“She sees arise
The second time.
From the sea, the earth,
The cascades fall,
The eagle soars,
From lofty mounts
Pursues its prey.”
“She sees arise
The second time.
From the sea, the earth,
The cascades fall,
The eagle soars,
From lofty mounts
Pursues its prey.”
I’ve been trying to experiment more with a flatter art style with my digital work. I was inspired to paint these wendigo illustrations, and I am fairly pleased with how they’ve turned out.
While on a ferry to Ireland a couple of months ago I was inspired by the waves and landscape to digitally paint this image, featuring this quote by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here, partially because I’ve been finishing my own comic ‘The Trade’ and partially because I haven’t had as much time to read comics for a little while but as of late I’ve managed to squeeze a few more in.
Today I’m going to talk about the series ‘Flintlock’ by Steve Tanner from Time bomb comics.
First of all I’d like to point out that very rarely do I buy action comics, partially because I love horror and fantasy work and partially because sometimes it can be really uncomfortable reading for a woman, I’d also like to make the point that I’m quite often weary of female characters written by men for similar reasons of uncomfortableness. Quite often I speak to comic writers who write female characters to appeal to the ever growing crowd of young women attending conventions and flooding comic book shops, usually as a cynical cash in rather than a nuanced representation of women and fairly often as a way of sneaking some pin up work onto the cover to keep their male audience happy.
I’m fairly happy to say that Flintlock doesn’t fall into those categories and in fact is a really refreshing read.
The books each have 3 characters with their own short stories split three ways in the books: Lady Flintlock whom the books are titled after, Shianti the pirate queen and The Clockwork Cavalier. I’m mostly going to focus on Shianti and Flintlock even though I really enjoyed Clockwork Cavalier (which also has my favourite art work by Ed Machiavello in the books)
I strongly believe that representation in the media has larger effects on society than is given credit. The philosopher Jaques Rancier in his book ‘The Politics of Aesthetics’ talks about how systems of privilege and oppression work primarily through the aesthetic, determining who has a voice and who is represented in society. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the aesthetic has both preserved a pecking order throughout history, but has also been used to challenge the status quo in the favour of the oppressed. It is with this theory in mind that I believe and support positive representation of oppressed races, genders and sexualities in mainstream and indie culture, as it contributes to change in our society and how people are viewed in our society.
It is with my view on representation in mind that I will talk about the Flintlock books. I was thrilled when I saw that two out of the three characters were not only women, but also graced the covers as major characters rather than filler material, and I was even happier with their costuming and poses. The front cover of the first issue has both Shianti and Lady Flintlock, both stood in strong action poses, both fully clothed in period costume rather than in bikini variants, book two of Flintlock has Lady Flintlock astride her horse looking completely badass and powerful.
The old adage is that ‘Sex sells’. It is very refreshing to see creators starting to ignore this, and providing varied characters for comic readers to look up to. When I say this it’s not that I believe that sexuality is bad, but rather that I believe that it shouldn’t be all that exists, nor should it be the only thing taken into consideration when formulating a character. Flintlock from the get go presents us with female characters who are defined by their actions rather than their sexual worth, and while a lot of work that depicts female characters staring passively into the distance, both Lady Flintlock and Shianti stare us in the eye, confronting the reader and establishing power.
The above panel is the first page that confronted me as I opened Flintlock 1, it’s extremely striking and sets the tone for the first story, which is of course Lady Flintlock, the story of a female highwayman. I will try not to go into too much depth story wise as I genuinely would like anyone who reads this to pick up a copy for yourselves, but the overall story between the two issues follows Lady Flintlock in her double life and centres a lot around the mysterious reasons she is a highwayman and the retaliations of the rich folk she steals from. The story overall reminds me a lot of an 18th century batman story, with a more sympathetic protagonist. The work is imaginatively written, staying within the confines of history but still generating excitement and flare and still having empowered female characters, something that is quite often lacking from period work. Flintlock herself is a very interesting character, portrayed as both being very capable in a fight but also quick on her feet against adversity. It was interesting to me that the artist Anthony Summey didn’t shy away from showing Flintlock also taking a beating, this might sound like strange praise but too often are strong women beaten down in stories and suddenly powerless, this didn’t happen here, it was portrayed similarity to how a fight between two men might be.
I was genuinely slightly bummed when I finished Lady Flintlock in issue 2 as I wanted more answers about her background and intentions, I was however quite happy to see more of Lizzie in issue 2 and look forward to seeing more of their friendship in issue 3.
Her character design is interesting and it’s really cool that a woman of colour was put in such a place of power as a pirate queen. And to mention sexualisation yet again there is a lack of it in Shanti design, the poses she’s in are strong and her costumes aren’t designed to show flesh, and as a woman of colour she doesn’t exist to be exotic or fetishised because of her background, she is surrounded by men who respect her ability and wisdom rather than as a damsel.
