About a week ago, I got my FIRST Landfall Freight box in the mail! I've been coveting this subscription service ever since I found out about it in August--luckily I have the best mother in the world who accepts that her 24 year-old, college graduate, professionally-employed daughter will always love comics and storytelling. She got me a three month subscription for Christmas, and I'm tasking myself to documenting each box to decide if it's "worth it," the big question that everyone asks of all subscription boxes. (Please excuse the ratchet picture quality, I was unboxing outside with my iPhone because it was such a beautiful day!)
At $29.99 plus shipping (for the USA), the subscription is a bit costly for me to justify in my monthly budget, but seemed ideal as a gift idea. Besides, I know people who pay $30+ for beauty boxes and then end up hating half of what came in the box. I signed up for the Freaks and Geeks box, which was teased out with cute pictures of "mystery packages" and wrapping over the course of the month. The team really does a great job of building anticipation for the contents of the box, which isn't something I've seen with other mystery subscription boxes. The box itself is adorable!I love the purple and white theme, and the graphic on the top of the box is precious—it reminded me of the house in Up being carried away by balloons. I loved that the box was hinged, so that you could dramatically lift the lift to reveal a batch of nerdy goodies. They used pretty blue sparkly tissue paper to pack the box, which made me happy. I know I'm not the only one who appreciates little details in wrapping that make the process of opening a package more special! Overall, I thought the presentation was cute and fun without being excessive or visually overwhelming.
The first thing I unwrapped was a "Weirdo" pocket mirror by etsy seller moderngirlblitz! I was introduced to MGB my junior year of college, when I was really diving into feminism, humanism, and secular human rights advocacy for the first time. I have her "F**k the Patriarchy" sticker on my laptop, and her "Feminism is Cool" banner stickers are ubiquitous across the Web. The mirror itself is pretty durable and not foggy, which is rare for shatter-resistant mirrors like these. I love the cute little skulls, too—anytime people can make something creepy look cute, I'm all for it.
Next up was the cleverly titled "Freaks and Geeks for all 52 Weeks" art print calendar. We lost some pretty great artists, movers, and shakers in January, most notably David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Each page features a different pop culture icon known for their brains, individuality, or propensity towards the weird. I got super excited to see Dana Scully included, but "aww"d audibly when I reach December featuring Professor Snape. There was also a handmade journal for the "weird thoughts" that inspire creativity in all of us. It's colors and hand copied aesthetic reminds me of 90s zines, which I am all about right now. Can we all just start making zines and stop reading mainstream media? Please and thank you.
"Giant Days" is masterminded by longtime web comic artist John Allison and Lissa Treiman, Disney animator/storyboarder/comic artist extraordinaire. John spent seven years on what is one of my favorite web comics, "Scary Go Round," which features two feisty barmaids. "Giant Days" combines several of my favorite things: slice-of-life storylines, British culture and language, goth sensibilities, and girls getting into shenanigans. Plus, each issue is a self-contained storyline! This almost never happens anymore in modern comics! What a refreshing change! Esther de Groot, Susan Ptolemy, and Daisy Wooten are a true "girl gang." They all have distinct, at times trope-y, personalities, but their lighthearted somewhat absurd adventures and conversations help take the edge of the emotional capital you end up investing in them. For any woman who has gone off to university in hopes of finding other women who just "get them," this comic will warm your heart and rile up your desire to form your own girl gang. The art is colorful and fun, and Lissa Treiman creates incredible depths of field that are lovely to look at individually or a whole page at a time. Her storyboarding experience really shines in her ability to create a flow and landscape to the pages that is sometimes missing in the overwrought, "realistic" comics that I see on the shelves. Boom! and Boom!Box have quickly become my go-to for checking out new comics that I know will be cute and fun but still emotionally and intellectually impactful. From "Giant Days" to "Lumberjanes" to "Over the Garden Wall" to "Adventure Time," this studio is quickly capturing the majority of my attention (and $$$).
"We Can Never Go Home" seems like an average tale—a couple teens stumble upon superpowers that they can't control, things go wrong, and they have to remake their identities. What isn't typical is how much the series pokes fun at superhero tropes, especially in regards to how female superheroes are sexualized. While I am not much into superhero comics, I have found myself enjoying some new comics—like "Faith" from Variant Comics, "Ms. Marvel" featuring a Muslim female protagonist, and "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl"—that are subverting stereotypical beliefs about a woman's place in hero comics. "We Can Never Go Home" won the 2015 Indie Comic of the Year award, and for good reason—I had never even HEARD of Black Mask Studios until I read this comic. The comic has aspects of a lot of things I like: post-punk aesthetic, romance between misunderstood teens, and a "Sex Criminals" meets Bonnie and Clyde criminal element. It's a very dark, lonely, and foreboding storyline. I finished the first volume unsure if I was rooting for these kids or if I wanted to send them to time-out. However, I think indie teen superheroes that subvert tropes are on the rise, and I intend to keep up with the trend (if you want a great indie movie featuring misfit teens, check out Posthuman on Amazon...it has surprisingly great special effects for such a low-budget movie!). Personally, I liked "Giant Days" better, but I'm glad I had the chance to expand my comics palette with this storyline. Oh, the other weird thing? The creative team for this comic is all men—not so unusual for the comics industry, but a bit odd for a subscription service that supports women in comics creation.
Overall, I think this subscription service is INCREDIBLY worth it. The two comics volumes alone would have cost me $30, and I got all the other cool woman-created stuff along with it! I love the themed aspect and how two comics that seem to have nothing in common in regards to style, content, and creation can work so well together. I certainly hope that Landfall Freight starts to get more attention and gets the accolades they deserve, because I am hooked!