The Myth Of The ‘Survivor Girl’

I’ve been thinking about horror movies a lot lately. Slashers, in particular. I’m a huge slasher fan. Slasher film serve as a beautiful microcosm for the time they were made in. I would submit to you, that you can learn more about 1970’s suburban entitlement from Halloween than you can from a text book. I’d also offer that Hellraiser has a hell of a lot to say about how people in the 80’s viewed sex. The same can be said for almost any slasher film. When a horror film works, it’s because it’s scary. That seems a trifle self-evident, but it runs deeper than things that go bump in the night. What scares us is a direct conduit for how we’re doing as a society. Horror film are, in a way, a cultural thermometer.


Couch Wall. The ultimate in home defense.

In my most recent round of revisiting/rediscovering/just straight up discovering slasher films I’ve noticed something that hadn’t really appeared to me before. The Survivor Girl. She’s the object of everyone’s attention in these films. Going further along that line of logic, she’s usually the object of a male’s obsession. She’s usually weak and then grows to become strong due to the attention of a male. It’s a strange concept that in a genre so associated with powerful female characters, none of them become truly powerful. Nancy never reaches Freddy’s level. I suppose that’s not precisely a fair statement to make because how would she still be relatable if she was a dream master demi-god. But even so. Survivor Girls are, almost without exception, a fetishized idea. They’re constantly being bombarded and they somehow make it through all these trials and tribulations without any real growth.

Let me be clear, I wouldn’t be saying any of this if Nancy had evolved into a Sarah Connor style character. Or if Laurie Strode had gone on to enroll in the Ellen Ripley School for Performing Ass-beaters. Shit if Sally from Texas Chainsaw had gone back to Leatherface’s house and fucked shit up, I’d have loved that. But that’s not the way American wants its women, I suppose. We want them just tough enough to be a challenge to woo, and then just meek enough to never leave. That’s what the Survivor Girl synecdoche says to me.


I’ve heard so many comic book and horror movie fans laude the Survivor Girl trope as something positive that the Slasher genre has given society. Positive female role model, and all that nonsense. But look at the name. SURVIVOR GIRL. Not Awesome Protagonist Woman or Totally Gonna Take Care Of Myself And Not Be Defined By Someone Else Adult Female. It’s inherently stunting. It’s basically Congrats, You Were The One Plot Gods Decided Not To Rape To Death Girl.


All this has to be taken with a grain of salt, I suppose. Nancy Thompson is one of my favorite fictional characters. I suppose these grievances are levied at franchise filmmaking. I understand needing to have an arc. I’m not an idiot. I get that you start someone off in a place of weakness and then, through the events that they endure,  they become a stronger person. I suppose the issue for me is just that. Franchise horror films, particularly slasher films, never allow there female protagonists to progress beyond slightly-above-average-girl. I cannot think of a single Ripely or Sarah Connor style character in the slasher genre. It’s really a shame, too. Because there was so much potential in characters like Nancy or Alice Johnson from Nightmare on Elmstreet 3, 4, and 5. It’s really too bad.


The only way to fix this problem is to create. I know it sounds lame or corny or  old hat, but it would seem to be true. In today’s remake/adaptation/recycling film economy, it would seem abundantly clear that the only way to progress, both as a genre and as a society, is to start telling new stories. To acknowledge the trends of the past, embrace them when applicable and buck them when reprehensible. Case and point: Survivor Girls. They need to go. We need something new. Something that mirrors the complexity of the modern day woman and can serve an inspiration to both genders.

Oh, and that kicks ass too.


For The Furtherment Of The Empire

Let’s take a moment and congratulate Mr Robert Negrete for doing a wonderful job drawing the first issue of Action Hospital. Without his amazing line-work and emphasis on detail there would be no Younger and no Action Hospital. It’s just that simple. He’s a work horse and a talented guy. I’m luck to get to work with him.

I hop that you’ve enjoyed our story so far, and I hope that the next issue will keep you on the edge of your seat in the same way that the first issue did.


Life is a pretty strange thing. I know that seems fairly obvious but it’s pretty bizarre how things rapidly change, evolve, or otherwise transform in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been working like crazy on movie and comics stuff, as of late. If you’re wondering, Yes, Action Hospital Issue Two is all drawn and currently in the process of being lettered. This one will be a double sized issue coming in at round 18 pages. If you couldn’t tell by the cover, which just went up today, I’m drawing and writing this issue. Robert is hard at work on the third issue, which will feature the return of Younger the Vine Walker. For now we’re going to be following the cast of characters that I’ll be drawing. So, y’know, Boy Detectives. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t deviate away from what you know how to draw.


In progress cover to Issue 2

This past month has been an insane blur. I worked on a horror movie with some of coolest people I’ve ever met. I mean that literally. Previous to working on this film, I had been feeling tired, worn down, and just generally in a funk. Sure, it was hard work, but I had an amazing time working on this flick.

I suppose I should just tell you a little story, which will put this all into perspective. The first day I was on set, the producer of the film walked up to me and asked if I was ok or if I needed anything. This is unheard of. Producers usually don’t give two shits how you’re doing. They’re freaking out about the budget or about some actor who hasn’t shown up or about how they need a blue shirt for the scene because the wall behind the star is green. Something along those lines. So right out of the gate, I knew that this was going to be a fun job. If the producer is nice and calm that means that even when the shit DOES hit the fan everything will be fine.

Additionally, there was something familiar about this producer. I could swear that I knew her from somewhere but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Over the course of the first day, I had a few different opportunities to chat with her and she was one of the kindest and most honest people that I’ve ever met. I spent the entirety of that afternoon racking my brain attempting to deduce where I had previously made her acquaintance.

