Please bring back the strongest women in comics.
You planned to come from humble beginnings. You were to be funded, by the people, for the people. You must have had so many ideas worked out to woo the hearts of the individual as you clawed your way to recognition and eventually, earning your place on the shelves, beside so many others. But just days before your Kickstarter campaign was set to launch you were picked up by Image. It must have been an incredible feeling. Before your fight even began you get one call that says you’re worth it, that you don’t have to fight. You were ready all along. And it was true. Out of the gate you were nominated for the 2014 Eisner Award for ‘Best New Series’ and in 2015 you won the GLAAD Media Award for ‘Outstanding Comic Book’ and were nominated for the 2015 Hugo award for ‘Best Graphic Story’ on your first collected Trade. You worked hard, and it did not go unnoticed.
Yet you had your setbacks. After your original artist was arrested on charges of domestic violence against his wife in November of 2014 there was room for concern. It was such a negative event tied to such powerful female characters. Your comic was still so young. Only 8 issues at the time had been released, and yet you held strong. Your response was quick, publicly removing former artist Roc Upchurch from the project and announcing that you were unaware of what was going on behind his closed doors. You said specifically “I couldn’t have imagined something I love so dearly would become connected to domestic violence.” Announcing Stjepan Šejić as the new head artist seemed to solve the problem, but when he was only able to stay on for 2 issues for ‘health reasons’ you then turned to Tamra Bonvillain and Tess Fowler. Together they helped you continue your vision. Your powerful girls stayed strong, boisterous, and just as loveably laughable as ever. And at the end of it all you told us you wanted to “stand by what [Rat Queens] has always been praised for and to prove to fans that they weren’t wrong in loving it.” So much promise. And yet…
It’s been 5 weeks since issue #17 was supposed to hit the shelves. It’s been 2 months since the hiatus was announced. It’s been 3 days since I first started trying to put this article into words. Your story is powerful. It has a voice that deserves to be heard. Speaking loudly and unashamed of the strength of women. The intuition they possess and the love they share for one another. It screams questions for religion, heritage, and discrimination. It refuses to be silent in regards to sexuality and friendship, showing love in all forms. I was moved by your series. From the first issue I was hooked. And while I would love to see the return of my beautiful girls representing many body types, sexualities, and races…I do not want to see them return penned by Roc Upchurch. Your story is worth more than the sum of this man who beat his wife and left his 3 children. Your story represents women who are strong. Women who do not allow anyone, man or god, to hold power over them. Do not ruin them with his ink. Do not bring them down to his level.
I’m waiting, like so many others. Please don’t let us down.