Though once a daytime television sweetheart, actress and comedienne Rosie O’Donnell has gone from the “Queen of Nice” to the “Queen of Mean.” And a newly released Female Force comic book, written by Dan Rafter and drawn by Kristopher Smith, aims to portray this rise and fall.
Indeed, O’Donnell does have a fascinating story, but this Bluewater Products publication massacres it into an unfunny mockery, even as it attempts to show O’Donnell as a misunderstood protagonist.
The company specializes in biography comics, Female Force, Fame and Political Power. They claim that he books tell fair, researched and entertaining stories about the most important celebrities, sports stars and political leaders in the country. And as a perfunctory overview of the controversy surrounding any celebrity of political figure they do work reasonably well. But I found nothing new, interesting or spontaneous in the Rosie O’Donnell bio.
It opens with a scene of O’Donnell dumping a piano on Donald Trump’s head, living out a fantasy that can only be accomplished in the land of inky, Looney Tunes style fantasyland of the cartoon comic book. While this does come with a certain amount of instant gratification it does not particularly endear her as a character right off the bat.
This vague discomfort is echoed through the style of drawing Smith employs. A generic and lifeless loose impersonation of the style of Robert Crumb, Smith’s illustrations come off as not just silly but a little sleazy. This may be perfect for the initial Trump scene but as the story veers into more serious territory such as O’Donnell’s visionary split with Rosie magazine or discussions child-rearing and gay adoption activism it’s difficult to feel any sympathy for the character.
It’s hard to tell, too, who the comic is targeted at. It seems feminists, whether they are into comics or not, will likely know a lot of the Rosie story to begin with and Female Force offers very little of its own insight.
“I imagine that most people have no idea what a varied career, and what a busy life, that O’Donnell has enjoyed,” says author Dan Rafter. “I hope that the people who read this comic book, even fans who’ve followed O’Donnell’s career closely, will be reminded what a multi-talented professional that she is.”
And it does serve as a reminder, at least, a way to bring the Rosie controversies back into the spotlight. The question is, where they interesting enough the first time around?
Darren G. Davis, publisher and founder of Bluewater Productions, said certainly thinks so, saying, “Our Female Force comics feature on women who have made a difference. For the work that she’s done promoting gay and lesbian rights, and especially for her efforts to ensure that gay and lesbian couples can adopt, O’Donnell deserves to be honored. It doesn’t hurt, either, that she’s an accomplished comic, actress and talk-show host.”
I agree that O’Donnell does deserve some kudos for her work, and understanding for what she’s been through. I’m just not sure this comic accomplishes that.