Realistic and Powerful Female Protagonists Rise in Comics

By Mary Ann Odete, contributing writer

What do big breasts mean on a female superhero? When it comes to the men, their body type is an indicator of their abilities, big and bulky for the strength based and lean for the agile. Big breasts literally mean nothing… in fact; the extra weight would probably be more of a hindrance than an asset.

For a while the Sunday funnies and the superhero story have been the most mainstream forms of comics. While the women were strong (when they were featured), they weren’t necessarily relatable. But today, comics have diversified. They’ve become as polychromatic as the novel, with all types of stories being told. And with this came a rise in comics geared towards young girls and women.  Going beyond the norm of featuring the big-breasted superheroes, this new type of graphic novel introduces all kinds of protagonists that real women and girls can identify with.

An enjoyable story that can brighten someone’s day, a great story that you can connect with can alter your perception. Lumberjanes, created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson, takes place at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. Centering on female friendship and featuring girls of all kinds, Lumberjanes breaks the mold of the “typical” comic experience. It’s a story that works for so many people on so many levels. And it’s not the only one out there.

Giant Days by John Allision, Whitney Cogar and Lissa Treiman, The New York Four by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly, Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Boumeries by Boum and so many more embrace the new comic. And we don’t need to stay within the realm of “reality.” Nimona by Noelle Steveson, Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson (sort of Calvin and Hobbes style), Faith, etc. takes us into worlds with superheroes, shapeshifting badasses, unicorns, fictional galaxies where girls and women rightfully (and accurately) are portrayed as awesome and diverse.

Fictional characters can hold a great influence on us. For years there was a limited handful of characters that girls could see themselves in, especially in comics. And the ones they were given were restricted. Each strong and powerful character written it shows young girls, who will one day becomes the strong women who achieve greatness, that the sky really is the limit. And for the young boys reading, it shows them that girls can be awesome too.


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