(edited to remove article about ComicsAlliance Kickstarter article but there’s an excellent ComicsAlliance interview link below, promise!)
Strong Female Protagonist is a webcomic about Alison Green, formerly Mega Girl. She’s great at being invincible and punching things. One day, she realizes that while her powers are good at defeating supervillains or things that need punching, her powers are almost nothing when it comes to help solve poverty, cancer, and such. So she quits being a superhero and goes to college in hopes of better answers. What does it mean to be a superhero? How can a superhero truly change the world for the better?
One of the worst things about TCAF is when you buy something, discover how amazing it is, and are unable to go back the next day to tell them how amazing their stuff is. SFP is doing excellent and important work in the superhero genre and I’m excited to see where the comic will go.
CA: Strong Female Protagonist is a very socially engaged comic—you wrestle with issues of inequality, governmental overreach, everything that maintains the status quo. It reminded me of a popular criticism of Batman—that he’s a privileged man who targets the underprivileged, rather than address real ills. Your comic almost feels like a response to criticisms of superheroes like that. Where did that approach come from?
BLM: You know, I watched the pilot episode of Gotham recently, and it reminded me of something about Batman’s parents that people gloss over. In a lot of iterations of his origin, his parents were “saving” the city through the power of philanthropy and systemic change.
MO: They were social justice warriors!
BLM: Exactly! So the message of Batman is…when people with these goals are murdered, you should lower yourself and ignore their ideals and engage in violent warfare. That way, Gotham will be dark and scary for as many comics as you wanna make! Maybe that’s the terrible cautionary tale of Batman.
With SFP, we think about these issues a lot. I have a background in philosophy, and I had a wonderful professor who has since passed way, Tom Davis. I spent a lot of my young life thinking about these issues of ethics and values and what makes a good person. It’s interesting to me in terms of superheroes that we instruct morality in that way. We live in increasingly secular society, and not to get all Grant Morrison, but they are our folklore. If the morality in our culture is to advance as I think it needs to, involving superheroes in that discussion is necessary. It’s weird to be engaged in passionate conversations about superheroes then, when there aren’t supervillains in the real world to take down. When it’s a complex network of systems of oppression. Those are what need to be addressed. We’re used to talking about good and evil in the context of super strength and laser eyes—how do we make that conversation involve the real world?
MO: When you come from a privileged place, you have to think about how you’re going to live a responsible life. It’s something a lot of people are wrestling with now. And superpowers can be an apt metaphor for that. If you’re given this head start in life, how are you responsible for that? How are you moral? There are a lot of people with a lot of different answers in SFP. We don’t have one answer. But we explore how people deal with these issues of privilege.
BLM: I’d say Molly and I have stronger ideas about the right way to handle these things in our personal lives. We don’t want to create a work of propaganda—this isn’t like, hey, here are some superheroes, now here’s how to be a good person! I sure don’t have the answers there. But we’re upgrading the context. If we’re coming to understand that the world is more complicated, how do we reflect that in our storytelling? Also, Molly and I just really like superheroes.