My Formative Female Creators

Recently, as I have been trying to think about what sort of media I myself would like to be creating, I have been thinking about which creators have most impacted my life. I made a list of the formative creators over the years trying to figure out if any similarities existed between them. And guess what? There was. It just wasn’t the sort of similarity I was expecting. They were all women.

(N.B. – this was just a list of creators, not works, that helped shape me in some way. There are a number of male created works that I am a HUGE fan of and was impacted by. I just wasn’t influenced by the creator themselves in the same way.)

Instead of sharing the entire list with you, because that would probably take me weeks to write and I am not sure anyone would want to read a 15,000 word sentimental rant, I am going to share a selection of it here. I am choosing one from three phases of my life: my childhood, college, and the present.

Tamora Pierce

The Tortall universe is where I spent my most of my childhood. While I love Harry Potter, I would’ve traded my ticket to Hogwarts for a trip to Corus in a heartbeat. I wanted to marry George Cooper and train with Daine. But beyond all of that Tamora Pierce taught me that women can be heroes too, action heroes like the Lady Knights Alana and Kel, sneaky ones like the spy Aly, powerful wizards like Daine, in addition to all of the female leaders we see in the books. Women can lead, is what I learned from these books. (Hell I even learned about periods from the Lioness Quartet and I still use her language to explain it to people.)

My first pieces of fanart were inspired by these characters, and I religiously checked her website to find out what she was working on next, what she was reading and watching etc. I wanted to know everything about her, because it amazed me that the person who created all this stuff that I loved was a real person. I wanted to be her. Tamora Pierce made me want to create my own world filled with amazing characters.

(Also I recently discovered her tumblr and it has only confirmed that she is a WONDERFUL HUMAN.)

Allison Bechdel

Allison Bechdel has been a very influential creator, her Dykes to Watch Out For comic birthed the infamous Bechdel Test as a way of looking at women’s roles in movies. However it was her first graphic memoir, Fun Home, that shaped me.

Now first, here is some context. Before I read her book I was a college junior, unsure of what it was I wanted to devote my energy to. I liked writing, but having met some amazing writers in college, I didn’t think I was good enough to be a writer. But then again I loved drawing but didn’t think I was a strong enough visual artist.

Well the second half of my junior year saw me taking a Visiting Artists seminar, one of which artists was Allison Bechdel. She ran a workshop with my class about adapting a memory into a comic, then she gave a lecture. She told us about how her writing was rejected from literary circles and how she wasn’t accepted into art grad programs. It wasn’t until she combined the two, by making comics, that she found her strength. The combination of words AND the visual was where her work was best.

Mind. Blown.

She introduced me to a whole new way of creating. (And a whole new genre of work to endless consume – the graphic memoir.)

Kelly Sue DeConnickĀ 

Slowly over the last year or so I have gotten into comic books, both the superhero variety among others, and one I finally checked out was Captain Marvel. Mostly because I had seen Kelly Sue DeConnick, the writer, pop up over the internet and podcasts that I consume and thought I should check it out. And I loved it. Interviews with her are so inspiring, her connection to her fans is wonderful and the actual material she creates is amazing.

But you want to know how she has influenced me as a creator? It is her Bitches Get Shit Done text list. After nagging a friend over text to get to work, she created a list on Remind101 that anyone can sign up for. What is it? DeConnick sends out 2-3 texts a week that #nag and kick our butts into gear, reminding us to make to do lists, and to cross things off the list during the week. She lets us know when she had a bad work day, and makes great holiday/nerd puns regularly. These texts are truly a delight and is a great way that she connects with her fans and HELP newbie creators to sustain motivation.

Because what is more motivating than your personal hero texting you to remind you to get to work?

So while Tamora Pierce drove me create, Allison Bechdel showed me what I wanted to make, Kelly Sue DeConnick actually helps me get shit done.

So guys, who are your formative creators? Female or otherwise?

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