A comic book about the Rose City Rollers is one of those ideas that's so obvious, once you've heard about it, that it seems strange such a thing hasn't been hit on before—like a Flowbee, or those IKEA ice trays that make heart-shaped ice cubes. When I asked Lisa Titan (AKA "Titania") how she got the idea for True Tales of Rollerderby, she just grinned and shrugged. "The universe fed it to me."
There's already something cartoonish about the Rose City Rollers—tough, tattooed ladies with stage names like "Taunt-ya Harding" and "Dora Doom," and a devoted fanbase who fully embrace grudge matches and girl-gang rivalries. "It's a sport, but everyone in it is larger than life," explains Titan. That larger-than-life quality translates perfectly to the goofy, high-energy True Tales of Rollerderby.
The 32-page comic's pulpy cover blares, "Hi-stakes gambling!" "Vampires!" "Icy villains!" "Burning rubber!" Each of the four stories inside are sensationalized little romps focusing on a different Rose City Rollers team, each one written and drawn by a different artist (including colors by roller girl Pamela Rambo, who has worked on titles like Y: The Last Man). Look for Portland settings, too: the Breakneck Betties drag race across the Broadway Bridge in "Full-Throttle Roll Models," while the Guns N Rollers get Shanghaied at the Tunnel in "Attack of the Butt-Rock Blood-Suckers."
It's easy to imagine kids who have never read a comic before picking True Tales up at a bout—artist/dialogue coach Ryan Alexander-Tanner told me that at a recent derby match he "saw little kids reading it, young girls. [We're] all about reaching new audiences. It's not that different from a superhero comic." It is different, though, in one crucial respect: Mainstream superhero comics are a boys' club, and True Tales is all about the ladies.
Throw in some cheerfully brazen advertising plugs ("Why don't we go get some tacos at ¿Por Qué No?, proud sponsor of the Rose City Rollers?"), obligatory meta-fictional references ("Wow! A comic about the Rose City Rollers? Whoever came up with that idea is a total genius!"), and an open ending that's just begging for a sequel, and the Rose City Rollers comic seems like an idea whose time has come.