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Comics

Young Animal//GateCrashers: It’s Bright

Hi there, it’s me again. Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten the Grave Robber! I know I have been absent recently but I am still here. Always here in this graveyard. I have been spending a lot of time near the Shade tombs… a friend named M Cruz made me a sweater because it’s been so cold. This sweater has kept me warm. Made me feel safe in my own madness. Sometimes you can feel like you’re falling apart but just remember that you are loved. Put on your favorite sweater and pick up your favorite comic. Plunge into the pages to escape for awhile. M put a note in the pocket of the sweater for me so I knew their intentions with this masterpiece. You can find them on twitter and instagram at @vellvetgoldmine. Please do check them out! Anyway, here is the note and some photos of my new sweater…

I chose to paint this piece inspired by Shade The Changing Girl because of how colorful & surreal the universe is in those comics. I pulled various images from different comic scenes & covers to capture the essence of Loma’s character. The quote “It’s bright” refers to the opening scene where Loma has just woken up in Megan’s body & is observing her surroundings as she walks through the Hospital halls. I love how the lines between reality & Loma’s imagination are often blurred & I hoped to do the same with this sweater!

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Comics

YA//GC: Fragments

Today, I wanted to show you another piece of art that I’ve found in the graveyard. Oh it’s me again, The Grave Robber. Do you remember me? Please remember me. Anyway, I found this piece “Fragments” tucked under a rock by Shade’s tombstone. The whole area is just covered in flowers and spray paint. Turns out a lot of people come here to express their madness and their connection to someone in a body that sometimes doesn’t feel like their own. Anyway, there was a note on the back from the artist Alesandra. Even through the madness, Shade has connected with so many people who are on their own journeys to find who they are. If you want to see what has come before in the Young Animal project, click here.

XOXO

Shade The Changing Girl was my first true introduction to comics. Sure, I grew up reading comics here and there and watching DC and Marvel movies, but Shade was it for me. I’d never stepped foot into a comic book store until I went to grab the first issue of Shade The Changing Girl and it’s been history ever since. This comic represents a beginning for me and means a lot to me personally. I drew this piece in order to depict Loma as she endures the human experience. It’s fascinating to imagine what it’s like to be another lifeform, crash landing to earth in a human body to experience all for the first time. I wanted to convey the whirl of emotions that Loma must have felt as she adjusted to her new life and new body.

I decided to draw Loma’s human body in her original clothing from her true form to show that no matter how what we go through or how confusing things may seem in life, we’re still there beneath all that. We’re still us. This was a powerful comic book series to read as someone who was a late bloomer in their early twenties, still figuring life out. I hope others can relate. 

You can find Alesandra on Twitter on her art account here.

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Comics

Mother Panic: Love Indulgent

Me, again, The Grave Robber. I found this one by the Mother Panic plot. It looks like one of Violet’s adventures that had been lost until now. Things are always found when the dirt is moved. Jody Houser did a brilliant job of jotting down most of Violet’s nights out on the town but some were bound to slip through the cracks. Violet was always quite good at slipping away when needed. Violet was always such a good time… time for you to find out why.

XOXO
The Grave Robber

Mother Panic: Love Indulgent
By Nea Ann, aka Tittyvillus

The statue’s ugly.

There’s no other way of putting it. Violet Paige—undercover vigilante, and socialite terrorist—isn’t one to mince words. It’s like those terrible art remixes that turn Disney princesses into cement mixers. No soul, not even a bit of fucking integrity, just pumping out shit to sell.

The statue’s supposed to be a 3D version of Vermeer’s The Love Letter, but with a “twist”. Instead of their normal old boring clothes, they got modern boring clothes, both dressed up to look like mall rats in garish shades of red and pink. Violet could be charitable and call it “Neo-pop art” or whatever the fuck but again, she’s not one to mince words.

“You a fan?”

“What?” Violet snaps as she turns around. Behind her is some generic-looking sap, a dude that you would never be able to pick out of a sad indie boi line-up. He motions to the holographic display.

Violet says, “Never heard of her” with a slight growl, but the dude doesn’t act as if he heard it.

