Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Diana Nock’s The Intrepid Girlbot is set in a world without dialogue. There are no word balloons, and thus no interaction with other characters in a traditional sense. There are some sound effects: Robots ping and clang, animals snarl and growl. But there is no talking. It’s the webcomic version of a silent movie, with a vaguely sepia-toned color palette to match.
There’s hardly any emotional cues as well. Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin could, at least, convey the enormity of their shenanigans through a double take or a shocked expression, completed with bugged eyes. The Girlbot, on the other hand, has a permanent look affixed on her face: the blank “o_o” emoticon. She is, after all, a mechanical person. She’s not the only one either. Other robots have faces that smile and are more pleasant. And yet, these robots are creepier than the Girlbot, mainly because their expressions refuse to change as well. They go about their daze with a smile on their face, even when there’s danger. Deep down, their emotions are a mystery behind a painted facade, like the creepy, unblinking doll head that we glimpse from time to time.
Friends of Lulu, the all-volunteer organization founded to “promote and encourage female readership and participation in the comic book industry,” has certainly had its troubles this year, but it looked like president Valerie D’Orazio had things back on track with an interim Board of Directors and the opening of voting for the Friends of Lulu awards. (Full disclosure: I was a judge for last year’s FoL awards and was asked to cast a tie-breaker vote for this year’s nominees, although I did not do so.)
The nominations raised some eyebrows, however, because male creator Von Allan was nominated for the Kim Yale Newcomer Award. D’Orazio defended the nomination, stating that there is nothing in the rules that disqualifies men, although at The Beat, Heidi MacDonald unearthed some evidence to the contrary. It gets weirder, actually, if you look at the full list: Marla Levesque, a character in Allan’s The Road to God Knows, was nominated for Best Female Character, the book was nominated for Lulu of the Year, and his
assistant was nominated for the Woman of Distinction category. To sum up: Von Allan or a direct connection was nominated for four of the seven Lulu awards. and his assistant was nominated in a category that also includes Peggy Burns and Francoise Mouly. Edit: Boswell is actually the editor of the book, so I’m withdrawing my objection to that.