Christine Howard (known by her fans as Tini) appears as though she could very well be the lead heroine within her own comic-book series. She’s strong, statuesque, seemingly adventurous, witty, and there’s an unmistakable vibe that she can smell bullshit from a mile away and will call you out upon first whiff. So it makes sense she would deeply understand one of the main characters in the wildly popular comic-book series “Magdalena.” In fact, she won a writing contest put forth by its publisher, Top Cow Comics, to launch her first single-issue comic book, “Magdalena: Seventh Sacrament.”
Following the legend of the Magdalena— the title given to various women throughout history who have wielded the Spear of Destiny (a legendary artifact that bestows powers on women who are tied to the bloodline of Christ)—Howard’s issue essentially rewrites the first Magdalena. Howard’s work indicates there are documents that precede the Magdalena’s known history and proves the existence of an earlier Magdalena unknown to anyone. It’s an idea that has the potential to pull in new and seasoned readers of the “Magdalena” graphic novel series.
“I entered the contest because I’d been looking for a way into comics as a writer,” Howard tells. “For some time, I’d been writing my own scripts and stories, trying to refine them to the point where I was looking for an artist to help. This seemed like a great way to get my script looked at.”
Illustrated by Aileen Oracion from Singapore, Howard’s story focuses on the character Agatha, a German nun in the 12th century. Her tale is revealed via old illuminated scriptures from an age-old monastery.
“I sent my story into the contest after a lot of editing and deliberation, and quietly obsessed over the results for about four months,” Howard comments. “One night I got off work and checked my phone to see a message from Matt Hawkins, the chief in charge over at Top Cow. He told me to check my email. I won! I sat in the parking lot and called my husband and parents. I was pretty excited!”
A serious fan of comics since her teenage years—“Hellboy,” “Buffy” and the comic series “Sandman” are favorites—Howard is as humble about her big break as she is enthusiastic about the art form itself. She gives most of her winning credit to her husband, Blake.
“He was so amazing the whole way, and was convinced I was going to win from the moment I submitted, which gave me a lot of confidence,” Howard shares. “It was Blake’s introduction to superhero comics that got me to the point where I felt like I could write them. We’re pretty funny in our tastes. He likes Batman; I like Robin. He likes Captain America; I like Iron Man. We’re a great team.”
On December 13, Howard will be signing and selling copies of her book from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Nerdvana Comix, located downtown on Front Street. She hopes to meet seasoned comic book lovers and skeptical novice altogether. Howard’s secondary goal is to guide anyone and everyone in finding a certain story that speaks to them among different tales and universes stacked on the shelves at Nerdvana—even if it’s not her own published issue of “Magdalena.” Spoken like a real heroine, helping is what she will be there for.
“The biggest misconception about comics is that they’re all superhero-themed, or that they’re all intertwined,” Howard explains. “If you want to read a self-contained story—even one about someone who’s been around as long as Batman or the Flash—you don’t need to read the entire history of Batman to enjoy the book they’re putting out now!”
Instead, the only requirement one should have is the willingness to merge heart and mind into a relatable story. The Eisner Award-winning comic-book series, “The Invincible Iron Man”—written by Matt Fraction with art by Salvador Larroca and published by Marvel Comics—was one such series that Howard gives credit to catapulting her into the infinite world of graphic novels.
“I felt like ‘The Invincible Iron Man’ dovetailed into a lot of stuff that was relatable for me: breaking the trust of people that rely on you, feeling guilty or confused about your place in this world, doing something for love or money. These are things that all adults deal with. It blew my mind to see that in a comic.”
Howard, a Port City resident for a mere two years, definitely has cemented her place among talented professionals. She’s contributed to popular publications, like DC on Heels, Posh Seven Magazine and Nerd Caliber, as well as formulated tight bonds with community members like Richard Davis, owner of Nerdvana and Browncoat Pub and Theatre, and founder of Guerrilla Theatre Company downtown. Right now, Howard’s already hard at work on her next project; details are closely guarded like the location of the Fortress of Solitude. She just hopes to fulfill the goal of making readers happy with her comics and maybe inspire others to follow suit.
“If you want to make comics, make comics,” she declares. “You don’t need a publisher or anyone’s permission. If you want to do it all, you can. If you’re an artist who wants to draw dinosaurs, find a writer friend to write you a script. If you’re a writer who wants to write about dinosaurs, find an artist friend who loves to draw them! Oh, and get on Twitter. Everything in comics happens on Twitter.”
Christine Howard Book Signing
Sat., Dec. 13, 11 a.m.
Nerdvana Comix • 130 N. Front St.