Mike Wellman writes for Bleeding Cool,
There was a large turnout at the West Hollywood Library Monday night for a panel celebrating the past, present and future of women in comics, Women Beyond The Graphic Novel.
In honor of Women’s History Month and Will Eisner week, “father of the graphic novel,” the panel was an exploration of how women are innovating in the field of comics and graphic novels and expanding on the topics and genres that comics can cover.
Barbara Randall Kesel discussed how her frustration with how females were portrayed in the comics of the 70’s led her to writing letters to editorial and, then, a career in comics.
She’s edited such works as Star Wars: Dark Empire, Hellboy and Watchmen. She noted the growth of female created works in recent years. “Why can Lumberjanes, Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel exist?” she asked rhetorically. Barbara is currently editing Ryan Odagawa’s Shadowzone graphic novel and writing her first creator-owned work Sundown Crossroads which is being released in Dark Horse Presents #18-20.
Mom is the head of the Los Angeles Women’s Comic Creator Group (also known as The Ladybugs because they hold their meetings every Thursday at The Comic Bug comic store). She chose the moniker of MOM because of instances where female creators weren’t taken seriously and felt that the name comes with a position of authority. The Ladybug meetings are a safe haven for female creators where they can discuss the issues that affect them without fear of being demoralized by those who might not understand their perspective. The Ladybugs are releasing their first anthology, the 132-page Ladybugs Volume One, containing the works of 17 L.A. area comic creators. Their follow-up, Manthology, promises to be a fun ribbing of many years of comic cliches. Kesel added that the best way to highlight an issue is to “Elevate people with amusement related to the problem” rather than the soapbox approach.
Lillian Diaz-Przybyl is a former editor at TokyoPop and now heads up Chromatic Press, publisher of Sparkler magazine. Lillian noted how many female readers and creators came into comics through manga such as Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, where the female protagonists play strong leading roles. She’s currently editing volume two of Inhabitant Of Another Planet by Kaiju, which she describes as on of the most “funny, sad and beautifully drawn” works she’s been involved with.
Writer/artist Yumi Sakugawa highlighted the importance of being a voice not only for women, but for that of Asian women. While she graduated with a fine art degree at UCLA, she was drawn to comics and graphic novels because of the reasons she didn’t like a formal art education. She would rather be involved in mass produced and accessible artwork than the exclusivity of “fine art”. Her works include the critically acclaimed I Think I Am In Friend Love With You and Your Illustrated Guide To Becoming One With The Universe.
The panel was ably moderated by Rosalind Helfand, Director of Sci-Fest L.A.’s annual Short Story Writing competitions, The Roswell Award international competition for adults, and The Tomorrow Prize for Los Angeles County high school students. A leader in Southern California’s literary community, she Co-founded and Directed the West Hollywood Book Fair.
Photos by Pinguino Kolb.
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