Thankfully, OniPress sent over a six-page preview of the new graphic novel by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir and drawn by newcomer Jackie Lewis.
People keep complaining about where to find women in comics at both the creator level and the characters; I present a team with a 2:1 ratio of female to male creators with a book about a spunky young girl that wants to play baseball rather than softball. Page 4 of the preview below is worth noting how this new character Dashiell plans to stick up for herself in a male-dominated sport. Seeing this preview once again makes me wonder what all the complaining is about. Clearly there are books available for positive female influences. All you have to do is try something besides BATMAN.
PLAY BALL is described as an inspiring coming-of-age sports story that will appeal to dreamers of all ages.
Dashiell Brody is a teenaged girl who has grown up loving America’s national pastime, baseball. Dashiell has recently moved with her mother and sister to a new town, and that means a new school and new opportunities. Rather than get stuck playing on the girl’s softball team, Dashiell wants to play for the school’s championship baseball team—only the boys aren’t quite ready for this speedy shortstop. When Dashiell tries out for the main team, there is resistance, but she sticks to her guns and earns a chance to prove herself on the field.
“Having someone stand in your way when there is something you really want is a universal experience,” explained Weir. “It happens to all of us. For girls, there can be the added obstacle that someone might want to stop you just because you weren’t born a boy. Team sports is one place where this can still be quite common. Every kid wants to play on a team, and every kid wants to be on the best team—and that should be regardless of gender.”
“The sports genre is one of the best places to tell classic underdog stories,” DeFilippis added. “The fun thing about Play Ball is that we’re turning that on its head a little bit. Dashiell is considered the underdog, but she’s actually the best player on the team. She just needs a chance to prove it. Put her on the field, and, boy, watch out.”
While DeFilippis and Weir are veterans in the comics and television industry–they’ve previously written for HBO, Disney Channel, Marvel Comics, and DC Comics, as well as a several creator-owned books for Oni Press—Play Ball’s artist, Jackie Lewis, is new to the industry. She is a graduate of the prestigious comics program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
“Up until recently, many considered comics to be an all-boy’s club,” said editor Jill Beaton, “but Jackie is part of a burgeoning generation of female cartoonists that is changing all that. It only made sense that we would have a woman join us for Play Ball. She brings a special passion to the project, and her wonderful artwork really makes the action on the diamond come alive.”
In addition to drama on the field, Play Ball features plenty of drama off of it, as well. “Dashiell has to contend with many different challenges,” DeFilippis continued, “it’s not just about batting averages. She has to deal with her father living far away, which is particularly hard for her since he’s the one who taught her about baseball. Dashiell has to get along with her sister, who ends up dating one of the guys on the team. She also has to make new friends at her new school, which isn’t always going to be easy. When you rock the boat, you risk knocking others overboard.”
“It was important to us that the book is not about the games,” Weir concluded. “We wanted to show what it’s like to have a driving passion and how you balance that with all aspects of growing up and getting along. It’s all about team work, in uniform and out of it.”
Play Ball is a 144-page, black-and-white graphic novel, 6” x 9” hardcover, coming in April 2012. The book retails for $19.99.