LoC Podcast, episode 1: Mildred Louis on magical girls, creating independently, and diversity

Agents of the Realm, copyright Mildred Louis.

This week I’m excited to introduce our first Ladies of Comicazi podcast!

In what I hope will be the first of many, our inaugural podcast is an interview with the incomparable and astoundingly talented Mildred Louis, author and artist of the web comic Agents of the Realm. (Feel free to check out The Red Menace’s review of Mildred’s first collected volume of Agents!)

So join us as we discuss animation, geek out over Sailor Moon, and imagine how hard it must be to have to save the world on a regular basis.

(You can catch Mildred in person at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, October 29-30, 2016 in Cambridge.)

A special thanks goes out to Aayesha Siddiqui (our newest and most tech savvy Lady) for producing, recording, and mixing this podcast. An additional thanks goes out to Canopy City for once again providing us the space to conduct our latest shenanigans.

Music credits: 80s Quiz Show Loop and Videogame-ish Intro, both by Christopher from Sounds Like An Earful. Both tracks are Creative Commons licensed (CC BY-SA 3.0), as is our podcast.

All Good Things Should Come To An End: The Impending Finale of “Adventure Time”

The end of last month brought news of the coming end of an era. Cartoon Network’s critically acclaimed and much loved series Adventure Time with Finn and Jake will be ending in 2018. I’ve seen a lot of the early stages of mourning for the show around the Internet and I certainly sympathize as a longtime viewer myself. But even though I will miss having new episodes of the groundbreaking show to look forward to, I’m ready to see it reach its conclusion. Because endings aren’t necessarily a bad thing.  Continue reading

October is for Horror II: 3 Netflix Hidden Gems

As the Ladies’ resident expert of movies and shows involving blood splatter, and since I did one of these posts last year, I decided now was a good time to prowl through Netflix for 3 more hidden gems to help get you into the mood for the best, or at least the spookiest (spoopiest?) month of the year.  This time around I am going for a bit more variety, rather than just 3 straight horror movies.  Think of them as choices in the spirit of trick-or-treating.  Not one wants a bag full of just one kind of candy.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

td-tucker-dale-evilI love a good horror comedy, but it’s a tough genre to do really well.  For me it works best when there’s a real love and understanding of what is at the root of some standard horror tropes.  Movies like Shaun of the Dead, Cabin in the Woods, and Zombieland do this particularly well. Enter Tucker and Dale vs. Evil with its flipped around take on the “backwoods murder hillbilly” trope.  Frankly I think it’s more fun to go into the movie with less knowledge of the plot so I’m not going to give you much on purpose. I didn’t read any summaries myself and that made each reveal more fun.   Plus, it stars Allen Tudyk, who is just a delight in  his role. A word to the squeamish: while this movie is surely considered a comedy, it’s also pretty gory.  If that’s not your thing, this isn’t for you.   Note: It’s been reported that a sequel to this 2010 original is in the works.  After enjoying this one so much I’m excited to see where these characters will go next.

4 out of 5 bodies through a woodchipper

Extraordinary Tales

td-extraordinary-talesWait, what?  Tiny Doom is going to write something about an animated thing?  Yeah guys, I am, I’ve got layers.  Well, it’s an animated thing with blood splatter so I guess I’m not really going too far off task here. Curated by veteran Disney animator and Spanish writer-director Raul Garcia,   Extraordinary Tales is an animated anthology of 5 tales by Edgar Allen Poe.  We are talking about some pretty time-honored Halloween fare.  Each tale has its own animation style, and the voice talent (ranging from Christopher Lee  – in one of his last projects before his death, Bela Lugosi, and Julian Sands) makes this an almost hypnotic watch.  It’s not scary so much as it satisfies a craving for the Gothic and the creepy. It’s probably best viewed in the evening or on a dreary afternoon.

3.5 out of 5 red death masques

The Awakening

td-awakeningThey had me at “lady ghost debunker” with this one.  A BBC film, The Awakening is a period piece in which that invokes both horror and mystery tropes.  Florence Cathcart uses science to expose charlatans and debunk claims of haunting.  However, each time she succeeds at her task it’s a bit heartbreaking because she is also hoping for evidence of the supernatural so that she can contact her partner who was lost in the war. Think, the Houdinis.  When she gets called to a case in a boy’s boarding school more is revealed about her past, including some memories she buried regarding her upbringing.  This movie is a slow burn of creepiness, with some big reveals at the end. I found the ending to be sort of ambiguous and sort of not, but I think it leaves things open enough that if you want to believe, you can.  If you liked The Woman in Black, you might like this.