With a raised eyebrow and a snarky tone he asks, “Then why are you at Love Letter’s exhibit?” His voice is like nails on a chalkboard but she tries to ignore that.

“I got invited.” The letter burns in her pocket.

His eyes light up.

Oh, fu

He starts talking, no, he starts monologuing. He probably thinks he’s being friendly, educating some poor woman on some underrated indie artist that was too good for “the mainstream” (the definition changing by the day). 

God, she hates just standing here, doing nothing. Any other day Violet would have smacked him across the room and laughed in his face for trying to talk to her. But being thrown out of this shitty event is a no-no, so she stays there, listening to him drone on and on and on and

“You know, I thought you were a critic when I first saw you.”

“Uh-huh,” Violet says, using this moment to check her phone. Spam, spam, spam

Varma.

Fuck.

She snaps the phone shut and gives the fuckboy her full attention.

“I think it was the boots-no, it’s the pantsuit. I mean, who wears that much white except the really V.I.P.s?”

Today she’s wearing a stark-white pantsuit and even brighter combat boots. It’s a loud statement but it’s her statement. It’s the closest thing to armor she has right now and for now, it makes her feel untouchable.

Her (cruel) smile seems to excite him, he starts talking faster, gaining a starstruck look she’s seen on amateur actors who think they saw a scout in the crowd. He takes out his phone and babbles about the woman of the hour; Love Letter.

You already know the spiel. A secretive artist with an eccentric sense of style blahblahblah. Violet already knew all of that before she came here. She may be a screwup but she’s a prepared screwup who’s dealt with too many shitty artists to count. She knows why she’s here and what Love Letter wants.

Violet cuts him off. “Yeah, my date said we were going to meet up in the V.I.P.—“ she stresses that last part, just to make sure he hears it. “— area but I can’t find it. You know where it is, right?”

This deflates him. From the way he was talking earlier he probably thought she was here alone, his for the taking.

Tough luck.

The fuckboy points to a door on the opposite side of the room and she wastes no time getting away from him. Of course, he tries to follow her, she’s probably the only woman he’s spoken to all week.

Oh how dearly she wants to tell him to fuck off. The security guards posted near the fancier “statues” glare at her as if they could read her thoughts. Fuck off she mouths to them and picks up the pace a little.

Her enhancements click as she weaves in between the wasted patrons like a cat in a china shop. Varma would call this a waste, and she’d probably be right. So she slows down, just a bit—

And he’s here again. Perfect.

“Can’t you take a hint?” She hisses through her teeth. They’re at the door now, gaudy as everything else in here, covered in stupid-looking heart-shaped stickers. Love Letter has a theme, and it’s a shitty one. Violet pulls at it once and it doesn’t budge. Fucking great.

And of course the fuckboy is back. She can hear him out of breath huffing and puffing behind her, like a subway rat that’s gotten too bold after stealing a pizza slice.

She won’t turn around and she won’t give him the satisfaction of making her look. She won’t hit him.

(For now.)

He takes this opportunity to launch into another speech, really trying to win her over this time. Buddy, if she didn’t listen to you all those other times, why the hell would she start now?

“L-listen lady, I don’t know who your boyfriend—“ She never said boyfriend. “—is but if he would just leave you in here, maybe he’s not the right guy for you?”

She spins around but makes not attempt to come closer.

This frustrates him. He’s out here being nice and all and still she spurns him. So he pulls out his trump card, a small envelope with a tiny heart on it. 

Oh god, he came with a prepared speech. Violet thinks as she sees him hold it up.

Wait no, it’s not a letter, it’s too shiny for that, it’s a keycard!

He takes a step closer and says in a tone that belongs nowhere in a public space “Or maybe I can show you—“

Violet slams him into the wall with so much force it stops the party dead. Muzak wafts through the air as she rips the keycard out of his hand and holds it to the door.

Click.

By the time the security guards beat their way through the crowd, she’s already gone, safely behind the heart-shaped door.

Her last action before it locks is to flip them off.

There are no yuppies in the hallway Violet found herself in. In fact, she’s the only person here, just her and a row of lockers.

