Friday, November 13, 2009


The Society of Unordinary Young Ladies

I have Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Pop Candy to thank for pointing out this particular gem. Thanks, Whitney!

If you like mash-ups, or spy-fiction, or 80's sitcoms, or things that are 100% Completely Awesome, then have I got a treat for you.

Written by Wahab Algarmi and with art by "D.Y.", Jayce G. Wah, and Joel Sigua, The Society of Unordinary Young Ladies may be the most amazing thing I've seen all year. It's also completely actionable, and violates more trademarks and copyrights than I can count. But really, that's part of its charm.

Here's the basic idea. In the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, a secret branch of the US government recruits and trains teenage girls to act as operatives. They are sent on secret missions behind enemy lines, in highly dangerous situations, but the girls are all expendable and the operations are blanketed with plausible deniability.

The twist? All of the characters are from 1980s sitcoms. In the first issue, spymaster Edna Garrett sends Natalie, Jo, Blair, and Tootie on a deadly mission, after informing them that the agent of the Meposian government, Agent Bartakamos, has already failed in the same attempt (and "Alpha Team," sent by the US government in response, has not been heard from since). General Richard Stratton III arrives with his mysterious assistants Charles and Buddy, and... Well, things get wacky from there.

What's great about the book is that it functions as a perfectly-structured spy story even if you catch all of the references. And even if you don't catch all of the references. And if you think you have caught all of the references, you probably haven't. (This is a series that is screaming out for someone to come along and do a Jess Nevins on it. Jen Heddle, you up for the task?)

The second issue sees a new wave of agents introduced, as General Stratton takes the reins of the Society away from Mrs. Garrett and puts his own assistant in command. That's right, as of now Charles is in Charge. And with the introduction of a spunky (one might even say "punky") little convinct and a teenage alien held prisoner by the US government, things start to really tick over quickly.

The third issue just went online the other day, and to say too much about it would run the risk of spoiling lots of terrific surprises. Let's just say that when the strangely morbid little proto-goth girl is taken to trial for murder, I didn't expect that she would show up in that particular court.

I really hope that some comic publisher notices this stuff and gives Algarmi a regular gig (and that they notice before a host of IP-infringement lawsuits land on his doorstep). He's a terrifically talented writer, and if The Society of Unordinary Young Ladies is any indication, he has a keen and clever imagination. The art in each of the three issues to date is by different people, but all have been terrific to date. I think my favorite so far may be the work of Joel Sigua, which matches the tone of Algarmi's script to a tee, but the work in the first two issues comes in a close second.

So far, hard copies of the issues have only been available at Algarmi's convention appearances and at local comic shops in the Bay Area, but he's thoughtfully put the full interiors and covers of all three up on his website. I'll warn you that Algarmi's website is pretty horrible in layout and functionality (that's why I've linked to each of the individual issues above, to save you the heartache of looking), but the work is good enough that I don't mind. (NOTE TO ALGARMI: Blogspot, Wordpress, etc. are free, and are easy to use. Look into them.)

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