3.5 out of 5 creepy British boarding school kids

Review: Agents of the Realm

LadiesCon 2016 may be over, but we’re still thinking about what made it such a great time. One of the things that I was really excited about was the opportunity to speak directly to so many creators and artists about their original works. One of the creators I was most excited about was Mildred Louis, who writes and draws a comic called Agents of the Realm. I hadn’t heard of her work before the con, but when she contacted us about having a table, I looked at her work and knew I’d be paying her a visit. I had the supreme good fortune (thanks to a huge assist from Smalerie) of snagging the last copy of her book, which collects the first volume of an ambitious work which, luckily for me, continues online.




The premise is a twist on the classic magical girl genre of manga (see Crystal Cadets for a more standard version): five young women discover that they are the protectors of our world, which is being threatened by strange beasts entering our realm from a sister dimension. In the classic magical girl style, Norah, Adele, Kendall, Paige, and Jordan have special brooches that transform them into uniform-wearing warriors, each with her own weapon, powers, and attendant element. Through the magic of the brooches, they find each other and begin to learn about their powers, the other realm, and why and how they were chosen to protect the world.

The twist comes in from the fact that in standard magical girl stories, there is an emphasis on girl – the protagonists are typically tweens or young teenagers, and part of the transformation is that they become an adult version of themselves. They’re all Mary Marvel, if her posse were other girls instead of two boys and talking tiger. The Agents are all adults already – young adults, to be fair, but in college and of legal age. This immediately has different implications about how they make the choice to accept their roles and for how Louis is able to explore the relationships between the characters and the problems that they face. When you’re watching or reading Sailor Moon, you know that while Sailor Moon is presented as an adult, Usagi Tsukino is really still a kid, and her concerns when she isn’t saving the planet are appropriately childish. The Agents, on the other hand, are young adults, and they have concerns that an adult can relate to, in addition to fighting off giant spirit birds.

Another thing that makes the series great is the level of representation of both people of color and of LBGTQ folks. Most of the characters, including 4 of the 5 Agents, are not white. They also have a wide range of body types  – and they keep them after they transform. They do not become “idealized” versions of themselves. This is a powerful message delivered with subtlety – that they are already good enough, already powerful just as they are. They are also beautiful, and feminine, without needing to all fit into the white, western ideal shape.

The team.

The orientations of the various characters are handled with that same grace – we’re shown characters who have loving relationships of all types, completely integrated into the story. It doesn’t feel like anything that’s being called attention to, a lesson we’re meant to learn – these are just people, and people have many different approaches to sex and love and romance.

Norah, Adele, Kendall, Paige, and Jordan feel like real people – they have strengths, but also flaws – and not just “oh, she’s such a klutz.” It’s apparent even in the first issue that Norah struggles with social anxiety. Paige is driven and ambitious to the point of being rude at times. Kendall is a peacemaker. It’s refreshing to see the trope of the “chosen ones” applied to characters who feel like more than a cardboard cutout.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the art. As you can see from the pictures here, it’s gorgeous and dynamic. There’s a clear progression as Louis’ style evolves – I think that she continually improves her panel layout and visual storytelling  – but the technical excellence is on display from the beginning.

Do you read Agents of the Realm? Tell me what you think in the comments!

Kickass Ladies, for sure.

Recommended age: Teen to adult. The content is far from racy, but the website does have a trigger warning that suggests that not all of it might be suitable for younger readers.

You might like it if: You like realistic ladies kicking fantastical butt.

Bonus features: If you’re local, Mildred Louis will be at MICE!  So if you missed getting a physical book at LadiesCon, you might have another shot.


LadiesCon 2016: The Aftermath


I had mixed feelings when I discovered that I would be the one scheduled to post after our inaugural LadiesCon.  There is just so much to say, so many lessons learned, so many wonderful people, and so much magic that organizing my thoughts seems like an almost impossible task.  Do I give a blow-by-blow of the day?  Do I just do the highlights?  How could I possibly thank everyone we want to thank?  Well, if I learned anything this weekend, it’s that you need to move forward and at least try your best if you are going to get anything done.  So in that spirit, let’s give this a shot.

The Con Itself

Those of you who were able to join us this weekend learned exactly what we meant when we kept saying that our con would be “small and intimate.”  The unique space donated by Canopy City was fresh and inviting.  It also provided some exciting and unexpected extras like an additional screen for the Boston Roller Derby ladies to show off their games, a central desk in the middle of the action to use as our own Mission Control center, and a layout that I couldn’t help calling the “Gauntlet of Awesome.”

We wanted to keep the focus on local and unique talent and we were able to do just that.  I know that we have already featured a bunch of our vendors on our Facebook Page, but we have also updated our Con Info page to include a full list of our vendors who participated..  This way if you regret any items left behind, you will have a second chance to get it.

