5 badass female comics writers totally upending stereotypes
By now, female comic fans should be old news. As the popularity of the medium expands (helped in no small part by movies and television shows), fascination with comics and graphic novels has grown exponentially. And while comics have long been seen as a boys club — and in many ways, it still is — women are an increasingly significant factor in the creation of successful titles and characters. The industry is still by and large a male-dominated field, but women are making their presence known as both consumers and creators in the comics world. It’s about time, and the results of their efforts speak for themselves.
So, where does one begin when crafting a comics reading list celebrating female writers? The list of amazing women comic creators is a long one (and growing on a regular basis), so for the sake of brevity we’ll focus on authors who have titles currently being released.
Whether you’re a lifetime fan looking for some new reading material or someone who’s always been curious about comics but never jumped in, this list will provide you with some truly sensational titles to explore. From supernatural tales to superhero shenanigans, these women are making their mark on the comic world and proving you don’t need a cape to be a superhero.
Chelsea Cain got her writing chops as a humor author, which has served her well diving into the often complex and confusing Marvel comics universe. Her series writing about super-spy Bobbi Morse (AKA Mockingbird) is the character’s first solo run and deftly combines humor, action, and a remarkable amount of humanity. Unlike the rebooted version that appears on the popular ABC show Agents of S.H.I.EL.D., Cain’s Morse is dealing with a bucket-load of issues from her long and sometimes brutal history (let’s not go into that time she died). Being a scientist/spy/former Avenger/Hawkeye’s ex isn’t easy, but Bobbi handles it with elegance, grace, and serious butt-kicking style.
Stand aside, Bats: it’s time for a new look at the world of the Dark Knight. Gotham Academy takes the mythos and mythology we’ve come to know and love about the city of Gotham and turns it on its head. The students at the prestigious Gotham Academy are learning more than just the academic basics; they’re uncovering the secrets of Arkham Asylum, superheroes, and their own pasts. It’s a complex and surprising storyline with more twists and turns than even Bruce Wayne could keep track of. Becky Cloonan not only smoothly handles the heavy DC history with aplomb, but also crafts a selection of characters you can’t help but root for — even when they should be studying science instead of tracking clues.
If you’re not reading the rebooted Ms. Marvel series, you’re missing out on one of the best titles currently being published. Kamala Khan is a 16-year-old Muslim girl dealing with the trials and tribulations of puberty, romance, family, and school. Oh, and she’s a shape-shifting superhero who’s joined up with the Avengers. G. Willow Wilson tackles heavy issues like religion, identity, and racism with a deft touch and true heart. But it’s ultimately the characterization of Kamala Khan that makes this series so memorable. By turns geeky, stubborn, awkward, impulsive, incredibly brave and heart-wrenchingly optimistic, Kamala is one of the strongest and most inspiring characters currently in the Marvel canon.
Kelly Sue DeConnick
It’s hard to pick just one title to recommend from the supremely versatile Kelly Sue DeConnick, so I’m not going to. While DeConnick made a name for herself penning a host of Marvel titles, it’s her own creations that really shine and Image Comics gives her free rein to go for broke. Pretty Deadly is a surreal and gorgeously rendered Western-horror hybrid that reads like some nightmarish (and nightmarishly wonderful) fairytale. For a totally different (but no less enjoyable) experience, perhaps you’d prefer to visit Bitch Planet. The series is a clever and loving send-up of old exploitation movies (particularly the ‘women in prison’ genre) with a science-fiction twist. DeConnick’s skill for world-building is astounding, her characters compelling, and her dark sense of humor makes these stories a delight for comic readers new and old alike.
Casual comic fans may not be familiar with Hellcat (unless they tuned in to Netflix’s superb Jessica Jones), but get ready to fall in love with Patsy Walker. The superhero is trying to make her way in the world, figure out her life, and fight evil at the same time. Tackling these issues is a tall order, but Patsy has some serious muscle in her corner: a whole host of super-heroines show up to provide advice in one of the coolest support groups out there. This all-ages comic is more than just a fun look at what happens when you’re trying to be a real person in a super-powered world: it’s about Patsy deciding who she is, what she’ll be, and claiming her own identity away from the likes of Iron Man and Captain America. That’s no easy task for a former Avenger/Defender with one of the most confusing backstories in the Marvel universe (and that’s saying a LOT), but with the help of her friends (and the wonderful writing of Kate Leth), Patsy Walker is going to get by just fine.
Lauren Saccone is a freelance writer, social media consultant, and archery coach. She has way too many feelings about comics, television shows, and movies, and spends more time online than is probably healthy. Follow her on Twitter.