Friday Feature: Saga

With Halloween now past and our jack-o-lantern buckets full of all sorts of the year’s most fascinating sweets, we return to our single, theme-less weekly features. How tedious…

This week’s feature has really been a long time coming. I’ve almost written on it a few times already, but I kept talking myself out of it because I really can’t think of the words to express how truly awesome it is.

Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ currently-ongoing comic Saga.

It’s really just the perfect comic book. The writing is inspired, the art is approachable but unparalleled in quality.

The backdrop of the story is a sci-fi Romeo-and-Juliet-esque tapestry. Two warring societies have left almost all of the characters war weary by the time Saga begins.

 

Our main characters, of course, are members of opposite factions that have fallen in love. The opening page of Saga #1 features the leading lady, Alana, in labor, giving birth to her and her husband, Marko’s daughter, Hazel. From that moment on, the young family is on the run from both sides of the conflict, as well as some bounty hunters that would profit from capturing their newborn.

In a stroke of writing genius, all of the narration is done in Hazel’s voice from some undefined time in the future. Whenever she says things like “my parents…” instead of “Alana and Marko…” it adds a layer of affection to narration that I’ve never seen elsewhere.

If that little abstract doesn’t sell you on Saga, forget you read it and go buy it anyway. And tell your local comic book store that I’m not allowed to write recommendations without supervision, if that makes you feel better.

Seriously though. You need to read this comic.

Are you already a comic book lover? You should have already picked up Saga for goodness sake!

Have you never read a comic book in your life? This is only the best first-comic-you-ever-read.

“All that sounds good, but I can’t keep up with monthly titles.” Lucky for your lazy (or, more likely, financially impaired) self, there are already TWO collected editions of Saga available in any local comic book store worth its salt.

By way of fair warning, there’s a hearty dose of sex, bad language, and violence in the pages of Saga, and that earns it a “Mature” rating (as well as some conflict with online retailers like ComiXology and the Apple Store), so I’d say your only excuses for not reading Saga are either being really offended by sex, bad language, and violence or being a child.

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Friday Feature: Womanthology

A few weeks ago we had a strong feminist week here at the Playground and I was honored to be a part of it. It made me really proud to know the women I know and to read about the places they find support in the face of geek misogyny.

But this week I was reading some articles about DC character redesigns, women in video games, and the future and past of the comic book industry. The articles themselves are pretty innocuous, but I made the horrible mistake of reading the comments sections – and I’m once again pretty disappointed with a certain subgroup of fans.

It seems that for many male geeks in 2013, the treatment of women at conventions, the negative/detrimental portrayal of women in big industry products, and the dearth of female creators are just not problems.

To these fellows, I’ve noticed, all stories are written for them and since they’re not women, video game and comic book creators really shouldn’t worry about creating stories that feature women positively (at the expense of some aspect of their favorite male character). And why should they care if their industry of choice made any effort at equality behind the scenes? One particularly insulting comment indicated that women should really lower their expectations and stop making demands of a culture that just wasn’t for them.

It’s enough to make me and those like me literally angry with rage.

But enough rambling, on to the good news of this week’s Friday Feature: Womanthology!

It began as a kickstarter campaign with the express purpose of doing a comic anthology collection that featured only female creators throughout. They succeeded in their goal (and then some) and ended up with over 140 talented women in the final edition – and the creators run from the already-famous (such as Gail Simone, Ann Nocenti, and Fiona Staples) to the never-published.

The full cover of Womanthology: Heroic

The first volume, Womanthology: Heroic, was geared toward the theme of (as the title indicates) hero stories. A second volume, Womanthology: Space, features sci-fi tales.

My hardcover edition of Womanthology: Heroic, is bigger than a normal trade hardcover. It’s sort of “coffee table book” size, and it’s format suits that – most of the stories are just a couple of pages and can be read quickly amid the conversation you’ll start by having it on display in your living room.

As with any anthology, it’s hit-and-miss as far as stories you’ll like and stories you won’t, but there are a few stories I encountered in my copy of Heroic that were created by relatively no-name creators that I really hope I see more of in the future.

The full cover of Womanthology: Space

The big deal about Womanthology is that it’s still a big deal. A world where there are just as many lady geeks as dude geeks needs to also be a world where there are just as many lady creators as dude creators.

On the day that literally no one else cares that there’s an anthology of comics created by just women, or the day when a book with an all male creative team is just as surprising, then we can look back on the day that Womanthology began and smile, saying “Gosh. Remember when that guy said this industry wasn’t for women? What a joke!”