Slaying Genre: Don't Call Them Lady Comics
I’ve got a project going.
It started one day a few years ago. My friend V and I are skulking around the shelves at Harrison’s Comics in Salem. V is super pregnant and we’re stocking piling stacks of must-reads for her fetus (who ends up being an amazing kid, but that’s getting ahead). The fetus can’t read yet but we’ve decided to gather all the best singles and trades for when she’s old enough to read them. There’re two stipulations that the comics have to meet: they have to be created, at least in part, by women and they have to feature powerful, kick-ass female characters (we are especially interested in work created by and featuring women of color).
Why? We’re sick of lady-sidekicks and pasties for costumes on characters who have no agency in their own stories, who don’t have their own stories, who are simply objects. We’re sick of banal origin stories that erase the complexity, power, and sexuality of our most beloved superheroes (see here for the sitch on Wonder Woman, one of my obsessions).
And there are many incredible comics out there that feature Buffy-esque heroes and baddies who are complex, compelling, and powerful.
Here's what I'm reading now. Please add your favs in the comments!
- Lumberjanes: This Eisner Award winner features besties running around the woods, battling demons and of course, adolescence. With expletives like: "What in the Joan Jett are you doing?!" and a mix-tape at the end of each issue, Lumberjanes is full of fun (and capable women of all ages who kick butt). Created by the incredible team: Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke Allen.
- Saga: This series has taken the comics world by storm. Let me sum up: two worlds at war, interspecies love, badass women who take on assassins, the military television industrial complex, and a ghost girl babysitter. Artist Fiona Staples creates an incredible landscape for us to play in, while Brian Vaughn delivers a helluva story.
- Pretty Deadly: I'd never thought I'd say I was into western fantasy but it's hard not to be impressed with this comic. The voice is so compellingly drawn, making the story itself easy to fall into. And with characters like the daughter of Death and Beauty, this highly stylized world is one you yearn to spend time in. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios bring it to each issue. Hardcore.
- Ms. Marvel: I had you at "marvel", didn't I? This comic isn't a reboot; it's a reimagining. Meet Kamala Kahn. A Pakistani American who lives in Jersey City and who just happens to be a superhero. Not only does she smash villains, she navigates the worlds and expectations of being a young woman of color, a Muslim, and a teenager. Written by G. Willow Wilson, Kamala is the first Muslim character to have her own comic book.
KL Pereira's chapbook, Impossible Wolves was published by Deathless Press is 2013. Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction are forthcoming or appear in The Drum Literary Magazine, Shimmer Zine, Lightning Cake, The Golden Key, Innsmouth Free Press, Innsmouth Magazine, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, The Medulla Review, Bitch Magazine and other publications. Pereira’s work on fairy tales, sexuality, Wonder Woman, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are featured on Studio 360 and other radio programs, cited in numerous publications, and assigned in courses all over the United States and Canada. Find Pereira online on klpereira.com and @kl_pereira.See other articles by KL Pereira