by Bill Jacobs & Sean P. Ahearn, Learning & Research Services
Image Credit: HeroesCon 14 in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 22, 2014, Wikipedia
Kelly Sue DeConnick is a comic book author and one of the most outspoken advocates for women’s rights and equality in the superhero graphic novel community.
DeConnick has an exemplary career having written for several major publishers including Image Comics, Boom, Oni, Humaniods, Dark Horse, IDW, DC, Vertigo, and Marvel.
In 2012 one of the most important DeConnick updates was given to the Captain Marvel title.
Carol Danvers, our hero, dropped her old title “Ms.”, and gained a new suit (cover below). No longer are any unnecessary body parts exposed; this would be the real attitude of an Air Force captain. Along with the title hero having a realist attitude about her appearance, the themes found throughout are full of powerful feminist motifs. After an accidental mishap with time travel leaves her stranded on a Japanese occupied island during WWII, Captain Marvel finds herself being rescued by an all-woman Pilot Squadron.
In the same story, DeConnick asks her readers to contemplate women’s rights by deliberately highlighting antiquated attitudes. These sentiments, unfortunately, still plague women’s rights today.
DeConnick has no fear, and has even taken on sexuality. In a quick innocuous scene a female alien ally is pulled away from the action to quickly kiss her love (image below). This panel is an example of the blunt, unapologetic attitude that has made DeConnick stand out in the graphic novel world. Moreover, it exemplifies her open and accepting attitude about sexuality. Her devoted fan base, who have named themselves the “Carol Corps,” embrace these scenes for their narrative and aesthetic as well as ideological appeal, many finding empowerment in DeConnick’s work more than any other superhero series. She has opened comics to the female demographic, enticing and drawing in new readers who otherwise may not relate to graphic novels.
The arrival of the new, liberated Captain Marvel was embraced by some, rejected by others. This only meant DeConnick had to speak more brassily. She took her political voice to the next level in 2015 with Bitch Planet, set in an off world prison for what are supposed to be the most dangerous female criminals.
Bitch Planet is a sci-fi story that is both a literal comment on the exploitation of women in prison and a figurative criticism on women in society. As the title implies, this is not for children. While it is set in a fantastic futuristic environment, the story is dark and disheartening.
Aside from her large fan-base, DeConnick’s hard work has not gone unrecognized by the establishment; she was nominated for an Eisner award (considered the Oscars of the comic world) for Pretty Deadly, a mythological western. As graphic novels progress, so will the voices within them. DeConnick is a great example of the impact these stories have on our society and how important it is for readers to be able to identify with the characters.
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About the Collection
UML’s Graphic Novels collection of more than 1,000 volumes includes newspaper comic strips, Japanese manga, European bande dessinee, and alternative American comics, in addition to superhero stories. Along with high-flying, wall-crawling, planet-saving scenarios, there are detectives tracking down lost library books, demon-fighting ronan, and wine tasting competitions. Many of the unusual storylines are woven into commentary on deeper issues, such as racial history, mass media, and philosophy. Some graphic novels avoid the fantastic entirely, and instead tell mystery stories, autobiography, and graphic essays.