Book Spotlight: Monstress

Written by: Joshua Lim

Published: Aug 4, 2022

Monstress, is an ongoing critically acclaimed fantasy comic series written by Marjorie Liu, drawn by Sana Takeda, and published by Image Comics. Receiving comparisons to epic fantasies like George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire," J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter," and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Monstress is not only one of the best ongoing indie comics but one of the best fantasy stories in general! War, fantasy, steampunk, post-apocalyptic, and Eldritch horror are all genres that can describe Monstress. Themes of racism, xenophobia, sexuality and humanitarian issues are interlaced in the complex world that Lui creates, and Takeda accentuates. These issues feel all too real, and it is no surprise as one of the major inspirations for the story is Lui's Chinese grandparents' experiences of surviving WWII and their resilience in dealing with post-war life.


For more comics and graphic novels that feature Asian characters, click here.


Monstress: Story

"A teenage girl struggles to overcome the trauma of war in an alternate, matriarchal 1900s Asia that’s brimming with arcane dangers. This task is made all the more difficult by her mysterious psychic link to an eldritch monster of tremendous power—a connection that will transform them both, and place them in the crosshairs of both human and otherworldly powers."


Monstress was first published in 2015 and is currently on its forty-first issue or seventh volume. Its first issue is triple-sized and will be sure to enthral you. However, a reminder that it is not for everyone. It does deal with graphic violence and mature themes. The story even opens with the protagonist being sold as a slave. However, fiction is perhaps one of the best spaces to deal with such themes, at least Liu believes so. Click here or here to read about interviews Liu had discussing how she addresses race, feminism, and othering in her work.


Tips for teachers - Buy the graphic novels or hardcovers, not the comics. Graphic novels and hardcover books collect multiple comic issues!


Monstress: Classroom Use

Due to the mature themes and the fact that the story is still in progress, I believed that it would be better suited for personal reading rather than classroom usage. However, during the 2018 New York Comic Convention Dr. Katie Monnin, Chloe Ramos-Peterson, Adam Kullberg, presented by Pop Culture Classroom, in partnership with Image Comics, highlighted how educators and librarians can start to deconstruct Marjorie Liu's Monstress in order to build their own teaching guides and curricular resources to support teaching the title to diverse student populations (Terror, 2018).


A Grade 11 and 12 guide by Pop Culture Classroom. Found here.


Monstress: Authors & About

Marjorie Liu is a former lawyer turned bestselling novelist and comic book writer. She was born in Philadelphia, grew up in Seattle, and has lived in numerous cities in the Midwest, as well as Beijing, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Her work at Marvel includes top intellectual properties like Black Widow, Han Solo, and the Astonishing X-Men. She has also taught a course on comic book writing at MIT.

http://marjoriemliu.com/


Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since become the third largest comics publisher in the United States. Image is known as a venue for creator-owned properties and publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable.

https://imagecomics.com/


Monstress: Awards

Monstress is one of the most highly acclaimed and winningest comic series out there. In 2018 it won a whopping five Eisner awards, including Best Writer making Liu the first woman to do so in the over 30-year history of the Eisner Awards. See below for a notable but not-exhaustive list of awards won:

2016:

Winner, Entertainment Weekly's The Best Comic Books of the Year

Nominee, Eisner Award Best Writer

Nominee, Eisner Award Best New Series

2017:

Nominee, Bram Stocker Award: Graphic Novel

Winner, British Fantasy Award: Best Comic/Graphic Novel

Nominee, Eisner Award: Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17)

Nominee, Eisner Award: Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

Nominee, Eisner Award: Best Cover Artist

Winner, Hugo Award: Best Graphic Story

2018:

Winner, Barnes & Noble's Best Books of the Year

Nominee, Bram Stocker Award: Graphic Novel

Winner, British Fantasy Award Best Comic/Graphic Novel

Winner, Eisner Award: Best Writer

Winner, Eisner Award: Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

Winner, Eisner Award: Best Continuing Series

Winner, Eisner Award: Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

Winner, Eisner Award: Best Cover Artist

Winner, Entertainment Weekly's The Best Comic Books of the Year

Winner, Harvey Award Book of the Year

Winner, Hugo Award: Best Graphic Story

Winner, Hugo Award: Best Professional Artist

Winner, Newsweek's Best Comic Books of the Year

Winner, The Washington Post's 10 Best Graphic Novels of the Year

Winner, Powell's Best Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Graphic Novels of the Year

Winner, Thrillist's Best Comics & Graphic Novels of the Year

Winner, YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens


2019:

Winner, Hugo Award: Best Graphic Story

Nominee, Bram Stocker Award: Graphic Novel


2020:

Nominee, Hugo Award: Best Graphic Story


2021:

Nominated, Hugo Award: Best Graphic Story


2022:

Pending, Hugo Award: Best Graphic Story

Winner, Eisner Award: Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)



References

Hankins, R. (2015). Islam and Science Fiction. Retrieved from http://www.islamscifi.com/islam-sci-fi-interview-of-g-willow-wilson-part-i/

Perine, A. (2022). Ms. Marvel features another hidden QR code for a free comic. Marvel. Retrieved from https://comicbook.com/marvel/news/ms-marvel-hidden-qr-code-free-comic/

Terror, J. T. (2018). Image comics NYCC exclusives include Blackbird, Monstress, JesusFreak, deadly class, more. Bleeding Cool News And Rumors. Retrieved from https://bleedingcool.com/comics/image-comics-nycc-exclusives-include-blackbird-monstress-jesusfreak-deadly-class-more/

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