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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘comics’

Writing Comics, Comics Writing

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about comics lately. You might have noticed this!

The last two year or so have probably been the most solid and intense comics-reading period of my life, even including that year I discovered Platinum Grit and the Justice League at the same time. It’s hardly surprising that, having read so many, a writer’s fancy starts to turn to…

Yep, that’s right, I’m now writing the things. Or at least, I’m making a good go of it. Because that’s what I needed in my life, an entirely new writing format which requires a separate skills set, entirely different publishing rules, and basically starting from scratch as a writer.

Maybe that *is* what I needed, actually.

I am still working on novels, short stories and other stuff, and completely in love with prose narrative, but diverting into a few comic script projects has been terribly fun. And no, I can’t say anything about those writing projects just yet.

Sequential art, baby!

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Fabulous Graphic Novels For People Who Hate Superheroes

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Hate superheroes? As Deborah Biancotti says, they probably hate you too. Meanwhile, as requested by Sean the Blogonaut, here are some of my recs for fantastic graphic novels that don’t include capes, masks, or anyone saying “Holy Rusting Metal, Batman!” (Yes I did rewatch Batman Forever recently, thank you for asking)

These are the ones that occur to me right now. There are of course many, many other superhero-free graphic novels out there, and the best thing about a list like this is not only that I will remember a bunch more as soon as I hit “publish” but also, I hope, that many of you will think of your own super-obvious examples and will share them in the comments. So then I get to find out about new things to read too, hooray!

<strong>Fun Home, written & drawn by Alison Bechdel
Always top of my recommendation list, this is an extraordinary memoir which demonstrates the power and scope of the graphic novel as an art form. This is the sad, rich story of a young woman who barely gets a chance to come to terms with her own lesbian identity before her family is confronted by the revelation that her father is gay, and has been keeping it from his family for many years. Bechdel chronicles her relationship with her father in minute, almost painful detail, with her childhood home (the house he was determined to renovate to perfection) standing as a powerful symbol at the heart of the story. The only flaw in this exceptional book was the almost-invisibility of Bechdel’s mother, but she has since rectified that with a sequel dealing with that equally important relationship in her life, which will be released in a few months.

Friends with Boys, written and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Just released this month, the whole graphic novel has been released as a serial webcomic, so you can check it out before buying. I love the art style of this one, which is the story of an earnest, shy teenage girl trying to deal with going to public school after a childhood of home schooling, the loss of her runaway mother, the friendship of her beloved older brothers slipping away from her, and the ghost that haunts the local graveyard. I love it to bits, and plan to get hold of it in hard copy for rereading purposes, and to pass on to my daughters. It has great things to say about individuality and friendship and bullying and family… and if nothing else, the high school performance of a zombie musical has to be seen to be believed.

Rapunzel’s Revenge & Calamity Jack, written by Shannon & Dean Hale and art by Nathan Hale
More YA titles, this series takes the common trope of reimagined fairytales, and smashes them with a gorgeous Wild West with Occasional Steampunk landscape. Vivid art, and two compelling protagonists. Might possibly be bending the rules of this list because Rapunzel is pretty much depicted here as a superhero.

The Forgotten, by Tony Lee and Pia Guerra
My favourite Doctor Who graphic novel, this story captures the personalities of the Tenth Doctor and Martha excellently, but tells a story of Moffat-like (even Gaiman-like, with one particular plot twist) complexity. The best part is the structure, which requires the Doctor to delve back into memories of all his former selves, and specific eras of his adventures. I love the special touch with the stories set in the 60′s, which are drawn in black and white! One for the devoted fans to relish.

Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou, art by Alecos Papadatos
I’ll admit I haven’t read this one, but it’s one that my honey will enthusiastically recommend to anyone with an interested in the sciences or, more importantly, the history of mathematics. Narrated by Bertrand Russell, it moves between the late 19th century and the present day, and introduces the reader to many of the great thinkers of history. It’s a mighty tome and a bestselling book, which comes with colossal geek cred.