Here’s a little slide show of the calm before the storm:

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The VIP Lunch and After Party

In addition to our Con Floor, we also offered two additional LadiesCon events.  The first was our “Lunch with the Ladies.”  This event got you early access to our vendors and guests (as well as their commission spots), a tasty lunch, and a nice swag bag to carry your goodies around in.  It was a great and relaxed way to start the day.

A quick search on social media regarding the con and you are probably going to see pictures of our after party.  Guys….  THIS. PARTY.  Envisioned as a social experiment to see what would happen if you gathered a bunch of creative people together with a choice of several fun activities, this event went off the rails in the best possible way.  Matt (Co-Founder and Managing Director at Canopy City), not only gave our guests the freedom to cover one of his dry erase walls with art,  but he was so pleased with the results that he told everyone to keep on going!

The result is inspiring and just a gorgeous tribute to the event and the community spirit.  Those of us on the LadiesCon staff have been using the word “magical” a lot to describe this event.  But really, I don’t think there is a better word for it.  Thanks to Bill Imbrogna for the photos below.  If you want to see more, check out his facebook page:

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The Ladies have been trying over and over again to properly thank everyone who made our dream possible.  At this point it’s almost overwhelming to try to express how we feel about our supporters and friends.  Instead, once again, I will say a simple thank you.  Thank you to our hosts, guests, vendors, panelists, and volunteers.  Without you, this simply would not have been possible.  And to all of you who joined us for our first ever LadiesCon, thank you for proving that there’s a place and a desire in the Boston area for a con like this one.  We are a mighty city indeed.

I wanted to end this post answering a question we received several times on Saturday – Will there be a LadiesCon 2017?  YES and we have so much more planned.  So please, stick around and see what we come up with next!


Did you attend LadiesCon 2016?  If so, share your experience below.

Let’s Get Ready for LadiesCon!

The Ladies are still hard at work making sure that our very first LadiesCon is an amazing experience for everyone. But we still wanted to take a little time out to tell you, our devoted readers, how you can prepare for the event and be ready to get the most out of LadiesCon.

Jackalope by Erica Henderson, from Cartoon Sara’s convention sktechbook

Get Your Tickets!

This is the most important step in your pre-LadiesCon preparation. Although general admission to the con is FREE, we are still using tickets to keep track of our attendees and ensure that we don’t let in more people than the building can handle at once. There are not many general admission tickets left, so if you plan to attend, reserve yours now.

We also have two special events that require additional paid tickets. Lunch with the Ladies takes place before the convention and gives attendees the opportunity to get into the con early, chat with the Ladies and our convention guests, and enjoy a tasty catered lunch from Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers. Making Masterpieces: The LadiesCon After Party is a post-con art event where attendees can get a lesson in comics coloring, decorate cookies, draw, craft, or just chat and sample light snacks. Tickets for both events are limited, so be sure to purchase yours now.

Check Out the Panels

The panels at LadiesCon will all be held at Comicazi, a short five minute walk from our main convention space. We have ladies talking about gaming, cosplay, fan fiction, and more. Planning your day is an important part of preparation for any con and that includes deciding which panels to attend. Look over the panels we have to offer and see what note rests you. You can then plan to visit the convention floor beforehand, after the panel, or both.

Investigate the Area

If you’re a Comicazi regular, you probably know what there is to see and do in Davis Square. But if you haven’t visited often or ever, then now is an excellent time to learn what the Square has to offer. Of course you’ll want to check out the convention floor and the panels, but since we’re a small convention, you’ll likely have time to check out the surrounding area. You could just wander around the day of and stop in anyplace that looks interesting. But if you’d prefer to plan your day more, you can do some research online to investigate local shops, places to eat, or simply spots where you can sit and people watch for a bit. We’ll also be offering a program with a map of local restaurants, shops, and even a few PokeStops.

A Fancy Bunny by Ming Doyle

Stuff to Bring

  • Cash – While the miracles of modern phone peripherals mean that more convention vendors can accept credit or debit cards, not all of them do. Get your cash at your local bank ahead of time or stop by one of the ATMs in Davis Square. How much you want to spend is up to you, but having it on hand means you don’t have to worry about whether the vendor can take your cards or not.
  • Books for signing – Our guests will have their work available for sale, but if you already have something they’ve worked on, you can bring single issue comics or collected editions for our guests to sign. Consider bagging and boarding issues to keep them safe. You can bring a bag to carry your items to be signed or purchase a LadiesCon tote bag from us at the front desk. We ask that you respect any policies our guests may have on what they’ll sign, how many items, and anything else related to their time and work.
  • Convention Sketchbook – Artists bring their own supplies to cons, so if you’re looking to get a commission piece, you only need to worry about how to pay for it. But if you’ve got a convention sketchbook or are looking to start one, you’ll want to bring it with you. If you’re starting a new convention sketchbook – and with art from any or all of our special guests, you’ll be off to an amazing start, purchase a wire bound sketchbook with pages that can stand up to inks and watercolors. For more info on starting your own convention sketchbook, check out my post on the subject. Again, we ask that you respect our guests’ policies regarding what they’ll draw, what they’ll draw on, pricing, and anything else related to creating artwork.

