Tag Archives: trina robbins

Around the Tubes

Action Comics #1026

It’s new comic book day! What are you getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that and wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

ICv2 – Legendary Artist Trina Robbins Has Her Original Comic Book Art Pilfered – If anyone can help, please do.

Reviews

Geek Dad – Action Comics #1026
Talking Comics – The Amazing Spider-Man #50.LR
Talking Comics – Black Magick #15

Workers of the world! Here’s a list of comics to celebrate your Labor Day

Ah, the pleasures of having Labor Day off to celebrate work. It’s a contradiction as old as time, where honoring work means taking a (well-deserved and utterly necessary) break from it. After all, most workers have jobs that go year-round and the daily grind does take a toll. A day off is the least that can be afforded to them.

Recognition is the other thing we should doling out in industrial quantities during this federal holiday. As such, comic books are filled with stories about the fruits of labor, both in a literal and a politically figurative sense. Be it by actually exploring the hardships of being a worker to acknowledging the monumental task that is organizing movements in support of them, labor is central to the motivations behind some of comic’s best stories.

Here’s a short list of comics that either directly or indirectly showcase the roles workers play in keeping life and society functional. These comics dive headfirst into the specifics of what ‘putting in the work’ means, recognizing that everything that’s done in the service of others usually rests on human struggles both painful and exhausting. The comics below give workers their time in the spotlight so we can appreciate just how much it takes to go out and keep the world turning.

Labor Day Comics
Trashed

1. Trashed, written and illustrated by Derf Backderf

This book can best be described as a sobering love letter to one of the most underappreciated and openly repudiated jobs known to humankind: garbage collection. Following Backderf’s critically-acclaimed My Best Friend Dahmer, Trashed is based on the author’s time as a sanitation worker himself, surrounded by other workers just as enthused about collecting trash as he was (which wasn’t a whole lot). The inner workings of sanitation are presented through a combination of autobiographical anecdotes and well-researched facts and data that reveal just how complex, dangerous, and even clumsy picking up and storing trash can be. It’s a funny but scary look at how sanitation can save the world while also turn it into a ticking time bomb.

Damage Control

2. Damage Control, originally created by Dwayne McDuffie (W) and Ernie Colón (A)

A superhero’s job is to save the day, crumbling infrastructure be damned. With them, though, comes a unique concern for property damage, mostly focused on the inevitability of mass destruction. In comes a company solely dedicated to cleaning up after extinction-level battles and then putting the pieces back together called Damage Control. In essence, this Marvel comic is about unsung heroes. It’s about doing essential work knowing there’s no glory waiting at the end of it (much like Trashed, in some respects). McDuffie’s scripts are a masterclass on chaos and property politics, but it’s Colón’s attention to detail amidst the chaos that sets this story apart. The original series (there are a total of 4 series published) takes to a kind of MAD Magazine-style approach to comedy with visual gags and crude humor leading the charge, but it’s all well-orchestrated and it makes for reading that rewards those who scan comics pages whole multiple times.

Labor Day Comics
She-Hulk

3. She-Hulk: Law and Disorder, written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Javier Pulido

At a glance, Soule and Pulido’s She-Hulk gives the impression of being a kind of ‘slice of life’ story about a superhero that chooses law as her preferred battleground. The book, however, is about so much more, and it might have more in common with Damage Control than an actual legal drama. She-Hulk takes the anger-filled superhero and turns her into a working-class woman that’s trying (and struggling) to make her own legal services business work. She puts it all together from the ground up but is immediately confronted with the hardships of balancing work, heroics, and the semblance of a personal life on an even keel. One of the greatest, and most entertaining, aspects of the comic lies in the formation of the character’s legal practice and how at odds it can be being both a superhero and a normal person with other interests. It dives deep into the complications of working multiple jobs, but it shows an appreciation for those who lead their lives under that predicament. Soule and Pulido create a story that supports and applauds those who undertake the task of holding several jobs at once, honoring the sacrifice it requires of one’s self to survive it.

