Womanthology is already well-known, and it hasn’t even hit the stands yet. Brought about thanks to the creative talents of more than 150 women involved in what is for many, their first published project, it promises to change the comic book industry.
Given the discussion generated by the antiquated idea that there are only a small number of women working in comics, Womanthology is partly a statement and at the same time serves as a showcase for a group of very talented people who celebrates the women working in comics. It will also be an inspiration to those who are hoping to make their mark in the industry. As with most things, Womanthology started small, with a tweet from Renae De Liz on May 17th, 2011 but since then it’s grown into a huge creative collaboration that’s gained industry acclaim and attention even before its release.From its cover with its striking and colorful illustrations, to the record-breaking Kickstarter campaign that raised $109,301 in 30 days, Womanthology stands out. That being said, it is hopefully the first of many such anthologies.
When one picks up Womanthology, it’s clear that it’s an enormous undertaking. Although, all told, it’s more than 300 pages, it’s not a slow read, thanks to the amazing collaborative work of everyone involved. The art is gorgeous, beginning with the cover. A range of characters are arrayed together, all drawn in different styles, each of them seemingly caught mid-movement as if they were waiting for you to open the cover and start reading. When you do open the book, you find an image of the tweet that started it all, then information about some of the people involved in organizing Womanthology, such as Project Manager Renae De Liz, Assistant Project Manager Laura Morley, Editor Jessica Hickman,, the principal letterer, Rachel Deering and from there, you’re on your way. In addition to the stories and artwork, Womanthology has added some terrific extras that will make rereading a pleasure. Below each story or picture is an information about the writer and artist. It’s a way to really put a face to the work, and the biographies are quirky and fun to read. Throughout the book are tips from comic-book professionals and other tidbits, such as a web comic by Stacie Ponder with a new installment on every page. The stories themselves are excellent, and run a gamut of subjects. There are fairy tales, space adventures, and some creepy dolls. Foes range from a giant octopus, to a young woman’s struggle with her identity, and the everyday sort of bullies that everyone has to stand up to at some point.
Among my favorite stories in Womanthology are ‘The Spinster‘ by Ming Doyle with colors by Jordie Bellaire, which is delightfully noir. Another is the story of ‘Lady Power Punch,’ and her ordinary alter ego, and ‘The New Adventures of Queen Elizabeth I‘ is a clever take on the idea of ‘protector of the city.’ Amanda McMurrary’s ‘The All Too Real World‘ is poignant and may be very familiar to many women trying to break into comics. All told, there are many stories, and each of them warrants multiple readings. A truly exceptional comic book needs an artist that is able to translate the writer’s words into imagery, and here again, Womanthology has gathered an impressive group.
The artists are of varying skill levels, and their styles are as diverse as the stories their work brings to life. In between the stories are pinups and digital paintings, Lois Van Baarle’s tiger and woman piece is very striking, and a knight on the battlefield is smiling as though she has vanquished her foes and is daring another to step forward. It can be difficult to stay objective when it comes to reviewing something that you enjoy, but Womanthology stands on its own merits and deserves to be read, and shared with everyone who has ever considered picking up a comic. By itself, Womanthology is impressive, but I predict that its effects will be far-reaching and lead to increased recognition of women’s work in comics and hopefully more opportunities to tell all kinds of stories.
Womanthology is being published by IDW Publishing and has a projected release date of March 2012. It can be preordered through comic book shops with the promotional code Diamond Code NOV110296, and all proceeds from the book go to charity. If you love Womanthology, consider attending a convention and you may be able to tell these women as much in person.