Photos from the production, by Al Foote III (from Nylon's Facebook page), can be seen below.
I was not able to journey to New York and travel back in time with the talented cast and crew of THIS ROUND'S ON US last weekend, but by all accounts, it was a smashing good time. I'd like to thank Nylon Fusion Theatre Company for producing my short "Batter Up: A Play About Baseball Or Baking" as part of the festivities, and I'd like to send a shout-out to my director Ivette Dumeng, along with my actors Molly Collier, Zack Mikio, and Toby MacDonald for creating what looks like a super fun performance! And a final hi-five to the Ohio University Playwriting Program and Catherine Weingarten for advertising the weekend of shows on the OU MFA News blog.
Photos from the production, by Al Foote III (from Nylon's Facebook page), can be seen below.
I return with more information about the upcoming THIS ROUND'S ON US: Time Travel 30's-40's. This weekend of short plays will take place on June 27th and June 28th at 7 and 9 pm, and my short play "Batter Up: A Play About Baseball Or Baking" will be featured at the 7 pm showing, along with several other stellar works. The play is directed by Ivette Dumeng; the little girl will be played by Molly Collier; the baseball players will be played Toby MacDonald and Zach Miko.
Above you can find more information from Nylon Fusion's web presence (along with the evening line-ups), as well as beautiful shots of the actors and event poster. If you are looking for tickets, head to Brown Paper Tickets.
I am excited to announce that I will have my New York debut as a playwright this June. My short script "Batter Up: A Play About Baseball Or Baking" will be presented as part of the Nylon Fusion Theatre Company's quarterly ten-minute play festival, THIS ROUND'S ON US. Four times a year, Nylon Fusion produces evenings of short plays revolving around a single theme, event, or time period. This summer's theme was the 1930's and 1940's, since the year's set of festivals is focused on time travel, or works set in specific decades. My five-minute drama concerns a tomboy named Candie; she yearns to play baseball professionally, but finds herself with only her baseball cards to talk to in the days before the Rockford Peaches showed that women were capable of hitting homers out of the park.
Nylon Fusion is a really cool new works company, with ties to a tight-knit writer's collective; it is supported by an advisory board of innovative and established playwrights, and each ten-minute festival the company produces also features the work of a board member. I am lucky to be included in a group of stellar writers for the festival, and I'm especially honored that THIS ROUND'S ON US will be anchored by playwright Don Nigro, who wrote one of my favorite plays, Seascape With Sharks And Dancer.
If you are looking for a fun theatre experience in New York City this June, please check out THIS ROUND'S ON US! It's on June 27th and 28th at 7 and 9 pm, at The Gene Frankel. I will provide more details as they become available, but suffice it to say, I am pumped to be involved in this set of performances.
"I know my own value."
These words stood out to me in last week's "Agent Carter" season (series?) finale. They came after Peggy Carter had foiled city-wide destruction while talking one of her most trusted colleagues off the ledge. Plot aside, her declaration could apply to Peggy Carter the franchise, as well as to Peggy Carter the character in a serialized television show.
As a concept, Peggy Carter is white-hot with potential. She transcended her initial love interest status in "Captain America" franchise to become one among many heroes united in fighting Ultron in the next Avengers movie. And though an older Peggy is shown suffering from dementia in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," her past adventures are still an open book. In fact, they've earned her not just a one-shot and a solo television showcase, but also a recent comic miniseries.
Certainly, a large reason for this plethora of Peggy Carter-centric stories is Hayley Atwell, an actress I've loved since her turn on the Starz's adaptation of "Pillars of the Earth." Atwell combines steely resolve with charm and a depth of feeling that transcends the pulpy setting of her stories. Not only does she excel at punching evildoers, she has chemistry with every actor she's set against, from Chris Evans as Cap to James D'Arcy as Jarvis, the Stark butler determined to help her in a season-long quest to clear his employer's name and prove her worth to a government agency that finds little use for women in the workplace.
Though "Agent Carter" has caught some necessary flack for its lack of diverse casting and intersectionality, I still believe another factor in the show's success is its feminist focus, provided by showrunners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas. In setting their story in post-World War II America, as women are being pushed out of the workforce, they have created a unique conflict for the Marvel Universe. How can a woman serve her country when her contributions are given little value and no voice? Peggy Carter must battle sexism at the office, even as she uncovers sinister doings in the past of playboy inventor Howard Stark. Often, she must use her invisibility to make moves against the shadowy Leviathan organization -- much to her well-spoken chagrin. Her drive to prove herself marks her as a potentially bland strong female character (look how often she uses brawn instead of brain in this gif set!), but her self-determination is specifically female. For an example, look no further than the penultimate episode of this season, entitled "Snafu." Suspected of treason for her undercover operations, Peggy's male colleagues attempt to twist her actions into a convenient story of love gone wrong; she forcefully counters that every decision she made was meant to clear a friend's name, and that she succeeded in hiding her activities for such an extended period of time because her co-workers thoughtlessly lay their own narratives over her -- the stray kitten, the potential girlfriend, the daft whore. Carter forcefully condemns her colleagues' actions, and gives voice to the showrunners' proudly female-centered message about the perception issues women face every day. It was bracing to hear such words spoken on a comic book show, and such focus again highlights how Peggy Carter can carry a surprising amount of weight for a side character from the 1940's.
Crackerjack performance and feminist slant noted, Peggy Carter's popularity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is also intrinsically linked to the character's flexibility. She is more a composite than the comics' Peggy (for a tutorial on her history, check out this video from The Mary Sue), and that allows her to outstrip fan expectations. Atwell's Carter is not beholden to years of set stories, all of which would revolve around the man of her dreams, Captain America. She can have her own adventures because Marvel Studios isn't obsessed with bringing her frozen on-the-page action to the big screen. In fact, they're shoehorning her into movie continuity because Peggy is so enjoyable and because she can go anywhere and do anything from the 1940s to the end of her life. She has an unwritten past, and that's something superhero comics could use more of these days. At a time when Marvel Comics is touting the end of its increasingly convoluted continuity, and DC is working overtime to shove beloved lost characters into the newer iteration of its multiverse, Peggy stands out because I have no idea where she's headed. Unlike "Gotham" and the recently announced "Krypton," her journey depends not on the fulfillment of a hero's arrival. She commits acts of heroism in her own present, and punches up in weight class each time she's showcased.
