Earlier this spring, at Powell’s on Hawthorne (3273 SE Hawthorne Boulevard), Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover read from their second volume of Bandette, an Eisner Award-winning comic book series. The married collaborators initially release individual issues of the comic digitally and then print bound collections in volumes via Dark Horse.
The protagonist, Bandette, is a teenage burglar thieving around a Paris-like European city (officially not Paris but oh-so-Paris-esque). Bandette strides through panels with the support of her urchins, who help her pull off justice-seeking robberies. Paul Tobin describes Bandette as “relentlessly charming,” even though she lives in a world of treachery. Tobin and Coover, who initially collaborated to create the concept of the series, draw parallels between Bandette and Nancy Drew or Tintin, but instead of adding another detective to the lineup of characters on comic book shelves, they thought it would be more interesting to make Bandette a good-natured, if not a little mischievous, thief.
The couple ran a retail comic book store in the 1990s and refer to that time as a “dead zone” for adventure comics that were pushed aside for action comics. MonkeyBrain Comics approached the couple for a digital series in 2012 and they were ready to create Bandette’s adventurous world. When asked what has changed since the 1990s, and how the market for adventure comics fares today, Tobin said that because of online access comics of all genres are “even easier to get into now. The range of what’s made is wonderful and accessing audiences has never been easier.”
Coover and Tobin are extremely accomplished in the comic book industry. Coover has illustrated works like the X-Men for Marvel Comics. Tobin has also written Spider-Man, Iron Man, Batman, Legend of the Dark Knight and Superman for both Marvel Comics and DC Comics. He is currently working on at least a dozen writing projects—ten of which are comic series and two are novels. His projects range from science fiction, horror, and action and adventure. Tobin says he usually writes female lead characters because “there just aren’t enough of them.”