Tag Archives: women in comics

Shelly Bond, Kristy Miller, and Brian Miller talk Femme Magnifique


Femme Magnifique is a recent  successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $97,447 to publish an anthology of comics about inspirational women from history and the contemporary world. The Kickstarter was run by Kristy Miller, the VP of Development at Hi-Fi Colour Design; Brian Miller, a comic book colorist and the founder of Hi-Fi Colour Design; and Shelly Bond, the former executive editor at Vertigo and the current editor of the Black Crown imprint at IDW. Hi-Fi has colored many bestselling comic books, like Harley Quinn, Batman: The Dark Knight, and various Doctor Who comics for Titan ,and Bond has been the editor or assistant editor on such comics classics as SandmanLucifer, Fables, and iZombie.

A couple big reasons for Femme Magnifique’s appeal as a KickStarter is the all-star lineup of comic book creators, like Marguerite Bennett, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gerard Way, Kieron Gillen, Annie Wu, Mags Visaggio, and many more. There is also the variety of women featured in the book from historical figures, like Harriet Tubman, Ada Lovelace, and Hatshepsut to more modern women, like Broad City‘s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Michelle Obama, and Bjork. Actors, musicians, scientists, politicians, writers, astronauts, and even cartoonists are represented in the pages of Femme Magnifique. A few I personally am looking forward to are Gail Simone and Marguerite Sauvage‘s Kate Bush story, Gerard Way and Marley Zarcone‘s (Shade the Changing Girl) Joan of Arc comic, Chynna Clugston Flores‘ (Blue Monday) story about Rumiko Takahashi, the creator of the manga Inuyasha, and Tini Howard (Skeptics) and Ming Doyle‘s comic about the Beat poet and artist Diane di Prima.

I had the opportunity to chat with Kristy MillerBrian Miller, and Shelly Bond via email about the inspiration for the Femme Magnifique Kickstarter, switching from creating fiction to non-fiction comics, the role of the anthology in the current American political climate, and most of all, about the amazing women whose stories will be told in this anthology.

First, I asked Shelly Bond about the inception of the Femme Magnifique project.

Shelly Bond: The idea for Femme Magnifique was simmering for a while, but crystallized in early November thanks to two quite disparate events that occurred back-to-back.

Of course, the first one is obvious: discovering the outcome of the US presidential election.  I had just returned from a convention in the U.K. We sleep with the TV on so while I was enjoying (?) a fitful slumber I was rudely awaken from my jet-lagged haze by what I thought was a Black Mirror version of the news. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. Clearly, it was a devastating, missed opportunity for women.

The second event occurred on the following night.  I had a ticket to finally see Roisin Murphy, my favorite female frontwoman, perform live — at LA’s legendary El Rey Theatre no less. There’s no magic quite like a seeing a singer/performance artist whose lyrics are clever and insightful, replete with poetry and bombast. Bowie would have applauded her seamless, onstage costume changes, with resplendent masks that would look at home on a  Dave McKean comic-book cover. The show was at once mesmerizing, decadent, discordant — but it was the crush of the enraptured dance crowd that ultimately sold me on bringing Femme Magnifique to life: A group of people coming together in art and appreciation.

I couldn’t wait to put out a call-to-arms within the comic book community, to turn the onslaught of anger about the Trump election results into positivity. So, we could become a fortress of knowledge. And change.

The following day I reached out to fellow comics pros Brian and Kristy Miller of Hi-Fi Colour Design, and we agreed to put our skills to good use and turn this social and political firecracker into Femme Magnifique, which is nothing but a celebration of women. Dreamers, achievers, glass ceiling crackers, fearless innovators of our history.

Next, I asked Kristy Miller and Brian Miller several questions about the role they played in Femme Magnifique.

Graphic Policy: How did you all get involved in the Femme Magnifique Kickstarter, and what day to day role do you play in the project?

Brian Miller: The election result came as a shock. I didn’t know what it would mean for my friends in the LGBT community and for women’s rights, but like many I was concerned. Frustration and anger weren’t the answer, and I was wondering how I could use my talents to effect change in a positive way. When Kristy and I spoke with Shelly, we knew Femme Magnifique could be the voice of positivity for women, who are feeling threatened or oppressed by the incoming administration.

In addition to coloring some of the stories in Femme Magnifique, I’m also helping with the layout and design of the book and much of the behind the scenes work on the Kickstarter campaign. When you are crowdfunding a graphic novel anthology, like Femme Magnifique, the Kickstarter campaign can become a second full time job. I’m so thankful for the fans and contributing creators who have helped get the message out about the campaign. If it were not for their tweets, Facebook posts, and helping to keep Femme Magnifique at the forefront, I don’t think we would be as far along as we are today. It’s been thrilling to see the outpouring of support so far.