Labor Day Comics
Ex Machina

4. Ex Machina, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Tony Harris

While aggressively political and metaphorical, Ex Machina does something few other stories on governmental responsibility manage to achieve: make the role of an elected official look and feel like a real job. The story follows Mitchel Hundred, a man that renounces his superhero persona to become mayor of New York city. After only managing to save one of the Twin Towers during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hundred realizes he can do more good as an elected official rather than as a superhero. Vaughan and Harris take full advantage of this setup to go beyond political speeches and discourse to get Hundred’s hands dirty with the real act of running a government. Hundred has to address the legality of surveillance in times of crisis, protocols for public demonstrations, controversial content in city museums, infrastructure, and police freedoms all while controlling the urge to use his still functioning superpowers to speed the process up. As is the case in She-Hulk, Hundred also attempts (with few successes) to balance his personal life with the job. Problem is, the job demands too much of his time, hence the temptation to use his powers. Ex Machina is a stark reminder that being an elected official actually means holding down a job with real consequences attached to it, something many politicians seem to have lost sight of.

Gotham Central

5. Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty, written by Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka and illustrated by Michael Lark

The profession of law enforcement is under serious scrutiny at the present moment, and rightfully so, but it’s still a job certain men and women take on despite the complexities of outdated and dysfunctional practices that are in desperate need of revision. And that’s on top of the racial problems that have shaped its many, many systems. However, there are those who do take the job seriously and work hard to ‘protect and serve’ with the best of intentions under the law. Gotham Central prioritizes this viewpoint, focusing the cops and detectives that work in Batman’s Gotham City. Without the resources or the exceptions afforded to the Dark Knight, the GCPD is still tasked with responding to criminal activity, regardless of whether it’s of the supervillain type or not. Main characters René Montoya, Crispus Allen, Marcus Driver, and “Josie Mac” MacDonald, among others, are divided into day and night shifts in a city that is in a constant flux of crime. The job takes its toll on a personal level and there’s an emphasis on how much one gives in the line of duty, but there’s also an appreciation of honest cops walking the line in the face of overwhelming police corruption and abuse. It’s a complicated and sometimes contradictory read, but it makes no excuses while confronting the damning inconsistencies of the job.

Labor Day comics
Wooblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World

6. Wooblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, edited by Peter Buhle & Nicole Schulman

The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, has a wild and exuberant history, to say the least, which makes it the ideal subject for comic book storytelling. The IWW was created in Chicago, Illinois in 1905 as a union for marginalized workers led by Marxist principles. Miners, lumber workers, immigrant workers, indigenous workers, non-white workers, severely underrepresented female workers, and workers all over that had no rights or protections saw in the IWW as the means to fight towards better working conditions. Wooblies! (alluding to the nickname given to the members of the union) enlists the talents of cartoonists such as Peter Kuper, Harvey Pekar, Trina Robbins, Sharon Rudahl, Sue Coe, Carlos Cortez, among others to tell the story of how forgotten and underrepresented workers rose up against the odds to gain the rights and respect owed to them. The anthology has a very underground ‘comix’ feel to it, but it’s allegorical and metaphorical inclinations do a better job of capturing labor struggles better than a traditional story ever could. This might be the quintessential Labor Day reading right here.


Workers, laborers, holders of jobs, these comics honor your contributions, your efforts, and the near impossible feats you pull off. Read and relax, but overall, enjoy your hard-earned Labor Day holiday.

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you all get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Vulture – The Story of Trina Robbins, the Controversial Feminist Who Revolutionized Comic Books – Some solid comic history.

ICv2 – ‘Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes’ Sets a New Bar for Museum Shows of Comic Art – Anyone checking this out?

The Beat – Delisle, Ollmann, GG, Jacobs, and Willumsen lead this year’s Doug Wright Award nominations – Congrats to all!

