01 June 2014

graphic tales for graphic females

When my brother and I were young, our parents used to take us to the library every weekend or every other weekend. In general I've always been a voracious reader, due in part to my mum's passion for education and support for learning. Every time we'd go to the library, I would check out a stack of books at least two and a half feet high. My parents usually gave me free rein to check out whatever I wanted, and that was great, because it meant my literary horizons were broadened and I figured out what genres and authors I liked and which I didn't. However, sometimes this also resulted in me checking out some adult novels by authors I knew wrote YA (young adult literature), but with inappropriate or sexual content I didn't really understand. Thanks, Meg Cabot! Any way you slice it, though, I read Gossip Girl and Princess Diaries novels and lots of ""chick lit"" books, but also classic novels, fantasy books, and, yes, even my fair share of comics.

Now, comics were an interesting story for me, because my dad had collected comics since he was a young boy. Growing up in Arizona with his aunt and uncle, he earned pocket money every once in a while and bought comic books with it, slowly amassing a collection of classics that he's been passionate about ever since his youth! He's never really lost touch with comic books and graphic novels, and living in San Diego has only helped that passion to grow!

San Diego Comic-Con International is held every summer at the San Diego Convention Center, and as long as I can remember, my dad and I have been attending. When my brother and I were young, he would collect freebies for us and it would be like mini Christmas, waking up every morning the week of the Con and seeing heaps of sampler books, pencils, lanyards, buttons, little toys, all sorts of stuff piled high on our placemats on the kitchen table! When I was finally old enough to go, my mum would drop us off downtown and we'd visit all the booths with their colourful displays and I'd collect comics of my personal little-girl superheroes: the Powerpuff Girls. I even have a signed print of Blossom framed and matted from one special year with my dad that I'll cherish forever!

My love for reading eventually branched out into the comics world, and I would read Winx Club and W.I.T.C.H. and tons of magical girl comics and dream of being one myself! As I grew older, I became attracted to the "traditional" Marvel and DC comics as well, though I'm still not as well versed as I'd like to be (my favourites are Power Girl, Captain America, Ms Marvel, Spider-Man, Blue Beetle, Wonder Woman... give me some time). Then, in high school, I was completely immersed in the Internet. I made loads of friends and gained a few followers and joined new fandoms, and that's how I learned about webcomics.

bad machinery | love me nice | cucumber quest | blaster nation | oh joy, sex toy | ava's demon | monster pop! | nimona (all art by its respective artist)

I found lots of webcomic artists through their fanart for the fandoms I enjoyed, such as Adventure Time, Marvel, Disney, Harry Potter, My Little Pony, etc., and through those artists, I found more artists, and so on. On the Internet it can be tough to sort through the rubble to find the gems, but I've found a good few webcomics that I now follow with eager eyes and a voracious readership!

1. bad machinery | John Allison's team of British "schoolgirl sleuths" Shauna, Charlotte, and Mildred and their mostly-friends Jack, Linton, and Sonny gallivant about their suburb of Keane End, Tackleford, solving mysteries that are both supernatural and mundane. I love this comic because the schoolkids are precocious, intelligent, and sarcastic and, beneath it all, goodhearted. The mysteries they encounter and their everyday lives seem the most ordinary of anything, but often you can find a supernatural twist that doesn't seem out of the blue. I really enjoy the dialogue, the art is snappy and easy to rake your eyes over, and there is an enormous archive to devour!

2. love me nice | Amanda Lafrenais' world of Toons and humans might seem fantastical, but by narrowing the scope to Mac the monkey, the television show he stars on, his father's legacy corporation, and the lives entangled in it, there is an element of reality which truly grounds Love Me Nice. Lafrenais' art has been a favourite of mine for a long while (I've been following her on Tumblr and it's amazing to see how her style has shifted since LMN's beginning!); varying body types and honest depictions of how people talk and live are consistent characteristics of her art, and are really what drew me to her in the first place. Her characters are relatable and sometimes frustrating to read, but you always wish them well in the end! **contains profanity and suggestive content**

3. cucumber quest | Gigi D.G. has forged a magical quest story with bunny kids, magic, and saving princesses that doesn't feel overdone; Cucumber and his sister Almond, with the help of Sir Carrot, Princess Nautilus, and the kinda irresponsible Dream Oracle, are set out to save Dreamside from the Nightmare Knight's evil magical forces! And his henchmen. All of them. Guys, I'm serious, this is one of the best comics I've EVER read, not just webcomics. The art is delicious and colourful and adorable, and the characters are cute, even the evil ones, and you really root for put-upon Cuco (Cucumber) and the ragtag team of heroes. I love love love this comic.

