Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Geeky Chick-Lit And Why We Need More Of It

I was in the book store a few weeks ago, looking for a Father's Day gift for my Dad when this caught my eye.

I'm a sucker for a great cover, and this shocking purple and green contrast made me stop in my tracks. After a moment of staring at it's brilliance, I realized what it was; Geeky Chick-Lit!

CURRENT STATUS: No job, no boyfriend, no permanent place to live, no car, and most of my clothes are held together with staples and duct tape. Bank account almost wiped out. Many of my former associates have expressed a desire that I never darken their doorways again for legal and financial reasons.

She-Hulk got us got us kicked out of the Avengers Mansion. People keep posting videos online of her New Year's Eve shenanigans: twirling, flaming telephone poles in Times Square, climbing the Empire State Building while dangling Anderson Cooper, dancing wildly at parties, and commandeering a motorcycle cop's ride to do wheelies across the Brooklyn Bridge."

Saying there are two sides to Jennifer Walters's personality is an understatement. When she hasn't morphed into a 650-pound, crime-fighting, hard-partying superhero, she's a single lawyer trying to get her act together. Hilarious and action-packed, The She-Hulk Diaries tells her story, as she juggles looking for Mr. Right and climbing the corporate ladder by day with battling villains and saving the world by night. Maybe she'll finally take on a case that will define her career. Maybe she won't meet one Mr. Right, but two, and she'll have to choose. Maybe bad guys will stop trying to destroy the planet so she can read her Perez Hilton in peace.

"An absolute delight. Those who are unfamiliar with Bruce Banner's wayward cousin are in for a treat . . . Whether you like She-Hulk straight up, comedic, or a combination of both, The She-Hulk Diaries is the She-Hulk endeavor for you." --Peter David, long-time writer of The Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk, and X-Factor and author of Pulling Up Stakes
 I couldn't wait to start reading it, although part of me was apprehensive. 
Despite writing chick-lit myself, I don't particularly enjoy the genre. I find a lot of it is about stupid women making stupid choices and somehow getting everything they ever wanted in the end. Now don't get me wrong, there not all like that, but I read a bad streak of novels that made me give up on the genre. I like reading about empowered women, which is why I tend to stick close to fantasy/sci-fi for my reading choices.

Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it and trying to figure out when I'd get the chance to read next. That doesn't happen much for me these days. I read at least 3 hours a day, so even if my book isn't very good, I'm still usually reading quite a bit. To want to be reading more is pretty impressive.
Art by  Laurie B!

This book is still chick-lit. Even Jennifer Walters seems to think that she needs a good job and, more importantly, a man to define her life. These are things I totally disagree with and so does She-Hulk. But Jennifer isn't She-Hulk most of the time, so that's where we fall into the chick-lit cliches. Don't get me wrong, I understand what it's like to look for a PFLOML (possible future love of my life) or the perfect job, I just know that those things don't define me as a person.
Luckily, this is done with enough humor and superhero references that I can look past it.
I really love that besides all that, they really do define her as a person and not as a superhero. They really get into the fact that she's a high powered, hard work, passionate lawyer. I also love that she loves online gaming, Arthurian legend, Game Of Thrones, and for her resolution to try new things, she takes up LARPing. She even sees a therapist, who in the end actually helps her find herself, something I think all of us could benefit from.

 We so rarely see the normal side of superheroes, especially the women. Considering that she also practices law as SH, there really aren't a lot of reasons to focus on Jennifer as a person. I'm glad they did though. I certainly felt that I had more in common with regular old Jennifer than I did with out of control, party animal She-Hulk.

This is totally how I pictured SH in this book. Art by Jebriodo
I think it's important for us as women to have books like these, to have characters that we can relate with. Women who are strong and independent, who take on bad guys with a passion to do the right thing, that they don't have to be in superhuman form to do so. Isn't that a lesson that we could all learn? Isn't it more important to see that Jennifer is just as much of a hero as She-Hulk?
I think so.

Next on my to-read list is Rogue Touch.

 It's by a different author, so I'm hoping that she decided to take it in the same direction as The She-Hulk Diaries. I'm really looking forward to it.

"An interesting take on Rogue, as her powers take her down a path I never would have imagined." --Chris Claremont, author of Dragon Moon and writer for seventeen years of Uncanny X-Men

Eighteen-year-old Anna Marie was just fired for the third time--this time from a bakery. Why can't she hold a job? Well, for starters, she dresses . . . differently. She looks like a Goth girl to the extreme, her shock of white hair contrasting with her head-to-toe black garb, her face the only skin she chooses to reveal. But Anna Marie doesn't have a choice. Her skin, her touch, is a deadly weapon that must be concealed. She accidentally put her first boyfriend, Cody, in a coma when they kissed. Horrified, she ran away to Jackson, Mississippi, where she's been living alone in a cramped apartment and scraping by on food stamps.

Then she meets otherworldly James and everything changes. He's just like her--completely alone and also on the run. To elude James's mysterious and dangerous family, the pair takes to the highway. As they cross the country, their simmering attraction intensifies and they both open up about their secretive pasts. James reveals that his true name is Touch and he christens Anna Marie Rogue. But with danger at their heels, they know they can't run forever. Rogue must decide if she'll unleash her devastating powers once again, which she swore never to do, in order to save the only person who seems truly to understand and accept her.

"A lost chapter from Rogue's past, told with elegance and conviction and attention to detail. Really entertaining." --Mike Carey, author of the Felix Castor novels and writer of X-Men: Legacy

 I hope Marvel continues on with this trend of writing. I totally think there's a market out there for this. I know there are tons of geek girls out there, just like me, who have been waiting for something like this to come along.

Certainly there are a lot of artists who have had similar ideas. Maybe not chick-lit, so much as old pulp covers

This picture was posted on Club Jade with the title "This book will blow your mind". There were a lot of disappointed fans when they realized that it was only an April Fool's joke. I was one of them.

TonyFleecs's deviantart is filled with these great geeky, pulpy novel covers.

Timothy Anderson has taken the Star Wars movies and turned them into Princess Leia novels in these next few covers

I would totally read them all. How about you?

Guess I should get back to writing my own geeky chick-lit. It's about a geek girl who finds herself, and maybe the geek of her dreams along the way. If you're interested in hearing more about it, let me know.

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