Towards the end of the first day I was chatting with the head of my department, a lovely girl named Aimee, and the topic of how nice the producer was came up.  Abruptly, she asked if I was a horror movie fan, and of course I said I was. She asked if I’d ever seen a film called Sleepaway Camp, to which I scoffed that of course I had. I loved Sleepaway Camp. Aimee, with a little glint in her eye, said that Felissa, the producer of our movie, was the star of Sleepaway Camp. And then it all came rushing back to me. Like that scene where Liam Neeson freaks the fuck out at the carnival in Darkman. There it was. I’d been talking to Angela Baker all day and I hadn’t known about it. My head exploded.


Felissa Rose, mother fucker!

That’s the kind of experience I had. It was so much fun. I got to hang out with Beverly Randolf from Return of the Living Dead, Kim Poirer from the Dawn of the Living Dead remake, and a fine gentleman named Eric Roberts. It was insane. The entire cast was so gracious, so kinda, and completely the opposite of what you’d except. I spent the majority of the shoot desperately attempting to keep my cool.

If you haven’t seen Sleepaway Camp or Return of the Living Dead, do yourself a favor. They’re both wonderful. Dan O’Bannon, the writer of Alien, directed Return of the Living Dead. It’s one of the most influential zombie movies ever made, most people just don’t realize it. You know that age old idea that zombies eat brains? That came from Return of the Living Dead. Go out and watch it, friend.

photo copy

Beverly Randolf from Return of the Living Dead!

Movies, man. They’re the best. The absolute best.


On the writing front I’m working on two different super sweet movie things that I CANNOT WAIT to talk about. I’m so ecstatic about them I’m bursting with excitement. One of the super top-secret things I’m working on is LITERALLY a dream come true. And that’s all I’ll say about that.


I’ll just leave you with this. I’ve been listening to it on repeat for a good week now. It just keeps getting better every time.

Buying A Sketchbook Is Super Frustrating (Why Come They Had To Stop Making The One I Like?)

Up All Night With Nowhere To Die 

Finding a new sketchbook is a personal war based almost exclusively in fetishistic futility.


I, like most illustrators, have a very specific set of criteria associated with the tools that I utilize in my work. I use a specific type of pen, the Staedtler pigment liner, I use a specific type of paper, and for more expressive areas I use a japanese brush pen. These are the tools that I use. It’s just how it is. These are the instruments that allow me to create in the most effective manner. Illustration is a never ending battle. oh, sure. It’s a simple enough idea. You draw a bunch of pictures on a page. In reality it’s a language. The size of the panel, how much space in between each panel, the number of panels, and the composition within each panel really matter. If you don’t speak it, it shows.  Everyone should make comics, but when you’re just learning the language, it shows. That’s why when people from outside of the comics industry come in and create work, more often than not, it’s terrible. Just because film and comics share common narrative elements doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing. Additionally, direct panel for frame narrative adaptations are often so bland and unexciting because of the same principle in movieland. But let’s get back on topic, once an illustrator figures out what the three or four weapons he or she needs to succeed in the Thunderdome that is making comics there’s no time for ‘experimentation’. It’s time to make comics.


A sketch book is essential for making comics. I use my as a journal/ideas folder/character design file/thumbnail registry. For the past five years or so I’ve used a sketchbook that could only be bought at Barnes and Noble. It was make by the American Standard Press company. It was a beautiful construction of paper and glue and leather with sheets so hard and smooth it was like drawing on glass. I’ve been working in these things for a good long while, obviously. And on my last trip to restock can you guess what happened? The company doesn’t make them any longer. This is an artists worst nightmare. The fact that a tool, that was taken for granted, has now been removed from my arsenal is quite vexing.


After a few days of hunting I finally settled on a Moleskine sketchbook, which is the first time I’ve ever used the company’s product for any serious amount of time. So far the book is working fine. The pages are slightly too thin for my tastes. The ink from my pens bleeds through and can be seen on the backside of the paper. This is negligible, though.



The interesting thing about this Moleskine book is that it’s bound at the top, like a journalist’s notebook. It’s both slightly alien and intriguing. It’s forcing me to come at my thought-drawing composition from a different perspective.


Until next time, friends.



Hollywood, Ca 2013





(f)Art Party!

I’ve Seen The Future And It Will Be

Robert, and his lovely partner Sabrina, threw an Art Party last night. Which basically consists of a bunch of nerds sitting in a circle, drawing, and not talking to each other. This is how we socialize. Yes, we’re that cool.


Lighting, mother fucker.

During the Art Party, Robert and I worked on Action Hospital pages. To say that we’re gentlemen travelers of the illustrated page might be appropriate.





There are many ways to make comics. Sometimes you just have to make them in a large group of people who are also making comics.



I’m not exactly sure what I’m miming in the photo above but I think it’s proper inking posture. Or it could be  that I’m about to show Robert how gravity works.




The pages are progressing at a steady pace. Robert’s really getting into a groove. Look at that Sibling enjoying her bowl of dirt. How awesome is that? The dude is really starting to kick into high gear.




Towards the end of the night our host Sabrina served us veggie and fruit smoothies. To say that making comics, drinking smoothies and then making some more comics is anything less than a perfect saturday night would be an egregious lie.





Also: can we just digress into douche bag Bro-town for a minute? Look at Sarah. How did I pull that shit? hubba hubba, man. I’ll take two with a side of hells yes. Thank you very much.


There’s really no reference in this post’s title. It’s just funny to put an F before Art it makes FART. No points.


Until Next Time,

Dave Baker

Hollywood, Ca 2013