Greetings! I awaken this beautiful blog from a too-long slumber to bring you a post from Corey Reid. Corey is the mastermind behind the REFORM SCHOOL NINJA GIRLS (you have to type it in call caps), which happens to be one of my favorite things ever. I’ve had the good luck of playing in a couple of REFORM SCHOOL NINJA GIRLS games and they have all been, without question, the most fun I’ve ever had (that’s a little bit of hyperbole, but they’re pretty awesome).
Corey’s taking his girls out of the RPG, though, and into a comic. To that end, he’s running an ambitious Indie Gogo campaign to make it all happen. I think you should contribute because the story is great. The writing is great. It’s all ’round kick ass and you’d be kick ass if you helped make it a reality.
The other day I asked him, “Corey. Why NINJA girls? And why REFORM SCHOOL?” And these are his answers…
Why NINJA GIRLS?
The first long-form story I ever wrote was a ripoff of Fritz Leiber’s “Swords of Lankhmar” — complete with a Grey Mouser ripoff and a Fafhrd ripoff, but with a third character added: a swashbuckling lady pirate named Daira. Or Dalya. Something. Anyway, I wrote it when I was, I don’t know, about eleven years old, and Daira/Dalya was pretty much the only original thing in the whole book. So this interest in lady adventurers goes way back for me.
My mom had travelled the globe as a young woman, and our house was full of things she’d brought back from Africa, Europe and Asia. We grew up on her stories of uncomfortable steamers, South African trains, grape picking in France and crazy elephant hunters. She was the most adventurous person I knew, so maybe it’s not so surprising that I grew up thinking women made for logical heroes in adventure stories.
When I first started playing Dungeons and Dragons, back in the late seventies, my first Dungeon Master was a woman named Darlene. I thought she was the coolest human being I’d ever met: I was about twelve and she was probably twenty or so, but she was a biker and wore black all the time and told jokes I didn’t quite understand. I obviously had a huge crush on her, but more importantly, I really learned how to run games from her. She’s still my model for what a great Dungeon Master does. I moved away when I was fourteen, and never stayed in touch — I’ve often wondered what she’s up to these days. My own games have always featured plenty of epic women NPCs.
The NINJA GIRLS themselves are mostly named after women I actually knew: Masayo was my boss when I worked in Japan, and Eri is one of the most fearsome swordspeople I’ve ever met. Making them into comic book characters was really inspiring!
Girls in comics have had a rough ride of late — but when I was a kid reading comics, there were tons of great characters. My favourite comic book growing up was The New Mutants, which was mostly girls, and really diverse racially speaking as well. Nowadays it seems like every other day there’s some terrible image of female superheroes looking like porn stars, but in the 80′s it wasn’t like that at all, at least not in the books I was reading. Dani Moonstar (Mirage) is one of my favourite characters ever in comics.
Why REFORM SCHOOL?
The suggestion came up (I forget whose it was) to run an all-woman game session at GenCon one here, so I was casting about for a “classic” women’s adventure trope.
It was depressingly hard.
There’s lots of models that are by now somewhat “ungendered” — the pirate story or the “Lost World” story, which used to be sort of boys’ adventures but by now can feature women without anyone looking askance, but there are very few models for adventure or action stories that are sort of “meant” to feature women. And those that do are often pretty unpleasant, like the rape/revenge type of story you see with “Lady Snowblood”, for example. Great movie, but not exactly a rousing tale of good-natured adventure, is it?
Then I thought of that old exploitation classic, the reform school story — bad girls fighting amongst themselves for who’s gonna run the schoolyard sort of thing. There’s a really great film of this form called “Switchblade Sisters” and it seemed to me like this could be a rich source of story. Struggles for status, getting out from under the administration, it seemed like a great fit.
And it actually fit pretty easily into the DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND world I’d been developing. It was easy to imagine that the various ninja clans in that setting might pool their resources to try and manage troublesome kids, and send them off to a “Correctional Academy”. So I had a high school full of delinquent ninjas, which is obviously a brilliant setting to play around in.
The final piece of the puzzle was girls’ high school anime. Anime of course features a lot of, well, let’s call it problematic representations of women, but it’s a broad genre and there’s plenty of stuff that’s actually really cool, if you can wade through the panty-showing crap to find it. My wife got me interested in a bunch of shows that basically feature high school girls punching the heck out of everything. They’re completely awesome, and so the idea that a high school could be a setting for “super-powered” adventure seemed perfectly reasonable.
Now those stories are usually about really good girls who are all earnest and try hard and everything, but I wanted to graft that onto the “reform school” idea, where the kids are BAD and even if you were a good kid, you’d just want to get out and go home as soon as you could.
It gave the whole story a great edge to it — if you’ve been sent to reform school, you’re probably not having a great life, you’re probably dealing with some real problems, and so just imagining why these girls had been sent here made for very natural story development. Some of them are actually bad girls, some of them are just misunderstood, and some of them are here for completely unexpected reasons. I’m really excited to get this comic off the ground, because there are so many cool secrets and surprises in store for everyone!
Show your support for the NINJA GIRLS here. You’ll be glad you did.