Superheroine Sunday: Ming Doyle

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Image: Marvel
Image: Marvel

Occasionally, I privately bemoan the difficulty of finding women other than some of the most well-known names. The G. Willow Wilsons, Marguerite Bennetts, Kate Leths, and Kelly Sue Deconnicks don’t need people like me to help showcase their work. The low number of well-known women creators in the mainstream comics industry has led me to a deeper analysis of the indie prints. These prints such as Valiant, Boom!, and other smaller houses has led me to some truly amazing women. Starting with The Womanthology: Space collection, I now have a great place to start looking for new superheroines. In the course of skimming the book, I stumbled upon Ming Doyle.

Ms. Doyle’s 2-page Womanthology story, “Princess Plutonia,” relied primarily on images with a text that incorporated both the third person inner monologue style as well as dialogue. Her art incorporated a comic book sensibility reminiscent of the traditional Silver Age comic styles. The reds and purples combined with the plot immerse the reader in the typical space narrative complete with adventuring alien captain. However, Ms. Doyle’s gender swap of the hero figure gave a new lease on life to the worn traditional male hero story. The heroine, Princess Plutonia, inverts the traditional woman in distress found in comics and other stories. Moreover, Ms. Doyle inverts the power structure by making Princess Plutonia fully dressed while her male romantic interest is nearly naked. By doing this, she oversexualizes the male character in a way traditionally seen with female characters of the Silver Age era. Her work, for a 2-page short story, is both visually and narratively dense.

Image: IDW
Image: IDW

Visual density defines Ms. Doyle’s work. Her art uses thin strokes to create a sense of depth and movement within her images. A look at some of her work at Marvel shows how she redefines well-known characters with her own stylistic sensibilities, thus almost recreating them. In Girls Comics #1, her work is defined by angular facial features and long, thin fingers. The use of lines here, again, gives a sense of three-dimensional depth.

Image: Marvel
Image: Marvel

One of my favorite pieces, however, is from her work with Rocket Raccoon. Ms. Doyle’s detailed line work lends itself to our favorite furry mercenary. Each whisker, each hair, each small nuance of Rocket’s being is clear upon inspection.

Image: Marvel
Image: Marvel

Moreover, Ms. Doyle’s work on The Kitchen, a book about the wives of convicted mob bosses taking over control of their husbands’ turf, proves that her style ties together the modern sensibilities of comic art with the noir style that this women gangsters book espouses. The detailed line work here promotes the sense of femininity by placing a focus on the character’s Farrah Fawcett hairstyle. Simultaneously, the angularity gives a sense of hardness necessary to create the noir-esque tough as nails heroine.

Image: Vertigo
Image: Vertigo

Ms. Doyle’s confidence comes across in her work. Her defined style that manages to cross genres and narrative styles effectively while still ensuring a clear sense of identity is the reason that Ms. Doyle is this week’s Superheroine Sunday profile.

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