Girl power in world of comics

Artwork from the Lumberjanes comics by artist Brooke Allen (above). She will make a guest appearance at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention.
Artwork from the Lumberjanes comics by artist Brooke Allen (above). She will make a guest appearance at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention.PHOTO: SINGAPORE TOY

The series, Lumberjanes, which is illustrated by Brooke Allen, is helping the artist learn more about women's history

8Q

Artist Brooke Allen credits the popular comic book series Lumberjanes, which she illustrates, for making her a better informed feminist.

The comic, launched in 2014, is about the adventures of a group of five teenage girls, including a transgender character and a gay couple, at summer camp. It is authored by an all-female team comprising writers Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Shannon Watters.

It has been lauded by some for shining a light on female leads in the male-dominated comics world and for creating female characters who come from diverse backgrounds and who are non- stereotypical.

In a telephone interview from Richmond, Virginia, where she is based, Allen says: "The writers will casually name-drop as a sneaky way of teaching readers about women's history, so I'm learning just as the readers are."

Artwork from the Lumberjanes comics (above) by artist Brooke Allen. She will make a guest appearance at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention.
Artwork from the Lumberjanes comics (above) by artist Brooke Allen. She will make a guest appearance at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention. PHOTO: GAME & COMIC CONVENTION

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  • WHERE: Sands Expo And Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, 1 Bayfront Avenue, Basement 2, Halls E and F

    WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 8pm

    ADMISSION: $19 for one-day pass, $28 for two-day pass and $120 for VIP pass from www.singaporetgcc.com

The American adds sheepishly: "This is embarrassing, but I didn't know who feminist writer Bell Hooks was before Lumberjanes."

Originally intended as an eight- issue series, Lumberjanes was such a hit that its publisher Boom! Studios turned it into an ongoing series, with 29 issues to date.

It racked up two wins last year at the prestigious Eisner Awards, the comic industry's equivalent of the Oscars, for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens. A movie adaptation of the comic is in the works.

Singapore fans will get a chance to meet the comic's 28-year-old illustrator this weekend when she makes a guest appearance at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands.

A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, she has illustrated covers and shorts for popular cartoons such as The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors, but Lumberjanes has been her biggest job.

She says: "Publishers are waking up to the fact that these stories sell and diversity is a good thing."

1 How much input do you have over each Lumberjanes issue?

The writers ask me what I want to draw, so I get to give input that way.

I had crazy ideas to have werewolves, shape-shifters and kaiju (Japanese for "strange beast"), which I love, and they said sure, so that was awesome.

2 Which Lumberjanes character do you identify with most?

Molly because she is a little insecure. Nature is her safe space and she has a little animal companion, and I am the same way too. I would like most to be like Ripley though, because she is the most uninhibited and a wild child.

3 What do you make of how female characters were represented in the older comics?

Some were a little cheesecake. The first few female superheroes such as Wonder Woman catered to the male audience. There is nothing wrong with sexy, but that was all it was.

X-Men was one of the first comic series to break the mould with strong characters such as Jean Grey and Rogue. Nowadays, we have more female protagonists such as The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Ms Marvel, so that's good.

4 Describe your drawing style.

Dynamic and fluid. I am influenced by cartoons and animation and not very good at drawing things that are static or rigid.

5 What is the extent of your interest in cartoons?

I love cartoons and will watch them until I am an 80- year-old grandma.

I love the American series Steven Universe, Gravity Falls. Recently, I have been watching a lot of older anime. I got a TV set on my desk that has a VCR in it, so I have been watching a lot of old tapes such as Dragon Ball, Cross Game, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Akira.

6 Do you enjoy making toys?

I do, but I have not made any recently. I hope to bring a few to the convention. I started four years ago, making little monsters. I made a coyote monster toy and a reindeer-man monster toy. Every one is unique.

7 Have you jumped on the Pokemon Go bandwagon?

I have been playing it like a fiend. When it launched, I was on a deadline so I didn't get to download it until a few weeks after everyone else.

I have won a couple of battles with my Flareon and Haunter, but I get knocked out of gyms easily since my Pokemon don't have super high combat power. I have collected most of my favourite Pokemon - Scyther, Haunter, Cubone - and I am excited to collect as many as possible on my way to Singapore.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

I hope to be remembered for doing good things and producing good work that will inspire generations after to become comic book artists.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Girl power in world of comics'. Print Edition | Subscribe