Velveteen vs. The Front Page Post
May 8, 2014 2:04 AM   Subscribe

Velma "Velveteen" Martinez is a toy-animating super hero created by Seanan McGuire, a.k.a. Mira Grant. Over the past six years, McGuire's "Velveteen vs." story cycle has been released gradually on LiveJournal, achieving a dedicated following thanks to the story's overall emotional complexity. As fantasy author Tanya Huff has written, "Velveteen is about a young woman who fights crime in a pair of rabbit ears in much the same way Buffy was about a girl who killed vampires. That being, not so much."

Fellow author Jim C. Hines has tried to say what makes these stories special:
Because sure, there's a fair amount of silliness going on in these stories. There's a superhero who's basically a Disney princess come to life. There are Velveteen's green plastic army men shooting tiny plastic bullets at bad guys. There's a whole story about getting trapped in a typical horror flick.

But despite the silliness, the characters are always treated with respect. They feel like real people [...] Their struggles and their love and their pain are real, and you very quickly start to care about them all. I think that's one of Seanan's superpowers.
Sigrid Ellis, editor-in-chief of Apex Magazine and co-editor of the Queers Dig Time Lords and Chicks Dig Comics anthologies, has written even more personally about the impact of the Velveteen stories:
I treasure the Velveteen stories because they are a way of looking at, raising, and answering the questions that I always had [...] They are another answer to the questions I was asking when I was twenty [...] I have answers these days that make me happy. I have perspective on my past questions. But I still love seeing other people -- characters -- try to answer the questions using the same tools I had at the time. It feels familiar, and comforting, and it gives me a measure of peace with the poor choices I made. I have a benevolent sort of forgiveness for past-me, muddling along as best I could without knowing that everyone around me was faking it just as much as I was.
Most of the Velveteen stories have been collected in Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots and Velveteen vs. The Multiverse, where they may have been edited to some degree (at least one story title changed). But the original stories are available for free online.

Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots
  1. Velveteen vs. The Isley Crayfish Festival
  2. Velveteen vs. The Coffee Freaks
  3. Velveteen vs. The Flashback Sequence
  4. Velveteen vs. The Old Flame
  5. Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots, West Coast Division
  6. Velveteen vs. The Eternal Halloween
  7. Velveteen vs. The Ordinary Day
  8. Velveteen vs. Patrol
  9. Velveteen vs. The Blind Date
Velveteen vs. The Multiverse
  1. Velveteen vs. Blacklight vs. Sin-Dee, Part I / Velveteen vs. Blacklight vs. Sin-Dee, Part II
  2. Velveteen vs. The Holiday Special
  3. Velveteen vs. The Secret Identity
  4. Martinez and Martinez v. Velveteen
  5. Velveteen vs. The Alternate Timeline, Part I / Velveteen vs. The Alternate Timeline, Part II
  6. Velveteen vs. The Retroactive Continuity
  7. Velveteen Presents Victory Anna vs. All These Stupid Parallel Worlds
  8. Velveteen vs. The Uncomfortable Conversation
  9. Velveteen vs. Bacon
  10. Velveteen vs. The Robot Armies of Dr. Walter Creelman, DDS
  11. Velveteen vs. The Fright Night Sorority House Massacre Sleepover Camp
  12. Velveteen vs. Vegas
  13. Velveteen Presents Victory Anna vs. The Difficulties With Pan-Dimensional Courtship
  14. Velveteen vs. Legal
  15. Velveteen Presents Jackie Frost vs. Four Conversations and a Funeral
  16. Velveteen vs. Jolly Roger
  17. Velveteen vs. Everyone, Part I / Velveteen vs. Everyone, Part II
  18. Velveteen vs. The Epilogue
The most recent story remains uncollected, "Velveteen vs. Hypothermia."

Seanan McGuire's thoughts on the series as a whole are spoiler-heavy, as is the TVTropes entry for the series.

Previously: The Viable Zombie; How to Survive a Fairy Tale.
posted by Monsieur Caution (10 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
The Velveteens are great. I didn't know about rest, thanks for fixing that.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 4:34 AM on May 8, 2014

This is FANTASTIC. Thank you for the post!!
posted by bibliogrrl at 5:26 AM on May 8, 2014

Velveteen didn't notice. She was preoccupied with carrying on a one-sided conversation with the stuffed animal rack, waving her hands in punctuation as she explained the score to the discarded bears and unloved plush dinosaurs of the world. "You've been thrown aside once, and that's terrible," she said. "I won't throw you away, but you won't get a good retirement package if you come with me. I'm the last stop. I'll take care of you for as long as I can, but I won't lie to you; toys that come with me don't live forever." The plush was starting to stir as portions of the pile—a bear here, a one-eyed turtle there—sat up and paid attention. "You'll do good things. You'll take care of children like the ones who loved you. I'll love you. And you'll die heroes."
posted by MartinWisse at 5:54 AM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

This looks great. Bookmarked.
posted by me3dia at 8:14 AM on May 8, 2014

I god I planned on going back and reading the Velveteen series when it was more done and then I forgot BUT NOW I AM GOING TO GORGE MYSELF ON IT
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 AM on May 8, 2014

I'm reading this and I'm finding it interesting to compare and contrast this with Worm. Not sure about the respective dates of these or the possibility of one influencing the other.

Just something about how precarious the line between "superhero" and "supervillain" seems to be in these, so much more than in most comics. And the banal corporate evil hiding under the pasted-on smiles of the Superhero Organizations.
posted by egypturnash at 11:28 AM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I *just* read these (except the uncollected one! Squee!) and they are fucking fantastic. It's just a pity I went straight to my Hugo-reading-obligation of Larry Correia's very similar universe. I wasn't expecting to get excited about him anyway, and next to Velveteen, his stuff looks written by an oversugared eight-year-old.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:25 PM on May 8, 2014

I love the Velveteen series and I want more so much. I am semi-indifferent to Newsflesh and Incryptid, I am annoyed by Parasite (AU Newsflesh), but I love Toby and I love Velma in equal measures.

There is extra content and editing done in the collections, too.
posted by jeather at 12:34 PM on May 8, 2014

Seanan McGuire is my favorite author. I have yet to read anything of hers I dislike. (And she has a new book out this week, Sparrow Hill Road, on ghost stories.) The second half of the Velveteens is really mind-blowing.

That said, I need to buy the second half of the Velveteens and I keep forgetting to do that because it's from a different bookseller than the usual one I pre-special-order crap from. I seriously need to kick myself to do that already.

Man, I wish I could be her friend except she's too famous to do that now and it would make me a creepy stalker person to want to. Dammit!
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:13 PM on May 8, 2014

So I just bought and read both books and I found this:
“My name is Carrabelle Miller,” said the Princess. “If you want to know what my parents called me, then you’re looking for Scott Miller. But that’s never been my name.”
Which means exactly what you think it means and made me happy.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:50 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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