Reader Spotlight: J. Boyd

Today’s spotlight is on J. Boyd! You can find her over on twitter @charmingred.

Tell us about yourself!
I grew up equally across the south, the middle and the southwest areas of the country. So, moving to Texas, a state that has the identity of its own country (because it was one,) was a culture shock. I married a Texan and I’m current raising three little Rangers fans all under the age of five. I spent about five years in the television news business doing everything from producing, reporting and anchoring. However, I finally fulfilled a dream a few years ago by becoming a teacher.

How did you get into comics?
I have an older brother… born same day seven years apart, to be exact. With him being so much older, he felt it was often his duty to teach me about “modern culture.” Mostly this meant giving an elementary student U2, “I think you’ll really like this,” and telling me that I couldn’t mess with his roll playing figures he was painting. One thing he took time on, was explaining Spider-man. Amazing Spider-man was pretty much the only book he read. Sure, he had X-Force, X-Men and a few other issues mixed in his long box. But, to him, it was important that I understood and respected Spider-man. That I saw the Hobgoblin as cruel, and Venom as dangerous were big things to him—and clones were dumb.

What did I get out it? Gwen Stacy was the love of Peter Parker’s life but he was trying to marry some would-be model. It was Gwen Stacy that kept me reading, looking for a tragic storyline like Gwen’s story.

In high school, I would find and read copies of Watchmen, watch the X-men cartoons but know they were not right and then research the “true stories” on my own. I even collected the Marvel trading cards.
I was raised a Marvel girl.

Now, I read mostly DC and smaller publisher comics.


Do you just read comics, or do you express your love in other ways?
Needless to say I’m a comics girl. I read comics, I have a pull list, I write when I’m inspired and I wish I could draw. Tragically, no such luck.

What are some comics you’re currently reading and enjoying?
I love Savage Hawkman. There really is no excuse for loving this book right now, except to say that in the original Golden Age Hawkman books, Carter Hall traveled the world and he always used a different weapon from history. As a social studies teacher, I cannot help but love that. Plus, his tragic love story plays right into what I was always looking for in comics when I was younger. I hope this eventually happens more in the new book.
I’m also a Batgirl fanatic, read Birds of Prey, Justice League, Wonder Woman, Supurbia, Buffy and many, many more.

Who is your favorite character?
Batgirl is a great character.

Now, she had no deeper darker motivation when she first began fighting crime. It was an accident. I could totally dress up as Batman for a party, then run across a crime and take matters into my own hands. Of course, then I would probably be maimed or killed. However, unlike me, Batgirl was able to do something about it, creating her own identity in the process.

It wasn’t her father’s job that motivated her to fight crime, just one more tool at her disposal that she knew she could use. Plus, an eidetic memory!

In her reboot she doubts herself, is constantly questioning what she is doing and trying to find her footing. Now, she sounds like the constant monologue in my head. I know not all women feel this way, but I’ve always struggled to not second guess myself, and what I am trying to accomplish. In Batgirl, I have a superheroine that I can relate to.

Who are your favorite artist(s) & writer(s)?
Gail Simone is definitely one of my favorite writers. What she did on Birds of Prey was brilliant, and I do feel she can make female characters relatable.

Brian K. Vaughn is a favorite, just because of his originality. While I do not necessarily love every story he does, Y the Last Man changed the way I looked at comics and what comic books could be and I will always be grateful for that.

Finally, Jimmy Palmiotti is also a good writer. Plus, when you’re at a convention, with three little kids, and you can act that cool and be that patient with a fan, while her children are climbing all around the table, and wanting to touch everything? Even if I hadn’t been a fan before that, I can’t help but be one after.

Perhaps, it is because I come from a writing background, but I do not necessarily have just one favorite artist. Although, if you have not seen The Rahzzah’s painted pages for Red 5 Comic’s Moon Girl series, you are missing out on some breath-taking artwork.

Do you have a favorite comic storyline?
As I’ve already mentioned, “The Death of Gwen Stacy” was the compelling storyline that pushed me into reading comics. No matter who officially says what, there is constantly that nagging debate going on in your head, “Who really killed Gwen?” Going along with that I also enjoyed The Amazing Spiderman’s “Sins Past” because it touched back on Gwen Stacy and attempted to put her in a different light.

What are some things you love about comics? Some things that frustrate you?
I love how comics add depth and layer to what you could just be reading in a regular book. Those layers will often pull a student into reading a comic. That comic could end up being a higher level of reading than the fiction novel they would check out from their school library.

With comics, you look at a speech bubble and analyze. Is this character serious, sarcastic, timid, brooding. You do not have the author telling you, you have the artist showing you. In that way it allows you to have your own interpretation, on a smaller scale, in some iconic scenes.

However, if you have a poor writer, or even a poor artist, it makes this debate in your head that much harder. So, unless you read an interview with the writer, you might be stuck with, “Oh, that’s what they were going for?”

What does your dream book look like?
It is an odd combination but my dream book would be about Supergirl, written by Mark Waid and the artist would be Amy Reeder. Supergirl has been an underdeveloped character over the years. Even with this new Supergirl, I think she could be so much deeper. She seems to be stuck in the Silver Age in her regular serial adventures. I feel like Waid could create an episodic journey for her that could be both exciting and deep. Then, think about the stylistic touches of Batwoman but on a book that would have more spring and daytime color, such as Supergirl. It would be Batwoman’s antithesis and gorgeous!

Any final thoughts?
This is an exciting time in comics. With the media convergence of our era, comics fit in perfectly, because they marry the visual eye candy that people need along with the dramatic stories that people crave. With no budget limits or bad actors clouding your imagination, you can experience what the characters experience. Finally, I feel that comics could be the bridge to help build student interest in literacy. Many students do not see a point in education because their culture (yes, even in parts of America) does not necessarily value education. So, even in the elementary years, they fall behind. They do not care about the stories or passages presented at school, so they fall even further behind. But, I have seen how comics can push kids to read at higher reading levels then even they thought they were capable of reading. With the pictures only telling part of the story, the students want to know what has happened, and that comes down to the words in those speech bubbles.

About Chantaal

A Philosophy major who wants to be Rashida Jones when I grow up.
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