Bluewater Comics is famous for doing biographies of famous people. They make other comics as well, but the bio-comics get a lot of press, often showing up on websites far removed from the comics blogs. This has, over the years, become kind of a schtick. Bluewater makes a comic about a wrestler, say, and the wrestling websites run the press release with a bit of breathless commentary—”Wrestler X has always loved reading comics, and now he is a comics character himself!”—but they never actually read the comic.
Well, here at Good E-Reader we do read the comic. I have to admit, I approached Female Force: Tina Fey with a bit of apprehension, because Bluewater comics are pretty uneven. Some are pretty solid, while others, such as the Stephenie Meyer and Justin Bieber comics, fall into the so-bad-they’re-good category.
To my surprise, Female Force: Tina Fey went meta on the second page, with the depiction of writer Chad Jones meditating on the tendency for Bluewater creators to insert themselves into the story. “As the topic of this book, one Ms. Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, is one of the most successful funny persons currently in the world, and comedy is entirely subjective, I’m not going to do that,” he says. “After this, I mean. Crap.”
After that remarkable page, our self-conscious narrator leads us fairly smoothly through the facts of Fey’s life, with a few more stabs at humor that fall kind of flat. Still, as bio-comics go, this is one of the better ones. Fey has lived long enough and done enough interesting things that they creators don’t have to rely on filler, although devoting two panels to the fact that her father would not let her watch The Flinstones (because it was a blatant ripoff of The Honeymooners, which he loved) is maybe a bt much. Like most Bluewater comics, the story is conveyed almost entirely in narration boxes, and in one meta moment, Tina grabs a text box she doesn’t like.
As Jones had plenty of material to work with, it’s disappointing that he felt he had to mention rumors that Fey owed her position as head writer of Saturday Night Life to an affair with Lorne Michaels. “They were just that, rumors. And ewww…” the text box says. “Tina had proven herself to be smart, sharp and most importantly funny.” If that’s so, and if the rumors are false, why mention them at all? It’s tiresome to see that sort of thing tossed casually out there (I bet Bluewater has never done it in a comic about a guy) and in the context of an otherwise fairly informative comic, it’s disappointing.
The art is pretty good, with Fey looking like Fey in most of the panels and none of the wild flights of fancy that Bluewater artists are known to indulge in. I would describe it as “workmanlike,” and I mean that as a compliment—this is a bio-comic, after all.
I read Female Force: Tina Fey in iBooks format; I bought the comic using iTunes on my computer and read it on my iPad. The purchase and sync were quite smooth, but the page-turn animation is annoying: In portrait mode, you read the left page, then the right page, then when you turn the page, the view slides to the left—it’s hard to describe, but it’s distracting when you’re reading. What’s more, the ridiculous iBooks insistence on making the e-book look like a book means that the page takes up less than the full screen, making it that much harder to read. The comic is also available via comiXology, Comics Plus, Kindle, and Nook, any of which would be a better reading experience than iBooks.
A former book editor and newspaper reporter, Brigid Alverson started MangaBlog to keep track of her daughters¹ reading habits and now covers comics and graphic novels for Comic Book Resources , School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Robot 6, and MTV Geek. She also edits the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. Brigid was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards. Send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org