Archie Comics introduces its first gay character!


I mean, seriously: Wow. Okay, I know I'm a couple days behind on the news but wow. Check the information out here, the official Archie site. This is one thing that I really never expected to see from Archie comics.

The character's name is Kevin. He gets introduced when he catches Veronica's eye, and she pursues him. He has absolutely no interest in her, to her chagrin. Eventually, he confides in Jughead that the reason he doesn't like Veronica is not because she's insane (my reason for not liking either Betty or Veronica) but because he's gay. I was impressed in how that reveal is handed. No big shocker, nothing outrageous, Jughead just realizes that he can mess with Veronica but there is absolutely NO negative reaction in any way.

There's been several times at the store where I've gone through old Archie comics, going back to the 50s. One of the things that I've noticed is that Archie often reflects the attitudes of the times in regards to American culture: fashion, politics, dating habits, whatever is socially acceptable. The fact that Archie's newest cast member is gay (and how acceptable it is to the characters) gives me hope that the general view on sexual orientation is starting to really change in America.

Honest Sequential Self-Image(s)

"When I Was A Mall Model" from Lipstick Press

It feels like it's been a long time since I've reviewed something out of the mainstream. Hell, it feels like it's been a long time since I reviewed anything...

Years ago I discovered a mini-comic while I was on vacation with my parents here in NYC at Jim Hanley's Universe (that great store on 33rd St in Manhattan). I picked it off the shelf of mini-comics because its cover is shocking and brilliantly well-designed. That mini-comic was Monica Gallagher's "boobage". My poor mother was scandalized. Well, you know, a little bit. But I was shocked to discover that it wasn't just a comic about boobs with an eye-catching cover, it was an honest presentation of some human truths about growing up as a woman in America that, as a male, I had never fully understood. I didn't think much of it at the time other than: I should share this with the women in my life. But it grew on me. In fact, my opinion of it grew with each person I showed it to. Women and men of all kinds are pleasantly surprised by it almost without fail. It does what all good art should: Clearly shows us something about our world we didn't see before.

[At left, a page from Monica's first autobiographical comic "Survival of the Fittest: Middle School Popularity Camp" available in its entirety online for free here.]

But I'm not here to review "boobage" [or "Survival of the Fittest"] because it is a few years old now and in an attempt to keep myself honest I've been restricting myself to reviewing things published within the previous three months.

What I am reviewing is Monica Gallagher's latest mini-comic: "When I Was A Mall Model"

In the years since her older works, Gallagher has grown as a visual artist and lost none of her honesty as a writer. The faces of the characters are more striking and well-composed, the figures well-proportioned. As the stories she's telling are beginning to catch up with her adult-self, I am beginning to recognize the woman I have met in the drawings of the girl she used to be. Her line-work is gorgeous and strong in many places.

Her cartooning choices have also grown by leaps: a roller rink's decor is called-up in our collective memory simply by a single Seventies-style wall-fixture against a blank background, two swooping lines create a naked buttocks. (Yeah, that's right. I said it: BUTTOCKS. Deal with it.)

The story is great because (like in "boobage") it starts with something so simple that it appears to be the beginning of a story-track we have seen many times:

1-Girl has dream of success in specific field
2-Girl gets discovered in chosen field
3-Girl becomes big success in said field

But we all know that the truth of human existence is rarely so clean -so Hollywood- and what Gallagher gives us is that true, human version of the story.

Instead of an immediate and persistant dream of a modeling career, Gallagher depicts herself as a girl in her late teens who wanted to be a model when she was 10. It was a dream she'd decided to give a pass on, but suddenly gets sucked back into. The following pages show us the awkwardness and embarrassments of being a seventeen-year-old struggling female model.

The story self-consciously (in both senses of the word) lays bare an anti-Hollywood, realistic structure. Gallagher allows us into her inner hopes and self-doubt, the rising and crashing of her emotion as well as her self-image (another element from "boobage"). The mini-comic ends with her being denied entrance to an elite modeling agency (It's actually called "Elite." God, what an industry.), told that she's "too 'edgy' for Chicago, but not edgy enough for New York", and deciding to leave modeling behind. She had tricked herself into thinking, as we all do sometimes, 'I just need someone to see me under their nose and they won't be able to miss my natural talent!' The prospect of years of future hard work for something she didn't really want was enough good reason to end her time as a model.

Lucky for us she made the decision to pursue digital art and visual storytelling instead!

While it may not be Eisner-winning material, "When I Was A Mall Model" is another wonderful and straightforward autobiographical comic from Monica Gallagher. Each is better than the last. In the opinion of this writer, Gallagher is on her way to being among the stronger autobiographical comicsmiths in America.

You should look it up and purchase a copy so we can all continue to see new work like this from her! Here's a link to her online store (with a list of the 'brick-and-mortar' stores which carry her stuff), where I'm sure it will be available after her current signing tour ends.

Who's excited for tomorrow's Brave and the Bold?

I'm excited for tomorrow's Brave and the Bold.

For those of you who don't know, J. Michael Straczynski has been knocking Brave and the Bold out of the park month after month, pairing together characters that you would never imagine teaming up. Green Lantern and Doctor Fate? The Atom and the Joker? Aquaman and the Demon? Each better than the last in my opinion.

Last month, we saw Aquaman and the Demon teaming up in a quest to save the world from Cthulu- I mean, The Old Gods. I was highly impressed by JMS's ability to channel Lovecraft so well, while still keeping his unique voice. It was one of the best one shot comics that I had ever read, and I was really unsure how he was going to top it.

Oh wait. He'll write a new one shot with three of my favorite characters and have it be drawn by one of my favorite artists. Duh. Why didn't I think of that?

While, the team-up roster is a little more predictable than the usual team-ups on JMS's Brave and the Bold run, I'm stoked for a great ride and another fun issue.

Thanks to DC's blog The Source for posting the preview pages. You can check them out here!

I'm Not Much Of A Superman Fan...

...but the combination of the above John Cassaday cover and JMS as the writer may make me try a few issues. Solicit information is below:

J. Michael Straczynski begins his highly anticipated run on SUPERMAN! After the devastating events of WAR OF THE SUPERMEN, how can Superman possibly continue his battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way? Find out here in “Grounded” part 1 and get in on the starting line of a modern-classic SUPERMAN story!