No frills, no pink, plenty of power

CCBC graphic artist grad brings to life female heroes, promotes smart, strong, independent girls

When Charles Dowd took his daughter Allison, 12, to their local comic shop when she was 7, he quickly discovered a lack of non-sexualized, female-led comics for her to enjoy. That inspired Charles to create Lilith Dark, a comic book picked up and published by Alterna Comics in 2014.

“I found there was a lack of positive female representation in as far as protagonists, and of the female characters available, most were boxed into a box of pink,” said Charles, who graduated from CCBC’s Art, Design and Interactive Media (ADiM) program in 2010.

“I wanted to combat that stigma by creating characters and stories featuring female leads who weren't pink and frilly,” he recalled. “I've met a number of others who feel the same way, but unfortunately, most publishers aren't as open-minded as you'd like. There are all of these amazing stories and characters left unpublished!”

This realization led Charles and his wife, Crystal, a CCBC Class of 2017 Business major, to launch Riveting Press, an independent publisher dedicated to releasing comics and kids’ books featuring heroic female protagonists that everyone, not just girls, can enjoy.

The impact Charles is having is apparent on the faces of those discovering his work at comic conventions and book fairs.

“Every time, we get parents who actually thank us for existing,” noted Charles, who’s also published a popular – yet unconventional – picture book, The A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls, through Riveting Press.

“I’ve even had a couple of people tear up with happiness over what we’re trying to do,” Charles said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing you can touch people in such a positive and emotional way.”
Profile picture of artist Charles Dowd holding a piece of his artwork