May 30, 2015

Your Next Favorite Comics Character Is A Woman

By Ruth Tam

With D.C.’s AwesomeCon underway, the season of the nerds is upon us. Fans of everything from WWE to “My Little Pony” will descend onto the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for three days of panels, signings, meet and greets and gaming –all in the name of extreme fandom.

For an in-depth look at comics conventions, AwesomeCon founder Ben Penrod joined The Kojo Nnamdi Show with convention guest and actor Mark Pellegrino (“Lost,” “Supernatural,” “Dexter”) and convention exhibitor Esther Kim, who manages Fantom Comics in Dupont Circle. The three discussed the convention’s origins and what makes the D.C. area a great place for nerds. Guest host Rebecca Sheir of WAMU’s Metro Connection also touched on the notorious underrepresentation of women and people of color in comics culture, prompting Esther Kim and Mark Pellegrino to share their thoughts:

“…ceilings are being broken through and walls are being broken through all over the place. People’s minds are opening to seeing heroes and villains in different ways, and not in the stereotypes that they’re used to five or 10 years ago. And I think that’s phenomenal.”

-Mark Pellegrino

“There’s a beautiful Junot Diaz quote … basically it comes down to: ‘When you see yourself represented in stories, it shows you that you’re not alone.’ … I think it’s super important to see different people of color and different races and different genders and different sexualities because these are the type of stories that we’re into and it’s good to see that they’re into us as well, that they understand that a community and a culture isn’t made of one type of story, one type of hero –that it’s made of all sorts of people.”

-Esther Kim

If you’re looking for comics featuring women and people of color, Esther Kim has plenty of recommendations at Fantom Comics for you. Here are the titles she mentioned on the show:

BitchPlanet_01-1Bitch Planet

In a dystopian future, complicated women are deemed ‘noncompliant’ and sent to Bitch Planet, a remote processing center in space. Once removed from Earth, women are confronted with their past and are forced to examine how they fall outside society’s norms. They don’t take the abuse lying down.

Try if you like: “Orange Is The New Black,” “Alien,” “Kill Bill”



The Girl Scouts got nothin’ on the Lumberjanes, a multitalented group of friends at supernatural summer sleepaway camp. Challenged by suspicious characters and circumstances, the friends use individual skills to escape danger. The series features catchy dialogue and an injection of a little feminist history. A live-action movie is underway at 20th Century Fox.

Try if you like: “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Pitch Perfect,” “Whip It!” “A League Of Their Own”



While the star of “Shutter” is the biracial Kate Krisopher, the series is largely a time-jumping family drama that follows Kate’s investigation of her memory and her deceased father. Kate dodges assassination attempts in a futuristic fantasy world that has the feel of a neo-Western.

Try if you like: “Kill Bill,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Veronica Mars”


Jem01-cvr-0cb80-659x1000Jem And The Holograms 

First a beloved animated ’80s TV show, “Jem And The Holograms” combines science fiction, adventure and romance into a show about a girl band led by a talented but stage-shy Jerrica. The series has been launched ahead of a live-action movie adaptation coming out October 2015.

Try if you like: “Josie And The Pussycats,” “My Little Pony,” “Bring It On”


detailPrincess Leia
If you’re a fan of “Star Wars” but can’t wait for (or are dreading) the December release of “A Force Awakens,” a comics spinoff for the series’ blaster-toting princess could be just what the doctor ordered. The Marvel series “Princess Leia” picks up where “Star Wars: A New Hope” ends. Princess Leia has just assisted in the destruction of the Death Star, but she has no home to turn to (fans will remember her home planet Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Stars’ superlaser). Writer Mark Waid (“Daredevil,” “S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and artist Terry Dodson (“Avengers & Xmen: Axis”) weave the tale of Leia’s mission to serve her people and “find her place in the galaxy.”

Try if you like: “Star Wars,” “Alien,” “G.I. Jane”

If none of these peak your interest, don’t despair!

Esther Kim’s list of recommendations is “a mile long,” she said on the show.

“So really, it’s just a matter of finding a strong female you enjoy and finding a story around her.”