Stevenson has been making a name for herself with her webcomic Nimona for ages now, I think it debuted in 2011? But this is a big year for her if only because Nimona is getting collected and published by Harper Collins this May. It’s a big deal for a big New York publisher to decide to publish a work that has already been made available on the web for free. Though we’re seeing more of that these days (Faith Erin Hicks Friends With Boys, Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole And A Half, and Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy to name just a few) it’s still a big deal and suggests a ton of faith in a creator.
So Stevenson would be having a hell of a level up year even if Nimona was the only thing she had going on, but of course it’s not! Noelle Stevenson is also the co-writer on the huge Boom! hit Lumberjanes which got upgraded from mini-series to an ongoing late last year, she’s contributing hilarious shorts to the Sleepy Hollow comic, and though it’s not comics, she’s recently been named a writer for Season 2 of Craig McCracken’s Disney cartoon Wander Over Yonder. Last but by no means least we got the insanely exciting news that Stevenson will be doing a Sensation Comics Wonder Woman story this year – a teen Wonder Woman story I believe (and if the sketches can be trusted). Basically that story is everything I have ever wanted from comics. So I’m pretty pumped. It takes a REALLY good year to make someone at Stevenson’s station level up, but she is poised to HAVE that year.
Nimona releases on May 19th, Lumberjanes and Sleepy Hollow are in stores now. Stevenson's Sensation Comics Starring Wonder Woman will release later this year.
I’m obviously biased, as Meredith is not only my friend and colleague, but the literal artist/co-creator on my own forthcoming OGN, but there is simply no denying that this is going to be a big year for her. For starters, this month Image has collected her fantastic webcomic Hinges into a trade volume available to the masses. Previously available in hardback thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign, Hinges has not been available in this paperback format and obviously didn’t have the incredibly valuable Image distribution and PR push behind it until now. I hope many many more people will find McClaren and her work as a result of this great development for 2015.
Also in 2015 is the long awaited and much anticipated return of Hopeless Savages (Volume 4!) from writer/creator Jen Van Meter with McClaren on art duties. And then finally, sometime this year, probably in the fall, the release of our OGN from Dark Horse (Heart In A Box). Again, I’m clearly biased as all get out, but I believe our book is going to impress the hell out of people and not for anything to do with me…McClaren just really took her visuals to an incredible level with this book that asked a lot from her from go. She delivered at every opportunity with emotional, innovative, and stunningly beautiful work. I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot from me about Heart In A Box in the future, but in the meantime make sure to pick up Hinges (out this month) and keep an eye peeled for Hopeless Savages, I think it might release this summer if we’re all very lucky!
Hinges releases in comic book stores on February 25th and bookstores in March 10th.
Like pretty much all the women on this list, Jones has been doing comics (pretty great ones at that) for quite a long time. From indie books like Twelve Reasons To Love Her and You Have Killed Me with regular co-writer/co-creator Jamie S. Rich to work with larger books like Oni’s Helheim and Brides of Helheim with Cullen Bunn, Vertigo’s Madame Xanadu, DC's Adventures of Superman, and even a Dr. Horrible comic with television writer Zach Whedon. However, her new book Lady Killer, again with longtime collaborator and co-creator Jamie S. Rich, feels like a big book step. Having read the first issue I can tell you that it’s easily Jones best work (and maybe Rich’s as well?) and the book feels like it could hit pretty big. It’s got a nice easy to pitch high-concept idea—kind of a Mad Men meets Kill Bill…or perhaps Dexter vibe—and paired with a strong completely beautiful execution, this feels like a hit in the making.
Already Dark Horse has announced a reprinting of issue #1 after it sold out. I don’t know what those initial orders were, but going back to do a reprint is never bad news. It would be great is this book could be a stepping stone to Jones getting even more attention and acclaim, she’s been “working in the trenches” – cobbling together an interesting career or creator owned indie work and work for hire projects for a long time now and she deserves more recognition than she’s received. I hope Lady Killer helps bring her that recognition, it certainly feels like a good time for everyone to decide she’s an “overnight success.” ;)
Lady Killer #1 is in stores now, as is Brides of Helheim.
Again, this is another creator where I have some clear bias. I only discovered Lee about a year ago thanks to a tip from artist Declan Shalvey when he was working on Storykiller with me, but I was blown away immediately by her talent and knew I was lucky to get her on board Storykiller. I knew it wouldn’t be long before Marvel or DC snapped her up…and sure enough, before I could even trick her into doing some comics with me, she’d been grabbed up by Marvel for their new Silk series, which debuts next month. You can read the totally gorgeous preview pages here.
Marvel is definitely doubling down on their lady Spider-books (by March we will have Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen, AND Silk all coming out at the same time). I have some doubts that the market can bear out three female led Spider-titles, but I’m glad to see them even giving it a try. Before Lee was on the book, Silk might have been my last pick up of the three since I love Spider-Gwen and Jessica Drew already and the idea of Silk is a little forced and annoying, but a female lead of color AND Stacey Lee drawing it means it goes from being a potential last place pick up to the first choice. I hope Lee’s Silk lasts as long as Lee wants to do it, but Marvel would be fools to let her go even if the book doesn’t go the distance (we all know too well that many don’t). The exposure of this book is a huge level up for Lee, but it’s well deserved and I’ve no doubt she’ll be as well known as other big 2 heavy hitter artists in no time.
Silk #1 will be in stores February 18th
I don’t have any insider knowledge about whether novelist and new Catwoman writer Genevieve Valentine has any other big comics in the queue for 2015, but writing Catwoman alone, especially as a newcomer to comics, is more than enough to qualify her as “leveling up.” Since the book also happens to be GREAT it’s especially exciting. Seriously, even the Catwoman annual that came out last month (annuals are, in my experience, more often than not, expensive wastes of time) felt relevant in how it developed the characters and relationships of the ongoing title. The first exchange between Batman and nuCatwoman was hilarious and perfect and spoke to so many layers—it said something about Batman, about Selina, and about the woman masquerading as Catwoman (and doing a pretty decent job of it)! It’s an accomplished writer – and more specifically in this case, comic book writer – that can do all that in a single page. It’s complicated and interesting work, and work I can’t wait to see more of in 2015. I haven’t read any of Valentine’s prose yet, but she’s also got a high profile novel coming out in March called Persona, so if you like her Catwoman, check that out too.
You can buy Catwoman in stores now and Persona releases in March 2015
So, that's it for my list of ladies I'm especially excited to watch level up this year. But there are many more, who are you excited to watch level up in 2015?
Kelly Thompson is a freelance writer living in Manhattan. She is the author of the superhero novel THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING recently optioned to become a film, and her new novel STORYKILLER is out now. She is also writing the forthcoming JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS comic from IDW. You can find Kelly all over the place, but twitter may be the easiest: @79semifinalist