If you were paying attention to comics at all last year, you surely heard about the hugely successful Womanthology: Heroic, a beautiful, hardcover comic anthology conceived by Renae deLiz, published by IDW, and featuring 150 female comic creators. The project started on Twitter and ended up being the most successful comic project on Kickstarter last year, raising lots of money for GlobalGiving.com.
Well, the ladies of Womanthology are back (and getting paid!), and we’re going to be seeing them in comic shops a lot more frequently! IDW has just released the first issue of Womanthology: Space, a new mini-series that, like its hardcover predecessor, brings together female comics writers and artists to tell multiple stories. Issue #1 of Womanthology: Space features five short stories, all having something to do with space travel.
Bonnie Burton and Jessica Hickman’s “Waiting for Mr. Roboto” focuses on an alien waitress in an outer-space diner waiting for her Mr. Right, who just happens to be a Soldier Intelligence Dronebot. “Dead Again,” by Sandy King Carpenter and Tanja Wooten finds the member of a demolition crew on a spaceship needing to make a tough call when confronted with the ghost of a member of the ship’s crew. “Scaling Heaven,” by Alison Ross and Stephanie Hans shows us the future of Earth’s Space Race as an American and a Chinese woman both hope to be the first woman on the moon. Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire’s “The Adventures of Princess Plutonia” has a female space warrior saving her beloved Dude in Distress; and “Space Girls,” by Stacie Ponder, has a ship’s crew have to contend with…a giant space cat.
Like Womanthology: Heroic, Womanthology: Space is a mixed bag, with some stories stronger than others, as is to be expected with any anthology. “Scaling Heaven,” both as far as the writing and the artwork, is the strongest of the bunch. Everything from the concept and dialogue, to the layout and the beautiful, painterly quality of the art made me wish that “Scaling Heaven” were a longer, more in-depth comic about a renewed fascination with space travel. It reminded me a bit of Warren Ellis’ Orbiter, and I would love to see the story of “Scaling Heaven” fleshed-out into an Orbiter-length graphic novel and published by IDW (hint, hint).
The problem with the Womanthology format in single-issue form is that, since each single-issue has several stories in it, and the entire issue is only 24 pages, none of the stories have the opportunity to go anywhere. As it turns out, most of these aren’t stories at all; simply moments within stories that can be captured in two or three pages. Womanthology: Space might have worked better if each issue were its own story so that, when combined with others in a trade paperback it would become the anthology the Womanthology name implies. There’s also the feeling that they’re trying to cram in as many female creators as possible, almost as a way to overcompensate for their lack of general representation in the comics industry. While this is an admirable goal, one that I completely support, I’m not sure that diluting each issue in order to include more creators is the answer. I think the best thing to do for the project a as a whole, is to give each creative team more breathing room, limiting each single issue to one or two stories.
While I’d recommend picking this title up to support these talented creators and sift through the stories for what you think is gold, I think this format does the creators a bit of a disservice. I’m sure that future Womanthologies are planned with themes beyond superheroes and space, and I hope they’ll keep this in mind when planning those out. Quantity isn’t necessarily quality. I know for a fact that there’s quality female talent out there, and Womanthology should be giving them the space to shine.
Renae deLiz, Womanthology, Womanthology: Space, comics, women