Kristy Miller: Shelly was the driving force of starting this project.  She came to Brian and me with the idea, and we immediately jumped on board.

I joke that my role is the voice of reason. Shelly and Brian are visionaries and artists, who want to do as much as they possibly can creatively.  I want to know how much is it going to cost, what are the deadlines, is that even possible? I am handling the back-end business aspects and things like contracts, money, trafficking the art etc.  The not-so-glamourous-but-keep-eveything-in-order side of things.

GP: Why should comic book fans pick up Femme Magnifique, and what can they expect from the book?

BM:I hope many comic books fans will take a look at Femme Magnifique. There are incredible stories in the book written and drawn by fan favorite creators. I believe if you enjoy Michael and Laura Allred on Batman ’66 and Art Ops, you will love their story about Jane Fonda in Femme Magnifique. Fan favorite writers, like Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alisa Kwitney, Matt Wagner, Gerard Way, and others, are each contributing unique stories about women, who inspired their lives and enhanced their journeys.

Anyone who is a fan of Gail Simone’s writing for Red Sonja, Deadpool, and Batgirl will be delighted with her story about Kate Bush in the book.  Bringing the visuals to these stories is a roster of artists including Brian Stelfreeze, Marley Zarcone, Tess Fowler, Elsa Charretier, and Sanford Greene just to name a few. There are so many talented creators contributing to this graphic novel anthology, and I believe all comic book fans will be thrilled to own a copy.

GP: Kristy, how did your background as an archaeologist and anthropologist inform your work on Femme Magnifique?

KM: I have taught a variety of college classes on women in history and women in other cultures. I am always amazed when my students have never heard of women I think of as household names. Women, like Hatshepsut (Egyptian Pharaoh,) Pauline Cushman (American Civil War spy), and Margaret Mead (Cultural anthropologist), should be role models for everyone, yet many have not heard of them.

I ask my students to compile a list of their favorite/most inspirational woman in politics, music, science, history, the women’s movement, their family etc. There are a lot of blank lists. Why can you think of 20 men in those roles, but are hard-pressed to think of one woman?  I am also a PhD candidate in Education, and I created the Teacher’s Packet reward level for the Kickstarter. I will be writing curriculum based on Femme Magnifique that can be used in a variety of classes and for a variety of ages.

Femme Magnifique will showcase women as the role models they have always been. Hopefully, we will share the lives of some women that you may not have known about before. Not only are we spreading the stories of these women, but we are also sharing the medium of comics. Comics can be a hard sell, not fine art, not literature, but in Femme Magnifique, we will show you that comics are indeed both.

GP: Brian, how did your background as a comic book colorist inform your work on Femme Magnifique?

BM: Shelly, Kristy, and I all agreed color should be an important aspect of Femme Magnifique. Part of that meant inviting a handful of other colorists to join Hi-Fi on this project. While Hi-Fi is comprised of female and male flatters and colorists, we wanted to be inclusive and bring in some talented people who we had not had the opportunity to work with one-on-one previously. I’m proud to say colorists Tamra Bonvillain, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Rick Taylor will be joining Femme Magnifique along with Hi-Fi to color these inspiring stories based on real women.

When it comes to coloring the individual stories, our goal is always to serve the story the writer has crafted and complement the artwork. In my mind, the color should never distract from the story or overwhelm the art. When we get it right, the color is good, but also subtle. It doesn’t shout unless needed, for a special moment in the story, or perhaps an effect like a flashback. I also believe it will be key for each story to have a color palette that suits the subject of the story and the time period. The color choices for the story of Brenda Starr creator Dale Messick set in the 1940s will be unique when compared with the color selections for Joan of Arc. When the book is complete, the stories should flow from one to another naturally, without shocking the reader, yet each have their own distinct flavor. This is the challenge we attempt to answer when coloring a large graphic novel anthology like Femme Magnifique.

GP: For the most part, Hi-Fi Colour Design works on superhero comics. What have been some of the challenges and rewards of switching from telling the stories of masked heroes and Timelords to depicting real people?

BM: Hi-Fi has been fortunate to color a variety of super-hero, independent, and alternative comics over the years. We love coloring the Justice League, The Flash, or Spider-Man, just as much as we enjoy working on Doctor Who, The X-Files, and G.I. Joe. At the end of the day, our focus is on great visual storytelling, and being able to apply those storytelling skills to stories based on real people is incredibly rewarding.


As an example, while I was reading Cecil Castellucci’s script for “The Right Stuff”, featuring real-life astronaut Sally Ride, I was inspired to research more about NASA’s space shuttle missions than I ever knew before. Artist Philip Bond shared information about various women astronauts and the different space suits they wore in flight. This motivated me to dive deeper and look through hundreds of reference photos to see the colors and materials used in the space suits and read more about women astronauts. All of this information informs the storytelling in the colors for the story. It also allows me to better complement the words written by Cecil and the artwork drawn by Philip. Plus I discovered more about space exploration than I knew before.

