NOTE: The following article contains material meant for an adult audience.
|"Girls" #24 - the final issue - on sale today|
Oh, then the eggs hatched exact, full-grown duplicates of her who started running around killing everybody.
And thus began "Girls," the highly acclaimed Image Comics series by the Luna brothers Jonathan and Joshua. The book finally comes this week to its intended conclusion after two straight years of addictive, thought-provoking and increasingly popular stories - not to mention countless hours of hard work. CBR News spoke with the Luna Brothers about their genre-defying indie comics opus, which is also this week's featured title on MySpace Comic Books.
"Don't ask me why, but one day I had this random idea of a girl hatching out of an egg," Joshua Luna told CBR News. "We knew we wanted to do something in the horror genre, so we began brainstorming--building on this loose concept of a 'beautiful monster'--and eventually, a story took shape."
|The "girls" lay eggs and hatch clones of themselves|
Where did the "girls" come from? Why are the "girls" doing this? Why can't the townspeople escape? Why are the "girls" only killing the women? The mysteries of the "girls'" origin and their purpose remain among of the series' unanswered questions for much of the run, with more hints and clues revealed every issue, often in the form of some of the most delightfully painful cliffhangers seen in recent memory. Each chapter leads seamlessly into the next, creating over the last two years an exhilarating week-long saga in the lives of Pennystown's quirky and diverse cast of characters. By the end of volume one, "Conception," readers will know the main cast of "Girls" very, very well, and can follow their story and those of Pennystown's remaining survivors with as much empathy and enthusiasm as they would the characters of their favorite television show.
|"Girls" #24, pages 1-4|
|Each chapter begins with a map, indicating important sites in the story|
In addition to Ethan, other main characters include the kindly officer Wes, the town's lone policeman, who's charged with maintaining authority and keeping the people of Pennystown alive and safe. Wes' struggle is one of the best documented by the Luna Brothers, because as a policeman he's constantly pushed to the precipice of morality, especially when it concerns what to do with the "girls" he and the survivors capture. Another character is Nancy, who in the face of the crisis emerges as a matriarchal figure with her own fierce convictions about what to do with Pennystown's men - who, for mysterious reasons, can't seem to control themselves around the tremendously seductive "girls," thus creating more eggs and more monsters.
|Ethan is judged constantly for his actions|
"We…we broke up six months ago!" said Ethan.
"I thought we were taking a time-out!!" said Taylor.
The scene inspired a number of letters to the Luna Brothers, many questioning passionately why Ethan should have to defend himself for having consensual sex with a beautiful woman; that he couldn't possibly have known she'd turn out to be some kind of egg-laying monster. Others felt it justified, considering she was completely naked, mute and standing by the side of a highway in the dark. The scene is just one of countless others that illustrate how honestly the Luna Brothers depict human relationships, many of which are truly hilarious, which is perhaps strange given the setting. This kind of contrast is characteristic of "Girls." Beautiful monsters. Sex and sensuality set against gruesome violence. Street-level human drama against sci-fi spectacle.
|The giant "sperm" monster and blunt violence, two of "Girls'" most visible trademarks|
Wrapped in a package of intense action, mystery and ultra-violence, "Girls" challenges its readers with commentary and questions about the world we live in. Puzzling symbols abound, specifically when it comes to themes of gender and male-female relations. In addition to the already intriguing notion of having the story's "villain" role occupied by an ever-growing horde of gorgeous naked women, "Girls" also features a giant glowing "sperm monster" which the "girls" feed constantly with the bodies of women they've killed. Upping the philosophical ante, the killer "girls" kill only the women of Pennystown. Interestingly, nearly every "monster girl" attack involves hair-pulling, the classic, stereotypical tactic of girl fights.
"'Girls' was more challenging than 'Ultrta,'" explained Joshua Luna, referring to the brothers' previous work about a celebrity superheroine. "Not only because of the significant increase in length and characters, but because we were creating a new 'monster' and not superheroes with built-in mythologies and archetypes most readers could easily recognize."
Readers have interpreted the themes and symbols of "Girls" in different ways. In one letter, a fan took delight in the Luna Brothers' supposed exposing of the "hypocrisy" of 'the politically correct," and embraced what he perceived to be the book's misogynistic message, going so far as to compare it to the work of famed anti-feminist and "Cerebus" creator Dave Sim. To most readers, though, "Girls" seems to have more in common with "Y: The Last Man," in that it deftly raises questions about men, women and gender in general – amongst other things. Joshua Luna confirmed, "I can see how some people picked up a sexist or hateful vibe early on when the first issue came out, but once the story started to unravel, I'd like to think that our intentions became clearer.
"One of the main themes in the story is fantasy vs. reality," Joshua continued. "The 'girls,' the alien invaders, kill human women and have sex with the men. So, while it's pure survival mode for the women, the men are offered a choice--the townswomen or the impossibly beautiful nymphomaniacs. Hopefully, we succeeded in an honest and unbiased attempt to explore the struggle between 'what men have' vs. 'what they desire' and the consequences of their decisions."
|The Luna Brothers' "Ultra"|
Indeed, the Luna Brothers have built for themselves a reputation for creating and working on books which feature strong female characters, most notably with their previous indie work, "Ultra." Jonathan Luna's art has also been seen in Marvel's "Spider-Woman: Origin" mini-series and on the cover of Dynamite's "Red Sonja."
"We're visual artists first, and simply, we have always liked to draw women," explained Jonathan Luna. "Women with power are really interesting, as well. It's great to see women doing what some people think men are only supposed to do."
|Selection of "Girls" covers by the Luna Brothers|
"Girls" exemplifies the best traditions of classic indie comics. The Luna Brothers practice a form of auteurism that's inspiring to up-and-comers, making a complex story with even more complex themes look both easy and visually stunning while still managing to improve with every new release. Their characters are wholly developed and are never compromised for the sake of a cheap choke, easy bit of flash or dragging the story out for extra financial rewards. Creatively, it's leaps and bounds ahead of their already impressive "Ultra," which itself earned accolades and was adapted into an unreleased television pilot.
"It feels great, finishing 'Girls," knowing that we could take on a two-year long story because in the beginning, I was definitely intimidated," Joshua Luna confessed. "We always knew how the story would end, but getting there was a semi-organic process (plot points with wiggle room in between), so we'd always surprise ourselves with some crazy twist once in a while. We really can't plan the length of a series until we know what the story entails."
|The collected "Girls" vol 1-3, vol 4 on sale May 16|
AK: What'd you guys call the Main Naked Monster Girl in the script?
Luna Bros: You're right. We won't answer that one. [laughs]
"Girls" volumes 1-3 are available now. Issue #24 ships this week from Image Comics, with volume 4, "Extinction," collecting the final issues seeing release on May 16th. For more "Girls," visit MySpace Comic Books and The Luna Brothers' official site.
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