Now that she’s away from the crowd she walks faster. Her eyes sweep back and forth rapidly, searching for something important. They weren’t enhanced like the rest of her body but she isn’t looking for something hidden.

And the jackass that stole it from her didn’t make it hard to spot. Right next to the exit is a locker with a bright red letter taped to the front. “Open me!” It says in an obnoxiously bubbly font and Violet gleefully grants its wish.

She rips the door off its hinges, it crashing to the side revealing— 

“Fuck yeah”. Violet pulls her cape out of the locker. She’s been missing this thing ever since it was stolen, along with the rest of her costume. They had been replaced with a letter telling her to come here if she wanted her stuff back and she followed it like a dog.

Ah, whatever, at least she has her cape back. She feels the fabric in her hands and sighs in relief.

And then she feels it.

“Like my gift?” A smug voice rings out from deep inside the locker. She stares dead inside and thrusts the cape in as if eyes were down there and screams “What the fuck did you do to my cape you fucking pervert?”

It laughs again. That pisses her off even more, more than the red sequins that she didn’t fucking want lining the outside of her cape. “Relax, I just wanted to give it a little touch-up. Doesn’t it look so much better than the stuff you—

Slam.

“Shut. The. Fuck up and give me my stuff back.”  Her fist forms a crater in the locker next door. Can it see her face? Can it see her desperation?

“Calm down baby,” it says with an audible smile. “You’ll get your costume back after you finish the gallery.

Now, lay back and indulge yourself! This is my letter to you.”

The voice clicks off, leaving Violet alone with a defaced cape and buzzing noise in her ears.

She pulls the keycard out and winces.

Her hand hurts.

Room two is much smaller than the first, fitting for a V.I.P. Only area. The people here dressed as Violet imagined they would: Reflective tank tops and bell-bottoms. The dark red lighting made them sparkle more as they twist and turn through the holographic displays. This place is a club, or at least trying to be one.

Normally this would be her element. She could walk in and have all eyes on her in an instant, march through like a steamroller and be out in five minutes flat.

Could’ve done that here too if the crowd would stop fucking touching her.

She’s become a star without even trying. They don’t look at her but through her like she was a fucking mannequin or something. From their ooh’s and look!’s she knows they recognized the work hanging off her shoulders. It was the work of the woman they had all come here to worship.

The one—

—–the only—–

“Love Letter!”

The voice is above her—–no, all around—–and comes with a projection. Love Letter isn’t here, not physically but her holographic image is and it’s floating center stage. She looks like a doll, big eyes and bottle blonde hair included. On her chest lies a blinking brooch that looks like one of her tacky keycards.

The crowd claps adoringly and Violet’s heart thumps harder. The room beats with it—–

—–No, that’s just the sound system. But it’s echoing a bit, or maybe one stereo is a few seconds behind the rest because—–

She takes a step and falls, landing hard on the floor. Someone pulls her up—–pulls the cape up—–and starts talking but Violet can’t hear her and pulls away. Everyone’s staring, asking questions she doesn’t know or doesn’t want to give the answers to (who are you, did you come here alone, where’d you get this beautiful cape?), so she runs. Violet runs so fast she doesn’t notice she’s missing something until she’s at the service door, pressing her full weight against it like she’s seconds away from being sick.

The keycard.

The card’s gone. She must’ve dropped it when she fell goddammit. It’s so shitty she almost felt like laughing. A crowd forms around her, staring like goldfish. 

They see what she’s doing.

They see her cape.

And they give her their cards.

___

She’s alone again.

The service corridor’s empty and the silence buzzes around Violet like angry wasps. She stumbles forward, clutching the railing for extra strength.

She just wanted to get out of the house.

It started to get louder after Varma left. That sounds silly as hell. Violet still has her mother, still has Ratcatcher, still has that boy. And she still sees Varma for surgeries. But for some reason her not being in the house anymore changed Violet in ways she didn’t understand.

What did she say right before she moved out?

I need space.

Right, that. There’s something else there but Violet’s never been good at reading between the lines. Maybe she was just tired of her disobeying her instructions.