4. blaster nation | Leslie and Brad Brown's slice-of-life webcomic about the everyday nerds in university and their mid-twenties is almost too real to talk about. At first I didn't think I would like this comic, as I'm not as well-versed in video games and anime as the characters (especially Matt, Dan, Ash, Derrick, Hai, Rinnie, or Kim... okay, every character, basically) or other people I know tend to be! But Blaster Nation is funny, honest, and I know so many people like this at my college and who went to my high school that I don't have to be in on every joke! (And there are plenty I am in on to compensate.) **contains profanity, sexually suggestive content, generally NSFW**

5. oh joy, sex toy | Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan have somehow created a sex toy review combined with a sex toy revue in their gender-inclusive, sex and body positive, sexuality accepting comic whose main purpose is to review, of course, sex toys, as well as give advice  romance, relationships, and other life tips. I'm not entirely sure why I read this comic, as I'm not very interested in funky sex toys (for their function or their price), but the art and the inclusivity drew me in and now I can't seem to leave! Honestly, the simple colour scheme and the frank and kind ways in which Erika and Matthew write, draw, and run OJST can be nothing but beneficial as an educational tool. **contains sexual content! though primarily through a tone of education, very NSFW!!**

6. ava's demon | Michelle Czajkowski's Ava is the protagonist in a fantasy-science fiction world of demons and cult-like authoritarian regimes; Ava is under the influence of a demon, Wrathia, whose realm fell a long time ago due to TITAN, and so they must work together under a pact to unite the demons and humans they inhabit to combat the forces of darkness - whoever's side it is on. It's hard to encompass the many aspirations of Czajkowski's comic in just a few sentences, so I suggest you read it yourself. The art is multifaceted and beautifully coloured, and the inclusion of animation at the end of each chapter is worth the backread in and of itself! Spookier than I usually read, but well worth it, in my opinion. **mild violent content, including blood and injury**

7. monster pop! | Maya Kern's an "alternate Earth," wherein monsters and humans coexist, follows best friends (and monsters) George and Franny, who are attending Unity University and making friends, going to class, doing hobbies, and falling in love. This is such a cute comic, I think about it and my mind dances! Franny is a witch and George is a cyclops girl, and those are two of my favourite things. Kern's art is colourful and sweet and the characters are cute and lovable! The story has tinges of grander-scale racism against monsters with which they must contend, but for all intents and purposes this is a friendship and college and slice-of-life comic, with great multimedia interaction (some characters have Tumblr blogs)!

8. nimona | Noelle Stevenson, better known as artist extraordinaire gingerhaze on Tumblr, has written an excellent medieval-era antihero fantasy story starring Lord Ballister Blackheart, "supervillain," and his new apprentice, shapeshifter Nimona, whose history may come back to bite them as Blackheart attempts to expose darkness on behalf of the "protectors" of the kingdom. Another fantasy comic, I know, but there's something so attractive about dragons and knights and princesses and stuff!! I've been a big fan of gingerhaze.tumblr and all its fanart for a while, and Nimona is a great antihero story, with a cool girl at the centre of it and excellent elements of comedy littered throughout!

Did you miss me? I missed you! Sorry for the monthlong hiatus, I didn't expect to take that much time off from the blog - I had some ideas for Kid Lit Closet installments but it didn't feel right to only post that when I had writer's block for the rest of my content! Back to your "regularly" scheduled programming ASAP. Promise! (-;


  1. Ahh you read Oh Joy Sex Toy too! I love that comic.