This sense of discovery and being inspired to learn more about the amazing women in Femme Magnifique is one of the reasons I enjoy this graphic novel anthology so much. Coloring one story changed my life and inspired me to get outside my comfort zone and learn something new. I can only imagine how I’ll feel after I’ve colored 20 or more of these stories.

GP: Since Femme Magnifique is all about shining a light on inspirational women, what are some women that have personally inspired you in your own lives?


An example of Adrienne Roy’s colors.

BM: I did not grow up with very many strong female role models in my life, but fortunately I have met many in the comic book industry, who have inspired me and and led by example. First is comic book colorist Adrienne Roy, who passed away in 2010. Her coloring work inspired me as a child and continues to influence me to this day. Her use of warm and cool colors for visual storytelling remains the gold standard for all colorists.

Cartoonist Paige Braddock inspires me with her strength and vision. She works in a corporate environment by day and creates amazing comics like Jane’s World and Stinky Cecil after hours. She’s a true role model for our industry. I had the pleasure to work with writer Gail Simone on Birds of Prey for several years at DC, and she set the bar for putting female heroes at the forefront in comic books. She showed readers the characters could be strong, smart, and sexy without being sexualized. Gail broke down barriers and opened a lot of doors in the industry. Readers and creators owe her a debt of gratitude for dragging the comic book industry kicking and screaming into this century.

Shelly Bond is more than a super-editor, she is a visionary. When you look back on her body of work, you see brilliance at every turn. I’m so grateful she has shared this with me on projects like Bite Club, My Faith in Frankie, American Virgin, and New Romancer. Read one of these stories, and you will understand how she sees the world, why she makes the creative decisions she makes, and why she keeps pushing for greatness and never stops. When you see the big name comic creators associated with Femme Magnifique, that’s all Shelly. She doesn’t have to convince, cajole, or beg anyone to be here creating this graphic novel anthology… We all want to do this, we all want to work with her again and again!

This list would not be complete without including my partner in Hi-Fi, and in life, Kristy Miller. She commands respect in our industry. Everyone in the industry wants to work with Hi-Fi because they know, with Kristy in charge, their comic will exceed expectations and meet the deadline.

KM: I’m lucky to have had many strong women in my life.  My grandmother was a librarian and my mother was a teacher, both went to college and always told me I could be anything and do anything I wanted in life.  I knew at an early age I wanted to be an archaeologist, but most people didn’t even know what that meant.  The only role models they could come up with were Indiana Jones, and that guy who found King Tut.  When I went to college, one of my advisors told me I should probably switch majors to history or mythology so I could stay home and maybe teach.  That just made me try harder to become an archaeologist. I was on my first dig in the Middle East by age 22.  There were a few mentions of women in my textbooks, but nothing substantial.

I will never forget, in 1994, a book came out called Women in Archaeology. It covered women working in various parts of the world and even the pitfalls of being a female archaeologist.  I read that book cover to cover and wondered why no one ever told me about these women before. I want Femme Magnifique to be a book that girls and women can turn to and say , “See, I can do that.” or even better find that their career path isn’t mentioned in one of our stories but still be inspired enough by other women to know she can make it on her own.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview featuring some of the creators of Femme Magnifique!

We’re Here: Black Women Working in Comics

Invincible_Iron_Man_1_by_Jeff_DekalI’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. My mother recalls me sitting quietly in the living room taking construction paper, a hole puncher, yarn, crayons and writing and illustrating my ‘first’ book at 6 years old. As I grew, the stories I wrote became more thoughtful, more complex and somehow I landed in the arena of comics. Comics became my refuge at an early age; granted I’ve always read different types of books and novels, but comics stole my heart. They combined art with the written word; I was just thunderstruck by the perfection of the blending of the two. Creating characters was an ongoing practice for me, at 10 years old I was certain that Marvel or DC would want to buy my characters. My mother even called the Marvel offices for me to see if they would be willing to. Now here I am several decades’ later, writing, creating and selling my very own line of comic books.

With all that said, in addition to being a writer and a business owner; I happen to be a Woman…a Black Woman, working in Comics. To some, that might seem like an anomaly, a fluke, a unicorn among purebred horses. But I am, none of these things, I’m just me; a person who loved comics so much that they wanted to write and create them. Nevertheless, there was some rigorous discussion this week about Marvel Comics introducing a new Iron Man; a 15-year-old black girl named Riri Williams. There was an overwhelming amount of support via social media, to see a young black woman take over the mantle of such an iconic character in the Marvel Universe. At the same token, there were equal concerns that the creative team did not include a woman, let alone a black woman, writer. To some, this fact doesn’t matter; the only thing that does is that the journey of Riri is done justice and that the story is thoughtful and engrossing. To others, they want the same exact thing from this revamped series, however, would like the addition of authenticity: a Black Woman telling the story of her fictional counterpart.

