Vancouver, Wash.-based publisher Bluewater Productions has garnered a lot of attention from CNN and Fox News for its Female Force series, featuring women like Hillary Clinton. So it’s no surprise policy (and comic) geeks are excited for its Michelle Obama comic (Bluewater, 32 pages, $3.99), which debuts April 29. There are no capes or special powers to be found in these pages, just a straightforward biography of the first lady’s life—from growing up in Chicago to campaign-trail battles—as gleaned from sources like Newsweek and Wikipedia.
The good news about covering such a public figure is that research is easy. If the The Washington Post didn’t cover an aspect of Ms. Obama’s childhood, courtship by Barack or professional life, another media source has. Bluewater’s Neal Bailey is a comic-book writer, not a reporter, and this is not exactly investigative journalism. Nor is the occasional break through the fourth wall, where Bailey interjects his own commentary, revelatory (like Jesse Jackson, a lot of us cried when Obama was elected last Nov. 4).
Artist Joshua LaBello also has a hard time of it. Public figures are the bane of any illustrator. The more well known the face, the harder it is to reproduce it faithfully and consistently. In Female Force, Michelle Obama’s famous mug—along with that of her husband—is oddly flattened and almost unrecognizable at times. Others fare even worse. Cindy McCain looks like a demon from hell. Perhaps that was intentional.
Still, the life of an already iconic first lady is riveting in and of itself. By now, a piecemeal history of the Obamas has sunk into the national consciousness. Female Force: Michelle Obama gathers the facts of her life into a quick, coherent and compelling read. A woman descended from slaves is now one of the most celebrated first ladies in history. Sometimes, truth really is more amazing than fiction.
READ: Creators Darren G. Davis and Jason Schultz will sign copies of Female Force: Michelle Obama at Odyssey Comics, 10711 NE Highway 99, Vancouver, Wash., 360-573-6172. 4-7 pm Wednesday, April 29. Free.