In spite of it all, WWAC contributors continued to do what we do best in 2020, and that’s write passionately about comics. So why not toot our own horn about some of our best writing — the pieces that really resonated with us and/or made us proud…
Rorschach #1 is Dangerous and Irresponsible
by Corinne McCreery
This is one of the reviews I’m proudest of over my entire career. A lot of secondary research went into explaining exactly the ways in which the ideology of this work by Tom King and Jorge Fornes is both incorrect and harmful.
I’d like to add on too and support that this was something clearly thoroughly explored and really frank in explaining how sideways and harmful a work is, especially to someone like me who may not be that familiar with its context. This piece was responsible, while the issue being discussed is not.
X-Factor #5: For the Children
By Nola Pfau
This review by Nola is one of the best reviews I’ve read in a very long time. Particularly how this review addresses the common criticisms that are often leveled at creators who are not straight, cis, white men, and what that means for how a book by anyone else is received.
Writing this was immensely personal for me. This miniseries was flawed and ultimately didn’t deliver on the promise of its first issue, but issue 1 really stood out to me. It was clearly trying to grapple with some very complex ideas of what mutant identity meant for Franklin but also in a more general sense. It tackled a conversation about being “ out” that I don’t often feel is successful in comics that work so heavily through this sort of metaphor. It was an essay to required some solid research and writing it really felt like one of the first times that the work I was doing as a critic was adding something to the baseline story.
This essay was also one of my favorites. Although my knowledge of the X-Men is limited, it wasn’t hard to see the queer and trans allegories in the comic books that I’ve read. It was insightful and fascinating to read Dani’s piece and understand why other queer X-Men fans are so passionate and criticial about certain characters and storylines.
Dani’s essay was formative for me in my desire to write about the X-Men and the meaning I find in the pages of the various X-Titles. It’s an incredibly insightful and thoughtful look into what it means to grapple with your identity. I can’t say enough about it, it’s a fantastic essay and required reading in my opinion.
I Don’t Need Adornments: On Phantom Thief Jeanne’s Maron Kusakabe
By Latonya Pennington
This piece was a lot of fun to write, especially since I was also writing a more critical piece on the Phantom Thief Jeanne manga for Anime Feminist. It felt good to give Maron Kusakabe the praise she deserved as a character because she is such a hidden gem as a magical girl protagonist and the most relatable one for me personally. She went from hiding her pain behind a smile to facing it courageously and that is as remarkable and magical as any flashy transformation.
This one is nearest and dearest to my heart because it gave me a chance to write about one of my favorite manga characters and got me to think even deeper about this silly manga series. It also feels like a precursor to an essay I could make specifically about Nami’s character arc throughout the story from beginning to the end.
A24’s Entrance Into Animation Should Be Exciting, But Instead, It’s Exhausting
By Elvie Mae Parian
I remember writing this with such a rush of both anger and excitement! This was definitely an opportunist moment for me to talk about the double standards that continue to remain an issue in creative media, specifically towards Black creators, and using and keeping track of an exhausting summer 2020 timeline of events to frame the issue for those outside of the artist community.
Gosh, where to begin? There’s nothing more encapsulating the near end of 2020 in addition to the simultaneous panic of the US election (and Stacey Abrams delivering the killing blow) than… Supernatural. Kate does a great job breaking down the good, the bad, and the real ugly of the series’ closure in both a funny but also endearing way that makes sense of the whole chaos to both fans and outsiders.
Beyond the Metaphor: Marvel’s Long-Forgotten Trans Mutant
By Dani Kinney
Closing out 2020 with this article meant a lot to me. Jessie Drake has been neglected for so long, by fans and writers alike. Her story is an imperfect offering, but it was critical for me as a critic and a fan to dissect this work. As a writer, it felt like a turning point for my skill as a critic. It’s a piece that challenged me and made me a better writer while digging into the only trans mutant in Marvel comics so far.
Vampires on the Margins: Women’s Perspectives
By Doris V. Sutherland
Doris’ scholarship for WWAC about vampires has been really awesome, but this piece, in particular, was so cool and mind-blowing! I didn’t know about ANY of these stories! I finally read Carmilla this year — I enjoyed the goofy Youtube webseries and finally got my hands (well, virtual hands) on the comic retelling of Carmilla by Jane Mai, so I wanted to read the original — but I had no idea that these early vampiric stories written by women existed. Doris’ analysis of The Prayer by Violet Hunt was fascinating to read and made me wonder if the story inspired the energy/emotional vampires in What We Do In the Shadows. I’m so grateful I got to learn about these stories through Doris!
New Colors for Bug Boys and Witchlight Enrich Their Stories
By Alenka Figa
I am so, so happy I got to write this piece. It’s rare to get to do something like this. I originally reviewed Bug Boys and Witchlight as they were released from Czap Books, and I never dreamed I’d get to dig into the changes the artists made when they rereleased through a bigger press. I’m a fast reader, which I think is a curse with comics. Slower reading allows you to catch more details and subtle emotions or shifts in the story especially when they’re embedded in the visual aspect of the story. Revisiting these titles to hyper focus on the colors made me slow down and really consider the conversations and decisions that went into each comic, and it was so fun to do! Colors, man! They’re incredible.
Copter Crash: Isabel Fall and the Transgender SF Debate
By Doris V. Sutherland
This is an article about an early-2020 controversy from before the pandemic, so it really does feel as though I wrote it half a lifetime ago, but I think the topic is so relevant. A transgender author suffered a backlash that drove her into silence for writing a transgender-themed story — and the backlash came from people who believed that they were somehow supporting the trans community. There are still lessons worth learning here.
Do you have a favourite WWAC piece from this year? Let us know in the comments!