In a world whose history is filled with white, male writers who write or have written various books about multicultural people whose lives did not reflect their own; their perspectives, thoughts, and creativity is, (up until recent years), never questioned. However, when people of color question it or voice a desire to write their own narrative; it tends to fall on deaf, skeptical ears. As an Independent Comic Book Creator, I would be the first to tell you how important it is to create the books that you want to read; especially if you are writing books that marginalized audiences are hungry for. Before the massive amounts of revamps and reboots in mainstream comics that allowed the emergence of more visually diverse characters; there was and still is the indie comic book scene. We foresaw the need in the market for more characters representing marginalized communities- those characters reflected us; from our skin color, culture, gender, orientation and more. Our books and stories were a love letter to our communities simply saying ‘I see you’.

10891987_397898237042596_647221445357882096_nOn the flip side, as a Comic Book Professional, the most important factor for a company, in general, is to hire whoever is the best person to tackle the job. Storytelling both visually and written should hold precedent above all else and it is the fans whose opinion matters most because they are the ones that will keep the book going and on the shelves. This is all relative; all companies want to make money, expand their business, and work with talented people. There are certainly plenty of talented Comic Book Writers that happen to be Black Women. They exist; we are everywhere. Although it seems to some that we are hidden or are far and few in between, our numbers are larger than people think. A few names are:  Jewels Smith, Taneka Slotts, C. Spike Trotman, Micheline Hess, Shawnee & Shawnelle Gibson, Shauna J. Grant, Dani Dixon, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Nilah Magruder, Vita Ayala and the list continues. Many of us are making and selling our own comics and are happy with that, others are open to freelancing and working with other companies. Having choices is amazing, but only if one would can be afforded the opportunity. We can’t attempt to play on the field if we’re not even considered for the game. Until that happens, we will continue to journey through this industry; steadfast and unafraid, making a way for ourselves to hone and succeed in our craft. If anyone really wants to find us, they know where we are.

Regine Sawyer1Regine L. Sawyer is the Owner/Writer at Lockett Down Productions Publications. She is also the Coordinator & Founder of Women in Comics Collective International.


For more information about Women of Color working in the Comic Book Industry. Check out these websites:

Cartoonists of Color: http://cartoonistsofcolor.com/

Women in Comics Collective International: www.womenincomicscollective.org

Women in comics 1LOGO

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.

Review: Amala’s Blade #3

Amala 3Steve Horton and illustrator Michael Dialynas bring readers the third installment in the Dark Horse mini-series Amala’s Blade, available this week. This series is great fun, the same caliber, excitement, and creativity as books like Akaneiro (also available this week) and Image’s Saga (a TPB is available for the second volume this week, too), and reminds me a lot of Lionhead Studios’ Fable.

Horton and Dialynas provide a world of magic and steampunk, sword fighting and ghosts, assassins and a religious war. It’s about being haunted (in Amala’s case, literally) by the ghosts of one’s past, and recognizing that they can help you kill people—or if you want to be non-violent and metaphorical, it’s about recognizing that past mistakes, triumphs, or failures are constant lessons.

Like Vaugh with Saga, Horton’s narrative always keeps me guessing, with ever more fantastic events and beings around the corner. It’s an original story mixed-and-matched from stories all across Nerdom, and reads a bit like something from Terry Pratchett. What’s even greater is that, despite a final lead, gender really is not an issue, and I haven’t found a single even semi-sexist or gender biased comment in the books. Now that’s a feat, especially when in female-centric books like Wonder Woman the eponymous Amazon can’t get away from Orion’s nickname “Legs.” Yes, Amala is a woman. And yes, she’s the most bad-ass assassin whose fate the balance of factional war hinges upon.  No one turns a head (except when they’re getting killed).

Dialynas wonderfully illustrates this issue relying on a new color for the ghosts that has them standing out far better and looking more ghastly, though I really did like the bluish hue from earlier issues. I bring up color because Dialynas uses color to contrast the two opposing forces in this land: the Modifiers are typified by colors in shades of purple and black, while the Purifiers are more naturally colored. This contrast speaks to the artificial weirdness of the magically cyborg Modifiers, best exemplified in the canine cyborg wyrm which Amala fights and then commandeers.

Moreover, however, this issue is pivotal in moving the plot forward, and Horton easily weaves humor, emotional personal stories, and the fate of the land across the pages. I didn’t want Amala’s Blade #3 to end, but by the book’s close I was greatly satisfied to just soak up the art and get giddy for the next issue!

And I’m hoping that Amala’s Blade is not the last we’ll see of Horton and Dialynas’ wild world.

Story: Steve Horton  Art: Michael Dialynas
Story: 8.5  Art: 9  Overall: 9  Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review