'Female Force: Brittney Griner' tells her story in comic-book form – The Arizona Republic

It’s maybe not the first format you’d think of to tell the Brittney Griner story, but it is an intriguing one: The Phoenix Mercury star detained for months in Russia is the subject of a new comic book.
“Female Force: Brittney Griner,” available on Jan. 18, isn’t specifically about Griner’s horrific experience in Russia, where she was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison in what was widely considered a political ploy. She was released in December as part of a prisoner exchange.
The comic book instead uses Griner’s harrowing time there to bookend the story, the rest of which is autobiographical.
“We started working on this script before the incident in Russia,” Michael Frizzle, who wrote the comic, said in a statement. 
“My initial approach was to explore her history to show her growth as an athlete and person. I’ve found Brittney’s story fascinating despite not knowing much about the WNBA before I started the research. I hope readers will walk away understanding the person behind the headlines.”
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Darren Davis, the publisher of TidalWave Productions, which is publishing the comic, said in a statement that the story “is about an athlete who overcame obstacles to become a significant player in the WNBA — not about politics. We started working on this story about four years ago to diversify the line, as we’ve featured several male athletes in past issues. 
“Her development as an athlete, and her struggle with coming to terms with being a gay Black woman, first at a religious college and then in the national spotlight, are the focus of this issue.”
Refreshingly honest and ambitious in its storytelling, the comic book follows Griner’s journey of exploration about her sexuality and identity. Middle-school students call her “a dude.” High school students call her a “giant, mutant freak.”
But her mother encouraged her to be herself. When she came out to her mother, she told Griner, “I kinda already know. And I love you.” And then, “Now c’mon and help me put this laundry away.”
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The comic also chronicles Griner’s time at Baylor University. “I’m gay,” she says at one point. “I hope that’s not a problem for a Baptist college.”
Cut to Griner asking a student where the LGBT center is — and then having to explain what it is.
“Um, no, no,” the student says. “Ah don’t think we have one of those here.”
“Female Force” isn’t just a glossy story of Griner’s career; a couple of pages are devoted to the 2010 incident in which Griner punched Texas Tech player Jordan Barncastle in the face; they also explain what set Griner off.
We also see Griner’s fondness for tattoos and fashion. By the time she is playing for the Mercury, she’s much more sure of who she is.
“I am a strong, Black lesbian,” she says in a caption. “I am. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better.”
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$7.99 paperback, $19.99 hardcover. Available at Changing Hands Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other booksellers.

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