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Chainmail Bikini is a Kickstarter-funded comics anthology by and about female gamers — whether they play video games, board games or card games.
“The comics in Chainmail Bikini explore the real-life impact of entering a fantasy world, how games can connect us with each other and teach us about ourselves,” organizer Hzel Newlevant explains on the Kickstarter page. “Alliances are forged, dice get rolled, and dragons get slain! We believe that gaming should be open to all, regardless of gender. Chainmail Bikini shows that while women are not always the target market for gaming, they are a vital and thoroughly engaged part of it, and are eager to express their personal take as players, makers, and critics of games.”
I got to know Ryan Sands almost 10 years ago, when he was publishing the strangest manga I had ever seen on his blog Same Hat! Since then, I’ve watched him follow his enthusiasm for innovative comics as the publisher of the Electric Ant zine, the translator of Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island for Last Gasp and now, as he explained to Chris Mautner in August, the creator of his own small press, Youth in Decline.
His flagship publication is Frontier, an anthology series in which each issue is a complete comic by a single creator. Frontier ended 2014 strong with comics by Emily Carroll and Sam Alden, and this year’s lineup looks equally good, with Jillian Tamaki, Anna Deflorian, Becca Tobin and Michael DeForge on the roster.
Sands has signed up some of the most interesting up-and-coming creators in the indie comics scene and has presented their works in interesting and sophisticated ways, so I asked him to talk to me in depth about his work on Frontier.
Brigid Alverson: The Frontier anthology seems to be evolving into a place for side stories or experimental work by creators who are already working on other, longer projects. Do you think these comics would be published if not for Frontier?
Ryan Sands: The goal for the Frontier series is to spotlight each individual artist and a distinct story or collection of work. I tried to set out the goal pretty explicitly on our site when starting Frontier, saying we’d focus on three types of books: up-and-coming talent in the North American indie scene, introducing the work of international artists I like, and presenting “uncommon dispatches” from more-established creators. The first year of Frontier was mostly focused on the first two goals, but with Sam Alden and Emily Carroll’s books — and now with Jillian Tamaki and Michael DeForge creating issues for 2015—I’m hoping to mix in some of these interesting stories from established creators.
Her narrative focus has shifted from Nurse Nurse‘s futuristic sci-fi vibe to the motorcycle road trip (and accompanying drama as well as conflict, plus a few nuns) of Operation Margarine. It was a delightful surprise to learn her new work’s connection to Roland Barthes’ Mythologies.
Well, this is an unexpected delight: Jin & Jam #1, Hellen Jo’s auspicious 2008 Sparkplug debut, is now available online in its entirety at Jordan Crane’s indispensable webcomics portal What Things Do. Part Maggie & Hopey, part Tekkon Kinkreet, it’s the story of two teenage troublemakers and, well, the trouble they make, drawn with a really memorably rubbery and kinetic line by Jo.
Incidentally, you’ve all put What Things Do in your RSS readers, right? With a lineup of creators that includes Jo, Crane, Gabrielle Bell, Abner Dean, Sammy Harkham, Jaime Hernandez, Kevin Huizenga, Ted May, John Porcellino, Ron Regé Jr., Steve Weissman, and Dan Zettwoch, how could you not?
“Bad Romance” yes! Bad comics no! Making its debut at last weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Prison for Bitches is a no-holds-barred fanzine tribute to Lady Gaga. Taking its name from a segment in Gaga and Beyoncé’s instant-classic “Telephone” video and edited by Same Hat!’s Ryan Sands and newly minted Doug Wright Award winner Michael DeForge, the ‘zine contains artistic tributes to Lady Gaga from a host of underground art and comics stalwarts and up-and-comers, including Johnny Ryan, Michael Kupperman, Hellen Jo, Lisa Hanawalt, and Nick Gazin.
The book’s slated to go on sale online today; in the meantime, click the link for sample spreads, and click here for DeForge’s strip, which foresees another 86 years of world domination by the Haus of Gaga. (And click here for previous Robot 6/Gaga goodness.) Don’t be the last little monster on your block to get a copy!
Tom Neely (The Blot) and Hellen Jo (Jin and Jam) have an exhibition of horror-themed work up at the Grass Hut Gallery in Portland. If you can’t go though, you can see some of the work on display by going here and here (note: some of these images are a tad gruesome and may be NSFW) (link: Sean Collins)