They Have Issues Volume One Review: Tales From Comic Book Stores


Read the stories of the ladies on the front lines of the comic market. They Have Issues is an anthology of wonder!

They Have Issues Vol. 1: Tales From Comic Book Stores

Writers: Megan Christopher, Ashley Dannunzio, Maria C. Ludwig, Heather Kenealy, Shannon Archibald, Zoe N. Sugg, Catrina Brighton, Amy Chase, Tini Howard & Nicole Andelfinger

Artists: Haley Boros, Kaitlin Edlund, Shannon O’Conner, Zoe N. Sugg, Samedi Johnson, Catrina Brighton, Haley Boros, Jessi Jordan & Kara Leopard

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These days, it seems that talk of diversity is the hottest thing in comic books. Marvel Comics’ senior vice president of sales David Gabriel had an interview with ICv2 last week in that regard. Yet women have always been a part of the comic book culture. Early examples in America include Nell Brinkley, Rose O’Neill and Grace G. Drayton of the early 20th century. The Golden Age saw talents like Violet Barclay, Toni Blum, and Ruth Atkinson (creator of Millie The Model and Patsy Walker).

That proud tradition continues with They Have Issues. Published by Hired Guns Comics, it is a labor of love produced by women who work both as comic retailers and creators. The world of comics have often been akin to an extended exchange of ideas between fans and creators. Many times, fans become creators, and/or work within the industry at retail or editorial levels. Zoe N. Sugg has helped gather the stories and art from a variety of these talents for one sleek volume.

Image by Zoe N Sugg

So Many Stories, One Central Theme!

Reviewing an anthology is different from many traditional stories. While a central theme is present throughout, each installment can be wildly different from each other. There is no central plot to summarize, and no reoccurring characters. And with ten strips as imaginative and varied as these, everyone is going to have their own favorites. One, “A Hundred Thousand Butterflies” by Maria C. Ludwig and Shannon O’Conner, is more of an illustrated poem than an actual comic strip.

Yet it’s the variety among a central theme which makes They Have Issues matter most of all. Through a variety of perspectives you’ll see the industry and the hobby through the eyes of different women. They are “an amazing group of strong minded comics obsessed female, femme, and non binary retail employees.” The strips all cover the absurd realities of working in a comic shop, juggling art and rent, handling male “gate keepers,” and playing it forward to other girls.

Image by Hired Gun Comics

Each strip covers the theme in a different way, and through a different perspective. “All Dogs Go To Comic Shops” by Megan Christopher and Haley Boros examines representation thru the eyes of a corgi named Missy. “This Side Up” by Ashley Dannunzio and Kaitlin Edlund covers a day in the life of one shop retailer, from mangled UPS stock to hobos changing pants. “Everytown” by Heather Kenealy and Zoe N. Sugg covers a debate over diversity between a man, a clerk, and two kid fans.

Ten Strips to Choose from, or Enjoy All Together!

“My Best Friend” by Shannon Archbald and Samedi Johnson is about how the love of comics helps strengthen the bond between friends when one is terminally ill. Zoe N. Sugg handles “Career Choices,” a tale of the ghost of a forgotten comic creator haunting a modern shopkeeper. “Pipsqueak” by Catrina Brighton follows the kid sister of a comic fan who gets inspired by the women around her to make her own comics.

Image by Hired Gun Comics

“Flights Of Fancy” by Amy Chase and Haley Boros covers similar ground with a clerk using her own comic to help a little girl find her place within the hobby. “Quick To Argue” by Tini Howard and Jessi Jordon sees a clerk convince a man to give superhero comics a try by saving his life as a superhero! And finally, “The Book” by Nicole Andelfinger and Kara Leopard (who also designed the cover) which follows the saga of two longtime fans, lovers, and spouses around the love of one comic.

Image by Hired Gun Comics

Picking even one favorite is very difficult. The voices are very genuine, and the artwork is dynamic and creative throughout. Most if not all of the strips are very clever, and often quite funny or tender. Zugg’s “Career Choices” may be my favorite, if only because the idea of a ghost comic creator doing a shop signing is hilarious enough to be a reoccurring series. “The Book” is amazingly sweet, and the humor behind “Everytown,” “This Side Up,” and “Quick To Argue” all appeal to me.

Image by Hired Gun Comics

They Have Issues Has Something for Everyone!

I admit having a personal stake in this. The comic book community often feels like one, with social media only increasing this. Heather Kenealy is a very dear friend to me who I met at the Superhero Hype message board 16 years ago (the same place I met John Lees). She has six books available via Kindle and won the 2011 Stan Lee Presents The Seekers contest. Her strip here may be short, but I enjoy seeing her branch out within the industry alongside so many other talents.

Next: Read more of Tini Howard in Power Rangers: Pink!

Anthologies are a great way to see how creators handle a minimum of page-space. The ladies behind They Have Issues make use of every panel and provide a cornucopia of original and creative strips. Those who are aware of the struggles of creating and selling comics will have a ball. Those who do not may learn quite a lot alongside the laughs and the tears. In conclusion, if you want to enjoy reading about the lives, times, and views of some great creators, They have Issues is for you!