Questionable Content Vols 1 & 2, written & drawn by Jeph Jacques
Another webcomic that I love, this has been going for many years, but the first 500+ strips are published in hard copy across these two books – it’s basically an indie music geek soap opera, featuring a guy, his sociopathic pet robot, and the many fierce and spectacular women in his life, many of whom work in the cafe Coffee of Doom. The second volume is particularly strong, covering the material where the writer-artist really came into his own, and found his voice, with some hard-hitting revelations about one of the central characters, plus the usual dollop of banter and bad customer service. It also contains the moment when Jacques had to decide whether his comic really was just a will-they-won’t-they romance or… something else. Thankfully, he embraced the unknown and the story has gone from strength to strength. Sadly they seem to only be putting out one print volume of the collected strips per year. I’d buy more.

Sorcerers and Secretaries, written and drawn by Amy Kim Ganter
An American manga told across two volumes, and published by Tokyopop. It tells the story of Nicole, a student and secretary who goes from unrewarding task from unrewarding task, only really happy when writing down the stories in her head. The boy who wants to catch her attention is determined to help her with getting published, once he figures out it’s the only thing she cares about. It’s utterly fluffy, but has very nice art, and while I wasn’t 100% behind the romance, I very much enjoyed the focus on the creative process and the inner thoughts of a fantasy writer.

Hark, A Vagrant, written & drawn by Kate Beaton
Yes, another compilation from a webcomic. If you haven’t previously experienced the bizarre and wondrous world of historical mash ups, literary satire and general stylish pop culture snark that comes out of Kate Beaton’s brain, then rush NOW to the Hark, a Vagrant site to catch up. Or, you know, buy her book! I bought several this Christmas as gifts, including one for me. Definitely the book to get the history/classic literature reader in your life, who thinks comics are silly. They have no idea how silly (and awesome) comics can TRULY be until they have seen this!

More on DC’s New 52, Wonder Woman and other Issue 2s

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

I was linked by @preciousthings on Twitter to this great article which introduced me to comicbookGRRRL.  Here, she blogs about the criticism that female bloggers receive when tackling issues to do with women on any geeky subject, and why blogging about comics is important to her.  From there I also found her massive “Women in New 52” review which I enjoyed because she had some refreshingly different opinions on some of the comics than I’ve read elsewhere. In particular, her discussion of the bits she liked about the new Catwoman comic (such as the way the expression of Selena’s personality through action, and especially her friend/fence Lola) and her later comparison between how sexuality is portrayed in Catwoman vs. how it is portrayed with Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws.  She also loved some comics I hated, was indifferent to some I really liked, and so on. Good stuff!

Which reminded me that I have forgotten to update reviews on the other #2s I have read in the last two weeks.  Ooops!

 

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New 52: Final Verdict [DC Reboot Reviews]

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

So the overall result of the DC New 52 Reboot is… yes, I’m getting back into comics. Damn it!

I read 21 of the 52, not quite half, and the hit rate was about 50% enjoyable. So yay?

Ah but the question is, which of them will I be sticking with past issue 2? Tune in and find out!

Comics that made me happy this month:
Batwoman
Batgirl
Blue Beetle
Superboy
Wonder Woman

Comics I thought were quite good and/or promising:
Catwoman
Hawk and Dove
Justice League Dark
Justice League International
Static Shock
Stormwatch

Comics that made me go meh:
Action Comics
The Flash
Justice League
Nightwing
Supergirl
Teen Titans

Comics I didn’t like due to my own (possibly unreasonable) personal hang ups:
Birds of Prey

Comics that made me SAD this month:
Detective Comics
Legion Lost
Red Hood and the Outlaws

And a bonus, comics that were awesome and in no way part of the DC Reboot:

Ultimate Spiderman #1 & #2

Thank you and goodnight!