The Comichron – Action 80 Years leads hardcover reorders as Action #1000 goes on sale; Venom #1 tops advance reorders – For those that like the horse race.

 

Reviews

Newsarama – Action Comics #1000

Atomic Junk Shop – Babylon Berlin

ICv2 – Dan Dare Vol. 1 He Who Dares

It’s Alive! to publish Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover by Trina Robbins

It’s Alive! has passed its initial goal of $10,000 to bring Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover back to print! However, there’s still time left in the Kickstarter campaign for more fans to pledge to this exciting collection which already blew through its two stretch goals. That includes a Silver Metal Lover sticker featuring Trina Robbins‘ artwork from the book after the pledges passed 200 backers. Plus, now that the campaign has hit $11,000, all backers will also receive a mini print which showcases Trina Robbins’ art.

Originally published in 1985, this work has never been reprinted in any form. This new edition will feature a new variant cover by Colleen Doran, who will also provide the afterword, a new foreword by Gail Simone, and a new intro by Trina Robbins herself. Bonus content will include a special essay about the late Tanith Lee’s life and work by her husband, artist/writer John Kaiine,

All of this will be printed at 8.5″ x 11, full color, on glossy paper, all tucked inside a beautiful, deluxe hardcover.

Many exciting rewards are being offered, including signed copies of the book, exclusive prints from Colleen Doran, sketches by legendary comic book pros, including Bill SienkiewiczRon Frenz, and Larry Hama, and even original pages of comic book art by Trina Robbins!

The Kickstarter is active from now until the evening of Friday, January 5, 2018. Get pledging!

It’s Alive! launches Kickstarter to publish The Silver Metal Lover

Drew Ford, known for putting together dozens of archival reprint collections, such as the Eisner Award nominated The Puma Blues by Stephen Murphy & Michael Zulli, and U.S.S. Stevens: The Collected Stories by Sam Glanzman, now runs his own imprint at IDW called It’S Alive!, where he continues his mission of bringing lost and forgotten graphic novels and uncollected comic book runs back into print!  Saving the history of comics one book at a time!

Ford is Kickstarting to publish Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover graphic novel adaptation by Trina Robbins. Originally published in 1985, it has never been reprinted in any form. This new edition will have a new cover and afterword by Colleen Doran, a new foreword by Gail Simone, and a new intro by Trina Robbins herself. All of this will be printed at 8.5″ x 11, full color, on glossy paper, all tucked inside a beautiful hard cover.

The graphic novel tells an intimate story of a young girl’s first love…who just happens to be a robot!

Many exciting rewards are being offered, including signed copies of the book, exclusive prints from Colleen Doran, sketches by comic book pros, and even original pages of comic book art by Trina Robbins!

IDW’s Newest ‘It’s Alive!’ Imprint Pushes Forward with Reprints and More

Following two successful Kickstarter campaigns, and the release of several limited edition art prints, signed by Sam Glanzman, It’s Alive! has hit the ground running with plenty more on the horizon.

Red Range by Joe R. Lansdale and Sam Glanzman, the debut title to be published under the It’s Alive! imprint, raised almost $20K ($5K more than the Kickstarter goal paving the way for the stretch goal of a hardcover), and is currently in production with the addition of new colors. Estudio Haus’ colors are breathing new life into Glanzman’s Red Range pencils and inks, originally completed nearly two decades ago.

red-range-1 red-range-2

dopeDope by Trina Robbins, which raised over $12K ($2K over the Kickstarter goal, again making the stretch goal of a hardcover possible), concluded its Kickstarter less than a month ago, and will be seeing the light of day in early 2017!

It’s Alive! has also begun to release very limited edition 12 x 17 art prints, signed by Sam Glanzman and embossed with his initials. Having nearly sold out, there will be more prints coming soon from Glanzman and other creators to meet the demand.

Available prints can be found HERE.

