Women’s History Month: Annie Wu by Aiden James

Annie Wu, a comic creator based out of Chicago, Illinois, has made full runs around the entire comic industry, working for most of the big publishers. At Marvel she worked on Hawkeye, Black Cat, and Scarlet Witch where she helped create chapters like Dark Tongji.  She created and is still working on Dead Guy Fan Club for Image Comics as well as Archie for Archie Comics. And finally, Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond, Batman Beyond Unlimited, Gotham Academy, and Black Canary for DC Comics where her work introduced us to characters like Nissa: The Batgirl Beyond, Maeve Tavana, Paloma Terrific, and the entire Black Canary band. She has done all this while also being a storyboard artist for the Adult Swim series, The Venture Bros..

Annie Wu’s artwork is instantly recognizable, the tight angles and messy linework aligns itself with more indie titles, but her high impact work lines up perfectly with action sequences. The action in books drawn by her feels brutal and fast and despite seeming like a relatively simple art style. The detail embedded within her work makes it feel so real, like you could transport yourself into her books which leads to an incredible amount of immersion simply from reading a comic. Her work on Black Canary alone has given the character a very punk rock feel, a vibe I hope follows the character for many years to come, as it fits with the character and her character’s powers incredibly well. Many people (me included,)  will buy a book simply because her name is associated with the title.

Her artwork in Black Canary helps give it the tone that the book radiates and helps you understand more and more how this book is a personal story for Dinah Drake and about coming to terms with the past. Her art works perfectly for this, emphasizing the frustration that she feels. You can feel the body language of each individual character and just through looking at Wu’s work you can tell what kind of person these characters are. You care about these characters because of how she draws them, something that I personally find uniquely impressive. Even just looking at the scenes of the book where the Black Canary band is playing, simply through the line art you can almost hear the fast beat of the music they’re playing. Seeing all of the individual characters playing their respective instruments it almost looks like a real still, like you caught a single moment in their entire performance. You can feel the movement of the show even though they’re panels on a page.

But, enough of me gushing over how much her art style impacts Black Canary, let’s talk about how Annie Wu’s art has impacted me, and my experience reading comics as whole.

Annie Wu was one of the first artists I followed in comics. Picture this, I was 14 years old, and what do 14 year-old kids love? Batman. At the time, DC’s New 52 initiative was starting to slow down, and I was just getting into reading single issues of comics. It was actually the first time I ever went into a comic book shop and I went in to get specifically Batman comics. Little did I know, that a poster promo that the owners put with my comics would lead me down a path that introduced me to so many other books. This poster was drawn by Annie Wu and was given out to help gain an audience for the new Black Canary series and it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.

Just the way her art style translated to the punk rock aesthetics of the poster spoke to me in a way no other artist’s work could at the time. So when August 2015 came around, you know I was doing everything I could to get to that comic book store and get that book. I imagine this is what it must’ve been like when Spawn #1 first came out for people in the 90’s. I read that poor book till it’s pages started falling out, and each month when a new issue came out I read those until the pages fell out. Not because of the story (which is very good) but because of Annie Wu’s art. That poster? It hung on my wall for YEARS (the only reason it isn’t there now is because I want to get it framed.) Annie Wu’s work on Black Canary is so good that when people talk about this book they call it Annie Wu’s Black Canary because her work was that influential to the title.

Annie Wu’s art directly led me down the path of discovering comics that I wouldn’t have checked out without her. Hell, I only started reading Fraction’s Hawkeye run because I knew she worked on the title. If not for following her art I wouldn’t have then started reading indie comics. Her art is so important to me, and is a clear example of how an artist can impact a reader. 

So, thank you Annie Wu, for kicking major ass at drawing comics.

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