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It saddens me that it has taken this many years to go from Women in Refrigerators to MSCSI, but regardless, I’m not only happy that this series has received some buzz, but that I was lucky enough to in some way be included in it, as a reader. In addition to being good social commentary and a great example of what female characters in comics can be, My So-Called Secret Identity is also just a really fun read, for men and women alike.
The tagline of My So-Called Secret Identity is “Smart is a superpower.” And, it serves as not just a description of the comic itself, but as an important message to anyone who might be reading it. Cleverly interwoven into My So-Called Secret Identity are several pages from Sarah Zaidan, whose lively digital pages suggest a smart-minded fusion of exceptional skill, found objects and unconventional materials. To suggest that My So-Called Secret Identity is worth reading because of its ideological convictions would be to patronise its creators while seriously diminishing their achievement. We’ve all seen the endless debates, arguments, and downright abuse surrounding the women in comics “issue”; whether it’s about visual representation (see the Hawkeye Initiative) or the staff of the books themselves (Gale Simone’s firing and re-hiring at Batgirl), there always seems to be something new for us ladies to feel at least vaguely insulted by. I hope My So-Called Secret Identity can make its way into many households, especially those where young girls are being disillusioned by the scantily clad women posing all over their current comics. My So-Called Secret Identity features a superhero we all can rally around, an antidote to the brawny chauvinists and busty sex symbols of mainstream comics. Brooker, Shore and Zaidan have displayed not only an admirable respect for themselves and their character but also the reader. Relatable characters are hard enough to come by, but one that actually reflects the textures of a real woman’s life as lived, and then proceeds to spin that tale into fantasy escapism, are truly priceless.
The groundwork is laid in this first issue for the action to come; you get a sense of Cat, Gloria City, and the terrorism that wracks it. A brand new comic superhero series entitled My So-Called Secret Identity is introducing the world to what may become the best and definitely least sexist female superhero to ever enter the hero-sphere, and she’s not defined by the color of her lipstick. My So Called Secret Identity has a feminist approach with a fully-clothed female protagonist whose superpower is intelligence.
The first issue of My So-Called Secret Identity had wonderful prose-like narration that immerses you in the setting of Gloria City.
Gloria City feels like a real city and it was almost as if Cat was walking through my own town, doing the things that I like to do.
The first issue of MSCSI (the acronym that also serves as the new series’ Twitter hashtag) introduces main character Cat Abigail Daniels, who resides in Gloria City, a comic book alternate-universe metropolis where terrorist attacks are more common than usual, and whose superpower is basically that she’s super-smart. I have an almost 1-year old daughter, so finding strong female characters for her to read when she's older has become a new obsession of mine ("Daddy, why do all the superheroes' girlfriends end up stuffed in refrigerators?").
In a moment marked by growing frustrations around the representational, demographic, and industrial devaluation of women within comic book culture, MSCSI represents an important transformative intervention.
For the first time ever, when I read the comic online I found a character I got, in every way. The first issue is 22 pages of full colour comic available for free, plus a ‘lookbook’ of behind-the-scenes sketches and costume designs. The website goes live on 18 February but until then, you can get your Cat fix on Facebook and Twitter. You’re in for a real treat, as the interactions with Cat on social media are lots of fun, and especially her Facebook page offers some great teasers for fans.
My So-Called Secret Identity comic, website, and contents are © Will Brooker, Sarah Zaidan, Susan Shore 2013. I am SO SICK of hearing this whenever a Bible believer is asked how they know the Bible is God's word!! Unless you're like me (slightly cuckoo), don't bother getting into those conversations or just respond with "Sorry, I believe differently than you. And then the conversation changes completely because I started off as a nord warrior specializing in sneak, two-handed weapons and smithing but I recently made an argonian mage that is pretty sweet too. Yeah, I know that those kind of "debates" are annoying, but if you know how to play your cards right, you can corner literalists in their own game, of course if you are willing to enter to a debate with them.
But anyway, I prefer debating with a "philosopher" over a literalist any day, literalists can be VERY boring because of the insane amount of circular logic they use. Quote:I am SO SICK of hearing this whenever a Bible believer is asked how they know the Bible is God's word!!
You may never debate religion out of a person, but you may just plant enough seeds and let their mind do the rest. Getting people to start thinking is a good purpose to stay there and debate as long as they are willing to take even if you never get the satisfaction of an obvious success. For me, the measure of its success has really been in the response from individuals who have connected with Cat and her story, and told us how much it means to them, to the extent that it's even inspired them, changed their approach to life and given them more confidence. Often I find I get my best ideas when I am walking around or on a bus or train, so I frequently text myself or send myself brief shorthand messages from my phone, then paste them into a master document when I get home. On an even bigger scale, I have a sense of where scenes, plot-lines, character trajectories and so on fit within the whole, right up to the level of the three-volume trilogy.
The best way I can describe it is through the way Microsoft Word operates -- you can zoom in on a particular page or even part of a page, but you can also pull back to see 10 pages at once, or 100, and at different magnitudes you are seeing, and working on, different aspects, from micro patterns to macro patterns. That is the explicit feeling and aesthetic I was most trying to capture in MSCSI; superhero adventures that were woven with popular culture references -- alternative bands, cool fashions, little nods to news stories -- and had a sense of emotional resonance, a real weight and power to the characterisation and the dialogue. Those stories, for me, were very moving and inspiring, while never rubbishing or forgetting the genre they belonged to.