Friday Links Has a Foot in Each World

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Tor.com tells you why you should be watching Fringe in a very non-spoilery-for-the-last-three-seasons way. Alisa and I discussed Olivia and her FBI competence in the recent Galactic Suburbia episode.

Sarah Rees Brennan follows up the #YesGayYA story with a discussion of the Circle of Suck that can happen with the portrayal of minority or diversity issues in fiction, and the various roadblocks to publication.

Paula Guran wrote a moving post about leaving Weird Tales, and posted a link to a fabulous article she wrote about Margaret Brundage, and how sexy artwork of women isn’t necessarily an unfeminist thing. I love Brundage’s pastel women, and really enjoyed the article.

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Galactic Suburbia Episode 43 Shownotes.

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The new episode is ready to download here!

EPISODE 43

In which Alisa and Tansy look at crimes against superheroines in the DC Universe, the good and the bad of the companions’ journeys in Doctor Who, and why we love Olivia Dunham and her gun. We also plug our own books (yes really!), Tansy is still reading comics, and Alisa confesses that e-books have broken her brain.

No, seriously, she’s broken now.

News

The WSFA SP shortlist (Tehani wooo!)

Death of Sara Douglass

Catwoman & Starfire – this isn’t what empowerment looks like
i09 on a seven-year-old who loves Starfire and her reaction to the new version of the character: “She doesn’t do anything.”
A great webcomic response to the Starfire issue.
Tansy blogged about it too!

DC Comics, Bunker & the Current State of LGBTQ Superheroes
(Tansy would have commented on how Bunker is portrayed as a gay superhero in the Teen Titans but he wasn’t in the first issue!)

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alisa: Haven, Fringe S4, Doctor Who Season 4?, Ringer, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, A Taste of the Nightlife by Sarah Zettel and one of my new reading projects

Tansy: The Almighty Johnsons, New 52 (Batgirl, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Superboy, Blue Beetle); Justice League Generation Lost (Part I), Power Girl: A New Beginning

Pet Subject: Indie and E-books
Twelfth Planet Press Website
Twelfth Planet Press E-Store
Wizard’s Tower Bookstore (yay Cheryl)
Tansy is Rocking the Romanpunk on her blog this week in celebration of the e-release of Love and Romanpunk.

Feedback:
Björn is embarking on a quest to read all women authors for a year – and he needs a catchy title to help this become an awesome internet meme. Can you help him? Send us your suggestions and we’ll think of some prizes for the best ones.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Batgirl #1, Stormwatch #1, JLI #1 [DC Reboot Reviews]

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I have to learn that holidays or no holidays, Fridays are a write-off for me. I get nothing but the smallest tasks done, and while it’s a good day for catching up on all the stuff I don’t manage to finish while I’m writing novels through the week, I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

So today I child-wrangled, and I got up my Friday links post, and that was pretty much it. But in amongst the visitors & child-wrangling, I managed to make this a comics day. I listened to the latest episode of Panel2Panel, featuring a great discussion on the (temporary) deaths of superheroes – I especially loved what Grant had to say about the importance of legacy heroes and how this gets sabotaged every time they bring back some old guy from the grave. And it’s nice to hear Kitty’s POV because I know so little about Marvel – I had no idea that Marvel don’t have the same legacy tradition with newbies taking over the suits and hero names of their seniors!

I also listened to How I Got My Boyfriend Into Comics who also had an excellent main topic, this one being Supergirl vs. Superboy. I got all nostalgic for the Superboy comics I read when they first came out in the mid-90′s, with his leather jacket and stupid hair and Hawaii. Awwww, Superboy with no name, I did rather love you.