Comics Herstory: Trina Robbins

250px-wimmenscomix1Trina Robbins is a comic creator and historian who was instrumental in bringing women into the underground comix scene. Throughout the 1950s, Robbins did illustration work for various science fiction magazines. In 1969, she designed Vampirella’s costume.

Robbins became increasingly involved in the underground comix scene. After working for the feminist newspaper It Ain’t Me, Babe, Robbins went on to establish the all-women comic one-shot, It Ain’t Me, Babe Comix. This is the first instance of a comic being published involving only women. The separation between men and women’s comics during this time was due to the sexism present in the comics being produced by male writers, and Robbins made a point to call out the sexist stories that were being published at the time.

Another outlet for women to create underground comix was the anthology Wimmen’s Comix, which aimed to promote female creators. Robbins was heavily involved in Wimmen’s Comix, and contributed to the first issue. Her comic “Sandy Comes Out” was the first comic to ever feature an out lesbian. She was involved with the anthology for twenty years.

Throughout the 1980s, Robbins worked for mainstream publications such as Playboy, National Lampoon, and Marvel. During this time she also began to document the history of women comic creators. She has published a number of books on the topic, including Women and the Comics, A Century of Women Cartoonists, From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines, The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley’s Cartoons from 1913–1940, and Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013. Her nonfiction work has been nominated for several awards, including both Eisner and Harvey Awards.

In 2013, Robbins was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame. Robbins was only the fourth woman to be inducted, and her inclusion is rightful. Her work, while largely out of the mainstream, was instrumental in shaping the direction of feminist comics and making comics accessible and enjoyable for women. Her nonfiction work is important in preserving the oft-overlooked legacy of women in comics.

Dark Horse to Publish The Secret Loves of Geek Girls

Dark Horse Comics has announced plans to publish the highly anticipated anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. Editor Hope Nicholson has assembled a dazzling mix of prose, comics, and illustrated stories about love, dating, and sex featuring more than fifty creators, including Booker Award–winning novelist Margaret Atwood, Mariko Tamaki, Trina Robbins, Gisèle Lagacé, Marguerite Bennett, Marjorie Liu, and Carla Speed McNeil. It also features a foreword by Kelly Sue DeConnick and a new cover by Noelle Stevenson.

The anthology was originally funded through Kickstarter and will be published through Dark Horse in October 2016.

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls includes:

  • Cartoons by award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood that detail her personal experiences as a young woman
  • A comic by Fionna Adams and Jen Vaughn about what it’s like being a trans woman trying to figure out romantic and sexual inclinations while entrenched in comics
  • A story by Mariko Tamaki and Fiona Smyth in which a seventeen-year-old Tamaki dreams of being Montreal’s first chubby Asian Frank N. Furter
  • A story by Marguerite Bennett about fandom and how it allows us to say what we feel to our loved ones
  • New comics by Meaghan Carter, Megan Kearney, ALB, Meags Fitzgerald, Gillian G., Diana Nock, Roberta Gregory, Laura Neubert, Sarah Winifred Searle, Natalie Smith, Jenn Woodall, and Irene Koh
  • Illustrated stories by Janet Hetherington, Sam Maggs and Selena Goulding, Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melançon, Cherelle Ann Sarah Higgins and Rachael Wells, Annie Mok, and Stephanie Cooke and Deena Pagliarello
  • Prose stories by Brandy Dawley, Diana McCallum, Jen Aprahamian, Katie West, Adrienne Kress, Soha Kareem, Loretta Jean, J. M. Frey, Trina Robbins, Twiggy Tallant, Hope Nicholson, Crystal Skillman, Emma Woolley, Gita Jackson, Natalie Zina Walschots, Alicia Contestabile, Tini Howard, Cara Ellison, Jessica Oliver Proulx, and Erin Cossar

SLGG CVR SOL 4x6

National Book Festival Announces Guests

NatBookFestThe National Book Festival is a fantastic convention in Washington, DC that began in 2001. Over the 15 years, it has welcomed numerous guests including some of the top comic/graphic novel creators.