Comics are a similar process, in that they work through angles, lighting, performance and rhythm of shots, but you can achieve that final result much more quickly.
Of course, it takes Suze and Sarah time and a lot of talent to draw and colour that scene, but I can see the end result far more quickly and easily than if we were working in TV or cinema.
The pointing finger charms on the cover are an example of this, and the fabric I used for Cat's blue dress swatch on the mindmap is actually scanned from a Marks & Spencer skirt of mine!


Read more Q&A with Lindsay Searles and the social media team Riven Alyx Buckley, Lucy Bennett, Karra Shimabukuro and Bethan Jones on the MSCSI boards, here. Benjamin Jeffcoate (McGrath), trips and is hit by a photon beam, causing him to develop superpowers.
The characters are compelling, and the story (written by Will Brooker) is interesting and exciting. Her exuberant, double-sided representation of Cat's desk - all maps, scraps of notes and newspaper articles - is a joy, and as such, is well in keeping with the spirit of the project as a whole. Yes, there are moments where the storytelling wobbles a touch, but this is an undeniably intriguing and enjoyable superhero comic.
What we don’t see quite as often is someone actually doing something constructive about it.
Will Brooker, the Director of Research at Kingston’s Film and Television Department and editor of Cinema Journal. Issue one shows the promise of a multifaceted character who will be remembered for more than her costumes and facial expressions.
Cat, our superheroine, might not have the usual super powers, but she has something even better: she’s very very smart. It’s not hard to see where this comic is potentially going, and what is hinted at is quite enticing indeed.
Zaidan is very photographic; in fact, it feels very reminiscent of Bryan Lee O'Malley's work in Scott Pilgrim.
One two-page spreads shows a mind map, which presents a visual interpretation of Cat's thinking. The website features the comic and a Lookbook by Lindsay Searles, which showcases some of the thoughts behind the design process. There's potential here for all involved to make something special, giving women a work to look up and forward to as one that effectively captures what it means to be a smart, independent woman with a desire to do more.
Even with a simpler art style, you get a strong sense of Cat’s personality and the struggles she’s faced because of her intelligence. She lives and breathes on the page, and you simply cannot help but to sympathize with her as you witness her struggles.
Brooker’s writing builds on familiar superhero tropes in a way that makes the reader instantly comfortable with this new environment, while the comic’s female-centric narrative is handled in a matter-of-fact way that mostly just makes one wonder why on earth this type of comic book isn’t more common. She’s not a twit, she’s not a victim, she’s not a love interest who is introduced and discarded. The team are inviting donations towards issue 2, with a $5 suggested minimum; higher bids earn bonus material like extra pages, original art and the chance to see yourself in the comic as a supporting character. Because I can’t imagine anything cooler than having a chance at being a supporting character in a comic this cool. While I can’t help wishing she’d been around when I was younger, I’m infinitely grateful she’s here now. Have a seat Batgirl (does anyone else get super annoyed with the fact that she’s called girl?!). With print comics sales skyrocketing and superheroes continuing to blast into mainstream media, the gender gap in female readership and female representation in comics only becomes more obvious. Just let them talk about their bible and they will invariably say something stupid to get you started. If you make any progress at all with the rest of your arguments, they will let this one go really fast and they will start claiming that the Old Testament is not that important, it no longer applies for modern people and a lot of it is really metaphoric. I would suggest that you check out Skeptic's Annotated Bibble In case you are not familiar with the bible, In my case I'm well versed in biblical knowledge because I was a christian for 8+ years before becoming an atheist. Or do like kingschosen does, change the topic with a non-sequitur unless you want to start a pointless "debate" that eventually will become a battle between your boredom and their wish to convert you. I often work between desktop computer, iPad and iPhone, sending notes to myself, but I also write a lot of things down on paper, using a pencil. I do most of my actual writing and emailing at a desktop, and most of my more casual browsing and social media on an iPad. I am still haunted by moments in Doom Patrol -- I can still remember individual frames from Black Orchid and Enigma vividly. They were still superhero stories, written out of love for costumes, continuity, icons and secret identities -- they were just very good superhero stories.
So the process of getting it from my head to a visual form is relatively fast, and extremely rewarding. I never thumbnail digitally--five years of working with a drawing tablet and I still prefer to have the boundaries of physical page in front of me when I work out a composition. Something I've been trying to do more often is to think about the scene in a cinematic way, then translate that to the page. She was really modest about the whole thing with me, and it wasn't until she introduced me to Will that I really understood the impact that this comic could have on people, and how big it could become. There are a lot of great things about the 90s, but in my mind web design isn't one of those. I thought I'd get my minor in Fine Arts or Illustration, but after my first year I determined that I wasn't cut out for the Fine Arts field. But it also means that I've gotten into a habit of always trying to keep on top of new trends and ideas in website development.
