Strong Female Protagonist

Strong Female Protagonist Book OneI gave this one five stars, which is what I give to books so good I believe you should read them even if they are not your genre at all. It’s also all free online, at Strong Female Protagonist.

I started reading it expecting… a kind of comedy of manners, I guess. Superhero dealing with university life! How wacky, yeah?

Twenty pages in, it hooked me. It got… well, it wasn’t ever un-smart, but it got pointed. Then there was the TV interview scene in issue 2, and issue 3 has a beautiful story arc with Feral. I really cannot summarize it, but you can read it! It’s free online! And it’s just…

I am not doing it justice, but it’s so damn thoughtful. The comic basically takes the statement “There are superheroes!” and answers it with “So what?” Not a dismissive so what, not a trite so what, a genuinely thoughtful and considerate examination of the question. And it’s beautiful.

(And my copy of the book has Feral and Menace hand-drawn on the signed frontispiece. You cannot imagine the squee.)

Slow, sad, and mad

Bedlam vol. 1Bedlam vol. 1 by Nick Spencer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(written several months back, and published now that I am cleaning out my drafts)

…I haven’t been so hooked by a graphic novel since I picked up Uzumaki, Vol. 1. And exactly like when I picked up Uzumaki, I am swearing because the comic book store has closed for the day, and now I have to wait before I can see about getting the next one in the series.

Spoilers for the first twenty-odd pages follow.

Like it says on the tin: the generically utterly evil technically-not-supervillain-because-no-superpowers-but-come-on-now Madder Red has, after years of therapy, apparently been cured of his anti-social drive.[1] Now he’d like to do some good.

I picked it up expecting a crime story. In the first fifteen pages, it had me blinking a little at what was being depicted (villain cheerfully slitting a child’s throat in front of the hero), and then twisted the standard “ha-ha, holding the city hostage by means of threatening something terrible” schtick into an entirely new direction.

It’s a murder mystery, sure. It’s grim and fast-paced and makes a creepy kind of sense. It’s beautifully drawn; the story weaves along between modern-day (full-colour art) and flashbacks to various points in the past (black and white and red all over). I am going to go reread it, once I am done posting this.

But beyond that, it feels thoughtful in a way that comics about characters like this–characters that are like how Madder Red started out, I mean, he’s quite different in the modern day setting–usually don’t, and for “usually don’t” read “never have”.

Series was apparently cancelled after enough comics to make two graphic novels. I am saddened by this, but… I guess it ups the odds of being able to convince other people to read the whole thing?

[1] Dead kids. Lots of dead kids. And dead women. (He hurt and killed woman and kids by preference.) And dead cops. And along the way, dead cats. His backstory rap sheet is drawn in in relatively few pages, and remains the kind of thing which is jaw-droppingly violent in a way I cannot recall having previously seen in comics.

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Hugo helpfulness

I understand that there’s going to be an announcement about the Hugo voter packages very soon. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a coherent list of links to what’s available online, you could do a lot worse than check out John DeNardo’s roundup at SF Signal. It’s huge.

Myself, I’m keeping a list here, Continue reading “Hugo helpfulness”

Just because it’s a love story, doesn’t mean you can’t have a decapitation or two.

Apparently “watch all the Freddy Krueger” is this week’s recipe for decompression. The first few were watched after work, and today has been a marathon of terrible puns, body humour, body horror, and an origin story which cheerfully has more and more gingerbread added to it every other movie or so. (Child murderer! Who was the “bastard son of a hundred maniacs”[1]! Buried in ground that was deconsecrated by a dreaming dog peeing on it! And who was chosen by dream demons as the most evil person ever and given his powers! And who’s actually something greater and older than all these things–)

(Oh, Freddy.)

(Also, I’d apparently somehow completely missed seeing the sixth movie until earlier tonight. No idea how.)

And yet, I get why he appeals. I think, if I looked at the movies now, if I saw them in a vaccuum, I might not see enough to prompt the level of weird creeped-out fondness for the character that I currently have. But I’m not in a vaccuum, and that’s Freddy Krueger. When I was a kid waiting for the schoolbus, I picked up what must have been (I have determined through looking it up since) Freddy Krueger’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was a black-and-white comic, and I mostly just remember someone choosing the path that led away from flowers and fluffy bunnies and towards gross icky stuff, and that it ended with this page.

I would had to have been, I think, no older than eleven. That comic was not something I could afford, and it was not something I would have thought of actually owning anyway, I think.

But it was unspeakably neat. I mean, monsters and bad dreams! And the bad guy was telling jokes! And the art was much cooler than Archie comics and a lot more polished than the horribly cheesy B&W science-horror comics I had seen to that date. So I read it in dribs and spurts, sneaking it off the shelf at the corner store and going through a few pages and then putting it back on the rack when the school bus got there.

And that was how I met Freddy Krueger. I didn’t see any of the movies until years later, and the first one I saw was actually Dream Warriors, which I think was not the best of the bunch. But I knew who he was, because everyone knows who he was. Oh, not in a super-important way; I don’t think I ever even heard him mentioned as a topic of discussion for years. But he’s part of the background radiation of cultural consciousness.

It’s been interesting, deliberately concentrating on the source material instead of simply settling for what I already know.

[1] Oh don’t get me started. But anyway.

Unnatural colours

First off: there’s a 12-part comic series (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Gary Frank) called Midnight Nation. Interesting premise and well-handled, but I mention it because there’s one scene in it that leads up to a double-splash page that I think is both the most satisfying and saddest one I’ve ever seen in comics.

(It’s not hard to be the saddest; double-splash pages aren’t usually sad. The satisfaction, there’s a little more competition for.)

Changing topics: I used to dye my hair. Started with fuschia overtop the brown, went to pure fuschia, red, green (loved the green most, of all the colours, but it did not do me many favours), purple, and purple-blue (a single colour, not streaks). Also there was a weekend when it was white, when I bleached out an old colour and gave it a couple of days of conditioning to recover before I went back to the purple-blue.

(I actually really liked the white, but the roots would have been a timesink to keep on top of.)

I realized the other day that I’d been planning to dye my hair again for about eighteen months. And there have been reasons not to do it, mostly job-related.

That said, I am sure that if I’d come home to find the bleach and dye and an uninterrupted block of time sitting in the bathroom, I would have made it work. And I really don’t want to hit twenty months, twenty-two months, two years of not doing something I want to do because of reasons excuses.

So. March. (March because I will not feel stressed by too soon a deadline, and because I won’t need to dryclean my winter coat.) Coloured hair again.