Getting Here

We strongly recommend that you take public transportation. The Davis Red Line stop is mere steps away from Comicazi and the convention itself. It also spares you from having to plan you day around feeding parking meters, if you can even find an open spot.

If you are going to drive here, allow yourself plenty of time to find a space. We don’t want anyone missing an exciting panel while searching for parking. Most spaces around Davis can take cards, but having quarters on hand just in case is a good idea. You’ll also want to budget a little walking time, just in case the space you find is farther away than you expected.

A Linda Medley rabbit. All of our guests draw plenty of things that aren’t bunnies, we promise.

Above all, prepare for fun!

Our hope is that LadiesCon will be a wonderful day for all our guests, vendors, and attendees. If anything interferes with your enjoyment of LadiesCon, if you have a question, or if you just want to tell someone what a great time you’re having, feel free to speak to one of us or one of our volunteers in the LadiesCon staff shirts. We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends, meeting some new ones, and putting on a great show for all of you!

LadiesCon Guest Spotlight: Linda Medley

Hopefully by now you have heard about LadiesCon and acquainted yourselves with 2 of our special guests, Erica Henderson and Ming Doyle.  Let me help you get acquainted with the third. All the way from the Pacific Northwest we are delighted to bring independent comics creator Linda Medley to LadiesCon!

You likely are familiar with Linda’s work, but if not, let me bring you up to speed.  This lady has done it all, she’s had work published by Golden Books, Grosset and Dunlap, DC Comics, Image Comics and many others.  During her time as a freelance artist she’s been a inker, penciler, colorist, and is the creator of her own independent graphic novel series Castle Waiting.  

Continue reading

LadiesCon Guest Spotlight: Ming Doyle

As LadiesCon draws ever-closer, we here at the Ladies are working to find ways to make an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. We’ve split up into two locations – vendors and guests at 212 Elm Street, and panels and programs at Comicazi. (They’re  only a 5 minute walk away from each other, never fear!) We’ve added pre-event lunches and after parties. And of course, we’ve been working on these posts to showcase our exceptional inaugural guests! This week we’re featuring multi-talented Ming Doyle.

Menace and magic.

Menace and magic.

Continue reading

LadiesCon Guest Spotlight: Erica Henderson

The word is out about LadiesCon and the buzz around this little event is deafening.  Happily, we have our amazing guests to thank for a large part of that.  This week, I am not only hoping to keep the momentum going, but to also take the chance to highlight one of guests – The Unbeatable Erica Henderson.


Nowadays Erica’s name is pretty much synonymous with Squirrel Girl.

At first my intention when creating this Spotlight Post was to provide as much information I could find about the woman herself.  I would write about how she grew up in New York, attended RISD, and was pretty much destined for greatness.  The problem is that I kept getting distracted.  I found myself poring through her Tumblr and Twitter posts just taking in her art as much as possible.  You see, I’m not much of an artist myself.  So when I try to explain how incredible it is to have Erica as a guest at LadiesCon, it is not because I can tell you that her style is influenced by this or that artist or that her line work is a marvel.  Instead, I can tell you that I am sitting at my kitchen table, literally surrounded by my own collection of her books, and damn…it has been quite a year for her –  drawing Squirrel Girl and Jughead, attending San Diego Comicon, receiving an Eisner Nomination, curating an astounding collection of squirrel-related collectibles, and even dead lifting over 175 lbs.  Erica Henderson is a star. Continue reading

Food and Fandom Follow-Up

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The Ladies- and our food puns – at Boston ComicCon. Photo credit: Eric Yu.

Did you catch the Ladies’ first panel at Boston ComicCon this year? We had a great time discussing how food is one of the newest way that peopl are expressing their fandom. Judging from the turnout and reaction, convention-goers enjoyed hearing what we had to say too.  We’d like to thank everyone who came for all the support and the great questions.

But maybe you didn’t make it to Boston ComicCon. Maybe you were there, but scheduling conflicts kept you from coming to see us. Or maybe you did go and our discussion got you excited about the possibilities of creating food based on your favorite films, TV shows, books, comics, or other fictions. If you were at the panel, you know we promised you a post with some helpful links to get you started on your own food and fandom journey. So here we go! Continue reading