It provides some terrific twists on the typical superhero lore we’ve come to know and expect.
For this is a tale which expresses both a love of the possibilities of the superhero as well as a respect for the storytelling fundamentals of comics themselves.


If the point ever did need establishing again, then this proves once more that there needs be nothing of the ultra-conservative about the heirs of Princess Diana and Kal-El. That’s where My So-Called Secret Identity comes in, a new comic series with an almost entirely female staff written about a woman with a back-story more well-developed than her body, the proportions of which stay healthily within the realm of physics. Brooker is the author of a number of books and articles on popular geek culture and is most well known for his monograph Batman Unmasked: Analyzing a Cultural Icon, published in 2001. Can Cat subvert the ‘theatre’ of Gloria City’s superheroes and villains, and perhaps become a true heroine for the “little people”? We only get a hint or two of how her mind works in this first issue with a splash page of Cat’s “mind map” process.
The truth of the matter is that women are NOT treated equally in today’s society, and while this book aims to highlight this, and is, in fact, the purpose behind the book, it doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I wish My So-Called Secret Identity every success, and look forward to finding out how the story develops in subsequent issues. As the founder of Comicspedia, the most frequent question I'm asked is, 'What comics would you recommend for girls?' MSCSI provides the answer.
I never thought I'd identify with a comic character - but as a female Irish-English red-haired PhD student I think I've found one! I printed out the entirety of my last book, Hunting the Dark Knight, to proofread it, and now I am using the back of every page for scrap paper, working through it steadily. When you write fiction, obviously you have a visual in your head, and you have to try to put that across to the reader through words, essentially describing what you see and trying to get them to see it too. During my Master's, I doctored up a screen print in Photoshop and realized that I could paint with textures and apply them in ways I couldn't push as far when working in an analogue capacity. My source materials are pulled from all over the place; Dover clipart books, free online textures, things I have lying around the house, and my stock of sewing supplies (I make dolls and their outfits, and tend to hoard interesting fabrics, trims and charms). After that I was sold on the whole thing, and it's been one of the most fun, most exciting projects I've had the opportunity to work on. Andrew uses his superpowers to help people, but must hide them from his family and friends.Here is a list of the links where you can watch My Secret Identity for free in your browser.
The artwork by Suze Shore and Sarah Zaidan is great, too, and is particularly commendable for not falling into the trap that so many comics do of giving their female characters bodies and costumes that defy the laws of physics. And, whether you’re a man or a woman, you shouldn’t ever let anyone make you feel less-than, just because you’re smarter than they think you should be. Similarly, there's an exhilarating expression of deeply-held convictions on display here, and yet they sit perfectly well with the very best traditions of the sub-genre as entertainment. Unashamed of the sub-genre even as it despairs of how poorly it's so often been used, My So-Called Secret Identity reads like the glimpse of a far more decent-hearted and interesting future. He decided to create MSCSI to show the world that positive female representation in comic books can be done, rather than simply criticizing the mainstream for their current practices. Her struggles in life as a woman are simply a part of who Cat is, just like it’s a part of all women in today’s society. Here is a comic that gives us everything we want about comics- great art, fully-fleshed out characters, villains lurking in the background, the promise of phenomenal things to come, but doesn't require us to trade anything in order to get all of this. Bible origins, contradictions, stupid laws, the flood, things that never happened, the creation story, the language of choice, the faulty replication, imperfect translations, the faulty process of book selection, lack of independent accounts, other equally miraculous and older "holy" books, the fact that their god has more flaws than you do etc etc etc. The reason my personal comics are almost exclusively based on daily events is that I am in no way a writer. By the end of my second year, I had determined that Psychology wasn't my passion any more, and that I had a knack and passion for Computer Science. I'm a stay at home mom, with my 1.5 yr old son, but as soon as I was able to make time in my schedule I was back taking contract work. But after all these years, I've learned that my purpose is multi-faceted, and I LOVE it that way!
Both issues each also feature an intricate “mind map” by Zaidan, which provides us with a glimpse into Catherine’s thought process and how various details and events fit together as part of the whole. At the same time though, the artists make sure that the world around her feels vibrant and alive as if it's another character.
While the scene fills the page, each panel showcases a different character at a different state in the setting, helping to present the variety of characters in Gloria City. Artists Susan Shore and Sarah Zaidan bring Brooker’s script to life in a stylized yet realistic form. This book intends on delivering an important message, and is doing so in the most entertaining format possible: SUPERHERO COMICS!!! And this probably helped, since when I want to tell people about events it's more instinctive for me to draw it out rather than write it down. It was too late for me to switch my degree from Psychology to CS (I didn't have enough money to add on the additional year I would require to get the proper credits to do that), so I ended up graduating with a BSc in Psychology, and a minor in CS. Sarah Zaidan were hired as illustrators and issue one was released online on February 17th. Cat and MSCSI promises to finally deliver what GEEK-ladies and gents have been clamoring for.
Though writing is a weak point for me I would like to work on it, as the only way to get better at something is to do it and improve as you go. MSCSI is the type of comic I would give to my nephews so that I could finally point to a female character who looks a hell of a lot like the women they know and love and say, ‘See?



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