In ‘Covers Album’ each Wednesday we ask comics creators, publishers and commentators to pick three of their favourite comic covers …but with a small twist. One must be chosen for aesthetic reasons, one for inspirational reasons and one for pure nostalgia! This week it’s the turn of Hope Nicholson whose new book The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen – a historical look at heroic female super-characters – is published this week by Quirk Books.
Hope is the owner and founder of Bedside Press, specializing in archival and anthology comics collections such as Moonshot (a collection of Inuit, Metis, and First Nations comic book stories) and The Secret Loves of Geek Girls (an all-female comic and text anthology of true stories of geeky love). She’s a consulting editor for Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird (Dark Horse Comics, 2016). She’s been featured in the Winnipeg Free Press, Toronto Star, the Globe & Mail, Comics Alliance, Bleeding Cool, and io9.com, and is a frequent speaker on women in fandom, comic book history, and publishing at conventions and other events.
Here’s her Covers Album choices in her own words…
Aesthetic Choice: Beyond: The Queer Sci-fi and Fantasy Comic Anthology (2015) by Levi Hastings (Beyond Press)
What I love about this is not just the artwork on the cover itself but about how all the elements work so well together! It’s hard to get across LGBT and sci-fi without showing romance on the cover, but using the theme of rainbows, right down to the holographic foil logos was a great touch. Levi is an amazing artist too and I love the integration of the title text flowing down the knight’s banner. It’s hard to do innovative ways to present necessary title info without it interfering with the artwork, and this was a great job. It’s truly a beautiful book, and even more impressive because it’s from Sfé Monster and Taneka Stott’s small press Beyond Press. It’s hard to know whether to put this in the Inspirational or Aesthetic category, because I’d love to be able to publish books this good looking one day!
Inspirational Choice: Love & Rockets #33 (1990) by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)
Really, I want to put almost every single Love & Rockets cover on this list, they’re so beautiful and eye-catching. Issue #33 is particularly great to me. How do you present police as a very real threat, and yet resist them too? I find the lack of background imagery in this really helps cement these figures as just this uniform mass. And then in the foreground, you have these cute Latino queer punk rock girls giggling running past, on their own adventures. There’s great danger that’s pretty much always present, and then there’s people who still have lives to lead despite it. It’s a really powerful cover, even though it features smiling girls, it’s incredibly ominous too.
Nostalgic Choice: ElfQuest #3 (1985) by Wendy Pini (Marvel/Epic Comics)
This is the first comic book I ever REMEMBER reading, though there is clear evidence I read some comics before this. So for me, I have fond memories of this cover, and looking back on it is hard because it conflicts with many warm and fuzzy memories of my obsession with this series (which I still read today!). There’s both resistance to racial tropes in fantasy, i.e. with the dark-skinned elves portrayed as more peaceful and civilizationally advanced than the Nordic-looking elves, but also there’s a romanticizing/simplification of indigenous culture which doesn’t sit well with me.
What I always did like, even as a prepubescent, is the equal sharing of male and female beauty on the page, the characters are all very traditionally beautiful, but in vulnerable ways, which was a big departure from the superhero characters I would go on to read. Even on this cover, beautiful men are given as much of the reader’s gaze as the buxom beauty of Leetah, the female protagonist.