As I previously stated I won’t go to much into the story lest I ruin it but Shanti is portrayed as an often brutal but also principled pirate captain with an extremely loyal crew. The Shanti stories have a far more dreamlike quality in the telling and despite being grounded in realism feel like a fantasy story at times. She’s shown as being very capable and using both her wits and prowess as a fighter. while at times I found her methods violent and sometimes hard to look at I also found myself respecting her logic and principles and agreed with her judgements if not her punishments.
The enthusiasm for the subject matter of all three characters really seeps through the writing of Flintlock. Steven Tanner has clearly thought a lot about the the characters he’s created and you can really feel the love for them in the work. The history of the period has been thoroughly researched and I was delighted to find some of that research shared in both books, talking about the real women who were highwaymen and pirates.
While the work isn’t without faults, I would say it’s nuanced and researched enough that the positives definately outweigh the negatives, I would possibly criticise Clockwork Cavalier for example as there are no women at all in the story bar two in the background of the first issue, while the stories are pretty short I would still expect more at least visible if not necissarily speaking but that is a fairly minor criticism. But I think Flintlock is a series we’re intent shines through and I was I left feeling very positive about the work.
While some may argue that it’s problematic to praise work both written by and drawn by men about women I would argue that acceptance of women in a male saturated community needs male creators like Steve who are both welcoming and thoughtful towards female readers. I have had the pleasure of meeting Steve and attending several of the same conventions with him, and one of the draws of purchasing Flintlock for me was seeing so many young women and teenagers buying the Flintlock books and being respectfully catered to and welcomed at his stall. I believe that seeing positive and varied depictions of women in comics, not to fill a niche but as quality work will encourage more women to be involved in the creative side of the comic community. This is why I chose to review Flintlock and why I recommend it as a series to follow and support.
I first came across Panels Comics in MCM Glasgow earlier this year, they were across from us (Frisson Comics) in the Comic Village which meant that I got to gaze at their lovely work all weekend, I ended up buying a pack of zines from them which I enjoyed immensely, they were experimental and full of interesting concepts. I started following Faye Stacey and Letty Wilson on Instagram and decided that next time I saw them at a convention I’d purchase some bigger books.
Both books I bought ended up being illustrated by Wilson. I was drawn to the retro colouring and the intricate covers of the books initially. Meteor is both written and illustrated by Wilson and Cosmic is written by Erin Keepers. I would like to say before I talk properly about Cosmic, that Meteor even though there is currently no new content is definitely worth a read, the writing is funny and dark and the art is full of beautiful details. It reminded me of Big Hero 6 in a way thematically (well if Big Hero 6 was set in a dystopian future and merged with Akira) If you can cope with the Firefly effect of needing more when you’ve finished, definitely grab a copy!
Now onto Cosmic, just wow. The story is centred around a young woman who wakes up in the centre of a crater with no memories but with a sense of purpose. The storytelling and pacing are phenomenally well done, the reader is introduced to the protagonist as she starts to learn about herself, Wilson art conveys the sense of wonder and innocence that the character must be feeling quite well. The story progresses in a fairly natural way, with the unnamed character learning about her environment and trying to find her way to the city.
The characters we meet on the way are likeable and as a reader I got very attached (a very SPOILER event happens in the story that I can’t elaborate on but left me feeling emotional and shocked)
Wilson’s beautiful artwork compliments Keeper’s intriguing tale perfectly. The aesthetic of the work and the intrigue at the end of the first issue has left me wanting to know more. As with NYX Cosmic will definitely be a regular purchase at future conventions (along with other works offered by Panels Comics)
I managed to grab the the first issue of NYX in the Overworld by Hari Conner at ECAF this year. It was hard to choose from all the lovely things for sale on her table (Hari is a talented illustrator and has a lot of really cool bags and accessories I’d love to own) but ultimately since I was at a comic festival I decided I wanted to take a chance on a new comic series!
I chose the first issue of NYX (there are 5 issues plus a spin off novel currently available) as I’m not always into this type of comic but I really liked the style of illustration on the cover and because I figured if I loved it there are more issues to buy so I wouldn’t be left hanging!
I’m very glad that I gave NYX a chance, the story is funny and engrossing, Conner manages to use the premise of ‘what if the rules of RPGs were applied to life’ in a way that isn’t intrusive to the story and actually adds depth to the characters journey.
The protagonist is a sweet character, they’re determined and sometimes a little naive (which makes it even better when they succeed). As an aside Conner explained to me that she purposely didn’t want the characters to have male or female pronouns which I quite liked and apparently it’s explained more in future issues.
A quality I quite like as a comic reader and artist is when the artwork improves throughout the comic. NYX starts off good and ends up looking great, you can see experimentation throughout the first issue which is cool and because each chapter is divided by the level of the character it can be read that the artist’s work is also levelling up!
