My partner in crime, Mr. Menace, has oft-voiced the complaint that ladies don’t support each other enough. This is why, he says, the WNBA is just not that popular – women don’t support other women. We don’t see the value in going to those basketball games just to advance ladies in sports. Similarly, in his view, we don’t support other ladies in politics and art and all manner of other things, and until we do, there will continue to be arenas in which we are under-represented.
And as a general rule, I think he’s right. There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but there seem, from what I can see, to be plenty of ladies who think we no longer need feminism. (Or, you know, think it’s kind of pointless to begin with). As our resident gender defender (I’m the person everyone sends links to with the “you’ll get really angry about this” note) I thought we at The Ladies of Comicazi should do something to buck that trend and actively support ladies who are out there creating the books, movies, and comics that we enjoy, and so I bring you a new feature – The Honorary Lady of Comicazi! This will be a little showcase/lovefest/plug for ladies making things we love.
And who better to kick off such a feature with than the one and only Libba Bray?
“Who is Libba Bray?” you may be asking yourselves, if you do not follow trends in YA literature as closely as we here at LOC do. I answer that Ms. Bray is the Printz Award-winning author of such books as Going Bovine, the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Beauty Queens, and most recently, The Diviners. I was first introduced to her works years ago by my good friend, Nandi, who was at the time studying to be a librarian (she has since BECOME a librarian via arcane rituals). She’d read Going Bovine and been intrigued by its picaresque tale of a young man with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (more commonly known as the human strain of mad cow), his friend Gonzo, a hypochondriac dwarf, and their traveling companion, the Norse God Baldur (who was trapped in the form of a garden gnome at the time). She felt that I, too, might be taken in by the book’s whimsical and somewhat heartbreaking charms – and so I was! This led me down the primrose path to reading the Gemma Doyle trilogy, a series of a young Victorian lady who turns out to have both power and the requisite responsibility for it beyond her wildest dreams – or nightmares.
I quickly devoured everything that came out after that – Beauty Queens, with its teen pageant queens, desert islands, and broad political satire – and The Diviners, a creepy 1920s-set tale of a flighty young flapper whose latent psychic abilities put her in the path of a very scary serial killer. Bray has this amazing ability to write in a variety of styles, from the straight Gothic horror of the Gemma Doyle books, to the over-the-top silliness of Beauty Queens, to the silly on the surface but poignant beneath story of Going Bovine, and I love her for it.
She is also, appropriately to the opening of this post, deeply feminist and with a keen eye for social justice, and manages to do this (Beauty Queens and its deliberate satire aside) without beating you over the head with it. Female characters are shown tied down by the constraints of whichever era their stories take place in, but are also shown rising above these constraints and wanting more. The characters are diverse without it being a big deal – there are black and Asian and Hispanic and gay characters in equal measures in all of these books and none of them are singled out as tokens – they interact with the other characters in the books in the same ways they would in real life.
And all of this is wonderful, but the thing that won me over to Team Libba more than any of that? The main reason I’m nominating this woman for honorary inclusion in our esteemed ranks? It’s her blog.That last entry I linked particularly gets to me – I’ll wait if you want to go read it. La, la, la. Okay, are you done? Do you understand what I’m saying here? She doesn’t post as often as I’d like, but those posts are so emotional, and honest, and real, and they always make me feel like a better person for having read them. (or like the first link they are very, very, silly, but the heart of them is important and true.) She makes me want to cry and laugh, often at the same time, and her best writing, whether on the blog or on the book, stirs deep emotion in me. That’s worth holding on to.
So that’s why for me, Libba Bray is an honorary Lady of Comicazi. So go read her books, okay? Then come back and tell me what you think in the comments!