Ed. note: In this series, women of the comics industry reflect on other women working in comics today who are inspiring them. This time I tapped J.A. Micheline, WWAC contributor and Contributing Editor at Comics Bulletin.
If you’d like to contribute to the series, please get in touch with me at email@example.com.
Megan Purdy & Claire Napier
Let’s get the all-time greats out of the way first: Megan and Claire are the best the comics industry has to offer–critically, editorially, and otherwise. I’ll leave WWAC aside; you’re here already and you know that it’s well-curated and well-cultivated. It’s quite literally a labor of love, given none of the staff or freelancers (including them) are paid. Megan built the site from the ground up and made a place for women and non-binary people to share their thoughts, experiences, and criticism. Claire burns us all like a crucible, distilling our work until there’s nothing else left. I have never had, and likely will never again, two editors such as these.
Both women are fearless and have had just about enough of bad behavior and nonsense. Also they’re hilarious. And wise. And accomplished. Megan is a business genius and Claire is an infinite font of wisdom. I’m inspired by their knowledge and cleverness. And I’m strengthened to know that they’re in my corner.
So thanks, ladies. You’re stars.
Has everyone written about Zainab already? I assume everyone’s written about Zainab already. Many people wrote about her, recently, after Comics & Cola closed its shutters, citing badly behaved white men and the oppressive nature of the industry as reasons that made writing about comics no longer worth it. There are many things inspiring about Z, but first and foremost, it is her decisiveness and resolve. Even in declining to continue to write about comics, she did so on her own terms–scathingly and with unparalleled dignity.
After quitting writing about comics, Zainab went on to do something else and be equally amazing. Her latest venture, ShortBox, sold out in a single hour based entirely on her reputation as a critic–and also her hard work. Though the presentation has been seamless, I know that she’s been working tirelessly to make sure the project is a success. She is incredible at everything she does and will go on to do a great deal more. Inspiring, I think.
Actually, inspiring I know.
Little known fact: I almost quit comics too. I actually joke a lot about quitting writing about comics, leaving comics Twitter, abandoning this entire scene–but not too long ago, it was the real deal. I reached a breaking point after watching the comics machine act perfectly, watching it lick its self-righteous wounds and crush marginalized people in the process. I gave my Internet friends my phone number, told them to text me, told them I’d be gone by week’s end.
But of course, it was Zainab who talked me out of walking away, who told me not to let them take something I loved away from me. It was Zainab who told me to tell them to go fuck themselves. So I did. And here I am again. For good and for ill and…for now. Or at least, so long as Zainab’s inspiration can sustain me.
Yes, you, reader. I’m inspired by you, Miss, Ms, or Mx, whomever you are–I know you’re out there and I just haven’t found you yet. But don’t worry, I will. I’m inspired by your perseverance–your tireless work on comics regardless of whether you show them to anyone. I’m inspired by your criticism–the stuff you haven’t written yet and the stuff I haven’t seen yet. You’re on the cutting edge. You haven’t been destroyed by this industry yet, or maybe you have, but you’re doing just fine anyway. You’re new or you were always here, but either way, you are brilliant. You’re fresh and clean and outstanding and you make the comics I dream about or write the criticism I wish I could write or edit the material I wish I could edit. You’re potent and someday, maybe today–you’re going to destroy all of this.
I’m looking forward to meeting you. Thank you ever so much. I hope to see you soon.