Maybe it was something else entirely.

Violet turns a corner and sees faint light from down below.

She’s here.

___

On stage are:

Her gloves. A set of tacky red clip-on nails are now attached to them.

Her helmet. This change hurts the most. The sharp horns had been sanded down to make a silly heart shape. It isn’t hers anymore, not while it looked like that.

And Love Letter. The doll herself.

She turns around the second Violet steps foot on stage. Where there sensors? Never mind, she doesn’t care. She starts running and—

Her body betrays her, sinking to the floor like it’s made out of weights. All the eyes on her feel like drills, especially Love’s, who mocks her with only a glance.

Her target giggles, sporting a smile so big it splits her face in two. “I just wanna tell you look gorgeous right now.”

“Shut up Love,” She won’t look up, won’t give that bitch the satisfaction. “I don’t listen to fucking perverts like you.”

A chorus of laughter. Is she in front of a fucking live audience right now?

“Oh lighten up! Everyone’s gotta get a makeover someday and you,” she flicks Violet’s head. “Should be happy that I designed yours out of love.”

It’s official, something’s blocking her enhancements. That part of her feels dead and she needs to revive it before this bitch has her way with her. 

“What…the fuck are you talking about?” Violet mutters. Her tongue is clay in her mouth, she can’t say the words properly.

Love Letter laughs again and the crowd laughs with her. She can see them now, wearing masks with pulsating hearts on them like they’re in some sort of freaky cult. Actually, they probably were, with how this whole thing was structured.

The crowd falls silent a second before “At the Collective we learn to tap into our deepest emotions to create art. It’s like super important, ya’ know?”

No, she does not, nor does she care about that group of weirdos. She’s too preoccupied trying to figure out what’s locking her in place. It’s obviously—

Love continues talking to her adoring crowd. They move like wind-up monkeys and it’s only through focusing on them that Violet’s able to think.

“They love your style but honestly I think it’s a bit boring, ya’ know? You—“ she points at Violet’s curled-up form. “—are uncarved marble, waiting for a maestro like me to make you into something really worth looking at. You needed a bit of heart, a bit of love!

“So I got to work. I created a new costume, and even let you try it out! The way everyone loved the cape was like, super cool, right?”

Violet doesn’t care about the costume, she never cared about the costume. She cared how her body worked in it, how it was a homemade shield against the shittiest of Gotham. She never cared about how it made others feel. She never—

She didn’t see beneath the surface, she didn’t read between the lines.

“And that surgeon lady?” Love twists her face and the crowd boos in unison. “Well, she didn’t know what she had or she wouldn’t have ruined it with all those ugly machines. Don’t worry—” she cups Violet’s face in her hands, an ugly feeling. “—we can fix that all later.”

With that last statement, Love Letter tapped her brooch and Violet knows how she did it.

It’s a challenge but she drags her head up to stare Love Letter right in the face, clutching the keycard in a vise-like grip in her pocket. She pulls back her teeth, and says,

“I don’t need you to fix me.”

She crushes the card to dust and Mother Panic rises.

She has no helmet but she can feel it, no armor but she’s already untouchable. Mother Panic crosses the space between them and punches, meeting Love Letter with a fist full of hate and love.

With that, the dream shatters. Violet stands alone on a shitty stage weakly filled with projector lights. Rip-off R&B trickled out of the speakers, copying all of the sounds but none of the style. Around her people call out to each other and she makes a call of her own.

“Varma?” I think I’m ready to talk now.”

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Comics

YA//GC: A 100 Pound Backpack

I found this piece floating amongst the headstones. A beautiful piece by Kat La Mantia. They left some words on the back to try to put into the words the way they feel. Through Shade they found pieces of themselves once hidden. Madness can be a powerful thing. I wanted to share them with you because perhaps you have felt the weight of it all too… be seeing you soon friend.
XOXO
The Grave Robber

Shade, the Changing Girl was the first Young Animal comic I ever picked up, and it’s one of the first comics series that I ever followed as it was releasing. 

