Archive for March 8th, 2008

Alison Bechdel is hot

March 8th, 2008 by florence

Alison BechdelThanks to a last-minute email from a friend (fellow poster Jason), I got to see Alison Bechdel when she gave a reading at the U of Minn on Thursday evening. Alison is famous in some circles for her enduring comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. I discovered collections of this comic in my university’s Women’s Center library. A green-haired girl at a mostly-male engineering school, I often retreated to the Women’s Center to feel a sense of belonging. There weren’t many of us there, but we managed to generate our fair share of glamorous drag parties, heated discussions about the gay boys leaving our toilet seat up during their meetings, and drama amongst the many cute baby dykes and bi-curious flirts who danced and drooled over one another.

Hot Throbbing Dykes to Watch Out For coverDykes to Watch Out For showed me a mirror of my own little experience and a vision of a much bigger and more diverse queer community out there in the world. A chosen family of socialist radicals, lawyers working on the system from the inside, independent bookstore-owners struggling to compete, and kinky girls just looking to get laid. Actually, they were all getting laid, and it was a heady vision of what grown-up life could be like for me one day. The idea that so many options could lead to love, professional success, undermining the dumbass status quo, and even when all of the above seemed lost, a group of friends who would always be there with support and validation. Needless to say, at 17 this vision was all still a distant dream for me, and I am grateful that her books were there to give me hope.


Gravel #0-1 by Warren Ellis

March 8th, 2008 by Martin

Gravel #1 - wrap I read Gravel #0 and Gravel #1 just now, without any prior knowledge of the character or universe. Each issue gives you a complete story, while still tying in with a larger story arc about “The Sigsand Manuscript”. The tone of these comics is dark, featuring regular killings and gore, so if that’s the kind of thing you actively dislike, stay away, but otherwise the story seems to be fairly well written and compelling.

What I didn’t know, until I read through Issue #1 and found an ad at the back, was that Ellis has written about William Gravel before! Apparently the character was created for Strange Kiss, a three issue b&w miniseries that went on to inspire another three issue b&w series called Stranger Kisses. I am now tempted to find copies of these to read (hopefully from the library).

Gravel #0The character William Gravel is a “battle mage”, which, aside from making it sound like Ellis made up him up while playing D&D, actually makes for a pretty interesting premise. He’s basically in some special arm of the British armed forces, one that has no qualms whatsoever assassinating terrorists in Issue #0. Gravel does this in the first few pages without being seen, and then we get to the beginning of the real plot which loosely revolves around the “rediscovery” of the aforementioned Sigsand Manuscript.

The Avatar Press website page about the new Gravel series invites you to google for “The Sigsand Manuscript”, Thomas Carnacki and William Hope Hodgson. A good summary can be found over at the wikipedia page on Carnacki, who was author Hodgson’s creation. It’s all sounds very Lovecraftian, and maybe (since I finally read The Call of Cthulhu last month) this is the year for that. I’m tempted to also find a copy of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder when I make that trip to the library.