Whatever the future of "Agent Carter," her affirmation of self-worth in this finale was satisfying to watch, as was her ability to stop a world-ending plot using her words rather than her fists. The show allowed her to move past the loss of Captain America (to whom Peggy always telling referred to as "Steve"), and led her to a new life outside the government agency that burned her. There's much to follow up on here, and unlike most cinematic comic book characters, Peggy Carter proves there's little use in being a slave to continuity.
It can be difficult to find the right comic shop. In the past year or so, I have opted to go through Comixology for any reading I have to do, but lately I've had a hankering to support a local place in Chicago. But there are pitfalls in searching out a favorite comic store, especially as a woman. I do not think I can overstate how often I have entered a comic shop and felt immediately uncomfortable, either because the lighting is dim and every wall is covered with almost naked lady superheroes, or because the staff at the counter looked at me, and then turned back to what they were reading without saying as much as hello. I once even forcefully walked up to the counter to say hello to the guy sitting there, and without a word, he left the counter and waltzed to the back of the shop, where his colleagues were engaged in a cutthroat game of Magic. If you are a lady who loves the comics form, comic shops are surprisingly not the warmest place to start getting into particular genres or stories. I have found that Tumblr and Twitter are much more accommodating spaces, to learn about different comics, but also to engage with the artists out there. In the online sphere, it can be easier to connect with people without the sense that a gatekeeper will deem you not worthy of entering the hallowed space of a comic shop. Online spaces definitely have their horrors, as has been proven in the last year in attacks on Anita Sarkeesian and a host of other brave women critiquing male-centered and women-damaging pop culture. But online, the conversation can sometimes be more democratic; everyone can at least appear to be equal in the conversation, newbie or not.
Of course, I'm not really a newbie as a comics fan. I was hooked at the tender age of eight, when "Batman: The Animated Series" appeared on the airwaves every weekday afternoon. Still, there wasn't a place in town that served as a dedicated comic shop. If I wanted my "Batman: The Animated Series" comics, I needed my parents to drive me to Media Play, a now-defunct big box store that catered to pretty much every type of entertainment one could ask for; they sold books and movies and TVs and action figures and baseball cards and musical instruments and -- seriously, anything you wanted, it was probably there. (It's also where I met folk singer Judy Collins, but that's a story for another time.) I got my comics, but I didn't have anyone to talk to about what I was reading. The same held true in dedicated bookstores. They had magazine racks of comics, but comics were not books, and they were not widely read. (Until Superman died, but that caused more problems for comics companies and readership than it solved.)
As I grew up, my interest in Batman and comics in general faded. That was kids stuff, and I had a college degree, and I needed to quit it with all that nonsense. Which I did. Except I spent an awful lot of time writing about superheroes in my theatrical work. Which led to me doing some research, which led me back in the door of a comics shop looking for Superman books. Which led to me feeling embarrassed by the gentlemen manning the counters in several Chicago shops I stopped in.
It wasn't until I moved to Philadelphia that I found a comics home, as it were. I lived in Bella Vista, near the Italian Market area of South Philly, and on Eighth Street, I discovered this little comic shop tucked between cheese steak stands and divy-looking bars. It was either called Atomic City Comics or Showcase Comics. The sign outside said one thing, and the Internet told me another. Regardless, this shop had bright lighting, primary-colored walls, an indie comic section, a wealth of trade paperbacks, several staff members dedicated to back issues searches, and maybe most importantly, women on staff. I discovered Astro City at that shop, and had long conversations with the guys at the counter about what to read next. Everyone there was friendly, and the staff members sometimes brought their kids in, which was always a blast; you haven't lived till you've seen kids playing superhero in a comic shop. I went in regularly enough that everyone there recognized my face, and as a result of going there often, I realized the shop had a bevy of female customers, either my age or younger. The manager clearly wanted everyone to stop by. The all-ages comics had a prominent spot up front, and the staff hosted anime nights on weekends. Once I went in, and there was a kung fu movie playing on the television up front starring the staff members. Apparently, filming was what they did for fun on weekends.
Possibly my most cherished memory from that shop came right about the time I was on my way out of town, headed to grad school. I missed Free Comic Book Day because I had to work, but I thought I'd stop by the shop the next day, to see how the event went, and browse through some comics while I still had a comics home to come to. The manager saw me walk in and flagged me down before I could head to the racks. "I held some stuff for you," he said. I didn't know what he was talking about. "I didn't see you yesterday," he explained, "so I held a couple issues back for you." I think they were a Peanuts comic and maybe a Superman comic; I know he told he had to give the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic he was holding to a kid, because come on, he's a kid, and he likes the Turtles. I honestly don't remember what I got. I just remember feeling happy and sad because I was leaving, and I wasn't sure I'd ever find a comfortable community for my comics shopping ever again.
Turns out I was wrong! This post is actually a two-pronged ode. I moved back to Chicago this fall, and I was reintroduced to a shop I'd been to a couple times before with my now-roommate. It's called Challengers, and this store is great. It has an excellent selection of trades, single issues, and several racks dedicated to Chicago comics creators. The Challengers staff is approachable and easy-going, and every time I enter the store, they immediately ask if I need help or recommendations. They have a graphic novel lending library, and they have cool artists come in for signings all the time. Bonus: I see women in there all the time -- every single time I go in, in fact. Maybe what's most important, though, is that I feel like there are people there I can talk to about comics, or about the comics industry, or about anything. I set up a pull list there this week, which means I can buy the few individual series I follow from a human person, rather than through an online service, and I can support a local business. If you, too, have been looking for a place to shop for comics, check out Challengers. I'm a newbie at the moment, but everyone I've met there is great. I cannot recommend this shop highly enough.
There's been quite the dust-up over Wonder Woman this week. On Tuesday, the public was introduced to the incoming creative team on her title in a Comic Book Resources interview, and concern was immediately voiced about the choice of creators, and their opinions about the heroine herself. Writer Meredith Finch is a fairly untested author -- though any time a woman writes Wondie, I get excited -- but more eyebrow-raising were her husband's comments about Princess Diana. Many fans, myself included, are not lovers of Mr. Finch's cheesecake-y, back-breaking artwork. (Terrifyingly enough, my bigger concern is that he gives Diana the face of a fifteen year-old girl, so her sexualization enters extra-questionable territory.) However, Finch gave his skeptics more to worry about during the CBR interview, when he claimed:
"Really, from where I come from, and we've talked about this a lot, we want to make sure it's a book that treats her as a human being first and foremost, but is also respectful of the fact that she represents something more. We want her to be a strong -- I don't want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong."