This year’s guests have been announced, and the guests for the “Graphic Novels” track include:

This year is certainly an interesting group, and includes many award winning creators. The convention usually includes panels followed by signings, as well as a large book store. This year’s National Book Festival takes place Saturday, September 5, 2015 from 10am to 10pm at the Washington Convention Center. It’s free to the public.

Review: She Makes Comics

she-makes-comicsAs a literary critic and cultural historian with both feminist and queer-ally persuasions, I am often frustrated by the type of historical revisionism that provides the history of a marginalized group by telling their story as adjunct or incidental to “mainstream” or “normative” history. Such scholarship marginalizes the narratives of oppressed groups in the very attempt to recover their histories.

I was thankfully relieved, then, to enjoy the hour-plus-long documentary She Makes Comics, directed by Marisa Stotter and made by Sequart Organization in association with Respect! Films. This documentary does what very little of comics scholarship (and journalism) has been able to achieve: it narrates the story of women comics creators, editors, and readers through dozens of personal interviews (see a list of interviewees below), incorporating them as central to the history of the comics industry while highlighting individual creators’ push toward greater inclusion and respectability in a medium largely controlled by men.

She Makes Comics begins with an opening montage of interviews in which creators Kelly Sue DeConnick, Chondra Echert, Wendy Pini, Gail Simone, and others speak to the importance of the comics medium for female creators and readers. Particularly powerful is DeConnick’s declaration that “representation in comics is absolutely vital,” followed by the injunction that “we need to celebrate the women who work in comics and who have always worked in comics, and we need to go back and find their stories and bring them to the fore” (00:55-01:07). DeConnick bring an absolute necessity to the project of reclaiming the history of women in comics.

DeConnick’s spirited call drives Stotter’s She Makes Comics as it traverses the editorial bull-pens, creator biographies, convention floors, retail spaces, and four-color universes that make up the world(s) of comics. The documentary begins by establishing the medium’s long history of female readership in comics strips of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, pointing at the same time to the generous number of female comics strip creators, including Jackie Ormes and Nell Brinkley. Trina Robbins reminds us that “nobody at that time thought, ‘Oh how unusual! She draws comics!'” Despite the comparative preponderance of women in comics in the early 20th century, a cultural moment that abounded in strong women heroes and adventurers (and with a 55% female readership!), the “comics crusade” of the early 1950s began by Frederic Wertham resulted in the Comics Code Authority. The CCA significantly reduced the type and quality of comics produced, and the documentary makes the very brief argument that the “sanitization” of comics led to a boom in the masculinity-celebrating superhero genre and a subsequent decline in female readership.

The documentary then tracks the work of Ramona Fradon at DC and of Marie Severin at Marvel in the 1960s, transitioning rather quickly to the misogynist, cliquey underground comix scene of the 1960s and 1970s, where creators such as Trina Robbins and Joyce Farmer carved out a feminist space for comics. As Robbins recalls, “if you wanted to do underground comix [with the male creators] you had to do comics in which women were raped and tortured. You know, horrible things!” But in the pages of feminist comix and zines creators were allowed the freedom to depict women from women’s point of view—points of view that occasionally had legal repercussions.

The remainder of She Makes Comics focuses heavily on the history of women creators in comics from the mid-1970s to the present, owing both to the interviewees’ considerable experiences in the period following the late 1970s and to the growing visibility of female readers and creators. Particular highlights include the description of early comic book conventions and the fan scene, which Paul Levitz describes as 90/10 men/women. Creators and fans like Jill Thompson and Wendy Pini bring their personal fan and creator experiences to bear on this unique moment in comics fandom history. Wendy Pini’s entrance into fandom via her (in)famous Red Sonja cosplaying is historicized and linked directly to her entrance into the comics industry as writer and, later, creator of Elfquest. For those with an interest in cosplay, Pini’s Sonja is marked as the beginning of an opening up of convention competitions to women, and the documentary subsequently details the critical importance of cosplay to fandom, to female fans, and to creators.

