Welcome back to my annual female positive comics holiday gift list!
So the holidays are upon us again and you’ve decided that in these tough economic times you want to support the comic industry by giving everyone on your list sweet comics. And not only that, but you want to take it one step further and only give female friendly comics…well, in that super specific case you’ve found the right list.
Like previous years, in addition to picking excellent female friendly titles, I also limited myself to books released in 2014 only. If you’re looking for more books that just those released in 2014, I urge you to check out my previous lists here: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Now, I’ve put links to everything here for your convenience but as always, buy at your local shops when you can! These are in no particular order - and there are about 15 items and 3 pages so don't stop before you've seen them all...let’s get started, yes?
SAGA DELUXE EDITION VOL 1 HARDCOVER
Brian K. Vaughan (writer). Fiona Staples (artist). Image Comics. $49.99. Hardcover. Color. 504 Pages.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga has simply dominated since it released in early 2012, locking up a ton of fan love, critical acclaim, and even six Eisners (for best writer, best painter/multimedia artist, best new series, and best continuing series) so if you’re a fan (and you should be, yes, even you Greg Burgas!) you’re going to want to get your hands on this gorgeous deluxe hardcover collecting the first eighteen issues of the series—oversized, filled with extras including never before seen sketches, script pages, a roundtable discussion, and a “shocking” all new cover by Fiona Staples—the book clocks in at over 500 massive pages. Basically it’s a must for any fan. I also read somewhere that they’re only printing so many of these (at least as a first run)…so you might want to get in on this while they’re around.
Female Friendly Factor: Female Creator (Staples). Technically the lead character is Hazel, since she narrates and it is, at heart, her story. This might feel like a cheat since Hazel is a child, but the book is chock full of fascinating female leads/supporting cast as well (Alana, Gwendolyn, Sophie, Klara, The Stalk, The Brand, Isabel and more).
GLORY - THE COMPLETE SAGA
Joe Keatinge (writer). Ross Campbell (artist). Ms,Shatia Hamilton, Joseph Bergin III, Owen Gieni and Charis Solis (colorists). Image Comics. $34.99. Hardcover. Color. 352 Pages.
I’m a sucker for magnificent editions of comics I love and oversized hardcovers of epic totally off the wall brutal comics that also happen to have incredible unconventional all new covers? Automatic buy. This hardcover edition, the first time the entire series has been collected in one volume clocks in at 352 pages and includes tons of extras—sketchbook material, scripts, interviews, and commentary. It’s also deliciously oversized which is the best possible way to experience Keatinge and Campbell’s fantastically bonkers story that never pulls a punch and feels deliciously zany while still telling the story of a millennia spanning intergalactic war that will leave you breathless to its last heartbreaking pages. Especially for Campbell's epic visionary artwork unlike anything you'd see on a typical superhero comic this edition is not to be missed. This is superheroes as you’ve really never quite seen them before.
Female Friendly Factor: Female creator for part of the series (Hamilton). Full of fascinating unconventional female leads, most especially the hugely muscled awesomeness that is Glory.
THIS ONE SUMMER
Mariko Tamaki (writer). Jillian Tamaki (artist). First Second. $21.99. Hardcover. Limited Color Washes. 320 Pages.
Probably my favorite OGN of the year. Mining well-worn themes of friends growing simultaneously together and apart, trauma and simple pleasures, the edge between childhood and adulthood, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki's This One Summer is so effortless and beautifully executed that it manages all these things while remaining cliché-free, delivering a stunning, emotionally engaging, beating heart of a book. Though the themes and issues of This One Summer are large and emotional, Tamaki and Tamaki execute the story with such precision and care that it never tips into melodrama, instead preferring to be quiet and nuanced and thus infinitely relatable, real, and emotional. This One Summer is the definition of a five-star book and an example of two creators working in such perfect sync they appear more as one creator than two. (some text taken from my CBR review of this book).
Female Friendly Factor: Female Creators (Tamaki and Tamaki). Rose and Windy are exceptional female leads, both as different and as the same as any pair of summer friends could be. The book also emphasizes the other female characters and has a story that will likely be especially relatable to women.
IN REAL LIFE
Cory Doctorow (writer) Jen Wang (artist). First Second. $17.99. Softcover. Color. 192 Pages.
I wrote about In Real Life back in October when it came out, but I’ll reiterate what I said then – it’s a smart, sweet, highly relevant story about a girl gamer who revels in her multiplayer game life that allows her to be many things she’s missing in her real life. But when she begins fighting against players that are committing illegal gaming offenses, she realizes that things are not as simple as they seem and ends up fighting some real world injustices instead. It’s a gaming story that is refreshingly free of cynicism and whose messages hit home powerfully without ever feeling saccharine. It's also a book that could not be more relevant given the upheaval in gaming of late, and yet it's free of any of the grotequeness that is attached to those current political issues in a wonderful welcoming way. There's a purity to In Real Life that's almost magical. Wang's gorgeous expressive visuals are an especially bright spot in the book and her colors are divine.
Female Friendly Factor: Female Creator (Wang). Excellent female leads, strong female supporting characters, and an overall strong message that will resonate especially with young women.
THROUGH THE WOODS
Emily Carroll (writer/artist). Simon & Schuster. $14.99. Hardcover. Black & White with Spot Color. 208 Pages.
Emily Carroll has made an indelible mark on comics, especially web comics over the last few years, with truly powerful stories that have captured hearts and minds (usually with terror) and her first collection is an exceptional realization of those stories into print. For someone that designed her stories so specifically for web reading Carroll has translated them perfectly to this gorgeous hardcover collection. For those of you that like dark fairy tales, Carroll will take your breath away with stories that have a bit of sweet and a whole lot darkness. Carroll takes on all kinds of subject matter, from a jealous man that murders his brother (only to have him return, alive, three days later), to a body snatchers story unlike any you have ever read before. There is even a Red Riding Hood story with the tiniest tweak that gives it a whole new terrifying meaning. Carroll’s sensibility has always trended to the macabre, and her execution — the colors she chooses, the poetry of her words, how she structures her panels and her text — is nothing short of masterful. (some text taken from my write up of Through The Woods on Lit Reactor).
Female Friendly Factor: Female Creator (Carroll). Female leads and/or supporting characters in various stories as well as some tales that will be especially relatable for women.