Ruby Rocket as Marvel GirlHey Fandom! Welcome to “A Shop of Ideas”. In this article we’ll be promoting DC’s terrific new Power Girl comic and spotlighting our controversial Girls of A Comic Shop promotions. The Girls of A Comic Shop always stirs up a heated debate, but since I’m a white male apparently nothing I say counts. This time I’m ready for it! This time the women are speaking for themselves! We have interviews with the Girls of A Comic Shop model who played The Pro for us, as well as the artist of The Pro and Power Girl, Amanda Conner. We also have a video interview with Hollie Winard, who modeled Ms. Marvel for us. So enjoy, and let us know if you feel any different about our program after hearing what some of the women involved have to say.
Ruby Rocket has modeled for several photo shoots with us including Thillkiller Batgirl, Marvel Girl, and everyone’s favorite super-powered hooker, The Pro. She’s a huge comic fan who’s been costuming at conventions long before she started modeling. Here’s what Ruby has to say for herself:Shop of Ideas: How long have you been costuming, entertaining, and modeling? Ruby Rocket: I've always considered myself an entertainer. I have been in dance since I was 3 and my first theater performance was sometime soon after that. I've been doing stage productions a good majority of my life. Over the past 2 years I've transitioned into film acting. I started attending conventions in 1999 and was "officially" dressed up for the event then. I've been sewing since the age of 10, but really didn't sew anything beyond pillows until '99. As for modeling, I did a bit of child modeling but have very little recollection of it. I did my first "adult" photo shoot when I was 18. So, all together it's been a pretty long time for everything. SoI: What are some of the accomplishments you’re most proud of?
RR: I just recently won an award at the Texas Burlesque Festival for one of my comedy burlesque routines. I'm still beaming over that one. I've had the fortune of being put in quite a few magazines but I would say those things are more-so luck than accomplishments. I'm incredibly proud of myself whenever I can figure out a costume design element that has previously stumped me. Every piece of clothing I make is a huge accomplishment for me and I get a little glow whenever someone asks me where I got something and I can proudly declare that I made it.Ruby as Thrillkiller Batgirl SoI: Why do you do costuming? Is it for attention? What do you get out of it?
RR: I guess this kind of ties back into the last question a bit and it's definitely a multi-faceted answer. First and foremost is my love for comic books and super heroes. I've been reading/collecting comics for 15 years now and I always wanted to be the girl kicking ass on the cover. I've always been dressing up, as well. As far back as I can remember I've been running around in costumes. I get a rush of excitement whenever I get dressed up, be it for a convention or one of my performances. I enjoy the transformation. And then going back to the last question, I enjoy the sense of pride I have from creating these costumes. Not everyone can drape fabric and figure out darts. So, yes, the attention that comes from it is very flattering most of the time. In the end, though, I do it simply because it makes me happy and that's all that should matter.SoI: Why did you want to do the Girls of A Comic Shop photo shoot with us? Do you feel using you photos to promote comics is exploitative?
RR: You guys were my local comic book shop (and Aaron knew my fiancé from High School) and I thought you guys were pretty awesome. Aaron was cool enough to give me a job when I went back to school and I thought they should have pictures of a girl that actually lives the geeky life style and works at the shop. Plus the photographer, Ryan, did really awesome work and I thought the photos would look good in my fledgling modeling portfolio. Win-win! I don't feel the pictures are exploitative at all. I think that if you look at those pictures as being exploitative then, in theory, wouldn't all comic books be exploitative? Because let me tell you, those costumes are simply designed to look good and show off the character's physique. They are not practical or comfortable.
SoI: What’s going on in your life right now? How can people become a fan of Ruby Rocket?
RR: Right now I'm just gearing up for San Diego Comic Con. I've been really focusing on my acting career lately so I've been slacking on the costuming front. I will hopefully be bringing Loki with me this year. It's a really trying costume, though. Working with materials I've never used before so I have to figure out new techniques. I also have two burlesque shows in July (Atomic Frolic in Dallas, TX and Comic Strip! in San Diego, CA) so I have to get some new numbers created for that. Between the costumes, my normal job, and my work-out routine my days are pretty full. It's rather hectic. I try to keep my website and myspace somewhat up-to-date but I hardly turn on the computer right now.
