“This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told. Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.
To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.’”
– Greg Rucka, in an essay addressing the frequently asked question,
“How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?”
As part of the Wait, What? podcast I do for the Savage Critics – You do listen, right? If not, shame on you – someone asked the other week what I thought of Oni Press, and I admitted that I am a fan of pretty much everything Oni puts out. It was a thought that reappeared in my head this weekend, re-reading Sarah Oleksyk’s spectacular Ivy and thinking, “Man, Oni owns the YA comic market, doesn’t it?” – even though Oni themselves call the book for Older Readers, for obvious reasons if you’ve read it… but as a YA book, it’s just so, so good. So, this week: Five Oni Press books you should really make a point of reading, if you haven’t already.
Getting to talk to Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber about their upcoming Underground project, I discovered one shocking revelation: Lieber is immensely funnier than Parker. I learned a great deal more than that in our email interview. Before starting the interview, here are the book’s vitals: “UNDERGROUND is a five-issue color series beginning in September from IMAGE COMICS. Written by Jeff Parker, drawn by Steve Lieber, and colored by Ron Chan, the story follows Park Ranger Wesley Fischer as she tries to save Stillwater Cave– and then has to save herself.” My thanks to Parker and Lieber for the interview.
Tim O’Shea: At what point did you pitch this to Image, had an issue already been drawn or was it still in proposal mode?
Jeff Parker: We showed the complete black and white art for the first issue to Eric Stephenson this year at Emerald City Comicon.
Steve Lieber: They said yes and we were off and running.
O’Shea: How much did the two of you enjoy the flexibility of revision, given that you work in the same studio?
Lieber: It’s a very natural collaboration. Everything’s done in the same room — script, line art, letters, and color. I love the sense of freedom that comes from being able to tweak things at any step.
Parker: And I love changing what Steve thought was right. On a whim!