This answer was given in response to a question about how the Finches plan to touch on already-existing mythology within their run on Wonder Woman. Meredith Finch said she wants to honor Wondie as a "female icon." It's important to her to represent the heroine that's meant so much to many women. David Finch followed her up with his above statement. The Internet latched onto his weird division of being "beautiful, but strong," as well as "human" rather than simply a "feminist." Some delightful gifs were even created to prove how feminist Wonder Woman is. A fantastic article by Janelle Asselin at Comics Alliance strikes at the heart of why Finch's statements could be so, so damaging, both to Wonder Woman's legacy, and to fans who are feminists. Just as many commentators and fans are supportive of David Finch's thoughts, and feel we all should all hold off judgement until the book is released (he is one of the more popular artists in DC's new house style). Finch has since clarified his statements on the Twitterverse, in what I feel is a pretty classic non-apology. I doubt the outcry will die down anytime soon, and it shouldn't. My personal interests in the matter are wrapped up in wondering WHY DC Comics, and some of its creators, think feminism and iconography are dirty words in the first place.
Of course, Meredith Finch substitutes the word icon for the word feminism in this interview. But DC doesn't want its readers to approach their heroes as icons at the moment. The higher-ups have mandated their characters must not enjoy extended moments of happiness; those in creative control have built the DC universe around an examination of how false and lonely the high perches occupied by Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League are -- to say nothing of the heinous Future's End storyline that's currently turning everybody into soulless cyborgs with little connection to any form of human anatomy. DC's history was not built on gloom and doom, and positive or triumphant portrayals apparently read as cynical or easy to DC executives at the moment.
But take a moment and read up on Wonder Woman's creation. She was made to triumph on a political platform. William Moulton Marston's beliefs about gender dynamics are not about men and women being equal; they are about women being raised above men. His thoughts are radical. Problematic though they are, his thoughts still point towards hope for the future -- and if there is no hope in the current DC universe, there can be no growth. Thus, Wonder Woman cannot persist as the icon leaping off the cover of Ms. Magazine's first, and later the anniversary, issue. Without the lifting up of Wonder Woman, where will little girls look to for fictional heroes to inspire them? To STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS in action movies? That's probably not a great idea. A better idea is to look to real-life history -- to awesome women like Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Yuri Kochiyama, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many, many others who fought for better lives for men and women. These women are iconic because of what they accomplished, and that is not something that needs to be shuffled away to the sidelines in embarrassment.
What is the danger in listing Wonder Woman as a feminist icon for DC? Is it because DC now only sells comics to forty year-old males? Is it because Wonder Woman is "too tricky" of a hero to develop as a stand-alone character, without aid from Superman's protection or Batman's smarts? Is it because some in the industry feel politics have no place in mainstream comics, as uber-conservative Chuck Dixon claims? Is it because the heralded current Wonder Woman run (heralded by some, not me) by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang isn't selling as well as it initially was?
I don't know the answers to these questions. I wish I did. I do know this: Wonder Woman cannot help but be political -- because she has been adopted as an icon for feminism, and because she was created from an aspirational standpoint. There are ways to complicate and examine those origins, but focusing on broad bases instead of the weirder, truer nature of her origins isn't the way to do it. Being ashamed of history, instead of rediscovering and reinforcing it, does readers no favors, nor does it provide opportunities to change people's minds about the so-called "tricky" nature of Princess Diana and her mission. Sure, comics should be simple. They shouldn't be simplistic. But David Finch's statements prove every cynic right about the exclusionary, morally idle nature of the art form.
Wonder Woman Artist: Nicola Scott.
Last week, Marvel made a momentous announcement. Along with the relaunch of their Captain Marvel title next year, the company will be publishing a new Ms. Marvel title, which will star a young Muslim American heroine. Penned by Vixen writer (and convert to Islam) G. Willow Wilson, drawn by Adrian Alphona, and edited by Sana Amanat, one of Marvel Comic's sharpest editors (whose conversations with fellow editor Steve Wacker about growing up Muslim-American inspired the new Ms. Marvel in the first place), the book aims to bring a new perspective to superhero comics.
And yet, the creators involved keep assuring the public that Ms. Marvel, known in her civilian life as teenager Kamala Khan of Jersey City, will wrestle with the same identity issues and familial struggles that every teenager endures. After reading numerous interviews where that universality was highlighted, I began to wonder, why all the reassurance that this tale will be more frazzled Peter Parker than second generation Pakistani-American tale? Shouldn't we embrace the specificity of Kamala's experience, see through new, non-white, non-homogenized eyes for a change? Shouldn't that be as exciting as Ms. Marvel herself?
And I realized, Marvel Comics is hedging its bets, working not to alienate the current audience, while prepping for a new, likely female, one. As much as I welcome Kamala Khan, others might disagree with my enthusiasm. Of course, Stephen Colbert is joking in that clip; others in certain comments section really aren't. The main criticism I see popping up (even in the comments sections of pop culture sites I like) is that the inclusion of such a high-profile character indicates tokenism on Marvel's part, that the choice to include a Muslim-American character in its roster is somehow pandering and audience-grabbing, and therefore, is devoid of any narrative value. Quite frankly, these thoughts read as cover for the ignorant fanboys' real worry: that their clubhouse is being invaded by women and people who aren't white.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this reaction. People came out in droves to protest a biracial Spider-man replacing the white one back in 2011; why wouldn't there be beef here? The comics industry is one of the most, if not the most exclusionary, art form I can think of; I often wonder why I continue to support it at all, when my other love -- theatre -- is all about building communities and giving everyone a voice within an artistic process. Sure, it's not a perfect discipline, and it can be exclusionary, in terms of race, gender, and class, like any field (there's many ways to look at the RSC's current all-male productions of Shakespeare plays, for instance). But I know few in the theatre who would openly oppose the creation of a character with a little-explored background. Most theatre artists I know would embrace building an open world, one that draws audiences into experiencing a new perspective. Why wouldn't comics companies want to do the same, unabashedly? And why would comics fans be so instantly skeptical about the provision of a hero to inspire young women and young Muslims? What, precisely, is not worth celebrating with Ms. Marvel, whose previous incarnation left a LOT to be desired?
