DRAWN & QUARTERED
COURTESY DARK HORSE COMICS
One of cartoonist Amanda Conner's illustrations for Diana Schutz's story "Jeff Macey's Girls."
‘Chix’ shares best of female artists
Titling an anthology of female cartoonists "Sexy Chix" might sound like inviting trouble. You half expect to see pages filled with the lurid exploits of buxom babes bursting in near seam-splitting spandex.
Thankfully, that's not the case here from this new book from independent Dark Horse Comics. Compiled by senior editor Diana Schutz, it's a wide-ranging selection of illustrative musings, from 8-year-old "veteran" Alexa Kitchen to long-timers like Lee Marrs, Trina Robbins and Roberta Gregory.
From an interview taken from the publisher's Web site, Schutz said she wanted "Sexy Chix" "to cover a broader (no pun intended) spectrum of cartoonists than we've seen in previous women's anthologies, with a wide variety of stories and art styles, ranging from creators who work in the more commercial 'mainstream' -- like Amanda Conner and Gail Simone -- to those on the far alternative edges -- like Madison Clell and Leela Corman -- and everyone in between. ...
"Past anthologies I've seen have been restricted to cartoonists working in some 'ghettoized' area of comics: underground comix or small-press comics of one sort or another. ... 'Sexy' is another barometer of how things are changing for women working in this industry."
So much so that a tony, well-respected author like Joyce Carol Oates offered up her prose for adaptation. Schutz chose the short cautionary tale "Don't You Trust Me," illustrated in a photo-realistic style by Image Comics' art director Laureen McCubbin.
COURTESY DARK HORSE COMICS
Chynna Clugston exaggerates how she motivates herself creatively.
In the span of just four pages, it effectively tells a harrowing story of abortion gone back underground through an oppressive edict of law. In light of the recent outlawing of abortion in South Dakota, the tale, in a chilling way, doesn't seem as far-fetched now.
Another one of the better stories in "Sexy Chix" is "The Art of Letting Go" by writer Sarah Grace McCandless and Joelle Jones. Jones' finely tuned ink work complements McCandless' delicate post-breakup story to a tee.
As for the rest of the collection, Schutz accurately quips that all of "the stories are madly, marvelously diverse -- just like women, in fact!" That diversity includes Colleen Doran's loving remembrance of a friend caught up with "Yellow Fever" (that is, an obsession with "pretty Japanese boys"). After reading Colleen Coover's story of emotional healing, "The Boogeyman," it made me eager to see her other work, ranging from her whimsical all-ages title "Banana Sunday" (Oni Press) to her sexually explicit lesbian fantasy "Small Favors" (Eros Comix from Fantagraphics Books).
Alexa Kitchen is the young daughter of former comic book publisher Denis Kitchen and wife Stacey, and she's been doing her delightful comic strips since age 5. She's represented in the anthology with "Lucy at the Mall" and the oh-so-true "Boys Are So Annoying." And it was good to see Roberta Gregory's idiosyncratic work apart from her popular Bitchy Bitch character from her long-running "Naughty Bits" title. "Camellia" is a tale of fantasized vengeance any woman who's been harassed at one time or another will identify with.
This book is a good way to get acquainted with some very talented -- and sexy (in the most positive way) -- females.