I say so far because I will definitely be continuing with this series and watching it grow. The only real thing I’d ask for is the comic to get a colour print one day but I understand that this would bump up costs so it’s definitely a deal breaker. For now I can read the comic for free in colour here (though I do prefer a print copy). You can see more of Conner’s awesome work here go go go!
I’ve previously bought comics off Lockwood because her art is so gorgeous, I love the traditional feel of her linework and her textured colouring. Pushinka is no exception, Lockwood sticks to a 60s USA nostalgic colour palette of red, white blue and orange alluding to to soviet colours subtly throughout, her linework captures the playful movements of Pushinka and adds a 60s advertisement kinda vibe Which plays into the propaganda that was happening at the time.
Overall this comic was a lovely read and is a great addition to my indie library, Lockwood’s other comics are definitely worth checking out (I previously bought North Coast Plagues which I also recommend)
Frisson Comics are currently exhibiting at the first ever Edinburgh Comic Art Festival with our first book and zines. While I’m here I’m doing some shopping for unusual comics to add to the collection. Of course Triskelion by Kathryn Briggs stands out.
I was immediately drawn to the fine art quality of her work, reminiscent of the likes of Dave Mckean and Bill Sienkiewicz (the artists who originally got me into comics)
I had an intriguing conversation with Briggs when buying her comics about her work. She explained to me that she originally trained in fine art and transitioned to comics because it removed the barrier between art and viewer, she also told me that she’s interested in exploring the idea of a feminine hero through her work (the definition of which society currently can’t decide on). Her work actually contains snippets of philosophy adding context and depth to the work which I love.
Story wise the comic is based on three feminine characters and heavily based on Greek Mythology, with Circe and Athena being prominent characters. The story plays with traditional narratives and subverts the hierarchy of hero and villain, I’m intrigued to see where this goes with the next issue.
Only real criticism I have is that the issues are fairly short, but with the effort and imagination put into the production this is understandable, I think this series would definitely benefit from a compiled graphic novel release when finished!
In short, check out this author/artist/amazing person
You can see more of her gorgeous work and purchase prints/art/book here
Watch this space for more reviews!
My posting has gone to pot recently, partially because I’m currently working on the next book from Frisson Comics
The Trade Which we are now funding via Kickstarter.
Like with our last book Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footprints, we’re trying to create a unique horror experience for our readers, using inks and quills to get a very organic line and natural aesthetic to the story.
I hope if this is any interest you might check out our campaign or even share it for us! This book is a must for indie comic fans 🙂
I’m gonna try a new thing on this blog and try and keep up with it. Every Thursday I’m gonna try and review a comic I’ve bought on Kickstarter as well as do a spotlight on a Kickstarter I’ve backed recently or that looks cool! Obviously I might not always have a comic to review as its determined by Kickstarter deadlines but hopefully I’ll always be able to do a spotlight!
Without further ado….
I sprung for the package that got me the previous books as well which was a bargain really. The series focuses on traditional fairy tales and fables from different continents, so far we’ve had the European edition and the African edition which I have yet to read (though they look awesome, and might be the subject of a future review). The stories are told using the format of comics which is always an instant positive for me, with different artists and authors working on each story, some told with modern elements.
A massive kudos I have to give for this book is that usually when I see things refer to Asia it tends to be East Asia, mostly Japan, sometimes China that is included rather than Pakistan or India. This book has been very inclusive and has stories from all over the continent, I’ve learned a lot about mythologies that I don’t usually come into contact with in western appraisals of myths and legends.
The different styles of artwork adds to the eclectic feel of the stories, I was slightly disappointed it was black and white rather than colour but for the sheer amount of content in the book I can understand why this was opted for and the illustrations are gorgeous regardless.
If anyone is interested in a copy, you can buy it digitally or physically from here, for $20 it’s an absolute bargain, for the quality of content and artwork and sheer size of the book you should snatch it up!
Enough Space for Everyone Else: An Anthology
Ok there are quite a lot of really cool Kickstarter projects on at the moment but this one stood out for numerous reasons (which I’ll get to) and it isn’t even 100% funded yet!
First of all, the artists taking part in this project are extremely talented, a look through the example pages left my mouth watering. I’m very much a believer in comics moving away from the traditional Marvel styles and story telling techniques to being more adventurous and diverse in appearance, this project promises just that.
Secondly, and this sealed the deal for me when I backed it, this project aims to explore new paths of space stories to follow, rather than sticking to the tired old space exploration/ colonisation stories this book is exploring new directions to take the space travel genre. People always say ‘if you don’t like it, make your own’ which is what these guys have done and this gets infinate respects from me, and means that each story will be new and exciting. Go, pledge now!
One of the main reasons I Kickstarter is that it allows projects that wouldn’t necessarily be made by mainstream means to be created and in public awareness for those who need to see something besides what is provided in popular media. This project is a really good example of this.
If this post was interesting to any of you, and you have any suggestions for kick-starters that you think deserve a spotlight send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment here!