Recently there was an article published from a big name comic giant (that has six letters and starts with the letter after “L”) that blamed low sales on comics featuring female and diverse characters. After much eye-rolling and sighs, I pondered why this company would release an article with such a triggering effect on the fan community. First thought was that this was a business tactic to focus more attention upon them. Which I hope is the main reason, because the other reason for such an article is that they genuinely believe that.
Whether or not it’s true, I will stand by my own perspective on the comic industry. Comics have pretty much saturated the media department and it has opened the floodgates for new curious readers. Many will head right into the big and most recognizable giants in comic publishing. Very soon, these fans will find out what I found out: it is really, really hard to keep track of a series. There are so many crossovers and events that it becomes truly overwhelming and most people will drop it. Why drive every week to the comic book store and try to remember which issue is needed when instead you can just wait for the completed format in graphic novel form in a few months?
What even I love to believe is that this had drifted readers into other territories. There is a boundless horizon of comics featuring all sorts of stories and main characters. Maybe these readers have found other comics featuring female and diverse characters.
I for one love Elektra, and will always love Elektra. My heart will always have a soft spot for X23. Yet even I could not keep track of what was going on with them and had to stop. Plus, there were so many other comics out there that caught my attention and held it.
So instead of flipping tables and shaking my fist at that article, I will instead present a list of comics that have either held my attention and should probably hold yours. This is a great time to support other smaller companies who are more than happy to publish comics that the fans want. It is always a great time to pay attention to those artist alleys during comic cons and support all artists and creators. They are the ones who work hard for so little profit to create art that we have all been wanting.
“What’s the alternative, “Arsenic”? Being an adult? If that means turning into the people who raised us…
I hope I die before I get old.” –Alex (Runaways)
To be fair, this is published by Marvel but it still deserves to be on this list for featuring such a beloved ensemble of characters. A group of children realize that their parents are actually pretty horrible people, villains actually. So as a group they runaway (get it?). Soon they find out that they themselves have not fallen far from the apple tree and have inherited some traits from their parents. The group includes a super strong girl, communicating with a dinosaur, and a witch who can summon her staff by releasing her own blood. A witch who is the first Asian-American character that I have seen in a Marvel comic and is my personal favorite.
Ask anyone if they have read Runaways and you will get that same wistful look from asking someone if they’ve seen “Firefly.” The comic series was cut way too short and my soul demands more. Rumors of a movie or a television show have been popping up and I need this like I need oxygen.
- Wayward (Image)
“At this point I think we need to embrace the weird. High-five it. Give it our phone number.”
― Jim Zub, (write of Wayward)
I have been following this comic series for over a year now and it has gotten to a point that I have no idea what to expect. This comic began as a heroine of a mixed race origins (half Japanese and half Irish) struggling to adjust to life in Japan. If that wasn’t enough of a burden to handle, she is accosted by supernatural beings in an alley and is rescued by a teenage girl that can become a cat. That sudden change is the only constant in this comic that has escalated into an all our supernatural civil war between the yokai (class of supernatural monsters, spirits and demons in Japanese folklore) and the powered teen.
Being of mixed race, this comic called out to me like a siren. Little did I know that this comic was not even close to being a tepid story of adventures and magic. This has the added element of teenagers making poor decisions, enforcing my fear of spiders, and even horror elements as the yokai in this comic are not the same cute yokai you see in that children’s video game. The comic even doubles as a history lesson in yokai and folklore as several pages at the end are dedicated to the background of such characters. Everything from the artwork, the story, and the folklore have had me riveted from issue one.
- Faith (Valiant)
“I’m not saying I wasn’t scared. I totally was! I mean, how fast could I go? How high could I fly? Would I be able to stop his fall? Would he take me down with him? So, yeah. It was scary. But this is what heroes do, right? They throw themselves into the void for strangers without a second thought. They hold the line of compassion for other human beings in a world built on chaos. There’s only one reason why I didn’t go to the great cosmic comic-con in the sky with mom and dad in that car crash all those years ago… I’m still here because the world needs me. My name’s Zephyr. I’m a superhero.”
– Faith Herbert (Faith)
Valiant comics as a whole produces some amazing comics with characters from all over the world. Faith was a character that stood out for me in Harbinger Renegades. To be honest, Harbinger Renegade’s story line parallels another famous comic featuring mutants and such, just minus the analogies to the race wars. It was really about a group of young people with powers against an adult with powers.
Faith was a plus-size, optimistic, romantic superhero who can fly. I tried so hard to not like her but I connected with her deeply anyway. She is not the first plus-size character I encountered in a comic. That distinction will go to Paula Pophouse a.k.a. Seductress in the Freshman comics created by Seth Green (a Top Cow print). Faith became my hero because she really was a hero. She would drop everything to save everyone including puppies! Plus,it was really her comic-con / renaissance faire-attending personality that cemented what I already knew. She was pretty much me but with blond hair.
Even more awesome was that she was such a fan favorite that she earned her own stand-alone series!
- The Amory Wars (Evil Ink Comics)
“Would we have lived as a child would care?
With this vial to drink I dare
Only to cry all alone with your taste on tongue
(Oh where have you been if it hurts to be forgiving? Bye”
– Coheed and Cambria
(Album: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness.)
I absolutely love it when my two loves combine : rock and comics. Claudio Sanchez, the Puerto Rican/Italian front man for Coheed and Cambria, has co-created an the comic series, The Amory Wars. This is an intense science fiction comic series features an intergalactic battle between a couple, Coheed and Cambria Kilganno against the evil Wilhem Ryan. With each new saga, the struggle grows in intensity and complexity.
Each musical album from Coheed and Cambria corresponds to each saga installment for the Amory Wars making this one of the most immersive experiences while reading comics. Coheed and Cambria’s music is already such an intense and passionate sound that intermingles catchy melodies amidst epic overtures. A comic series paralleling the music just adds a whole other level.
- Saga (Image)
“Once upon a time, each of us was somebody’s kid.
Everyone had a father, even if he never provided anything more than his seed.
Everyone had a mother, even if she had to leave us on a stranger’s doorstep.
No matter how we’re eventually raised, all of our stories begin the exact same way.
They all end the same, too.”
― Brian K. Vaughn – SagaVolume 1
It would be completely remiss if I did not include the game changer, Saga. I remember when the cover first came out how everyone was losing their mind on the female main character breastfeeding her child. Completely negating how epic this how cover was. The couple stood defiant and strong as they protected their child. So it comes as no surprise to find that this comic is an epic space opera/fantasy.
This is a much beloved series that has spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, I do not have much to say about it. That fire that made everyone love it did not reach me. It just did not interest me as others would have hoped. I do appreciate it what it is and how it has become a gateway for new comic readers. It just wasn’t my flavor.
In addition to these comics there are two independent publishing companies run by women that definitely need more attention:
- Hex Comics
This female teams brings a comics series featuring a mix of magic and science fiction. Set in a world where magic is harnessed a new technology, a young witch finds herself in a rough spot. Defending the life of another, she is immediately in danger from forces far more experienced in magic and ruthlessness. With each new issue, the young witch has to run to keep up in defending herself and those around her.
The series has been nominated for Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity and it rightly deserves that distinction. Check out the website, https://hexcomix.com/, for access to the first issue for free and to learn more about it.
- Emet Comics
Also run by a team of women, this company features a catalog of comics catering to most flavors. There is a comic for horror, romance, slice of live and even more. The company is continually adding mor diverse stories and characters. Check out their website at: http://www.emetcomics.com/.
This list is by far not complete and is ever-expanding. These were just the few that came to mind immediately. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comics!