Water Baby. Ross Campbell (writer/artist). Fiction – Graphic Novel/Comics
I loved the hell out of this little book. Campbell’s art is stunningly beautiful and I wish more artists – men or women – could draw women this way. They are scantily clad for most of the book (okay, ALL of the book) but it fit the young surfing beaching characters and any concerns I would have otherwise had about it were put to rest by the fact that Campbell not only draws all his women with vastly different body types (as they exist in the real world – gasp!) but also, none of his female characters are window dressing in the first place – they’re the stars. They’re the characters you love and spend the most time with. So if they want to wear tank tops and tiny jean shorts and bikinis and such (and it fits their characters – which it does) then I’m on board.
Beyond the art, the writing is solid. The story is a great (and horrifying) little tale about Brody our badass female main character, a surfer that loses a leg early on in a shark attack.
Brody’s best friend Louisa takes care of the newly shaped Brody and when Brody’s ex Jake shows up it sends them on a road trip adventure that includes a troublesome teen they pick up on the road. The basic story is enjoyable, but it’s Brody’s internal struggle that is so fascinating and well handled here – her nightmares and fantasies of her attack are disturbing and profound and speak volumes in mostly silent panels about what a struggle it must be to recover from such an accident…and that maybe you never really do.
Overall Brody is a fantastic hero – or maybe anti-hero – she’s strong willed and smart (though no rocket scientist) she knows who she wants to be and isn’t afraid of it. She tackles her problems as head on as she’s able and she seems to understand that she’s still figuring herself out – a measure of self awareness rare in the young. I could have done without the gross factor (she picks her nose – though not too graphically) but otherwise I loved her. Full of flaws and beauty, as we all are. Louisa is similarly well-rendered, and is both alike and different than Brody in the ways that best friends usually are. Jake is a bit of a sketch instead of a full blown painting, but as he’s not the star, or of too much importance I think he’s characterized just enough.
So here’s my confession.
This is a book from the now defunct DC Minx line intended for girls/women. And I’m a jerk for not getting on board sooner and if not supporting these books, than at least checking them out. I did look at the line when it first came out and like many fans (female and male alike) I found the first few books a bit lacking and I didn’t like some of the stuff I was hearing about the line. First of all, it’s called Minx, which is annoying, and just (maybe) one step above Divas or Sirens, but as usual I can forgive the title if that’s the only place they go wrong. But unfortunately, almost all of the creators (writers/artists/editors/etc.) were men, which is doubly annoying. It’s not that men can’t write women well (case in point Ross Campbell, or my post earlier about Brian K. Vaughan) but it just stands to reason that if you want to start an entire imprint FOR girls/women you might want to get some amazing talented WOMEN involved.
Anyway, my complaints are valid, and I really didn’t like some of the stuff I originally saw come out for Minx, but if Minx could bring us Water Baby (a title that would likely be impossible to get published with any of the major houses – other than maybe DC’s Vertigo line) then I have to say I’m wrong. And I wish I had gotten involved in this line (not that I’m some prolific blogger that changes the shape of the world or anything) earlier. To at least throw my opinion out there, even if initially it couldn’t have been full blown support. Another missed opportunity for the big publishing houses, gods know how long it will be before we get another shot.
If you want to check out more Water Baby, go to the Vulture Blog which has a large excerpt from the book.
Comments are now closed.