My friend, the awesome Tristan Tarwater of Back That Elf Up, has suggested an alternative to NaNoWriMo, for those of us that don’t participate. Her recommendation is, “Every day this month, write a review for/rate/share one piece of media you’ve enjoyed. Book, game, comic, etc.” I have accepted this challenge.
When I saw it on the shelf, I couldn’t resist. With a title like Bitch Planet, it certainly catches the eye. The rest of the cover didn’t hurt, either, a tribute to the exploitation films of the ’70s. The contents didn’t let me down, in fact, they kind of surprised me. There is so much more to this book than a comic, but I’ll get to that in a second.
The story grabbed me immediately. The writting of Kelly Sue DeConnick and the artwork of Valentine De Landro blend into such a pitch perfect tale that is at once a fascinating fiction and a spell cast to dismantle the patriarchy. I was excited to find that it pulled from classic tropes without feeling tired. It’s set in a sort of futuristic, dystopian, uber-patriarchal society and focuses on the inmates of a women’s prison. These women are offered a shot at redemption, but to reach it they have to navigate through a field in which they have been set up for failure at every turn.
A lot of effort has gone into character building. I get the impression this is the part DeConnick is most interested in. She lacks no ideas for writing women that are interesting, empowering and inspiring. For example, between arcs, there are issues that are dedicated as the biography of a character. The first of these focuses on Penny Rolle, a large, powerful, strong, fat, fairly masculine presenting woman of color. Not exactly the most represented person in the media, but one’s who’s voice is so ready to be heard.
With only six issues out so far, I have no idea where this story will go, but I can’t wait to find out. The thing is, the comic isn’t even my favorite part of the comic. It’s the back section – the part that I skip in nearly every other comic.
At the back of each issue, there is an essay. These essays are written by a variety of women, each with a different point to make, all relative to today’s feminist. So far I have enjoyed reading and learned from each one.
And after each essay is the letters column. I think I’m a little in love with every other reader out there. The connection and support I feel with these other readers makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger. I suspect it won’t be long before I join the ranks of those who possess the ‘NC’ tattoo.