tried to hug Jerry Seinfeld, or Ilana Glazer from Broad City has to continuously turn down bong sessions with fans.

Shade the Changing Girl #11 ends on a couple plot twists. I like one, and one came way out of left field, but does connect to this issue’s themes of bodies changing and shifting identity. There is only one issue left until the series goes on hiatus, and hopefully, Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone can hit all those emotional beats in the finale and dovetail the River and Mellu/Lepuck side-plots with Loma Shade’s journey.

Shade #11 pays homage to the world of the silver screen as well as life and death in a visceral way thanks to a double page spread where artist Marley Zarcone and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick shows Shade forcibly breathing life back into Honey Rich. Cecil Castellucci’s writing is as thoughtful as ever, and I am still beaming at her extremely clever use of “changing girl” when Honey and Shade go out on the town one last time.

P.S. This comic pairs very well with Lana Del Rey’s latest album, Lust for Life especially the title track, which talks about “climbing up the H of the Hollywood sign” like Shade does on the Becky Cloonan cover of Shade the Changing Girl #11. There are also lines from poems interspersed with the “Lust for Life’s” regular lyrics, which is like the lines from Rac Shade poems that pop up in each issue of Shade.

Story: Cecil Castellucci Art: Marley Zarcone with Ande Parks
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick Backup Art: Marguerite Sauvage 
Story: 7.8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Young Animal provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

DC Weekly Graphic Novel Review: Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1 Earth Girl Made Easy

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. We’ve got one trade from DC Comics.

Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1 Earth Girl Made Easy collecting issues #1-6 by Cecil Castellucci, Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, Ryan Kelly, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Saida Temofonte.

Find out what the trades have in store and whether you should grab yourself a copy. You can find it in comic stores July 12 and bookstores July 18.

Get your copy now. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Shade the Changing Girl Vol. 1 Earth Girl Made Easy
Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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