March is Women’s History Month in the US – a time that various government institutions “commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.” Here at the Ladies we encourage you to study, observe and celebrate women’s contributions every day – particularly their contributions to comics and pop culture. One of the things I like about doing your periodic webcomics round ups is that not only is it a chance to share the sheer talent of so many lady artists and writers (of whom there are still fewer than I would prefer getting work in mainstream comics publishing), but it’s also an opportunity to embrace a much wider scope of what storytelling in comics can be. Even though your average shop is offering far more than just superhero tales these days (and there’s nothing wrong with superhero tales), it still feels like the web has some weirder, wilder offerings. Here are three I’m digging right now.
Monsterkind by Taylor C.
Updates: T, Fr
Monsterkind is one of the first comics about social work I’ve ever seen. (Feel free to tell me if there are more in the comments!) It’s the story of Wallace Foster, a young social worker who’s recently been relocated to District C – a place where the inhabitants are mostly monsters. Wallace is human, and some of the residents of District C clearly don’t trust him and his intentions. Somehow he’s got to figure out a way to win over his clients – and figure out some of the deeper mysteries surrounding him, District C, and his new neighbors. What I really like about Monsterkind is that, even though it deals with some pretty deep and potentially sensitive topics – racism, segregation, and identity – it does so in a lighthearted and upbeat way that counterbalances the darkness of its subject matter while still taking it very seriously. It’s also got some pretty great and innovative character designs for the monster residents of District C – some look human but have powers and abilities that seem supernatural, while others sport everything from tentacles to detachable eyes. The underlying mysteries unfold slowly, but steadily, and promise a worthwhile payoff. Content-wise, this is appropriate for all-ages, but many of the interactions will go over the heads of young kids – I think early teens up would be the most interested.
Bonus: Another comic! Taylor C.’s significant other, one Zack Morrison, also does a weird comic I love called Paranatural. Maybe one day I’ll give it a whole review, because it’s awesome, but as Zack’s not a lady, it didn’t fit here. It’s fine as a bonus, right?
Not Drunk Enough by Tessa Stone
Updates: T, Th
Logan Ibarra is a young repairman with a pretty normal life – until he’s called out to do a nighttime service call at the local laboratory. When he gets there, it quickly becomes clear that the problem here is a lot worse than a faulty AC system. Reality itself has become warped, along with most of the lab’s employees. Now Logan’s got to figure out how to escaped before he’s transformed, eaten, or his flask runs dry.
I’ve been a fan of Tessa Stone’s work since her one of her earliest efforts, the dearly departed Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name. That was a comedy about a paranormal investigator, full of whimsy, jokes, and sweet-hearted humor. Not Drunk Enough has a sense of humor, but it’s a much more macabre one – the jokes of terrified people who know they’re unlikely to survive the night. The art, in turn is dark and jagged, befitting the paranoia permeating the doomed lab. Like Monsterkind, there are deeper mysteries to be solved that Stone teases out slowly, and real human heartbreak driving the choices the characters make. The creature designs are killer, literally and figuratively – this is a great read for older teens, but a bit too mature for the younger crowd.
Bonus: Stone also collaborates with Ananth Hirsh of Johnny Wander and Sarah Stone (yes, related) of Monster Boys and Robots on Is This What You Wanted, a comic that is just starting about romance and illness and demons. So if you dig her character design here, check that out too.
Ava’s Demon by Michelle Czajkowski
Plot: Ava Ire is a total outcast at school – all of the other kids and even the teachers think she’s totally crazy. Of course, since she’s often talking to herself and prone to emotional outbursts, it’s hard to blame them. What they don’t know is that Ava is plagued by a very real demon – Wrathia Bellarmina, the ghost of a former warrior queen who wants to bond with Ava in order to get revenge on the person responsible for her demise. That person happens to be the ruler of the entire universe, Titan; part corporate overlord, part god. When a series of strange events cause Ava to flee her home, a deal is struck – but will either Ava or Wrathia really get what they want?