Raeli joined my comics party by discovering the Tiny Titans comics I got her on the iPad, and devouring them. It was a little scary. Tiny Titans are brilliant – the concept is pretty much Muppet Babies or Torchwood Babieez done with the Teen Titans characters and a few other guest stars like Batgirl. Each issue has a bunch of stories featuring various characters, some only a page long and others 6-8 pages. It’s cute and smart and unscary, and perfect for my six year old. She even read one of them to Jem as a bedtime story. I gained some cool Mum points for being able to identify Terra and Raven, and I remain kind of glad she hasn’t asked me why there are two Wonder Girls. I kind of love that their approach to DC canon is to just include everyone and am looking forward to the all Batgirls issue next month!

My favourite story of the Tiny Titans is in issue #1 (which is either 99 cents or free on the iPad) and features Cassie Wonder Girl deciding her new superhero costume is jeans and a t-shirt. This leads to some of the other kids wondering, how would Wonder Woman look if her costume was jeans and a t-shirt? (answer: kind of awesome) That’s basically the level it’s at, but did I mention adorable?

Now on to the grown up stuff! SPOILERS for Issue #1 of Batgirl, Stormwatch and Justice League International below.

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Big Guns and Banter: What is the point of Justice League #1? [DC Reboot Reviews]

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

So DC has this big reboot thing going on, and apparently it’s a good time to hop on board. I’ve been a recovering DC Comics fangirl for a while now, and only dipping my toe back into the water through graphic novels. But the iPad has got me a tiny bit excited about comics again, and the relaunch includes day and date digital releases, so I decided to pick out the titles that most interested me (let’s face it, mostly the ones with women on the cover wearing all their clothes) and review a huge bunch of #1 issues, whittling them away in the hopes of finding some regular comics to read and (hope hope hope) enjoy.

Despite being a woman, and a feminist. Yeah, I’m a bit trepidatious too.

Justice League #1
Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Jim Lee

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Paradise Island and the Steve Trevor Problem

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

The Wonder Woman Chronicles: Vol. One

This was a ridiculously exciting find – the first ten months or so of Wonder Woman comic stories from her debut in All Star Comics (Dec 1941) and several espionage-themed serials in Sensation Comics, through to the launch of her very own title in the summer of 1942 – all collected in graphic novel form. I was intrigued to see how Wonder Woman was established right from the beginning, as part of my ongoing quest to look at how she has been portrayed over the years, and why it seems to be so impossible to script a movie with her in the central role.

What struck me at first was that I already knew Wonder Woman’s origin story perfectly. There were no surprises in seeing it in its original form: indeed, it comes across as very much a by-the-numbers version of the story that has been repeated apparently with little changing for about 70 years.

Her entire first story takes place on Paradise Island, and begins with Steve Trevor’s plane crashing. Diana, daughter of the island’s queen, nurses the unconscious man and falls in love with him without him opening his eyes or saying a word. Yep, he’s just that hot and manly. No one is surprised by this, least of all Diana’s mother. We do rather get the impression that his gender is the only important thing about this love story, which is… well, nicely reversed, I suppose, if about as romantic as Snow White and her Prince with the creepy dead-woman fetish.

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Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 1

Monday, June 7th, 2010

I heard about these comics from somewhere and snapped up the first collected volume when I found it in my local library. In 1968, Wonder Woman underwent a major reinvention. All of the elements essential to her character – her powers, costume, and chisel-chinned love interest Steve Trevor, were removed so that Diana could go through a Carnaby Street makeover. Equipped with new martial arts skills, a rugged private eye sidekick, an elderly Chinese mentor and the very latest in hip and groovy outfits, Diana Prince became a new kind of force to be reckoned with.

It’s a little bizarre to see such an iconic character plunged so specifically into the pop culture of the Swinging Sixties. You would be forgiven for thinking these comics were actually created in the 90′s as an Austin Powers style spoof, given how laden they are with cliches of the time period. There are nightclubs full of hip cats, London boutiques full of groovy threads, and people say things like “you better bug out, doll… the fuzz frowns on chicks cruisin’ in this pad solo” entirely without irony.

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