Archive for Rachael Anderson

Holiday Gift Bag: Yarnvalanche!

Alright, my children, if it’s Friday as you’re reading this, that means you’ve successfully survived your Thanksgiving turkey-and-Skittles coma, and you’re now ready to embark on the grand adventure known as… Black Friday. Soon (or hours ago, depending on whether you were fool enough to bother with the early-morning doorbuster sales) you will have to deal with your fellow human beings, who used to be normal, civilized people but have now devolved to the point where they’ll eat their own grandmother’s entrails if it means they can get a Furby for 10% off (after the 25% markup, of course).

Or, if you’d rather avoid all that ridiculous nonsense, you can get a gift that’ll always be appreciated — comics!

Let’s start this year with a new book by a some folks with Lubbock ties — Yarnvalanche! by Rachael and Josh Anderson.


This is, as it says on the cover, the first collection of the Andersons’ “Worsted for Wear” webcomic, which is a comic about knitting, crocheting, spinning, and all kinds of yarncraft. Our main character is Cam, a young woman obsessed with knitting who has managed to ensnare most of her friends into her hobby. Her friends come from all walks of life and are focused on all kinds of yarn crafting. One’s a horror nut who loves to crochet creepy dolls; one runs a periodic web program that combines knitting and fitness; one is a secret knitter and a member of an all-guy knitting group. And one is a really, really fluffy bunny.

The group runs through all sorts of misadventures — the search for a meeting place for their knitting group, Cam’s attempt to make a baby blanket in less than a week, their mostly in-vain attempts to keep from buying ridiculous amounts of yarn, some knitting haikus, and several discussions of just how macho knitting may be. And yes, this includes the question of whether Batman knits.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an excellent gag strip with strong doses of geek humor, slice-of-life, and a little outright surrealism. Combine that with Rachael’s awesome art, and you got a winner of a comic strip.

The character work here is really outstanding. Everyone has very recognizable personalities and foibles — and even better, they’re all drawn pretty realistically. In other words, they’re all adult women with normal bodies — they’re not busty supermodels, so some of them are overweight, some are fat, some have normal human builds. They look like normal people, and that’s just plain awesome.

Oh, you think you won’t be able to get this for the comic book reader in your life? That’s the beauty of this one — you can get it for people who don’t read comics. Got a friend or relative who likes to knit? Get them this, and you’ve introduced them to comics. You may not have them reading Daredevil any time soon, but we’ve all gotta start somewhere. It’s even possible that you may be able to turn the comic reader in your life into a knitter. Stranger things have happened…

Yarnvalanche! by Rachael and Josh Anderson. It’s good stuff. Go pick it up.

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This Week in Comic Book Diversity


It’s been a weirdly excellent week for diversity in the comic book world.

The biggest news has been the announcement that Marvel was introducing a new Ms. Marvel, a shapeshifting Muslim teenager who idolized the current Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers. Kamala Khan made a very brief debut in this week’s issue of “Captain Marvel” and will be appearing in her own comic book in February. She isn’t the first Muslim female character in a comic book, but it’s very likely she’s the first to grab her own starring role in a comic from the Big Two.

As was pointed out to me by a friend, while this is good news, it would be even better news if Marvel hadn’t even felt the need to publicize this — that woulda meant that having characters who were not white straight male Christians was no longer considered shocking or surprising or uncommon — that there was no longer an “other,” just people who had interesting stories we could tell.

Nevertheless, a lot of the excitement about this is because readers are excited that there are new interesting characters to read about and who are happy that the comics world is becoming a more open, less exclusionary place.

Outside of the printed page, there’s a lot of other news about TV shows. DC announced that the CW would bring a new superhero to the screen. No, not Wonder Woman — she’s still considered too weird and obscure and non-penis-endowed for TV. Instead, they’re going with Hourman. Yeah, a little-known Golden Age character who only has powers for an hour at a time after taking a pill. That’s so much more mainstream and cool and sensible than Wonder Woman, isn’t it?

On the other hand, the CW also announced that they’d be producing a new TV show based on Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s “iZombie,” which of course stars a female character. This sounds like it may be a bit more interesting — the CW’s superhero shows (Well, “Arrow” — more are planned, of course) seem to be oriented around brooding shirtless hunks being angsty. A zombie who solves crimes by snacking on brains sounds like a meatier premise, though still probably pretty angsty, too.

Perhaps more encouraging on the TV front is that Netflix is going to make a number of shows based on Marvel characters, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, and the Defenders. This is pretty exciting news — Marvel has been a lot more successful with superheroes in the mass media, and it means that Marvel stands a very good chance of beating DC to getting a female superhero into a starring role on TV. If there’s anything that could push DC into taking Wonder Woman seriously as a media property, it might be Marvel stealing their thunder again.

(Though on a semi-related note, what’s up with Marvel still not starting up a Black Widow movie? You’ve got one of the most famous, most marketable movie stars on the planet playing backup roles in other people’s movies, guys. For the sake of Croesus, make a Black Widow movie and put Scarlett Johansson’s name above the title.)

And finally, dropping back to comics, former Lubbock artist Rachael Anderson was just spotlighted in Comics Alliance’s new “Hire this Woman” feature! We have our fingers crossed that this will help draw more attention to a really outstanding artist. We’d love to see her name on big-name comics soon.

Does all this big pro-diversity news mean the struggle is over, or even close to over? Obviously not. For one thing, DC Comics still exists, and it’ll be years before they let go of the “Comics are only for white male geeks” paradigm. But any progress forward is good news, and if television success can drag the comics industry a bit closer to the 21st century, I’m all for it.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Rachael Simmons

To my complete surprise, yesterday’s move went extremely well — I’d originally planned to take ’til the end of Wednesday to get my stuff moved, then spend Wednesday evening cleaning the old apartment. But it turns out, thanks to some timely assistance from my brother, that 99% of everything has been moved into the new house. Now tomorrow, I can get the place cleaned up, toss my vacuum cleaner in the trunk, and get gone ’til checkout on Thursday morning.

Of course, there’s a downside to all this — namely, the new house is much, much smaller than my old apartment, and it’s looking like my entire stay here will be plagued by stacks of boxes that I’ve got no room to store elsewhere.

But enough about me — let’s take one more look at a Lubbock artist who will be appearing at this Saturday’s Lubbock Comic Book Expo at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center: Rachael Simmons.

Rachael was born in Plant City, Florida, and moved to Lubbock when she was 10. Discovering manga and then Spider-Girl, she threw herself into reading all the comics she could and abandoned her plans to become a veterinarian so she could become a cartoonist. She even moved back to Florida to study at an arts high school, but gravitated more toward sequential art than the fine arts and painting taught in Florida.

After moving back to Lubbock, she got involved with the Lubbock Sketch Club and began sending samples of her work to comics companies. With a lot of rejections in the mailbox, Rachael eventually got a call from Red 5 Comics — they had been following her blog and were interested in working on a project with her. Soon, another new project was offered — in this case, a commission for a Harvard business professor for an educational comic book.

Rachael used to work at the Children’s Art Academy, where she taught kids about art and illustration, but she’s taken a hiatus from teaching to work on her freelance comics work.

Y’all have probably heard me say a few times how impressed I am with the artwork produced by the folks at the Lubbock Sketch Club, but I gotta say Rachael’s stuff blows me away. I got to flip through her portfolio a week or so back, and she’s doing absolutely world-class stuff. I think she’s gonna make a breakthrough to Marvel or DC sooner rather than later.

Go meet Rachael at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo this Saturday before the major comics companies whisk her away to New York…

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