Ava’s Demon combines fantasy and sci-fi elements into a powerful combination unlike anything I’ve quite seen before. The world-building is thorough but unforced – you learn about what’s going on as the characters do. The art is complete gorgeous, with fully saturated color and light effects that give everything a dreamy quality. Czajkowski takes advantage of her storytelling medium completely as well – each weekly installment consists of several pages that the reader flips through, introducing an almost animated quality to the story. At the close of each chapter is an actually animated sequence, complete with music. It’s frankly unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to see where the story is headed. This is another one I’d pitch more towards teens – there’s nothing too crazy but some of the violence might be a little much for a sensitive younger reader.
Bonus: If you follow the Ava’s Demon Tumblr, Czajkowski shares the beautiful fanart folks do for the comic.
Are there any other comics by ladies I should check out? Let me know in the comments!
In honor of Women’s Month, we thought it would be a lot of fun to take a moment to feature one of our favorite vendors: FanMail.
If you’re a fan of subscription boxes, are proud to be a geek, and want to take the opportunity to support a business owned and run by women, you really can’t go wrong here. A subscription to FanMail means that every other month you are going to get a box of unique, curated items picked specifically for today’s lady-geek. There is a focus on featuring other small lady-owned businesses within the items as well. Seriously guys, this stuff is so great that I’m doing this post not because they gave us a box in trade, but because I’m a happy subscriber and am pleased to give them my money.
One (or should I say two) of the things that makes FanMail so special are the owners Rose and Jenny. Rose and Jenny share The Ladies of Comicazi’s mission to celebrate women and the community in which we create, forge friendships, and experience our fandoms. They are dedicated, friendly, and are responsible for a lot of people getting their hands on some really amazing stuff.
In an attempt to convince you, I wanted to share the unboxing of my February Box. This month’s theme was Familiars and Companions.
Items: Bookstr Notebook, Avatar/Totoro Cross-over T-Shirt, Doctor Who Donna Noble quote sticker, Luna-inspired Sailor Moon Necklace, and adorable Eevee Pokemon (or is that a Flareon?)
Item: BB-8 throw pillow case. So gorgeous!
Item: Niffler pouch – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I realize my photos don’t seem to do the items justice, so if you want to see more, you should head on over to FanMail’s Instagram.
Oh, and if a subscription might be more of a commitment than you are ready for, you can browse their shop for past items and boxes. I got my eyes on these sweet but subtle Hogwarts House mugs. Hufflepuff forever!
Summer is upon us and while for many of us are planning our trips to the beach, I think it’s safe to assume that just as many of us are getting ready for Boston Comic Con in August. This means a flurry of activity as we make plans, obsessively check the guest lists, and get our cosplay ready. The Ladies of Comicazi will be there with a few surprises (more on that coming soon), and we hope you stop by and say hi.
But as we eagerly await the big event, I wanted to take a moment to highlight a special cosplayer who’s not only gorgeous and talented, but also related to Tiny Doom and I (please don’t hold that against her, she really is a lovely person).
Mikaela (aka April O’Neil) is an up and coming cosplyer based out of New York. She was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions for us about her experiences doing cosplay.
How did you first learn about cosplay and what made you start participating?
How do we learn about anything? The internet! LOL! I was looking up pictures of superheroes online and I came across a woman dressed as Rogue, from X-Men. I then started to research cosplay, started participating in chat rooms as well. When I first discovered all of this I hadn’t transitioned yet. I was still hiding who I was. I saw cosplay as an outlet for me to be who I really wanted to be. I attended my first convention back in 2010, NYCC, as April O’Neil. It was very well received and for the first time ever I felt amazingly confident. Cosplay gave me courage that I don’t think I would have had otherwise.
Speaking of your transition, is there is anything you would like to talk about in regards to the cosplay community and its response to your transition? For instance have you found cosplayers to be more or less supportive?