I think my befuddlement can be answered by confronting the accepted aspirational model. Aspirational tales have been around since the days of Greek myth, probably since long before that, in some form of cave drawing. And again and again, people have been told that a hero is Theseus, Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts. In short, guys. Guys who worship the appropriate gods, who win glory through grit and determination. In more contemporary times, people might fantasize about being Indiana Jones, or John McClain, or Batman. The victors are always men. We are told repeatedly in American society that we should aspire to be strong, and smart, and physically imposing, like white dudes. (Captain Marvel's current writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick has been kicking this assumption's butt all over the place by building a faster, smarter, more iconic Carol Danvers.) So what could be more daring than to ask us to aspire to be a young Muslim-American teenager, who struggles to reconcile her cultural life with her superhero one? Of course, Spider-man also wrestles with his acts of derring-do, but he gets to date a never-ending series of attractive women, so there's still wish fulfillment there. In this new Ms. Marvel, we will be asked to identify with someone we might not interact with every day, but who is nevertheless all around us, all the time. We will be asked to take what might be an assumed minority as its opposite, as majority. We will be asked to accept that women and people of color love comics, too, and have their own stories to tell. I really can't think of anything more momentous and meaningful than making the world, narrative or otherwise, a little bit bigger. Here's to you, Marvel Comics, and to your upcoming Ms. Marvel!
Ms. Marvel #1: Sara Pichelli, cover artist.
Sigh. It's been a busy week at DC Comics, and it seems I jumped ship at exactly the right time. After completely miffing the PR disaster that was the Batwoman creative team quitting, and bizarrely informing fans that the company's heroes can never have fulfilling personal lives (because drama, I guess?), DC is now struggling to minimize the damage caused by its break-into-the-artists'-stable contest.
What's wrong with a nation-wide search for an artist, you might ask, especially in an industry as apparently insular as comics? Well, the page that aspiring artists have to draw is a context-free series of panels involving everyone's favorite hench-lady -- Harley Quinn -- in precarious, downright suicidal (and potentially sexualized) positions. So, to make a huge understatment, this contest was maybe not the most well thought-out idea in the world.
There's been a lot of justified outrage about it, too. Many inflamed headlines, much important commentary about the purpose of narrative art. Not to mention the fact that today is World Suicide Prevention Day. The whole contest is tone-deaf about the real world, as well as offensive to people's sensitivities. I myself find it appalling, despite the fact that I love the creators on the upcoming Harley Quinn series, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (Palmiotti has taken responsibility for the fiasco). This page is the punchline to a terrible joke no one heard, and given women's history as refrigerator stuffing in comic books, the defense of said black humor holds no water with me or many of the people I know who are now boycotting DC Comics. Because, at the end of the day, would an artist ever be asked to try out for Batman by drawing him naked in a bathtub with electrical appliances hanging overheard? Of course not! Because Batman is given agency in a way that Harley Quinn's rarely afforded in mainstream DC Comics.
How did we get to this cannon fodder-fueled point, anyway? Let's look back at Harley's history. She was created in 1992 by Paul Dini for the acclaimed "Batman: The Animated Series." Voiced by the incomparable Arleen Sorkin, and initially intended to be only a walk-on role in an early Joker episode, Harley proved popular enough with fans and Dini to remain the Joker's girlfriend throughout the series. She was almost a Looney Tunes character come to life, with a daffy sense of humor that cut through yet supported the Joker's homicidal tendencies. Whenever there needed to be levity in what was disguised as a children's show, Harley was there with her plucky attitude and a whoopee cushion.
But don't let her buffoon act fool you. Dini and collaborator Bruce Timm understood the true nature of her relationship with the Joker; they spotlighted the abuser-abused dynamic tons of times on the actual show, and even made the subtext into actual text for their award-winning Mad Love graphic novel. Harley is a woman who achieved much before meeting the Joker. She was a capable psychiatrist, until he manipulated her into his plaything, then repeatedly insulted, threatened, and abused her in the name of maintaining power over his sidekick creation. Harley becomes aware of this dynamic over the course of Mad Love, momentarily breaks things off with the Joker, and then sadly falls back into the same dependent pattern. It is horrifying to read and completely heartbreaking to see this same cycle repeat itself throughout the "Batman: Animated Series" comics line.
Unfortunately, Harley proved so popular that DC decided to take her out of the "Animated Series" comics, where creators understood both the charade she participated in, and the brighter tone necessary to punching the audience in the gut later. DC moved her into the mainstream universe, where Harley changed from a fully-clothed, emotionally stunted but resourceful woman to this. And this. Before, she had often been viewed as attractive and intelligent enough to move past her love for the Joker. Now she's completely insane, and just waiting for the immature male reader to fantasize about her.
Look, I'm not saying that Dini and Timm and company don't enjoy and male-gaze the female body. They always have. However, they were also willing to give Harley moments of clarity, as well as a strong female friendship with Poison Ivy. Most importantly, they gave her AGENCY. Their Harley would never sit around, bemused by her impending doom. Their Harley got active, she tried to reform, she helped Batman once or twice, even as she kept her sick sense of humor. Case in point, this crazy distraction song from the BTAS episode entitled "Harlequinade:"
DC's cruel treatment of Harley, and its blatant disregard for its fans, label the head creative honchos as abusers, in my mind. They will force what they want, at the expense of others' emotional well-being. The cynical editorial mandate that happiness is boring, and that true emotional investment only comes about as a result of endless misery? That is a dangerous, damaging statement to endorse, let alone build an entire line of stories around. I hope no young women are reading DC Comics these days. Not only is there no place for their agency at DC, there's a terrible lesson lying at the center of every single one of the company's books.
If you are upset about this contest, or any of DC's other depictions of women, or any of the editorial mandates that have been spouted off over the last week, please let DC know! Go to the company's Twitter or Facebook page; write them on their feedback form. Register your discomfort via a letter, which can be sent to: 1700 Broadway New York, NY 10019. Use your agency, let them know your feelings. It's the only way anything can ever change. I have told them about my boycott. I hope if enough voices make themselves heard, DC will listen. Though the best thing to do is stay far, far away from the corporation's abusive tactics.
