My name is Gabe Kusner, or Miss Gabe, as I am known at the Bainbridge Library where I am a full-time Youth Service Assistant. My love for all things comic books began in the mid-90s when my brother and I would faithfully watch the X-Men television series every Saturday morning. This, along with the fact our mom worked next to a comic book store and the fact that our dad was always willing to talk superhero mythology, made us both have a pretty healthy comic book interest by the 3rd grade.
My favorite X-(Wo)Men was and still is Rogue. To young me, she was everything I wanted to be as I got older. Her outfit was awesome and functional (bomber jacket, yellow booties, biker gloves, no counter-productive necklines/cutouts). She had amazing hair (that streak!) and she was sassy. She could absorb the powers and psyches of other mutants and humans just by touching them and could therefore become whoever she needed to be. Whenever her sometimes boyfriend Gambit gave her a hard time, she’d throw him some sass and literally fight it out instead of caving in to him or resolving herself to the issue. She was and is a strong, capable, rebellious woman and that’s where this ongoing blog begins for me.
As I got older (read, late 90s, early 2000s), my interests began changing and, as all people do, I began to grow away from things I most often enjoyed as a child. Comic books, in their way, were one of these things. As much as I loved reading and learning about the X-Men, Spiderman, the Avengers and the occasional DC imprint, I read these comics less and less because there were not many characters I could relate to as I grew, i.e., young women. Sure, women were still in these comic storylines and team players (Rogue, Storm, Jean Grey, Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, Black Cat, Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, Wasp, She-Hulk), but most of these characters were rarely the main event. Outside of the rare, few issue series of their own, a lot of these characters were “refrigerated” at one point or another (Seriously, how many times has Mary Jane or Aunt May been kidnapped by a villain? Think about it). By the time I was in high school and going through college, my reading interests became more literature based with the rare graphic novel thrown in. I could find my ideal of strong, capable, rebellious women more easily in the books I read or the ones written by them. I had not yet discovered more outsider comic series to nurture my budding feminism.
Thankfully, in recent years, my love of graphic novels and comics has been rekindled with the growth of writers and illustrators in the comic world (male, female, gender fluid), both in book form and online, who are writing really amazing graphic novels in which women of all kinds take center stage. Some of them tell the backstories for these characters that I longed for as a child, written and written beautifully. Others are new takes on classic characters with new and exciting twists. And some are just straight up awesome. As a strong, capable, independent woman, this alignment to my life and interests has made reading these comics one of my main hobbies. And not only are there more of them, but they are becoming more accessible in our local libraries where they can reach a wider patron base. In this blog, I will be reviewing some of the best and latest graphic novels featuring strong, capable girls and women, covering all ages from kids to adults. Some of them will be about superheroes, some about anti-heroes. Some will be about just day to day life and some will be really, really weird and cause you to think a little differently. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!
Up Next: Monstress Vol. 2: The Blood
Paper Girls Vol. 3
Spells on Wheels Vol. 1
Gabe Kusner is a Youth Services Assistant at our Bainbridge Branch. She is currently reading You Don’t Have to Say Your Love Me by Sherman Alexie.
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