Friday, February 03, 2006

Sexy Chix

Chynna Clugston? Jill Thompson? Colleen Doran? Gail Simone? Colleen Coover? Amanda Conner? Trina Robbins?

Sexy Chix ... you had me at "Hello".

Thing of it is, though, I don't care if you're chix. I don't care if you're sexy. This is an anthology of some of the best creators working in comics these days, regardless of gender. I bought Sexy Chix because it contains some of the people in comics that make me excited about the artform.

Why, then, was I so nonplussed by Sexy Chix? A few pieces (notably "No Rites" by Madison Clell which hits with the force of a hurricane) made me glad I read the collection, but on the whole I was left feeling cold and unengaged.

It's not that I'm unable to appreciate art made from a woman's point of view. It's been scientifically established that my taste in manga is approximately that of a 16-year old girl. What those manga titles share, however, is great characterization that surpasses politics and gender.

I love reading female creators and characters, but I suppose I'm not interested in reading about Women. I'm interested in reading about people. I'm overjoyed if some of them are female, but I don't care to read the distilled concerns of a gender, be it my own or otherwise. Far too many of the pieces here are either about victimhood or a lost love. Far too many of these stories about women are actually about men, and their effect on women. Far too many feel generic and stereotypical. Far too many bang a feminist drum, writing about the concerns of a gender instead of the concerns of an individual. Trina Robbins' "Haseena Ross, Girl Detective" hits the right note, for me: confident, powerful women characters in a story that's doesn't need a man to define it or drive it. Entries from Carla Speed McNeil, Diana Schutz, Gail Simone and Alexa Kitchen also are enjoyable entries that are about interesting characters instead of abstract concerns.

Perhaps it's inherent in the structure of an anthology like this: contributors focus on the common theme. I wonder if this was pitched as an anthology of black-and-white comics (that only coincidentally involved female creators) how the stories would have differed. In some alternate universe in my head, this is just called "Indy Comix", and it's only after a perusal of the contributors that I connect the dots and realize they're all women. I'd love to see that book, and read those stories.


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