The Batman Adventures' Mad Love: Paul Dini & Bruce Timm, Writers; Bruce Timm & Glen Murakami, Pencils; Bruce Timm, Inks; Tim Harkins, Letters; Bruce Timm & Rick Taylor, Colors.
UPDATE: DC has apologized, sort of, for this contest. Sort of, but not really. Sighs abound again.
When I was in sixth grade, my family bought me a copy of Bulfinch's Mythology, perhaps rightly assuming I would spend several years of my life studying literature and narrative structure. I remember the first time I opened the bulky volume; I immediately flipped through the pages to find the Greek mythology section. I loved everything I'd read in the past about Hercules and his twelve labors, so I quickly sat down to read what I assumed would be more tales of derring-do. Instead, I read stories about gods twisting mortals to tragic ends. Instead, I read about Pandora.
For those who don't remember, Pandora was the first human woman created by the gods (specifically wise Athena and smithy Hephaestus, under instructions from Zeus). She was forged from the dirt of the Earth, and delivered to the world of man as retribution for Prometheus' earlier theft of fire; Zeus intended her to be a "beautiful evil," whose descendants would torture humanity for untold eons. Long story short, Pandora arrived on land, opened a jar she shouldn't have, just because she was curious (as well as deceitful, 'cause you know, WOMEN, amirite?), and thus unleashed a multitude of sins meant to plague the planet.
After reading this tale, I put the book away for a good month. Even at eleven years of age, I remember disliking the idea that a lady might be the cause of all humanity's problems, through no extreme fault of her own. Of course, this wasn't the first time I'd heard such a story. Eve ate some forbidden fruit after being talked into it by the devil, and corrupted Adam. Just taking one bite led to original sin, Cain and Abel, and all the pain women experience in childbirth. Geez, ladies can't catch a break when it comes to hypotheses about where sin comes from, eh?
Fast forward to last week. DC released Pandora #1, as part of its exploration of the "Trinity of Sin" that apparently might end the New 52 (or something?). I've already expressed my thoughts on one part of the Trinity, i.e., Phantom Stranger, otherwise known as Judas -- so I believe it's safe to bluntly admit I didn't have high hopes for Pandora as a character. First off, there's the name, which carries all the victim-blaming baggage you could ever want. Second, she's been creepily appearing in panels all over DC's comics line, leading many to believe she caused the universal reboot, and exists merely as an editorial reverse rip cord, to be pulled if DC starts making less money on their books than projected. However, Pandora #1 promised to shed a little light on this woman as a flesh-and-blood character, so I felt duty-bound to put my judgment aside, and embrace whatever DC wanted to do with the lady.
Turns out, all the company wants to do is retread Pandora's original myth. Like, seriously, the first part of the book involves ancient-times Pandora running off to the woods and picking up some weirdo skull, which opens her third eye or something, thus releasing monstrous sins upon the world. Once again, a woman unleashes ALL the evil in the world, just because she is curious about something! As if losing her entire village to evil ghosties wasn't enough, she's brought before a tribunal of magic dudes (and one dudette), who tell her she's doomed to walk the earth and watch what her sin children do. Whether or not they take corporeal form seems to change throughout the issue, which spans Pandora's walk through time.
Here's where DC adds a little flavor to the myth. See, after a while, it gets tiring to witness what the sins are up to (eating people, inciting the Crusades, stuff like that), so Pandora decides to act, rather than accept her terrible reputation. One intense combat training montage later, she's equipped with a pair of magical guns that she starts whipping around in modern-day Aleppo.
Let's think about that for a bit. Two years ago, DC revamped its line of books to be grittier tales centered around the alienation of heroes from humanity. That, I can accept, even though I believe the company's characters work better as aspirational icons, not money-grabbing cynics. What I can't accept is the company's tone-deaf approach to interacting with the real world. It's already a pretty stupid move to alienate female readers by retreading an outdated "women bring about evil through no choice of their own" idea. It's an even dumber one to bring a magical character into a conflict as in-progress as what's going on in Syria. Especially given what happens there:
That's right. Pandora uses her pistols to mete out justice -- not on the sins who possess people, but on the possessed people themselves. The man Pandora kills in these panels had shot her previously, so self-defense could be argued. But she leaps to the rooftop and aims for the angry sin soon after taking a human life. So what's the deal here? Are the sins taking bodily form? Can she kill them? Or is she just adding to their body count because there's nothing else to be done? If it's the latter, how dare writer Ray Fawkes set this scene in the middle of a massacre. He's a gifted writer, smoothly gliding from era to era here. But how ANYONE thought it would be a good idea to take this time tourist through a war zone, without examining WHO Pandora was acting against (Is this man part of the rebellion or government forces, for instance?), or the consequences (WHO exactly is sinning here? Or is it all people who happen to be struggling in Syria? The Puritanical nature of DC Comics these days is already grating -- but why not throw cultural judgment into the mix as well, huh?), is mind-boggingly irresponsible. And moronic. That this comic could trumpet a heroine trying to redeem an unintentional mistake, while devaluing life to such an audacious degree, stymies me. Am I supposed to accept a stereotype of a character, as long as she's a badass?
If so, Fawkes and company move us along too briskly to pass judgment. No sooner has murder been committed than Pandora is given the keys to her salvation; she must get Superman to open a box that will apparently solve her sin-wrangling problem. So all the questions and concerns just raised don't matter. I'm supposed to move on. But how can I when my intelligence and heart are being completely pushed aside in favor of plot and forward momentum? I'm already being told on a daily basis I don't matter to DC because I'm a woman. I'm not going to sit by and accept bullshit like this because it's edgy. And if you wanted me to care about Pandora and her redemption, you failed, DC. On any number of levels, you failed. I am not even sure you understand redemption as a concept, since "Man of Steel" makes Superman into Jesus, when Superman's arrival on earth has nothing to do with redeeming humanity, but inspiring it. With this killing, you reveal yourselves, though. The truth is, you are a corporation that doesn't give a shit about people, which shouldn't surprise me, except you keep finding new ways to cash in on insecurity, tragedy, and female-bashing.
When folks tell me comics are childish, I counter with examples that prove it is a medium that can be child-like in its imagination and wonder, while pointing out more mature work that explores complex emotions and ideas. Is it any wonder I have no real recommendations from DC these days? Most of its books right now are the very definition of childish -- silly, thoughtlessly consequential, and simplistic. Just like that Pandora myth I read so long ago.
