Now is a great time for ongoing comic series by and about women, and there are a handful of titles that I am seriously in love with. They range from the fluffiest of the fluff to the totally serious and intense, but a commonality I've found among them is a tendency to portray interesting, flawed individuals. It's great to see so many stories about women who are the stars of their own shows, who are given free reign to make their own decisions and their own mistakes.
Of course I could never possibly cover anywhere close to all of the great comics put out by contemporary female comics and creators (and let's not even talk about all the amazing young adult comics coming out now with the rising popularity of publishers like BOOM! Studios, Oni Press, and First Second), so that's why I've boiled it all down to my four favorite ongoing series at the moment. These are the stories that have me pining over here, waiting with bated breath for the next volumes to show up on our shelves!
First off, I'll start with the lightest of the bunch, Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Kate Leth is a truly all-ages comic writer that manages to write stories that actually appeal to both kids and adults. This series is a heck of a lot of fun-- fast paced, funny, and little bit silly but with a lot of heart.
What I particularly like about the story if the second chances theme it's got going. Patsy's having trouble with basic adulting-- finding a job, a place to live, etc.-- but while she's a bit of a mess, she has a lot of admirable goals and she does her best to work towards them. Add to that an abundance of superhero cameos and an overall diverse cast, and you've got comic gold!
PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT! 3
I have a huge comics crush on Joelle Jones for her sheer brilliance as a visual storyteller. I've loved her artwork for awhile, particularly her work on Helheim, but there's a special place in my heart now for her first foray into writing on her solo book, Lady Killer. It is kitschy, macabre, and everything you could possibly want from a story about a housewife assassin! Jones is so good at creating the kind of story that feels like it's just opening up your skull and dumping itself into your brain- no thinking required. It just flows.
If you dig a little deeper, though, there is a lot more there; a woman struggling to maintain the facade of perfection that is demanded of her as a homemaker, her struggle to try and balance this demand with being a career woman (never mind what that career is). Some might say that it doesn't take its exploration far enough, but there is something to be said for the fact that this comic never feels heavy-handed or didactic, something it could easily have become.
Monstress brings us an alternate 1900s Asia in which a young woman finds herself psychically linked to a powerful monster she must constantly fight with as it struggles for control. There is a lot going on in this story and it doesn't pull any punches- it's intense, bloody, and often a bit disturbing, all while being absolutely gorgeous; the contrast between the ugly and the beautiful is captivating.
While there are definitely some elements readers may be familiar with, from the "monster inside me" aspect of the story, to the steampunk aesthetic, it manages to never feel boring, cliché, or overdone, and Sana Takeda's breathtaking art deco artwork is a large part of that.
Where to begin with Bitch Planet? This one is uncompromisingly feminist, as you can imagine- a story about a future penal colony in space comprised of women who won't conform to society's standards of what women should be. It is undeniably angry and is not for everyone - but - if this sounds up your alley, this will no doubt rock your world.
Kelly Sue Deconnick is like a comic rock star (as anyone who has ever waited in line at comicon for a chance to meet her can attest). It's no surprise because whatever she chooses to write, whether it's a dystopian future like Bitch Planet, a fun superhero comic like Captain Marvel, or a weird west tale of magic and intrigue like Pretty Deadly, it is always interesting!