There’s something extraordinary happening in comic book land right now, because I’m getting that warm, fuzzy feeling of love over and over again. And there are four characters in the current comics I’m reading who, when I’m pushing 99, I know I’ll remember fondly. It might be something they said or didn’t say, it might be the look on their face before they stood up to something bigger than them, or it might be a myriad of little quirks and perversions that combine to dress their personality with humor, humility, and heart-pinching emotion. In my mind, these characters are rewarded for being themselves; by far the scariest thing on Earth to be.
Giant Days by John Allison
She’s a wide-eyed, endearingly awkward girl with big round glasses and unruly hair. Daisy was home-schooled, and now finds herself at a huge University with kids who are light-years ahead of her in the area of social adjustment. Luckily, Daisy has her dorm mates, Esther and Susan to guide her in the right direction. Esther is a drama-queen and Daisy is uber-impressionable, soooo… together they kinda sweat the small stuff. Like, having legitimate, manic freak outs when Susan mentions the word “drama-queen.” My favorite Daisy-moment, though, was when she got caught watching napkin-folding videos in her bedroom, because the quiet sounds made her feel “nice.” And then she (naturally) concluded she was a pervert, and got worried for her personal safety. Esther and Susan were tasked with talking her off the ledge, which they did, but not before Esther compared her strange, lonesome activity to the joys of nose picking. I think that’s when I fell hard and fast for Daisy, and all the weirdo, anxiety-riddled baggage she carries. Things are going to get extra complicated for her as she navigates her feelings toward women, but Daisy speaks her mind and acts out of honesty. For that reason, and knowing that she’ll surprise me every time, I’ll always be on darling Daisy’s team.
Lumberjanes from Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Shannon Watters
I can’t help but smile when I think of April. She’s the cherub-faced, girly-girl Lumberjane who sports long red locks, and looks like she could snap in half if you poked her too hard. But don’t be fooled, this gal can pack some serious punch! She’s the sort of person who vigorously documents everything, as though life is one big final exam and you better PREPARE. And though she might occasionally annoy her pals, April isn’t afraid to yell to the heavens when wolves are chasing her friends, and she always takes one for the team. I literally gasped when she used her “twig arm” to wrestle a giant statue in order to get the Lumberjanes through a door while exploring a cave. This teensy lady possesses more confidence and strength of character than many adults, and she’s pushing the envelope as far as stereotypes go. When I was first getting acquainted with April, I thought to myself, she’s the girl who everybody knew at school. But as I experienced her further, I realized I was wrong. April is the girl who everyone at school secretly wanted to be. Now as a fully-fledged adult, I still secretly want to be April (but now the cat’s out of the bag).Art by Brooke Allen
Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher
In contrast to the other characters I’ve mentioned so far, Olive is a brooding, mysterious girl, the kind who keeps the barriers up until she knows it’s safe to come out and play. There’s some bad blood between her and Batman, and she’s had a rough childhood as the daughter of a mentally ill, verging on psychotic, mother. It’s no surprise that Olive treads cautiously through the halls of Gotham Academy. While she’s difficult to reign in, I find that when I’m away from the book, I’m thinking about her and wondering how much of her mom is alive in her unconscious. Olive shows such an intense vulnerability, that relating to her has demanded my past. I had to close my eyes and go to that place that’s pushed far to the back of my psyche, to really feel the insecurity and the tremors that Olive is experiencing. And because of that, Olive is the character who frightens me the most, but at the same time, I’ll be damned if I’m ever going to leave home without her.Art by Karl Kerschl
Saga by Brian K. Vaughn
Alana, the winged creature from planet Landfall is perhaps the strongest, most timeless heroine in the comic storytelling medium right now. She’s the Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, hopelessly in love with the guy from the wrong side of the tracks, but there’s nothing hopeless about Alana’s character. Our introduction to her was maybe the boldest intro to any character I’ve read in a comic book. She exclaims, “Am I shitting? It feels like I’m shitting!” right before she gives birth to Marko’s illegitimate child. Alana is a character who wears her heart on her sleeve and fiercely protects her daughter Hazel like every mother should. Both of these elements serve to humanize her, and bring us back down to Earth if we need a breather. It’s no joke that I definitely wouldn’t want to get on Alana’s bad side; that would end poorly. What I love and admire about her, though, is that she has a zero tolerance for bullshit and that one of her ‘hobbies’ is having sex. Yep, she always wants to get it on with Marko. I feel like this is unusual to find in a comic character (especially one of the winged variety), but it’s hilarious, and brings a lot of humor to this sweeping, heartbreaking tale. Everybody should graduate to the level of having a healthy dose of Alana in them, because even when she’s afraid, she stands tall and fights for what she believes in.Art by Fiona Staples
Daisy, April, Olive, and Alana are characters who stick with me as I go about my life. It’s refreshing and rewarding to spend time with them, and I always eagerly await their next adventure because I know that they’ll allow me to actively participate in their journey.
Who are the comic book characters who make you feel all tingly and goosebump-ey inside?
Featured Image: Boom! Studios
Images: Boom! Studios/Image Comics/DC Comics