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Strong Female Protagonist: Women in Comics, Part 2

Marissa Thompson, Young Adult Librarian, North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library,
3 graphic novel book covers

On March 9, we delved into some of the ways female-written and female-fronted comics are shaking up the comic book community. Today, we’re going to highlight some of our favorite “hard-core lady-types” who work in the comic book industry that also happen to call Los Angeles home!


Molly Ostertag

photo of author Molly Ostertag

Our North Hollywood Branch Library had the privilege of hosting Molly Ostertag last November to discuss her new graphic novel, The Witch Boy. In this graphic novel, we find the story of Aster, a pre-teen boy who lives in a community where all the women are witches and all the men are shape-shifters. Men aren’t allowed to do magic and women aren’t allowed to shape-shift...but Aster is good at magic and not very good at shape-shifting. The resulting conflict provides a fantastic exploration of “upending gender expectations, forging identity, and uncovering heroic potential in oneself”. (SLJ review). Molly is also the illustrator of a twice-weekly webcomic called “Strong Female Protagonist,” which completed its second very successful Kickstarter last year.

When Molly isn’t busy drawing and writing graphic novels, she works as a freelancer for television animation and enjoys concocting stories as her friends’ Dungeons & Dragons’ Dungeon Master.

Mildred Louis

photo of author Mildred Louis

Mildred Louis is a new Angeleno, coming to our city from Boston. Mildred is the writer and illustrator of the popular webcomic, Agents of the Realm. The first volume of the series was recently published during a successful Kickstarter!

Agents of the Realm follows five women starting their first year of college, not knowing one another, when they’re thrust together with a single purpose: protect our world and its newly-discovered sister dimension from those who would destroy them. This comic series is perfect for anyone who enjoys Sailor Moon, Zodiac Starforce, and other similar magical girl series.

In addition to Agents of the Realm, Mildred also works as a freelance artist and colorist, having worked on Rick & Morty and Invader Zim comics, as well as contributing art to The Handmaid’s Tale tv series.

Jen Wang

photo of author Jen Wang

Jen Wang is a favorite comic book writer and illustrator at the Los Angeles Public Library. Our branches have had the privilege of hosting Jen as part of our Summer Author Program for two years now and we are so excited for the recent release of her new graphic novel, The Prince and the Dressmaker.

Her graphic novel, which is sure to be on many people’s Best Books of 2018 lists, tells the story of Sebastian, a gender-fluid prince who loves to wear dresses, but must hide this fact from everyone in his life. Everyone except for his dressmaker Frances, who hopes to become a world-famous fashion designer, but is held back from her dreams by the prince’s secret.

Jen's other tiles include, In Real Life, and Koko Be Good, and in addition to her writing and illustrating comics, she is also the co-founder of the Los Angeles comics festival, Comic Arts LA.

Shannon Watters

Speaking of “hard-core lady-types,” no post about awesome Los Angeles women in comics would be complete without the versatile Shannon Watters. Shannon is an editor and writer with BOOM! Studios, as well as the head of their BOOM! Box division, which is responsible for all-ages comics.

Shannon is the primary creator of the wildly popular comic book series Lumberjanes, which has been in publication since 2014 and has won several Eisner Awards. Lumberjanes follows a group of pre-teen and teen girls at Miss Qiunzella Thiskin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, where three-eyed foxes, hipster yetis, deadly puzzles, and badge-earning tests are the norm. The series has broken many barriers in comics since its start in 2014, in particular with its LGBT themes. (Two of the girls, Mal and Molly, are in a relationship, another girl Jo, is trans, and a friend of the girls, Barney, identifies as non-binary).

A lot of what we currently enjoy in independently-published comic books has Shannon Watters and the rest of the Lumberjanes creative team to thank for paving the way for fun, entertaining, and inclusive comics.


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