Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My So-Called Secret Identity

This is a little outside the realm of the Library of the Dead, but I think the creators of this comic are doing something really important here. Critiquing mainstream comics for the way they portray women only gets you so far: the people behind independent comic My So-Called Secret Identity are trying to show the comics industry how it should be done.

Not only have they abandoned the typical pin-up model style for their heroine, they have a mostly female staff behind the comic. Plus, Cat-- the main character in MSCSI-- isn't super-powered or a mutant, she's just a really fucking smart woman. Being a Batman girl myself, I'm fascinated a bit more by human beings who stretch themselves to fight the bad guys, rather than having that superhuman edge. From what I've read in the first issue (available through their website), it's a character that takes us back to detective style stories, but more like a Sherlock than a Bruce Wayne.

They've currently revealed the first two pages of the second issue, and will be releasing two more pages each Sunday as they build towards funding issues four and five. You can already read the first issue online for free!

The creators are being really transparent about their funding process too-- they're not using Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, who both claim a percentage of funds raised (which I didn't realize). The author, Will Brooker, is not even taking any money for writing the story, it's really all going towards the artists. They have Paypal "Donate" buttons on their website's Donate page, different tiers of rewards, and the money raised from each issue will donate $100 to A Way Out, a charity that supports at-risk and vulnerable young women. 

After doing my Women in Horror Comics series, and thinking more and more about comics in libraries in preparation for C2E2, I truly believe supporting independent projects like this is the way to go. Whether they have a print copy of a comic, or just digital, can you imagine how successful some of these indie comics could get if they had even a handful of libraries helping to fund them? Having popular, beloved, classic comic series on hand in the library is important, but we can't compete with comic book stores, and the people who want to read those comics already know what they want. They don't need our reader's advisory unless it's about a comic they haven't heard of yet. Which is unlikely to be part of the mainstream. That means... independent. Ding! I think that's where libraries fit in, to say: "Hey! Are you getting tired of the same old same old in your superhero comics? Check out My So-Called Secret Identity for something different!" 

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