ALL GROWN UP: Image’s Bad Girls at 25

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

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. An ongoing 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?

WildC.A.T.s

1, a look at the old from an old fan, and 2 a peek at the new. 3, an investigation by a new reader of the old stuff.

Witchblade

We said goodbye to Sara Pezzini when her series closed in 2016; her legacy is pondered in this review of Darwin Cooke-drawn issue Witchblade Animated.

Glory

We speak to 2012 reboot artist Sophie Campbell about her time with the character.

Magdalena

How can contradictions inherent be navigated in a new iteration of a legacy?

Lady Pendragon

A queen in the balance, swords on mars, shower scenes and regret!

Cyber Force

Two of our editorial team are Cyber Force fans of old. How do they feel now? Here’s one answer.

Angela

Remember when Marvel’s best hornhead belonged to the Spawniverse? Yeah, about that… (coming)

Tomb Raider

A retrospective review of James Bonny’s period of authorship. And where is she now? At Dark Horse, actually.

Youngblood

Team member Vogue’s 1995 mini-series in retrospect.

Cybernary

A woman of 2018’s perspective on a creation of 1993

Gen 13

A retrospective (coming)

We’re also proud 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.

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Claire Napier
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