Costa Ensnares "Secret Wars" in the Web of "Spider-Verse"
A whole new contingent of fans are getting to know Ross Campbell thanks to his work on the upcoming Glory, but whether you’re a new or old fan of Campbell’s work, there’s one project you probably haven’t seen: Mountain Girl. Originally only available directly from Campbell at conventions, Ross has agreed to share the second Mountain Girl minicomic here with us today for our anniversary.
Launched in 2006 as a self-published mini-comic, Campbell continued to produce new installments of Mountain Girl annually for two more years. A fourth installment was thumbnailed but never completed. The comic stars Naga, a savage warrior princess living in a post-holocaust world. The daughter of a tribute of mystic cannibal barbarians, Naga’s story in the Mountain Girl comics shows the brutally muscled and tattooed badass fighting Beaver Gods, Shark Goddesses and other enemies. Thematically it’s similar to Conan or Cavewoman, but Campbell’s cartooning pulls no punches in its depiction of violence and savagery.
Although Campbell hasn’t produced any new Mountain Girl comics in a couple years due to other projects, the artist recently self-published a book containing the three minicomics and the thumbnails for a fourth. Campbell says he has plans to do a “rebooted/revamped” Mountain Girl in the near future. This exclusive preview today is the first time any full-length Mountain Girl comic has ever been published online. Thanks, Ross!
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics and other stuff we’ve been enjoying lately. Our special guests this week are Aaron Alexovich (Invader Zim, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Serenity Rose, Fables) and Drew Rausch (Sullengrey, The Dark Goodbye, Cthulhu Tales), the creative team behind the horror/comedy comic Eldritch!
To see what Aaron, Drew and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
Even if I didn’t have any money at all, I’d stand on the street corner and beg until I collected three bucks to buy Alpha Flight #0.1 ($2.99). I’ve never not bought an issue of Alpha Flight and I’m not breaking that streak this week. Fortunately I have $15 and can afford to get not only that, but also Rocketeer Adventures #1 ($3.99), which I’m only slightly less excited about. And since I’ve still got some money I’d add Drums #1 ($2.99) – because it’s been a while since I’ve read a voodoo story and this looks like a good one – and Snake Eyes #1 ($3.99). I’m not a GI Joe fan, but ninjas are cool and expect that I’d be entertained by a comic about one who fights an evil spy organization.
Wet Moon Cartoonist Ross Campbell posted on his DeviantArt blog that a film-making friend of his is working on a short film based on Campbell’s 2010 superhero graphic novel Shadoweyes. Filmmaker Bo Bradshaw has been a prolific short film producer, and just wrapped work on a feature-length documentary that was just shown on PBS called 759 Dresden. The comic adaptation of Campbell’s book is called Shadoweyes: Out of the Shadows, and on a website set up for the project Bradshaw outlines where they’re at in the production and the current openings to staff the short film production. Bradshaw hopes to crowd-source the funding of the project in something akin to Kickstarter. This live-action film is planned to be shot in and around Orlando, Fla where Bradshaw is based.
Campbell will be involved in the short film project, while also finishing work on the book’s sequel, Shadoweyes In Love.
Wait a minute — scratch that, reverse it. In an interview with Kelly Thompson of our CBR sister blog Comics Should Be Good, Ross Campbell, writer/artist of Water Baby, Wet Moon, and SLG’s upcoming superhero book Shadoweyes, says that when people complain that his work over-sexualizes his mostly female protagonists…they’re absolutely right:
Kelly: At the same time that you’ve been praised by many (both critics and fans) for your portrayals of women, you’ve also drawn some criticism from people that think you are fetishizing or over-sexualizing some of your female characters…what do you think about that?
Ross: I agree. Haha.
Kelly: You agree with the criticism?
Ross: Yeah. I think they’re right, and I look back on my older stuff and I cringe. Which is normal, I cringe regardless when I look at my work, but I think I definitely got out of control with the sexualization, particularly with Water Baby. And what made it worse was that it wasn’t even intentional, I wasn’t sitting down to try to make a specifically “sexy” or titillating book like you’d see Milo Manara do or whatever, and that I didn’t intend it makes it seem to worse to me.
Kelly: Yeah, that was my next question – intention vs. just natural evolution of art.
Ross: It just came out that way, like I didn’t even realize it until I started becoming more aware of it and what I was doing. I just regret that it took me so many years to “get” it.
Kelly: So you have deliberately changed your drawing process…I actually think that’s interesting and laudable. That you’re more interested in the message you’re perhaps sending then just, “this is fun to draw, and this is how my style looks right now”.
Ross:At first it was kind of like that, yeah. Like I reached a point actually while I was greytoning Water Baby, I think, that I started freaking out and almost tried to keep the book from being released and not wanting to finish it, and I was like “what am I doing, look at these characters’ boobs and everything, what is wrong with me?!” So after that I really had to train myself to draw how I wanted to draw, but I think it’s become more natural now that I’ve been moving in that direction for a few years, but it’s still a process.
Kelly: I find this fascinating…and admirable, I have to say. Few artists seem to have a vested interest in not contributing to exploitation. Especially to the degree that they’ll train themselves not to do it.
Ross: Yeah, I just don’t want to be part of that. And I think there’s a big difference between having characters just be attractive or sexy in a “natural” way (natural in quotes because they’re still drawn characters) than them being like…crazy sexpot male gaze characters for no reason. And I think there’s a place for those types of characters, it’s fine if an artist wants to do that, I still enjoy looking at some stuff like that, but not really in the types of stories I want to do.
For what it’s worth, I actually disagree with Campbell about whether his stuff is exploitative. Obviously, his style isn’t “natural” per se — on some level he’s choosing to draw attractive characters. But the range of the characters he’s rendered attractively — in terms of body type, weight, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, personal style, intelligence, personality, pretty much every variable — is so broad and impressive that, to me at least, it’s a million miles away from a Supergirl upskirt shot or your average brokeback-pose sexy amazon-woman superheroine. Never does he single out an unrealistic ideal and present that as the one and only acceptable form of sexiness. It may not be “natural,” but it feels like it comes naturally through Campbell’s view of the world, and the characters with which he’s chosen to populate it. Still, I’m happy to see a cartoonist considering this issue at all, you know?