So by now, we’re all well versed in the various feminist discourses swirling around the comic book & graphic novel industry. Comics have been overwhelmingly created by men and portrayals of women within comic books have often been laden with gender stereotypes. Although there are an increasing number of women in the comic book/graphic novel industry, and amazing women like Christina Blanch are pioneering academic approaches to comics which take categories of gender into account, there are still annoyingly loud voices within the industry who seem to want to keep women out. *Cough-TonyHarris-cough*
Similarly, new renditions of old super-heroines seem to lack any awareness of female fans’ demands for characters that they can actually respect. Costumes are the most obvious point of tension between traditional renditions, and fans’ changing expectations. At the point that American TV network NBC was still planning a new Wonder Woman series–sadly, David Kelley’s attempts were unsuccessful–there was more buzz about the (ridiculous) costume than almost any other element. If ANYONE (Amazonian or otherwise) could actually move in that oversized condom, I’d be in total awe. And photos of actress Adrianne Palicki running in her version of the costume make it obvious that any head-over-heels action would result in WW’s Amazonian twins’ debut. Much more convincing are fan re-imaginings wherein Wonder Woman either looks like a proper Amazonian, or a kick-ass warrior goddess. Alas, these are not the stuff of industry-sanctioned comics.
Well move over Wonder Woman! Have a seat BatGirl (does anyone else get super annoyed with the fact that she’s called girl?!). Here comes a NEW super woman and she is (actually) the one we’ve been waiting for! Meet Cat Abigail Daniels:
‘Who is Cat? She’d tell you she’s nobody special, that she’s just like you. Just an average, Irish-American girl in her early twenties; a cop’s daughter, studying in the big city. Sure, she did OK at sports, she’s always got along with people pretty well, she’s happy enough with how she looks.
She’d tell you that the city’s special, not her: Gloria City, with its vibrant little communities, its bright lights, grand architecture and Broadway shows. And most of all, its larger-than-life personalities. Gloria has a cast of celebrity superheroes, from corporate boss The Major to the shadowy Misper, from independent operator Sekhmet to the self-appointed armoured vigilante, Urbanite. Gloria is a theater where these big figures fight, posture, pose and self-promote. And if you’re not in a costume and a mask, you’re just little people.
All her life, Cat’s been taught to be little, learned to keep herself small, tried to avoid attention. Don’t be too full of yourself. Don’t show off. And most of all, don’t let people know how smart you are, because they don’t like it.
But Cat really is someone special. Cat is the smartest person in Gloria City. She remembers everything she reads; she knows how everything connects. And she’s getting tired of pretending, of hiding, of acting dumb to save other people’s feelings.
BE STILL MY HEART!!
This delicious bio is courtesy of the teaser campaign for My So-Called Secret Identity!
Created by Dr. Will Brooker, MSCSI introduces a new kind of super-heroine:’no high heels, no skimpy outfits, no unrealistic physiques’. Rather than ‘simply criticising the representation of women in superhero comics, [Dr. Brooker] put together a team to do it differently, and better’.
In addition to making Cat different and better, the team Dr. Brooker assembled is atypical for the comic book industry. According to MSCSI ‘social media maven’ Riven, ‘when putting the creative team together, Dr. Brooker deliberately set out to reverse the industry gender bias, and we are proud to be mostly women’. DR. BROOKER ARE YOU HIRING?!?!
If that’s not enough to get your spidey-senses tingling, now hear this: ‘My So-Called Secret Identity issue 1 will be online permanently for free, in full colour, on its dedicated websitewww.mysocalledsecretidentity.com, including sketches, designs and behind-the-scenes notes. Subsequent issues will be funded by donations through the site (suggested $5 minimum, with original art and other rewards for larger gifts). The money pays for the artists’ fees and a proportion is then donated to a women’s charity — for issue 2, we are funding http://www.awayout.co.uk/‘.
I’M SORRY I KEEP SHOUTING BUT I’M SO EXCITED!!! A comic book about an awesome-brainy-reader-kickass-redhead-girl, made BY (mostly) women (and one totally righteous dude), and sold to support a women’s charity?! *head explodes*
If you, like me, canNOT WAIT patiently enough for February 18 (when the site goes live and the whole world is made infinitely better by the release of issue 1), you can follow Cat on Twitter and stay tuned into the MSCSI Facebook page where ‘Likes’ are rewarded with stunning new illustrations (like the one below) from Cat’s favorite artist, Suze Shore.
This is precisely the type of gloriousness that I would gladly empty out my pockets for (tho’, sorry Dr. B et al, there’s not a lot in there). Cat and MSCSI promises to finally deliver what GEEK-ladies and gents have been clamoring for. MSCSI is the type of comic I would give to my nephews so that I could finally point to a female character who looks a hell of a lot like the women they know and love and say, ‘See? We’re pretty damn cool, huh?’
**Stay tuned for more on MSCSI and Cat… we will certainly be talking with them again soon**
Images courtesy of My So-Called Secret Identity via Riven Buckley