A lot of time is spent in this space bemoaning or championing comics trends. Sometimes it weirds me out how much energy I aim at a field I am not actively employed in at the moment. As a playwright, my primary concern should be my chosen field, shouldn't it? After all, there are thousands of attacks on my "dead" art form every day, and just as often, thousands of articles and blog posts pointing out how theatre artists need to work together to reach their audience, etc., etc. Why not spend my time disseminating that information, when comics are mainstream enough to make billions of dollar at the box office?
The best answer I can come up with is that I like to look at things with a sideways glance. I like to think most of the articles I write about diversity and business and feminism and disability stretch beyond the six-panel page, and say something about the American art scene, and our culture at large. Whether others agree is a matter of debate, though I doubt it's a question anybody else spends their nights pondering. But I am a part of a theatre community, and I need to tend to it as much as I tend to my own thoughts.
All that being said, recently Howlround has been putting out excellent articles about gender parity, women, and their role in activating the theatre, pushing it towards equality. I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment, and thank the contributors for giving me much food for thought, and point any interested readers to their great content, including work about theatre in post-feminist America, an interview with the amazing Lydia Diamond, and this gem about leading culture, instead of following it. Give these a read, when you have a chance, and take part in the conversation, if you feel so inclined. I know I plan to get more involved over the coming weeks and months.
But back to looking at things sideways! Because even as I caught up on my feminist theatre reading this week, I watched a nicely paralleled concern pop up over in the comics world. Yesterday, DC released a list of "Essential Graphic Novels" in the form of a 121-page booklet meant to help the consumer better understand the (mostly recent) history of its comics line, as well as provide librarians and retailers the opportunity to pick and choose among its top promotions. Now I've spent time on the revamped DC website, and I've found what's in print and what's out of print highly suspect. The pull list seems largely based on character popularity vis a vis the New 52's arrival, or the leaving of a writer for one of the company's competitors. (Hence the reason why Greg Rucka's fantastic run on Wonder Woman, and Mark Waid's groundbreaking work on The Flash are not available on DC's site.)
Of course, sales should dictate what's in print, but by generating an essential list of what to buy, the DC higher-ups are not only editorializing about the worth of individual stories; they're crafting a marketed opinion about an entire line -- picking what consumers ought to invest in, as opposed to allowing consumer trends to dictate the market. Rather than learn from their customers, they're telling them what to want. Not super surprising in the given "WE'VE GOT A SUPERMAN MOVIE COMING OUT, WE HAVE TO CASH IN!" climate. But problems abound when the bottom line is all that matters to an organization.
Problems such as this: DC devotes a total of two pages to its female superheroes. TWO PAGES. Just to get some perspective, let's look at the page count across the board for iconic DC heroes:
Batman and Superman (surely listed in order of popularity at the moment) rate five pages each. Green Lantern gets three, all volumes likely penned by co-controller of DC Comics, Geoff Johns. Even less well-selling heroes like The Flash and Green Arrow get two pages, one wisely serving as a poster image of each hero to make up for the lack of pre-New 52 content. But the women of DC Comics are all bunched together. Unlike the men of DC Comics, they don't stand out enough to be separated from one another. And they only deserve two pages of content!
I'm just ... I don't even know what to say at this point. DC has told me repeatedly they don't care about reflecting my experience. I'm used to that. But to then tell me what little reflection of my experience they do offer isn't all that essential ... well, it stings. It's shoddy marketing, and it's shoddy craftsmanship. But like the ladies at Howlround, I aim to do something about it. I have identified the issue. Now I need to force the culture to keep up with female (and hopefully male) consumers.
Outside of continuing to agitate for more female representation in mainstream books, and monetarily and vocally championing independent books that target women and create strong women, I also want to provide a space to talk about where people are finding essential female hero reading, since DC generally ain't providing it (check out its best-selling section to see how many ladies make the top list). With that in mind, I'm going to post my own list of essential female stories -- DC and Marvel-based -- now. My choices are mainstream, mind you, but I'm focusing on some favorite characters whose best works are often left well off the DC essentials program; likely, they can be found by scrounging around at the library or one's local comics emporium, or God help us, via Amazon. Hopefully, I can give women, or interested men, a window into seeking out diverse experiences in a medium that is currently screaming for only teenage boys to buy into its collection.
ESSENTIAL DC SUPERHEROINES (AND THEIR STORIES):
Wonder Woman, Aka, Princess Diana, Aka, Diana Prince, Aka, The Maid of Might
Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman, starting in 2005, is seminal for me. I had never really given Princess Diana much thought before picking up The Hikitea, the cover of which tantalizes with an image of her boot in Batman's face. Beyond showcasing plenty of action, Rucka's attention to Diana's old-world ways and how they clash with modern American society provides most of the book's conflict. She acts as an a U.N. ambassador for her island of Amazons, and global mistrust of her feminist mission lays the groundwork for our heroine to be attacked on all fronts, simply because she is a powerful woman. How Diana deals with that, by making a tremendous personal sacrifice, proves to the world and the reader what a true heroine she is; still, there are some rules in man's world she cannot overcome, such as charges of war crimes late in the run.
Rucka's Wonder Woman is a flesh-and-blood tower of strength, who fights to protect others, even to the point of losing her sight, and committing murder. Those who claim she is too contrarian, or that she's too old-fashioned to last in today's grim and gritty, "post-feminist" climate, need to read this book.
Essential stories: The Hikitea, Down to Earth, Eyes of the Gorgon.
Full Run: Wonder Woman volume 2, issues 195-226.
I only picked up Gail Simone's set of Wonder Woman tales after a friend gave me the first volume as a gift. Sporting beautiful artwork from none other than Nicola Scott and Aaron Lopresti, Simone's Wonder Woman is a woman first, and a leader second. Simone makes it clear that her good, loyal heart is what inspires people to follow her, and her search for truth is what keeps readers along for the action-packed ride. Also, she lets the talking gorillas who attacked her in the first issue live at her house! How can you not love her?
What's most engaging about this run of books is how Simone triumphed over some truly terrible editorial mandates prior to the start of her run. She takes Diana's stupid job as a spy, and makes secrecy part of Diana's inner conflict and outer fight. She takes her stilted relationship with fellow espionage agent Nemesis, and lets it bloom organically, while admitting the two come from worlds too different to ever build a life together. She lets Wonder Woman pine for children of her own, and if that's not a step forward for a female character's perspective, I dunno what is!