The documentary also gives considerable attention to Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men, uniquely noting the considerable influence of Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti as Claremont’s editors on one of the most famous runs in comic book history. Interviews by female fans, creators, editors, and retailers highlight the importance that Claremont’s X-Men saga had to marginalized groups, with a number of interviewees describing the “mutant metaphor” as particularizable to women’s experiences in geek culture.

The documentary also gives attention to particular auteurs such as Kelly Sue DeConnick and Gail Simone, as well as the editor Karen Berger, who founded DC’s Vertigo imprint at a fairly young age in the early 1990s. She Makes Comics points especially to the rise of the independent comics scene in the 1990s and its boom in the contemporary moment, especially in the form of Image’s new-found success, as a meter for the rising prominence of women comics creators and a female (but also queer and non-white) comics readership. Anyone who reads Image comics regularly knows that its creators do not shy away from feminist themes even while Wonder Women is avowedly “not feminist.”

She Makes Comics ultimately signifies that a change in the comics industry has occurred, albeit slowly, in favor of greater inclusion and representation of women and other oppressed minorities. Despite this, the documentary comes dangerously close to assuming that all the good that needs doing, has been done, asserting a stance that suggests a triumphant growth of women in comics (or as readers) as a victory over patriarchy. While I do agree that strides have been made, as my articles on Wonder Woman and Neko Case show, I don’t think we can ever be complacent. She Makes Comics reifies “women” as a singular, almost non-intersectional category and in doing so creates a narrative of emerging possibilities for that monolithic category without discussing the many and complex factors that continue to challenge, harangue, and complicate both women’s participation in comics and women’s representation. There is, in fairness, a brief moment in which Marjorie Liu speaks about using her position to empower women of color, though its importance is overshadowed by its anecdotal treatment.

She Makes Comics has very few shortcomings and is ultimately a treasure trove of information that is otherwise spread across thousands of online or print media articles, books, and interviews. Marissa Stotter and her crew, in collaborations with a riot (isn’t that what mainstream media calls a gathering of political dissenters?) of talented creators and fans, have made a unique contribution to the history of women in comics. I challenge academics and journalist, myself included, to heed Kelly Sue DeConnick’s introductory injunction with a critical eye to the politics of representation. If we could get a few books about gender politics in comics that aren’t solely about masculinity, that’d be a start.

Interviewees listed in the order that I happened to write them down (after I realized it would be good to write them all down): Marjorie Liu, Nancy GoldsteinTrina Robbins, Ramona Fradon, Janelle Asselin, Heidi MacDonald, Paul Levitz, Michelle Nolan, Alan Kistler, Karen Green, Ann Nocenti, Chris Claremont, Colleen Doran, Joyce Farmer, Wendy Pini, Jackie Estrada, Jill Thompson, Lauren Bergman, Team Unicorn, Chondra Echert, Jill Pantozzi, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, Colleen Coover, Holly Interlandi, Blair Butler, Louise Simonson, Jenna Busch, Amy Dallen, G. Willow Wilson, Tiffany Smith, Jenette Kahn, Shelly Bond, Karen Berger, Joan of Dark, Brea Grant, Joan Hilty, Lea Hernandez, Christina Blanch, Liz Schiller (former Friends of Lulu Board of Directors member), Andrea Tsurumi, Miss Lasko-Gross, Molly Ostertag, Hope Larson, Amy Chu, Nancy Collins, Ariel Schrag, Raina Telgemeier, Miriam Katin, Felicia Henderson, Carla Speed McNeil, Shannon Watters, Jennifer Cruté, Nicole Perlman, Kate Leth, Portlyn Polston (owner of Brave New World Comics), Autumn Glading (employee of Brave New World Comics), and Zoe Chevat.

You can purchase She Makes Comics on Sequart’s website for as low as $9.99. If you ask me, it’s a fantastic deal.

Sequart Organization provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.

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