I’d never been into comics much because I’ve never been particularly impressed by superheroes. The Young Animal imprint changed all that. Shade was my entrance into the world of comics that was weird, introspective, artistic, and no-holds-barred imaginative. I craved that kind of creative freedom, and in Shade, I found the first comic that really meant something to me. 

The world of Shade is one of color, poetry, and duality. Loma is alien and human, dead and alive, a successor and a visionary. Her body is borrowed yet also hers. Her home is what she chooses and where she comes from.

Some people find themselves reflected in Spiderman, in his fumbling adolescence and his desire to be a hero. I see myself in Shade, in her feelings of displacement, in her reckonings with her body, in her multiple identities, in her madness. The year I found Shade was the year I felt like it was all coming apart. I was failing at my job. I was failing at my art. I was failing at finding some kind of reasonable existence in a post-college world. I was struggling with my gender, my sexuality, and the deepest depression I’d yet experienced. After college, I’d tried to press myself into the mold I thought I was meant to be in, but I didn’t fit, no matter how I tried to contort into that small space. I felt like an outcast, and for that, I felt utterly worthless.

It might seem counterintuitive to say that part of what released me from depression was madness, but that’s what happened. Depression is stagnation, nothingness, a 100 pound backpack you have to lug around. Madness is just the opposite: creativity as a driving force, the freedom to make your own reality. Madness is transformation.
Finding Shade was like finding punk rock. It was permission to break the rules, to be my own person, to grow and contain multitudes rather than living liminally, always on the threshold. Gerard Way, as close to my Rac Shade as I can get, once described creativity as tapping into a universal energy that exists slightly above and behind the crown of your head. I latched onto that like Loma to the madness coat.

Sometimes it’s hard to get there. Sometimes I forget the portals I’ve opened for myself and the corrective strength that creativity has brought into my life. In those moments, I pull Shade off the shelf and remind myself of the power of madness. 

Name: Kat La Mantia
Twitter/TikTok: @ARealKat
IG: @yrfriendboxcar

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Comics

Explorers’ Guide to DC’s Young Animal

Hey, I’m Can, and thanks for reading this infographic! 

I got into the DC Young Animal imprint around its release in 2016 – I’ve been a lifelong comics fan and comic creator, and around that time I’d been really active in the My Chemical Romance fandom online, which is how I’d heard of it. 

My main interaction with comics has been outside of mainstream superhero comics, mainly with webcomics, indie comics, and comics made outside America; it’s always been a medium rife with experimentation and fantastic ways of image-text storytelling! It’s also always been a space where I’ve managed to carve out an area of belonging: in the comics I read, I was more likely to find representation for queerness and other kinds of marginalized identities, more so than on TV or in professionally published novels. DCYA in particular has been such a fun space of representation, and even helped me forge long-lasting friendships through fandom! (hi GraveRavers! Where would our little art collective be without Doom Patrol, am I right?)

However, with my particular comics background, I know as much as anyone how intimidating it can be to get into reading mainstream comics. Sometimes series have weird numbering, sometimes it’s not clear whether two series are connected. “This superhero team has been running since the 60’s!” you say. “Am I supposed to read all of them?!” I hear ya, pal. 

With DC Young Animal, I knew a lot of people like me were introduced to it by Gerard Way (hi gang!) and because of this, a lot of first-time comics readers were getting into them as well, which was fantastic! But I also saw a lot of new questions popping up, that made me realise a lot of day-to-day comics lingo (like the terminology of “issues” and “volumes”) weren’t easily shared with newer readers, especially younger fans and international fans. 

With this in mind, I created the first version of this infographic in 2018, to try help bridge the knowledge gap and make DCYA (and comics publishing as a whole) feel more accessible to new readers! When Dan McMahon pitched this project this year, I offered to re-do the graphic with updated information (and an updating of my art skills). 

My hope is that, armed with information, more people can enjoy the medium that’s been a big part of my heart for my whole life! And that maybe new people will be gripped with the kind of fandom that made me draw so much Casey Brinke x Terry None fanart. 

Happy reading! 

