I’ve done it; I’ve given in to the graphic side.
I never thought I’d say I liked a graphic novel or a comic book, but here I am writing it. It’s not that I disliked the stories, or the method with which they were told. It’s more that it felt like a different beast — one similar to manga, pokemon, and anime. There isn’t anything wrong with that; but I had tried (for a friends sake) to like anime, and it just didn’t “work” for me. I assumed that meant graphic novels, comics, and similar media were all a big NO for me.
Well you know what happens when you assume.
It’s true, I made a butt of myself, because here I am to tell you that I have been researching my next graphic novel series to read. What broke the Ice? Wonder Woman broke through that glass-like substance, baby, and she soared straight through into my heart.
I always thought I’d be a Wonder Woman fan. What I knew of her character was nothing short of fantastic. However, I also knew that while her character seemed worthy I couldn’t truly know until I read her story. I searched for a book, and found one or two, but never the original WW story by William Marston in novel form. How sad for me.
Then one day hubby dearest gave me a brown box with a red paper flower on it and told me to open it. I thought a book or an e-reader might be inside. I was almost right, but not quite. Inside were eight complete volumes, and a few single issues.
For those of you as ignorant as I was to the graphic novel and comic scene, I’ll help break you in just a bit: comics are a bit like a magazine and a book had a baby. You will eventually receive a full story, but you’ll have to buy the next chapter every other week until it is complete. Sometimes, if you wait, you can buy several issues together in a volume.
Now for a WW break down. There are five eras of Wonder Woman. The first era is commonly referred to as the Golden Age. The Golden Age Wonder Woman comics were written by William Moulton Marston from 1942 until the day he died in 1947. This includes WW issues #1-#21, as well as a few other appearances in other superheroes issues such as her introduction in All-Star Comics #8 in 1941. After Marston’s death, the character continued through Roger Kaniger’s direction. This began the Silver Age of Wonder Woman. This is, by far, the longest era of Wonder Woman. Kaniger produced issues #22 – #176 between Marston’s death in 1947 and concluding the era in 1970. The Bronze age was directed by two men by the names of Dennis O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky. This age was much shorter than the Silver age, lasting from issue #178 through #204. The two drastically changed Wonder Woman, turning her into more of a “super spy” than a superhero. In a time when women’s rights were on the forefront, Wonder Woman’s capability was not.
Finally, Wonder Woman comes into the new century. In 2011, DC Comics revamped the entire line of superheroes with a series titled “The New 52” — Wonder Woman included. Brian Azzarello headed up the writing for the new Wonder Woman era. In this series, which (appeared to) concluded in 2014. However, another creative picked up the trail of this series in issue #36. Many conclude the WW “new 52” era with the end of Azzaarello’s writing, but issues have continued to release since his departure.
The final (for now) era of Wonder Woman began with a “Rebirth” in 2016. This series is written by Greg Rucka, and is still in production. Tomorrow comic shops (or my shop, at least) releases issue #28.
So, now that we, roughly, have the same knowledge of how comics work and wonder woman’s history, what else is there to say? Perhaps a short review, since this post has gone on extremely long. I have not read comics from the Golden, Silver, or Bronze age. My dear hubby gifted me with a complete copy of Azzarello’s New 52 WW series, and all of the “official” WW issues of Rucka’s production to date. So far I’ve read all of the New 52, and that was enough to sell me on graphic novels and comics alike. I plan to read Rebirth soon, but wanted to “reset” between WW ages.
The New 52 is not what I expected. What I knew of Wonder Woman before reading The New 52 could mostly be attributed to Lynda Carter. I knew Wonder Woman to be graceful, loving, strong, honest, and faithful. These were all qualities I admired, but mostly I was excited to see a female superhero keep up with the “big boys” and sometimes even outshine them… and for reasons other than her beauty — her capability, for instance.
Without giving any spoilers, lets say The New 52 includes FAR more Greek Mythology than I thought it would. This, in my book, isn’t bad. It was, however, unexpected. It was shorter than I would have liked, but that could be because I was hoping to catch up on 75 years of Wonder Woman, and The New 52 includes only 3 of those years. I would also, as an author, take that as a compliment — the reader wanted more, not less.
I will also mention here that the women of Wonder Woman The New 52 are badass, take shit from nobody, No man will change me (just because he has a penis), I am who I want to be women — no girls here. The Amazons were muscular, and beautiful. They also showed leg, but no ass cheek or over-spilling breast. They were warriors, and they dressed as such.
I’ve heard critique that this story line is to violent, or that it is “man-hating”. I can honestly see where this is coming from, but I also disagree with it. People tend to see anything that diminishes “man’s” spirit as man-hating. I see this as an opportunity the creators took to make a point about female equality. Men have had the “spotlight” for long enough, that it can sometimes be forgotten that a woman does not need a man to achieve her spotlight. I believe this is there way of saying that, and also how viewing that (or anything) too literally can be wrong. Hopefully you’ll understand what I mean better after reading the series.
Finally, I’d like to say that learning to read graphically wasn’t as easy as I assumed. I assumed that reading comics or graphic novels would be easy because, well, there are a LOT less words. A picture, however, is worth a thousand words. This is proven through the art of the graphic novel and comic. We often, as readers, interpret a series of words into a story. We also often interpret, as viewers, a series of pictures into a story. To combine the two media uses a combination of these skills. I was not used to applying both of these skills at the same time. It took a bit of practice. There is also an art to wording in a comic book. This was the hardest part for me: figuring out who spoke first, and what was in response to what. I wish I could explain it to you in a way that makes sense, but I’ve found that it comes best with time.
So, while my genres are pretty set in my own writing, I’ve found that exploring different genres in my reading can be quite beneficial. It has helped me to grow. I hope you find the same. After all, to miss out on the Wonder Woman phenomena could be catastrophic.