ALL GROWN UP: Image’s Bad Girls at 25
Image Comics was founded 25 years ago—you may have noticed all the commemorative parties they’ve been having. It was a shot in the arm to the American comic book industry, a nice load of amphetamine that got everyone buzzing and yelling and focused and horny. The young, male pioneers at Image’s founding gave a huge push to the “women in comics” aesthetic that’s dogged us in various guises since. It’s in the bodies, their arrangement, and that uninterrupted gradient colouring.
But was it all bad? Were those comics beyond salvation? Were the stories a drag—did they treat the women in them like it looked as if they did? Those of us who read Image ladybooks in the 1990s and soon after owe it to ourselves to look honestly at what we got out of the experience—good, bad, and ambivalent. Those of us who stayed away could maybe stand to see what we missed, and what we saved ourselves from. Whether we were there or whether we weren’t, there’s so much LOL IMAGE IN THE 90S HA HA in the nerdosphere that I’m all fed up and ready for some genuine reflection. What did these women give us?
So Women Write About Comics is having a bonanza, my babies. A year-long festival of LISTEN. When a person turns twenty-five their brain begins to settle down and they become a more reliable person. Does this happen for disjointed and corporately unusual comic book publishers? Does it happen for the characters under their wings? Where are all the babes of Image’s 1990s, and how are they being published now? Many of the starter and follow-up titles have been refreshed recently or are being refreshed this year. Many of Image’s Bad Girls have been forgotten. Is that just; is it right? We want to know, we want you to know, and—if you’re interested—we want you to tell us. We’ve begun the work below, but if you have a pitch to add please send it in.
These women. Do you remember them?
We speak to 2012 reboot artist Sophie Campbell about her time with the character.
How can contradictions inherent be navigated in a new iteration of a legacy?
Two of our editorial team are Cyber Force fans of old. How do they feel now? (coming)
Remember when Marvel’s best hornhead belonged to the Spawniverse? Yeah, about that… (coming)
We’re also proud (and almost ready) to present a conversation about growth and evolution with current Top Cow Top Guy, Matt Hawkins—but that leaves us, as you can see, with a deficit of non-Top Cow features. Who will speak for (or against) Cybernary? Who will come to bat for the women of Wetworks? Do you care about Stormwatch? Have you heard of Allegra? If you’ve been a reader of Savage Dragon, how are the women in that written and drawn? Surely someone has something to say about Youngblood’s dames??
Let’s look at what we’ve got—twenty-five years of American comics norms and often toxic storytelling soup—and see if we can’t sieve out something meaningful for ourselves, as people who saw those times and readers still reeling from them. Whaddaya say? Let’s paint our own picture. Hindsight makes a clearer image.