Small Press Finds from San Diego Comic Con: Quice

On the surface, you could say Quince is just another comic series about a teenager learning to deal with superpowers––a novel premise back in the ‘60’s when Stan Lee was making hay out of it. But Quince manages to give us something fresh by simply swapping the traditional white, male protagonist for a mexican girl. It’s a small change, but the most distinctive and unique elements of this comic series proceeds from there. By representing a narrow, underserved comics audience, creators Kit Steinkellner, Emma Steinkellner and Sebastian Kadlecik have created a series that should appeal to everyone.

What’s most interesting about Quince’s protagonist, Lupe, is how utterly ordinary she is. Starting at the level of character design, Lupe reads as a background character in any other comic. Illustrator Emma Steinkellner gives you no indication that this young woman was born to greatness. As she trains to be a superhero, even at the peak of Lupe’s physical fitness, she remains squarely a “plus size.” Remarkably, this fact is never lamented by the character nor so much as drawn attention to in the narrative. Lupe is the everyman you rarely actually see in superhero comics––she just happens to not be a man.

Writer Kit Steinkellner nails the dialect of that teenager who can’t skate by in life on good-looks, athletic prowess, or a natural aptitude for school but has to make do with wit and hard work. Comics have long taken aim at these sorts of characters, but rarely do these versions ever ring true. The fact is characters like Lupe are nuanced and hard to write; Kit Steinkellner makes it look easy.

Quince’ story leans heavily on its unique characters and premise, unfolding slowly. After 9 issues out of 15, the existence of a super villain has finally been revealed. This is not a narrative oversight or failing; the true antagonistic force of the series is the process of growing up itself––and growing up takes a long time. Combating a formidable foe will be the final test of all Lupe has learned as she moves into adulthood. She will be faced with an enemy who functions as her opposite: someone who refuses to mature, to learn responsibility, to realize adulthood is really about knowing there is more to life than the self. Or so I predict.

Quince is available as a digital first in English and Spanish on Comixology. But publisher Fanbase Press will be releasing a trade paperback of the series on October 23 of this year. It’s not my job to tell anyone what to do, but the only way to really support an independent book like this one is to spend money on it and Quince deserves support.