Tagged: Drawn & Quarterly

Joe Corallo: The Beautiful Darkness of Satania

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating; diversity in comics is more than just the characters we see on the page. Who is behind the page is incredibly important. Also important is where that page came from. You can read comics with all sorts of characters reflected on and off the pages, but if you’re only reading print comics from the big two then you’re just not getting that diverse of a selection.

Two of the biggest alternatives to traditional American comics we see get some coverage are webcomics and Manga. If you love comics and you haven’t dabbled in either, you should. Even if you’re just checking out Manga like Akira, it’s important to see how different people and places present stories in similar mediums. Another country that has a strong comics tradition is France.

One of my favorite graphic novels from France in the past few years has been Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Keroscoet. The English translation was put out by Drawn & Quarterly back in 2014. It’s a gorgeously illustrated dark fairy tale that ingeniously juxtaposes the bleak nature of the story with whimsical characters and brilliant colors. I can’t possibly recommend it enough. The worst thing about it is that it eventually ends.

Fabien Vehlmann and Keroscoet are back at it again with a new graphic novel, Satania, from NBM Publishing. Satania at it’s core is the story of a girl, Charlie, trying to find her brother, Christopher. Once again Vehlmann and Keroscoet implement their brilliant use of juxtaposition having beautifully vibrant illustrations depicting some rather dark and hopeless situations.

The journey that takes place in Satania is one that leads Charlie and a small rescue party to search deep underground for her missing brother. What starts as some gorgeous but mundane imagery of tunnels slowly warps and gets more and more twisted as you turn page after page. Not only do the backgrounds begin to twist and bend, but so do our heroes. Charlie is also haunted by the image of her mother; an emotionally abusive woman who’s done considerable damage to both Charlie and Christopher over the years.

Whereas Beautiful Darkness comes in at about 96 pages, Satania is a meatier story coming in at nearly 130 pages. For me, while Beautiful Darkness is a wonderful story, it did feel as if it could have benefited from running just a little longer to immerse me in the story more. With Satania I feel the story is at a perfect length. I was compelled to read it in one sitting and wanted nothing to distract me. I was fully engulfed and immersed in the increasingly dark, dangerously, and inhuman world that filled the pages. It’s rare that a comics work that isn’t multiple volumes hits me as powerfully as Satania did, but when I finished this graphic novel it stuck with me and still lingers as I write this. It’s so deeply tragic and upsetting while also hopeful and inspiring.

If you’re familiar with the works of Fabien Vehlmann and Keroscoet this may be their best outing yet. If you aren’t familiar, this is a great introduction to their work that will get you wanting more. I can’t recommend Satania enough, and once you read it you’ll understand why.

Martha Thomases: Comics Read Women?


Sunday is the longest day of the year. If the rain holds off, we will enjoy the most sunlight possible.

I was thinking about this when I read a few recent news stories about our beloved comic book industry. The most amazing was a group of articles in the Arts and Leisure section of the Sunday New York Times, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly. From the front-page placement in the section to the double-spread jump (including this profile of D&Q’s greatest and most promising creators, it was the most attention to the graphic story-telling medium I can remember in the so-called “newspaper of record.”

The reason the Times thought the publisher had survived and thrived? By publishing works that appeal to women readers, including books by women.

In other news …

Comixology is using San Diego Comic-Con exclusives to promote comics to women readers.

And because subscription boxes are apparently a thing (I have one for my cat) another company is using SDCC to draw in female customers.

When I started to work in comics, I would never have been able to imagine a time when women would make up so much of the comics industry, nor could I imagine we would be courted to become more. Twenty years ago, when we started Friends of Lulu, I don’t think any of us thought this day would come. Both Marvel and DC trumpet their still tentative attempts at inclusion.

At this rate, any day now we’ll see panels on conventions on the topic of “Men in Comics.” Audience members will ask panelists how they juggle work with home life, and panelists will complain that others presume their success comes from the way they strut around in revealing outfits, or because the women editors they’re sleeping with give them work..

Because I’m a Jewish New Yorker, I find myself unable to completely enjoy this moment. I worry it can’t last. I’m afraid that any dip in the market will be blamed on the new female audience. Already, among the more paranoid fanboys, there is the suggestion that women are only getting work because of some feminist mafia that controls American capitalism.

The way we’re going to get more books that appeal to women is to buy more books that appeal to women. Fortunately, that isn’t just one kind of book. Women have as many different favorite books as men do. Sometimes they are even the same.

Next week, it will start to get dark again. Be sure to start storing comics for the later. Winter is coming.