  • Can

TWITTER: @CanCan_jpg INSTAGRAM: @cancan.jpg TUMBLR: @cancan-jpg 

WEBCOMIC: linktr.ee/IntoTheMidnightCity

WEBSITE: canrichards.wixsite.com/portfolio 

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Comics

Young Animal//GateCrashers Unearthed

Hi, this is Dan McMahon. I’ve been putting this whole Young Animal//GateCrashers project together for awhile. Up first, throughout the project I will be making donations to different organizations in honor of the project. To start things off, we have donated $100 to TGI Justice. TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex people–inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers–creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom. If you are able, please donate as well!

I do regret to inform you but I have to bow out of the project. Things have come up and I’m just too busy with work and life. I’m so sorry that I have to exit the project but I found someone to run the show. Actually, he found me. A strange letter arrived under my front door one evening which is odd because I live in an apartment building. What was weirder is that there was some dirt smudges on it. Like real big ones as if this letter was dug up. ANYONE. I’m sorry. Turning it over to your new host to a world of comics for dangerous humans… 

Deep in the darkest corners of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey lies a graveyard. It’s not a normal Graveyard (As if any Graveyard is normal) but this one is a little bit different, weirder, stranger…

Now, you see reader, this is an IP graveyard. A graveyard for Young Animal , an imprint from Detective Comics Comics. A line that was the home of a group of titles that were unlike anyone else’s on the shelves at that time. These colorful pages were filled to the rafters with weirdos, freaks, and characters struggling with their identities.

You, too, may be thinking that you’ve felt like those words apply to you. Honestly if you’re here, you’re most likely one of us. A dangerous human looking for a place where they can feel like they belong. That is what DC and Gerard Way’s Young Animal was. A place for those who maybe didn’t feel like the every fully fit in anywhere else. But here, among these books, they found their place.

You crashed through the gates of this place, this graveyard for dangerous comics. Comics that have the strength to make you question some things, to identify with the misfits, and maybe even the power to be yourself. That is powerful, that is a weapon. See these comics were MEANT to find you. I was meant to find you. 

Who am I?

Good question, answer is a bit muddy. I’ve gone by a lot of different names. Names have power though so instead I’ll give you this, a nickname.

A cruel name I’ve been labeled with because of my profession, no, my life’s mission. They call me the Grave Robber. They call me that because they don’t understand but you will.

I believe you’ll understand.

What I do is open graves. I dig off all that dirt that pins down the lids that hold these wayward souls that just wanna stretch their legs. You see, ideas can’t die. There is a grave here for each of the books that once lived under this imprint. You’ve got your Doom Patrol, that’s a mass grave because that bad boy held in so many misfits. There is also that plot over there, sloshes a bit because it leaks milk… you’ll learn about the Milk War soon enough. We got them all but…

I did dig a hole for Green Lantern but it seems as if she breached the source wall into continuity. Lucky duck but we can still celebrate her too! 

Before I let you go to roam around this Graveyard slash Playground, I want to talk to you about death. I know, a nice bright and cheery subject to get this whole thing kicked off in style.

Death and Comics, heck if we want to get all pretentious about it, DEATH AND ART. These things shake hands and kiss on the lips constantly. They both always exist. They influence one another, change one another, and challenge each other. But the thing is, nothing REALLY dies in all of this. Superman died, it was on the news. Everyone saw it. But he got better. The thing about these things is that comics touch people. The ideas and themes imprint onto their hearts and minds.

When you take an idea from comics and art, that stays with you. It can mold your personality or inform you of something you weren’t aware of before. It’s a window into a world so unlike your own. Those feelings stay with you forever. They become apart of you and in turn apart of your art. So on and so fourth. The act of creation in any form is like an elaborate Rube Golberg machine that you will never see the end of. One thing leads to another, another creation, another person inspired… so on and so on and so on.

That’s what this project is. A collection of art, writing, and all sorts of things in between that were inspired by the series that now are unearthed all around us in this graveyard. Over the next few weeks…months…years… we will be posting beautiful things created by those dangerous people. So hey, lay down and mark a grave. The party has JUST begun and I don’t want you leaving me too quickly.

XOXO

The Grave Robber