Essential stories: The Circle, Rise of the Olympians.
Full Run: Wonder Woman volume 3, issues 14-44, Wonder Woman volume 1, issue 600.
Batwoman, Aka, Kate Kane, Aka, Dedicated Solider, Aka, Out and Proud Lesbian
It's odd that many of the female characters I love come from Bat-books. What is it about an emotionally stunted playboy that allows space for strong woman to step forward and take up his mantle? Whatever the answer, I'm glad Kate Kane exists. Greg Rucka's incisive 2006 remake of a character originally intended as a romantic foil for Batman provides oodles and oodles of "Hell, yeah!" moments for the reader. First, there's Kate's admission of her homosexuality, a truth that gets her kicked out of military service. Then there's her adoption of the Bat-mantle, which gives her new purpose and a new way to serve her country. After that comes stellar gothic storytelling, with Kate looking otherworldly while she stalks the night and fights werewolves.
In more recent times, J.H. Williams' work on the character as both artist and author leave Kate always feeling like Kate, even as his current run on the book can get confounding. She is the Katniss of comics for me: always surprising, always brave, always true.
Essential stories: 52, Elegy, Batman: Blackest Knight.
Full run: Detective Comics 854-860, Batwoman volume 1 ongoing.
Batgirl, Aka, Cassandra Cain, Aka Deadly Assassin, Aka, World's Greatest Hero
When approached about writing Cass Cain, the at-first mute successor to Barbara Gordon's cowl, Kelly Puckett said he was intrigued by the thought of a plucky, charming girl also being an expert, deadly assassin. Here was the chance to write a teen who had no words to express the anguish she felt over her murderous training as a child, who chose to use her skills to fight crime regardless, as both a way of atoning and putting her life in danger often enough that she might ultimately die. This premise allows for stunning stories about nature versus nurture, guilt, sign versus spoken language, and how perception and memory shapes every single one of our relationships.
Cass was the first Batgirl to receive her own solo series, and to date, she is one of the few Asian characters to headline a book. Her evolution from terrified loner to leader and friend to every member of the Bat-family is hard-won, and despite her disappearance from New 52 continuity, her coming-of-age tale pretty much haunts my memory, precisely because every step she takes towards redemption is harrowing and hallucinatory.
Essential stories: No Man's Land, Silent Running, Death Wish.
Full run: Batgirl volume 1, issues 1-73, Batgirl miniseries, issues 1-6.
Batgirl, Aka, Steph Brown, Aka, Kinda Knows Kung Fu, Aka, Sucker for Second Chances
Stephanie Brown, how I love you. Not only do you have the benefit of a long history as an utter screw-up to sweeten your Batgirl rise to glory, you just never give up. Scribe Bryan Q. Miller recognizes that this is your true superpower. A reader can see it in early moments of your lifespan, when you spar with Cassandra; she hits you so hard you throw up, yet you jump right back on your feet and schedule another fight session with her. But your strength really comes through during Miller's 24-issue run where you steal the Batgirl identity, then prove yourself worthy of the name again and again and again.
A blonde chick proving she's not quite as dumb as everyone thinks she is may not seem like great grass to mow. However, Miller gives Steph a self-awareness and sense of humor that draws you into her travails right away. More importantly, he establishes a partnership between Steph and Oracle that ends up saving an angry, emotionally crippled Barbara. Steph's Pollyanna attitude infects everybody she meets, and what's more powerful than handing out second chances?
Essential stories: Batgirl Rising, The Flood, The Lesson.
Full run: Batgirl volume 3, issues 1-24; Batman: Leviathan Strikes!
Birds of Prey, Aka, Black Canary, Huntress, & Oracle, Aka, Best Team Ever!
I like Chuck Dixon's version of the Birds of Prey (he had our heroines fight dinosaurs at one point!!!), but it wasn't until Gail Simone took over the book in 2003 that I was hooked. By adding Helena Bertinelli's volatile, socially isolated Huntress to the team, and by suggesting that Oracle, Black Canary, and Huntress are basically undergoing one unending therapy session via espionage and kidnapping scenarios, Simone unlocked the bloody, beating heart at the book's center -- female friendship.
Simone's focus on tiny, human moments make this a go-to reread for me. From Oracle's struggle with her disability, to Helena's quiet rekindling of her Catholic faith, to the sharp stabs of loneliness Dinah experiences when seeing Babs with her father, nothing about these ladies is ever off the table. Simone's books often get really, really crazy, as she adds colorful characters and nightmare situations to the mix, building to climaxes that often require half the DC Universe to save the day. But with Birds of Prey, there's always time for a heart-to-heart. Or a bar fight. That's just how things go.
Essential stories: Of Like Minds, The Battle Within, Endrun.
Full run: Birds of Prey volume 1, issues 56-108; Birds of Prey volume 3, issues 1-13.
Lois Lane, Aka, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Aka, Icon of Human Experience
This is a strange cover to include among a cavalcade of heroines leaping at your faces. However, I find it fitting, because Lois Lane is human. She can be hurt, yet she throws herself into danger, anyway. Because she is a truth-seeker. I'm convinced that the core to her relationship with Superman doesn't need to be the sinister "I'm gonna prove you're Clark, so you'll marry me!" nag of the Silver Age. I think she likes figuring things out, solving mysteries, bringing secrets to light for the benefit of all mankind. Superman is another challenge, and Clark is her match. The whole package makes sense.
Lois has had some good stories written about her in the past. And some awful ones. My personal favorite Lois stories arrived during Greg Rucka's run on Adventures of Superman (man, his name keeps coming up!). In this series, she is injured in a war-torn country while trying to save an American soldier, and uses her recovery time to rebuild her relationship with Clark, while also seeking out/confronting her sniper. She's just a wonder, this woman.
Essential stories: When It Rains, God Is Crying, Superman: Unconventional Warfare, Superman: That Healing Touch, Superman: Ruin Revealed, Superman: Red Son, Superman: Birthright.
Full run: Uh ... every Superman comic ever?
Linda Park, Aka, Wife, Aka, Mother, Aka, The One Who Keeps The Flash Steady
This beacon of love is about as sassy and straight-forward as they come. Merely mortal, Linda first appeared early in The Flash's second volume, and despite silly stories where she is possessed by a Scottish ghost, she quickly won Wally West's heart by constantly pulling him down to earth.
