In our last installment of Minorities in Comics, we will be exploring comic books as a form of activism and creating community for minorities. Many writers had to create their own comics because their lives weren’t reflected in the comic books of their times. For instance, the lack of strong female characters in comics led to the creation of independent, underground feminist comics. The same can be said for LGBT communities. Some minority communities have used comics to tell their side of history. And of course, comics are also created for fun and to share in-group humor. The advent of web comics has filled many of these comic niches and continue to give voice to those who have been historically without a voice.
10. Strangers in Paradise
Creator: Terry Moore
Once upon a time, deep in comic book history, women were the primary readers of comics. Some of the most popular comics were comedies and romances. And then the age of the superhero began and the comic book industry began to ignore the female market that had made comics so popular to begin with. This was a dark time for comics, when women were portrayed as weak, as victims or as tokens on superhero teams. There was then a feminist backlash and women began creating their own comics. Strangers in Paradise was one such self-published feminist comic. And though it was written and drawn by a man, it was popular among feminist comic fans for its groundbreaking portrayal of queer women. This series won the GLAAD award for 2001.
9. DitzAbled Princess
Creator: Jewel Kats
We were first turned on to this awesome web comic when the creator commented on our original “Minorities in Comics” here on Den of Geek. And it is fabulous. DitzAbled Princess highlights the power of creating our own geeky media in our own geeky images. We have the power to make comics that speak to us and to our lives. And we have the power to put it online and have the world see our amazing work. DitzAbled Princess follows the adventures of one fabulous, femme and slightly ditzy woman with a Disability. It is funny, cute and very well made. Check it out here: http://tapastic.com/series/316. And if you know of any other web comics we should be checking out, comment below!
8. Gay Comix
Creator: Howard Cruse
Published by: Kitchen Sink Press
We discussed in an earlier segment of Minorities in Comics the treatment of LGBT people by the comic industry. If you didn’t read that one let’s just say the policy was “no LGBT people in comics.” Studios like Marvel Comics forbid LGBT people or themes within their comics. Their reasoning was that comics were created for children. Although that never stopped them from showing violence and murder. But that’s another story, for another time. Gay Comix was created as an underground comic book series that commented on everything from love, to sex, to identity. They were created in the mid 1980s and were popular within the LGBT community.
7. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
Creator: Jacques Tardi
Published by: Casterman
This French comic is a science fiction mystery adventure reminds us a little of Doctor Who meets Madeline meets Sherlock. And that’s something we here at Den of Geek can get behind. It stars a badass heroine who does things like, we don’t know, FIGHT DINOSAURS and all in early 20th century France. The only regret we have is that she doesn’t get to fight with the French Resistance using a ray gun or something equally amazing. This is a comic featuring a strong and tough heroine at a time when this was relatively rare in the comic world. We tip our berets to you, Jacques Tardi.
6. The 500 Years of Resistance
Creator: Gord Hill
Published by: Arsenal Pulp Press
The 500 Years of Resistance is Gord Hill’s tale of North American indigenous resistance. It speaks to the horrors of colonialism, the violence of takeover and the endurance of the human spirit under the most brutal conditions. And most importantly, it emphasizes the effects of colonialism from the colonized’s perspective. It has gotten incredible reviews and if you have never read it, it is a great read. Gord Hill did a good amount of research before creating this graphic novel so it is a historically accurate tale and of course a wonderful example of a minority using graphic novels to reclaim his stories.
5. That Deaf Guy
Creators: Matt and Kay Daigle
That Deaf Guy is a web comic that focuses on the everyday life of a Deaf couple and their hearing son. Some of the things they go through are pretty funny. It is a web comic that focuses more on Deaf culture and Deaf gain than the hearing community’s traditional ideas about what Deaf people must go through. It focuses primarily on the day to day life of a family dealing with the more humorous parts of life. We would love to hear what people in the Deaf community think about this Deaf positive web comic. We wrote a little bit about the authors in the previous article in this series. To check out That Deaf Guy for yourself: http://www.thatdeafguy.com
4. Dykes to Watch Out For
Creator: Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel was creating cool and amazing queer and feminist comics before it was cool. And we salute her working hard over her career to create an amazing and thoughtful comic about the experiences of LGBT people and celebrating LGBT culture. She has won numerous accolades for her work over the years and we are just heaping praise onto a huge pile of much deserved recognition. If you are looking for an incredible series that is both feminist and equality driven in its message, check this one out!
3. Tank Girl
Creators: Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin
Published by: Vertigo, IDW, Image Comics, and others
The author of this article wanted to grow up and be Tank Girl from the time he was but a wee child. And you can see why! Can you name another amazingly cool, badass punk who drives a tank and dates a mutant kangaroo? Tank Girl features some incredible punk style art and has a tough and strong heroine (obviously). We love Tank Girl because she is just so freakin’…cool.
Creator: Aaron McGruder
Published by: Universal Press Syndicate
Most of us think of the television show when we think of Boondocks. But it’s important to remember that Boondocks started out as a comic strip. And many comparisons have been made between Boondocks and other political comics like Doonesbury. Both have had their fair share of controversy. But we think that for the most part, Boondocks is just a little edgier in its celebration of Black culture and Afrocentrism. It deals with issues of culture, ethnic identity and the feeling of being out of place. It’s no wonder that in a culture where we are still uncomfortable discussing issues of race, Boondocks stirred the pot. And that’s why we have put it at the number 2 spot.
Creator: Art Spiegelman
Published by: Pantheon Books
This graphic novel about the Holocaust is probably one of the best graphic novels ever created. It was the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. Very much like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Maus uses animals to narrate the horrors of man. The Jews are mice and the Nazis are cats. And watching the two groups (along with other “animal” groups) interact is horrifying. If you haven’t read it, it is worth a read. And it is another wonderful example of an author using the medium of comics to share the stories and history of their people.