When one’s last book of feminist essays on pop culture (Chicks Dig Time Lords) walks off with Hugos for you and your co-editor, what do you do next? If you say “maybe co-edit another book of feminist essays on pop culture,” then you’re thinking like Lynne M. Thomas, who with Sigrid Ellis has edited Chicks Dig Comics, featuring essays on the form and culture from Seanan McGuire, Jill Thompson, Marjorie Liu, Elizabeth Bear and many other comics and science fiction notables. As Thomas explains, there’s a bond that ties these creators together, and it’s not just a love of capes and masks.
LYNNE M. THOMAS:
I’m a geek girl, and proud of it.
At Mad Norwegian Press, we’ve produced a series of books I call the Geek Girl Chronicles. In Chicks Dig Time Lords (co-edited by Tara O’Shea, which won a 2011 Hugo Award for Best Related Work) we talked about Doctor Who and its fandom. In Whedonistas (co-edited by Deborah Stanish) we celebrated Joss Whedon’s works.
In Chicks Dig Comics (co-edited by Sigrid Ellis), oddly enough (spoilers!), we celebrate comic books.
The initial big idea behind these books was that geeky properties (even those supposedly for men) appeal to women and girls. If you’ve spent any time on the internet, though, you’ve likely come to this conclusion without our help. But we discovered something else as the books came together.
In these books, we celebrate creativity, fandom, and community. People who love geeky things kind of rock with their conventions, websites, cosplay, charity fundraisers, and most of all, friendships. We’re just documenting the multitude of ways in which they do so.
Comics’ creators and fans rock particularly hard, so we thought we’d throw a really loud party to prove it.
In Chicks Dig Comics, women from both inside and outside of the industry explain in their own words what comics mean to them. We also interview some comics’ professionals who have produced works that tend to appeal to female readership. Our comic book pros talk about how comics are written, drawn, edited, and sold, and how business gets done in the industry. Fans discuss how their love spurs them to creative works: cosplay, fanzines, and attending and running conventions.
Chicks Dig Comics is like a portable mini-convention, with fans and creators side-by-side, trading comics back and forth and discussing their favorite bits. It’s also a book that you can hand to your parents, your kids, your sweeties, your friends, to help explain why you’re so excited to go to your local comics’ store every Wednesday when the new issues come in.
So, you know, we didn’t really try to cover too much in this volume.
Here’s what we learned while making this book: The Pro began as a drunken bar bet. Dominant Gorilla Syndrome exists. Batman is kind of a jerk, even when he’s right (but he still needs to hug Dick Grayson more often). The X-Men cause slumber party arguments and coming out stories, as well as professional disagreements. People still argue about their favorite X-men, but maybe we don’t have to choose. Sandman is really a revenge tragedy. Vampirella helps with coping with a childhood bully. Captain America might honor yesterday’s veterans and today’s protesters alike. Whether you’re a DC, Marvel, or indie fan, we’re all on Warren Ellis’ Global Frequency, deputized to solve the world’s problems. Hope is our superpower. All you need is a cape, and we know how to put together a stealth superhero costume in a pinch.
This is a book full of stories from people discovering their own superpowers, as readers, writers, artists, and creators.
The real Big Idea is that wonderful things can happen when people get together because of a shared cultural property.
And that is totally worth celebrating.