Ruby Rocket’s websites: www.rocketsagogo.com
Shop of Ideas: What attracted you to Power Girl?Power Girl #1 Amanda Conner: Lots of fans came up to me at conventions and said we’d love for you to do Power Girl one day, so occasionally I’d do sketches of her even though I’d never drawn her before. Then one day Steve Wacker approached me and said “I want you to do Power Girl”. He convinced me to do it, and I’m really glad I did because she’s turned out to be one of my favorite characters. So it was the fans, then the editor, and then Jimmy (Palmiotti) thought it was a good idea too, and he’s a pretty good business person so I tend to listen to what he says.
SoI: Power Girl’s a strong and independent woman who shows more cleavage than a Hooter’s waitress. Do you think that’s a contradiction?
AC: I don’t think that if you’re an independent and confident woman that you have to go around being ashamed of yourself. I just think she isn’t ashamed of herself. JSA Classified explained the hole in her costume and why there’s no logo there. If I was Power Girl I’d probably realize that after years of fighting super villains that it’s a great distraction, and a way to get them under control, so why mess with a good thing? It could be a contradiction, but it doesn’t have to be.
SoI: When we were promoting Power Girl #1 Facebook rejected our ad, which was simply your cover to the book. The rejection was on the grounds that the image was irrelevant to what was being advertised, showed too much skin, and was “degrading”. Do you think you designed a degrading costume?Amanda Conner AC: I don’t think it’s degrading at all. I think that the person [Facebook] had red-flagging that ad probably knows absolutely nothing about comics. Clearly, they don’t know who the character is because they said it was irrelevant to the ad when it was 100% relevant. They just set themselves up as the morality police, that’s my guess as to why she was red-flagged. I don’t feel Power Girl’s costume is degrading. I like Power Girl’s costume, I drew it.
SoI: Sex is used to sell everything from beer to cars. We feel its fine to use women in comic costumes to sell comics because we are using the product we sell to sell the product. Do you feel this is exploitative?
AC: No, I think that’s the product. The character in the costume is the product. As sexuality is concerned there’s far more exploitative stuff out there than these costumes. Some people lost their minds when they saw the Black Canary Barbie with fishnets. Some people said, “she looks like a slut; I would never buy that for my daughter.” That doll was for adult collectors anyway, but, that being said, I went online looking for all the Barbie’s they had that never caused any controversy and there were way sluttier Barbies than the Black Canary one that no one said anything about. I think one person gets the snow ball rolling and everyone wants to jump on the whining bandwagon. That’s how things like this become an issue when it really isn’t an issue.
SoI: You go to a lot of comic conventions and see fangirls dressed in super heroine costumes. Do you think that’s cool?What a Facebook rejection looks like AC: I think it’s great. Back when I had my 20 year old body I used to dress up like super heroes all the time. Some of them are sexy and some of them are more covered up, but they’re all great, and it’s just people having fun. I always see girls dressed up like Wonder Woman and no one complains about Wonder Woman, but that’s a very sexy costume. Regardless of the costume, you see a lot more skin just going to the beach.
SoI: You’re one of the only female artists working in mainstream super hero comics. Do any of the women-focused comic groups support you?
AC: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I think the best way to get young girls to read comics, and possibly to eventually draw comics is to just put out really good comics. Women comic groups can say whatever they want, but young girls just need good comics they can love and enjoy. I think Power Girl is a good role model.
SoI: Is it weird for you to be a female artist known for drawing sexy women? I realize I wouldn’t ask a male artist how he feels about drawing sexy muscle men all the time.
AC: [Laughs] That’s a really good point. I enjoy drawing sexy women. I also enjoy drawing women and guys that most people wouldn’t think of as sexy. I find all different types sexy, but really I just enjoy drawing people, sexy or not.
SoI: Is there anything you want to say about the Power Girl comic?Hollie as Ms. Marvel AC: Jimmy, Justin, and I are going to give her a lot of personality and make you want to follow her because you like her as a person. That’s going to be our catch, make you want to know what happens to your buddy, Power Girl, every month.
And finally for this time, check out our video interview below with Hollie Winnard of Ms. Marvel and Beauty and the Geek fame. Also, let us know what you think about our program of using models in super hero costumes to promote comics. The Girls of A Comic Shop has been a successful and constantly evolving program for us, not to mention an interesting point of self-reflection on the nature of the industry.
Girls of A Comic Shop: http://www.girlsofacomicshop.com
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