I'm particularly fond of Mark Waid's work on the character, as her concerns over her man-friend's growing powers mirror many a real-life relationship, where one partner worries the other might outgrow him or her. However, Linda always approaches her feelings with a level head, and despite being trapped in another dimension once, and dying that other time, she always finds her way back to her man, like it's no big deal.
Essential stories: Terminal Velocity, Race Against Time, Flash: The Final Night, Blitz.
Full run: The Flash, volume 2, issues 28-231, The Flash: Rebirth, The Flash: The Wild Wests.
ESSENTIAL MARVEL SUPERHEROINES (AND THEIR STORIES):
Captain Marvel, Aka, Carol Danvers, Aka, Keeper of the Past, Present, & Future
Kelly Sue DeConnick burst onto the comics scene in 2012 with a revamped Captain Marvel title. The twist? It starred Carol Danvers, formerly known as the oddly problematic Ms. Marvel. In the first issue, she took on the name of her predecessor, ready to do battle with whatever giant robots or military skirmished came her way. Instead, she was sucked into some sort time warp I still don't fully grasp, and she was put into direct competition with a former female fighter pilot/mentor, a conflict that has colored the rest of the series to date.
DeConnick seems very interested in how women inspire and influence one another. The supporting cast of Captain Marvel consists mostly of women, women who befriend each other, challenge each other, who are constantly striving towards a sense of achievement and place within their past, present, and future. Perhaps it was no accident that the first arc on the title led Carol on an Easter egg hunt across her lifespan. If she didn't know where she'd been, and who stood with her, she wouldn't deserve her name.
Essential stories: In Pursuit of Flight.
Full run: Captain Marvel, volume 1, ongoing.
Echo, Aka, Maya Lopez, Aka, Expert Mimic, Aka, The Only Deaf Character Around
My admiration for Echo is plenty well-known around these parts. She remains one of the few truly Deaf characters out there, and even in death, she still manages to school the epically insane Moon Knight. On top of all that, her journey of self-discovery, as dictated by wunderkind David Mack, spoke so profoundly to me, I'm pretty sure it's responsible for my Master's thesis.
Echo is a treasure precisely because she is always reinventing herself. Popular opinion might suggest she only becomes a stoic ninja, or gets super in touch with her Native American heritage, or acts out Marc Spector's schizophrenic hallucinations, because writers can't figure out how to let her stand on her own. But I would argue she is a flawed human being, with mimckry powers she barely understands, and a huge chip on her shoulder when it comes to personal responsibility. Watching her come to terms with her destructive actions, as all individuals must, provides a benchmark for all stories about those who live with disabilities. They deal with the same issues as any other person. They simply perceive those experiences through a more personalized, unique lens.
Essential stories: Daredevil: Parts of the Hole, Daredevil/Echo: Vision Quest.
Full run: Daredevil, volume 2, issues 9-15, Daredevil, volume 2, issues 51-55, Moon Knight, miniseries, issues 1-12.
Hawkeye, Aka, Kate Bishop, Aka Young Avenger, Aka, Hero of Her Own Story
Last summer, Hawkeye appeared and easily became the most talked-about book on the stands soon after. A large part of its critical and financial success stems from Matt Fraction's inclusion of Kate Bishop, an heiress/archer who fights alongside stalwart bro and long-time Avenger, (Hawkeye) Clint Barton. Kate has a bit of a rough history, currently being smoothed over in this volume, and in Young Avengers, so readers focus more on her daredevil antics than the brutal attack that motivated her initial jump into heroism. Not that we don't need heroines who rise above their trials, but violence is a well that's run dry in superhero comics. I'd rather see Kate flying high, quips a-plenty in her quiver.
And fly she does, under Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen's hands. Both writers give her the latitude to have a life outside of her fellow champions. In fact, Kate often reminds those around her that she's awesome, even if Clint isn't, and that she is the hero of her own story. Having now watched her leap out of a high-rise to save her fellow Hawkeye, and later on, stop burglaries in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, I'm inclined to agree.
Essential stories: Young Avengers volume 2, ongoing, Hawkeye, volume 1, ongoing.
Full run: Young Avengers volume 1, issues 1-12, Young Avengers: Children's Crusade, Young Avengers volume 2, ongoing.
Miss America, Aka, America Chavez, Aka, WHO ARE YOU?!, Aka, Not PG-13
Speaking of Young Avengers, my last pick for this overly-long blog post is Miss America, who just popped up in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's boffo new edition of the teen super-team. Miss America is a joy to behold. I literally have no idea where she came from. Like, seriously? What is her deal? Is she a time-traveler? Are her parents really as evil as they seem to be? Why is her costume so amazing? IT'S ONLY A JACKET, BOOTS AND SHORTS COMBO! THAT SHOULD NOT WORK SO WELL! Yet she owns it. Maybe that's all I really need to know about her ... for now.
Suffice it to say, I'm intrigued by her presence among the Young Avengers crew, especially because her major function seems to be the team heavy. She's real good at punching things, and how often is a woman given that responsibility? Outside of Wonder Woman, I can't think of any examples. It's nice to come full-circle discussing our lady heroines, especially with a character as chock-full of fun and potential as America Chavez is. She may be rated PG-13, according to her own rankings, but her journey would make for a great all-ages book.
Essential stories: Young Avengers volume 2, ongoing.
Full run: Teen Brigade, I guess? Young Avengers volume 2, ongoing.
So. These are just a few of my favorite female characters in superhero (or I guess, fantasy?) comics. Some of them do appear in DC's vaunted list, but I doubt any explanation is given as to why, nor are the volumes I enjoy highlighted, and I wanted to take some time to shake out just what makes each set of women important to me as a reader/consumer. I am a little sad that my DC list has less diversity than my Marvel list, and I wish I had more characters outside the Bat family to showcase from DC. But them's the breaks when a company is restricting anything but off-shoots from its original cast of characters, while getting rid of non-white characters left and right.
But I've said enough on this subject. Hopefully, it's provided some avenues to explore. Now I'd love to hear from you. Who are your favorite ladies in comics? What are your favorite stories? I've always got room in my library for more female-centric storytelling!
Playwright News & Musings on Comic Book Culture
Check this page for updates on Sarah's writing and thoughts on a great many topics, including but not limited to superheroes and disability.