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NELL BRINKLEY Newspaper article, San Francisco Call, 1915 SHEET MUSIC The Brinkley Girl, 1908

on to younger cartoonist Gladys Parker. Under Parker’s pen, Flapper Fanny began to look like the artist. By 1939, when she started her own comic strip, Mopsy, the title character was a dead ringer for Parker herself. Many readers looking at the chic clothing designs in Mopsy knew that Parker was also a well known and successful fashion designer, who was featured as such in popular magazines like Look. When America entered the war in 1941, most of the male cartoonists, who were of draft age, volunteered or were drafted into the military. As in other American industries, women took the men’s place at the drawing table, and the 1940s saw more women than ever before drawing comics, most of them working for the new comic book industry. When these women drew comics, they drew brave beautiful heroines: jungle girls, girl detectives, girl reporters, aviatrixes, and superheroines. The artists were Lily Renee, Fran Hopper, Marcia Snyder, Jill Elgin –and Tarpe Mills, creator of the first costumed action heroine, Miss Fury. Born June Mills, Tarpe Mills changed her name to a more sexually ambiguous one, believing her young male readers wouldn’t like an action comic drawn by a woman. But her secret didn’t last long. Newspapers ran articles about the beautiful creator of the successful noir strip, Miss Fury. Like Gladys Parker, Tarpe Mills’ pantherskin-clad superheroine, who predated Wonder Woman, looked exactly like her creator. Lest the reader think the resemblance was merely coincidence, Mills, who in real life had a white Persian cat named Perri-Purr, gave her heroine a white Persian cat named Perri-Purr. When Mills donated her cat to the war effort by lending him as mascot to a navy ship, newspapers covered the story. Mills’ beautiful heroine was so popular that in 1944 a WWll bomber crew named their plane “Miss Fury.” But another woman cartoonist got the jump on Mills. Girl reporter Brenda Starr appeared in newspapers three months ahead of Miss Fury. Creator Dale Messick, who died 5 days short of 99 in 2005, was named Dalia at birth, but like Mills, changed her name to a less feminine one, hoping the new name would make it easier for her to sell her strips. Despite

TARPE MILLS Photograph, circa mid-1940s

DOSSIER · ARTECONTEXTO · 31

Profile for ARTEHOY Publicaciones y Gestion SL

ARTECONTEXTO Nº10.  

Dossier: COMIC WORLD / MUNDO CÓMIC 2006

ARTECONTEXTO Nº10.  

Dossier: COMIC WORLD / MUNDO CÓMIC 2006

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