We’ve talked a lot about Blue Water’s Female Force comic books. In December we even gave you a peek of the line art of the Ellen DeGeneres story. Now we’ve got our hands on an advance copy of the finished product, and we’re bringing you sneak preview!
There are 50-11 ways to judge a comic book: the art, the coloring, the lettering, the story, even the cover. As a total package, Female Force books are kind of hit-and-miss. The stories tend to read like Wikipedia entries and the graphics are sometimes just illustrations of famous photographs. There’s plenty of that in Ellen’s comic, but the narration is, um, a little different.
The writer, Sandra C. Ruckdeschel, is actually drawn into the comic. In fact, the first four pages feature Ruckdeschel watching Ellen’s stand-up routines on TV, and talking about seeing Ellen perform live, and reacting to Ellen’s CoverGirl ads, and then, of course, dancing. Ruckdeschel dances throughout the comic, even taking a pratfall on the last page and telling us not to laugh. Super weird.
Between that, though, Female Force hits the highest highs and lowest lows of Ellen’s life. It opens with a baby Ellen, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying on the Louisiana/Mississippi border. (Even as a baby, Ellen’s hair was gay.)
The comic touches on Ellen’s parents’ divorce, her background as a Christian Scientist, her relationship with her mom and dad and brother. It follows her through her move to L.A., the death of her first girlfriend, her appearance on Johnny Carson and her now-infamous coming out. The story devotes two full pages to Ellen’s sitcom getting canceled, with a scary accurate depiction of Jerry Falwell calling her "Ellen Degenerate."
(Ruckdeschel was in the audience for "The Puppy Episode," which she pops up to tell us, before dancing off to another page.)
The comic devotes one panel to her relationship with Anne Heche, but graciously spends The Heche Years talking about Ellen’s hosting gigs at the Emmys and Academy Awards.
The issue doesn’t pull any punches when it talks about Prop. 8. It depicts it as exactly what it was — unconstitutional, homophobic legislation — and shows what kind of effect it had on Ellen.
Just like us, though, it devoted an entire spread to Ellen and Portia’s wedding, hoping to shine some light on a otherwise bleak moment in history.
The real victory of Ellen’s issue of Female Force is that it doesn’t shy away from her sexual orientation, but it doesn’t portray it as anything other than normal. It’s a huge part of Ellen’s story because it has had a great impact on her career, but it’s not an anomaly, and Female Force balances it perfectly.
I could have done without Ruckdeschel’s dancing and reaction shots, but even with them, this is a comic book I’ll bag and board for my collection. Ellen’s Female Force hits stands on March 31st. Will you pick up a copy? What do you think of the preview pages?
Edit: In the original post, I misquoted Sandra Ruckdeschel. Ellen was a Christian Scientist, not a Scientologist. Many, many apologies to both Ruckdeschel and our readers. I have spoken with the lovely Sandra Ruckdeschel, and she asked me to clarify that point for you.