That is difficult to answer. A majority of the cosplayers that I know, that have supported my transition, I was already friends with. I haven’t really found a good outlet to gauge what people, in the community, think about it. I did come out to my followers on DeviantArt last year, in a journal entry on Transgender Day of Visibility. I can say that I got mixed responses, a majority of them positive. Then of course you have some that are negative as well. Someone, who I assume follows me on DA, commented on one of my April videos on YouTube. He said he can’t really like my video because I’m a man. In my experience though, everyone I meet who discovers I am transgender has been overwhelmingly supportive. It could be luck, it could be things are moving in a positive direction as we move into the future, I am not sure. I can say I feel truly blessed to get that amount of support and I hope that will always be the case no matter who I meet in the community.
Which cosplay/fandom is your favorite?
I only choose to cosplay characters that have a special place in my heart. I grew up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was my first love. I always looked up to April. She had a feisty attitude, independent, smart, brave and one hell of a driver. I always wanted to be her, so to be able to cosplay her is actually a dream come true. Catwoman is another favorite who I cosplay quite often and I have multiple versions of her to wear. I have many other favorites, many other characters I want to cosplay. It’s an expensive hobby, all in due time lol.
Do you have any suggestions for others who want to get into cosplay?
If the interest is there, do it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. It’s not only a lot of fun, but I have met people I wouldn’t have and did things I never thought I would do because of cosplay.
Favorite cosplay experience?
My favorite experience was when I went to a con as Catwoman. I was walking around the convention center and I had a little Batman come up to me. He held on to my leg very tightly and said “You’re mine, Catwoman.” It was the cutest and most heart warming moment. I spent a little while with that little boy as he told me about why he loves Batman so much and I took a picture with him. He thought I was really Catwoman and it was such an wonderful experience.
Any bad experiences with cosplay or the community?
I have been lucky in this regard. I know a lot of cosplayers who have had terrible experiences. I haven’t had anything really bad happen. Walking down the streets of Manhatten to get to NYCC in costume is always an interesting experience. I get the cat calling when I am in costume, but most of the time I ignore it. Nothing has ever been so rude that I had to turn around to take notice. When I am at conventions people are usually very respectful if I say I can’t take a photo or anything. Some look more disappointed than others, but again nothing bad has ever come of it.
Do you have any new plans or ideas you are working on for your next costume or character?
As I stated previously I have many other characters lol. I want to do Tracer from Overwatch, Teela MOTU, Cheetara from Thundercats, Juri, Ibuki, Poison, Cammy, Vixen from DC, the list goes on and on. I hope to be able to do them all at some point. Cosplay isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so I am optimistic lol. Even if it does, who cares, I am still going to cosplay my heart out!
What skills have you learned or want to learn in regards to costume making and planning?
My sewing has actually improved dramatically since I got into cosplay. I can make adjustments on my costumes no problem, although construction without a pattern to follow is still very intimidating to me. I have only tackled very simple things. I leave the more complex costumes to someone far more talented than I. I would like to, at some point, be able to make my own and not have to commission my costumes.
Any events you will be attending this summer?
No major events planned, at least convention wise. I am attending a midnight showing of the Suicide Squad as Knightfall Catwoman. Other than that I would like to do more photo shoots. I have several photographers that want to connect to do some work with me. It would be nice to have more content for my pages. It’s hard for me to find the time with my work schedule.
As someone who reads a lot, and has a pretty widespread taste in books, folks frequently ask me for book recommendations. Some friends I give the full list, knowing that they are also literary adventurers who are equally happy reading Harry Potter, The Corrections, or a book about oysters. If I know what they like, I might give them a tailored list of mysteries or urban fantasy or great literary fiction. However, I have a special, curated list as well – the books I think any right-minded, well-read person would like. These are the stories that transcend genre and individual tastes. They’re practically a litmus test for my friendship – if you don’t like these stories, we’ve just got such radically different worldviews that I don’t see how we could possibly get along. (Okay, that might be going a little far. And yet…) As a bonus, in addtion to being great reads, all three of these books are written by women, and all three have girls or women as protagonists. So for this year’s Summer Reading post, I present the three lady-centric books I think anyone (and everyone) will enjoy.