Women in Comics and Out of the Fridge: An Interview with Comic Uno
This past June, I attended EternalCon, and met Kat “Comic Uno” Calamia, a geek journalist and indie comics writer. Kat’s comic, Like Father, Like Daughter focuses on a high school girl whose father walked out on her family to be a full-time superhero, and her work as a comics critic led to the short documentary “Women Out of Refrigerators: The Modern Female Superhero.” As a fellow aficionado of women in superhero stories, I asked if she’d like to be interviewed on that subject, and she gave me a resounding yes. Here follows that interview:
Murphy Leigh: All right, first of all, you were at SDCC this past weekend — any highlights on the ‘ladies in superhero franchises’ front that my readers may want to be aware of?
Kat “Comic Uno” Calamia: Yes I was at SDCC this weekend and it was a blast as always. I personally was able to interview the cast of Supergirl, so that was fun! It was also announced that Brie Larson will be playing Captain Marvel. I really love this casting and can’t wait to see the MCU have a real spotlight on their female heroes. Then lastly of course that bad ass Wonder Woman trailer. I wasn’t a huge fan of Batman V Superman, but damn I am excited for Wonder Woman.
ML: All right, awesome. Now, you’re the creator of an excellent fifteen minute documentary on the modern female superhero called “Women Out of Refrigerators,” in which you primarily talk about DC women; on the Marvel side of things, you do talk about Gwen Stacy, specifically the Spider-Gwen iteration of the character. Was this an intentional focus on female characters who ‘came back’ from being fridged? I can think of a few Marvel girls, pun intended, who didn’t get the Gwen Stacy treatment — Jean Grey comes immediately to mind.
KC: First want to thank you for watching my documentary. It was a long journey to create the film, but I am very happy with the end product. And yes it was intentional to focus on characters that were fridged, but then came back to have their own story. Sometimes these characters came out stronger because of the events that made them fridged in the first place, Barbara Gordon is a character that comes to mind. If I had more time I would have loved to focus on other aspects of this trope and female representation in general. It’s such a big topic, and who knows maybe one day I will have the chance to make a feature for “Women out of Refrigerators.”
ML: Documentaries are rough — I studied film in school, so I know. I wish you luck! And speaking of Barbara Gordon, the Killing Joke movie is coming out soon. Given the news that Barbara is going to have a romantic or sexual relationship with Bruce in this version of the story, do you see this as a step back for either the character or the fridging trope?
KC: I’ve had a lot of friends asking my opinion on this scene. I still have to watch the movie, and I actually hope to watch it today. So I can post a review for it on my YouTube channel, Comic Uno. But to answer your question yes I think this is a huge step back for the character. This movie had the opportunity to fix the wrongs they had with the original source material for Barbara’s story. And with this scene it makes Barbara’s women in refrigerators moment even worse, who knew that could happen. The film should have focused on Barbara’s journey, not this weird sexual relationship with Bruce. In the comics Barbara and Bruce always had a father/daughter relationship. This fact makes this scene even weirder, and out-of-place.
ML: I had a feeling that that would be your answer — and it’s definitely an opinion I share. The thing that really gets me about that is the fact that, in contrast, in the DCEU, we have Harley featuring so strongly in Suicide Squad, and the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. What do you think of the DCEU’s apparent commitment to female characters, in the face of the DCAU’s rather…lax approach?
KC: I am extremely happy to see the DCEU focusing on strong female characters like Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn. In a lot of ways I think this is the universe’s strong suit. I have been watching the DC animated films for a very long time, and sadly female representation has never been a big priority, even though the DC animated TV shows have some great female characters. I think the excuse is that they think female lead movies don’t sell. The only movies they think that sell are Justice League and Batman films. But even if Batman and Justice League films are the only franchises that sell well that doesn’t mean these films can’t feature strong female characters. Batman has some amazing female characters, Barbara being one of them.
But I will say I was happy with Batwoman’s portrayal in the latest Batman Bad Blood film.
ML: I agree with that opinion on the DCEU — I’m sadly (?) not familiar with the DC animated films, being fairly new to DC in general. Either way, I’m sure you have a unique perspective on writing stories focused on women, as an indie comics creator yourself, besides your work as Comic Uno. Is there something particular that goes into writing Like Father, Like Daughter, or does it come naturally?
KC: Like Father, Like Daughter is a story that comes more naturally. I wrote the screenplay for the story back in 2013. So these character have been with me for a long time, and Like Father, Like Daughter is very much my commentary on superhero comics in general (a genre I feel very strongly about).
ML: Definitely a genre I feel strongly about, too. The last time we spoke, we talked about the politicality of superhero stories. Could you talk a little bit about that for my readers? Where do you see the genre headed, in terms of engaging with political themes and having implicit or explicit political or social stances?
KC: I see superhero comics having more political influence everyday, weirdly not in the current X-Men comics, even though I feel like the X-Men franchise has always been the most politically/socially driven comics. Comic Books have always been a mirror to society. So I am not surprised that comics are trying to have more deeper context, especially in a post Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns era.
ML: Excellent. Now, do you have any advice for young storytellers who might be overwhelmed by that political relevance, especially in the sometimes contentious climate surrounding female-led stories?
KC: I know some readers who don’t like the social/political relevance of todays comics, and that’s okay because some people use comics as more of an escape from reality. There are comics that are more real and others that you can read for fun. I say try out all types of comics. Once you look at the landscape that the comic medium has to offer, you will figure out your taste. That’s what’s cool about the comic medium, there is a story out there for everyone.
ML: And finally, do you have any tips for fans who want to see more and better representation for female characters in the genre?
KC: I see the comic book industry growing everyday with more and more female led comics and better representation of female characters. I think looking at what critics have to say, especially critics who have a feminist lens, will help you figure out which comic books to pick up.
I highly recommend Kat’s comic, which I reviewed on my blog, and really, “Women Out of Refrigerators” should be required viewing for anyone in the genre.https://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/women-in-comics-and-out-of-the-fridge-an-interview-with-comic-uno/https://i1.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/katlfld.jpg?fit=848%2C927&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/katlfld.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1ComicsEntertainmentRecent Postscomic uno,feminism,fridging,like father like daughter,the killing joke This past June, I attended EternalCon, and met Kat 'Comic Uno' Calamia, a geek journalist and indie comics writer. Kat's comic, Like Father, Like Daughter focuses on a high school girl whose father walked out on her family to be a full-time superhero, and her work as a comics critic...Murphy LeighMurphy Leighmleighmedia@gmail.comContributorMyFantasySportsTalk