Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mike Madrid's "Divas, Dames & Daredevils"

Chris was catching up on podcasts a few weeks ago and I was working nearby as he listened to Felicia Day's Vlog entry "Some Comics I Bought", where (along with a bunch of other graphic novels) Felicia mentions buying Mike Madrid's "Divas, Dames and Daredevils". He immediately thought it would be something I would love (it is!) so he bought a copy for me.

I enjoy old-timey comics (those that are pre- 1954's SOTI comics industry clamp down.) I don't love the creepy "let's see what we can get away with" grotesqueness of pre-code comics -- rather I really enjoy the whole "just go with it" attitude in the storytelling that so many of the tales have.

And you really have to go with it cause there's not much time/space. The stories tend to be super short -- usually 6 or 7 pages -- and tend to be done in one. We can be dropped into the middle of a situation in progress. There's oftentimes no long, drawn-out set up, no origin story -- okay, maybe sometimes there will be the briefest of intros -- but usually there's just fly by the seat of your pants craziness.

Sure, the drawing of 40s and 50s comics can be somewhat staid when we compare them to the flashy, computer-colored panel-breaking layouts we've become used to in modern comics, but on the other hand, there's also something very visually "meaty" about their presentation, probably because the artist is not trying to impress the eye, but rather, more simply trying to serve the story.

What I absolutely enjoy is author Mike Madrid's flat out sheer L-O-V-E for old comics, comics history and especially female characters in these old comic books ('cause they were some gutsy dames) and he really is wonderfully up front about it. Reading this book is a hoot.

I also love how he closes the book -- and his whole final paragraph is just terrific -- where he says "The stories collected in this book represent a moment in time when women could be as heroic as men."

This is a book that I will treasure.

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