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WALTER SIMONSON • JOHN WORKMAN TM

N o . 10 Oct . 2 0 00

$6.95

In The U.S.

OLD GODS AND NEW


Walter drew the characters he is no doubt most fondly recalled working on in this charity piece drawn for the 1998 Heroes Con art auction. Courtesy of the artist.

Art ©2000 Walter Simonson. Thor ©2000 Marvel Characters, Inc. Orion, Manhunter ©2000 DC Comics. W

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NUMBER 10

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CELEBRATING

Editor/Designer JON B. COOKE Publisher

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LIVES & WORK

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GREAT CARTOONISTS, WRITERS & EDITORS

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DEPARTMENTS:

TWOMORROWS THE OTHER FRONT PAGE: MORE HYPE AND STUFF JOHN & PAM MORROW

Ye Ed gives us lots more hyperbole and plugs, stroking egos, making friends, and trying to kickstart trends....1-B

Cover Art WALTER SIMONSON

CBA COMMUNIQUES: CHARLTON CLARIFICATIONS Ye Ed, Joe Gill, Ed Konick, and others make clarifications and corrections on our Charlton comics issue.........3-B

Cover Color TOM ZIUKO

CBA COMMENTARY: ALEX TOTH—‘BEFORE I FORGET’ The master of sequential storytelling discusses panel layouts and keeping it simple ........................................4-B SPECIAL WALTER SIMONSON & JOHN WORKMAN SECTION:

Production JON B. COOKE GREAT SWAMP GRAPHICS Transcribers JON B. KNUTSON BRIAN K. MORRIS Logo Designer/ Title Originator ARLEN SCHUMER Mascot WOODY by J.D. King

WALTER SIMONSON INTERVIEW: MAN OF TWO GODS CBA chats with the artist-writer in a career-spanning interview, from “Manhunter” to Thor to Orion ............6-B JOHN WORKMAN INTERVIEW: JOHN’S WORKMANSHIP Letterer, artist, art director, packager, commentator—is there anything the guy can’t do? We ask ’im. ..........40-B WOMEN AND THE COMICS: A CELEBRATION! Guest Editor Trina Robbins, Marie Severin, Ramona Fradon, Mary Fleener, Tarpe Mills and more!..........FLIP US! Visit CBA on our Website at: www.twomorrows.com All letters of comment, articles and artwork, please mail to: Jon B. Cooke, Editor, Comic Book Artist, P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892-0204 Phone: (401) 783-1669 • Fax: (401) 783-1287 • E-mail: jonbcooke@aol.com

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COMIC BOOK is published bi-monthly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. 919-833-8092. Jon B. Cooke, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892-0204 USA • 401-783-1669 • Fax: 401-783-1287. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT the editorial office. Single issues: $6.95 ($8.00 Canada, $10.00 elsewhere). Yearly subscriptions: $30 US, $42 Canada, $54 elsewhere. First Printing. All characters are © their respective owners. All material is © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter is © their respective authors. ©2000 Jon B. Cooke/TwoMorrows. PRINTED IN CANADA. Cover acknowledgement: Orion ©2000 DC Comics. Thor ©2000 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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CBA Commentary

Alex Toth—‘Before I Forget’ The Master on Keeping It Simple With Panel Layouts Below: Milton Caniff’s seductive villainess, The Dragon Lady, from a 1930s panel. ©2000 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

Oct. 2000


CBA Interview

Simonson Says

The Man of Two Gods Recalls His 25+ Years in Comics Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson

Below: Fuzzy photo by Ye Ed of Walter Simonson, taken at the artist’s cozy home, nestled in the woods off the Hudson River in New York. Still enamored with archosaurs, Walter is wearing a T-shirt riddled with dino images.

Though Walter Simonson had planned to be a paleontologist— that’s a person who studies dinosaurs, folks—as a college student in the 1960s, the Marvel comics of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko changed the would-be scientist’s mind and led him to pursue a career as a comic book artist. Frankly—and, no doubt, inconsequentially—Walter is my favorite comics personality, friendly, approachable, generous, funny, and smart. The artist-writer, though facing crunching deadlines with his hellish monthly schedule writing, penciling, and inking Orion for DC (never mind coordinating back-up strips for the title), allowed Ye Ed into his home for two four-hour interview sessions (on July 12th and August 17th), suffered my rummaging through his enormous personal art collection, and even took me out to lunch on both occasions. Gracias, Mr. S., and also many thanks to that other cool cat, Walter’s missus, Weezie. The artist copyedited this transcript. Comic Book Artist: Where are you from, Walter? Walter Simonson: I grew up in College Park, Maryland. It’s inside the Beltway, just a couple of miles from the Washington, D.C. line, maybe eight blocks from the University of Maryland. I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, but my parents moved to College Park when I was two-anda-half, so I don’t remember a lot about Tennessee. CBA: What did your father do? Walter: He was a scientist, worked in soils. He was with the Soil Conservation Service in the Department of Agriculture. In his last job before he retired, he was the Director of Soil Classification and Correlation for the U.S. His work involved studying soils, gathering and assessing information on them that could be used in a variety of ways, from establishing the suitability of land for crop production to deciding what kind of soap the Army might use in the field somewhere. CBA: You obviously wanted to be a paleontologist for a while. Did you pick up an interest of the academic side? Walter: Sure. Dad taught college for five years in Iowa after grad school, and then he moved more directly into soil science. But I never thought about being an artist when I was a kid. I discovered dinosaurs in third grade, as a result of seeing Fantasia, and decided I wanted to be a paleontologist and study fossils—dinosaurs in particular. That desire stayed with me all

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through college. I majored in geology with the idea of going to graduate school for paleontology. However, I reached a point at the end of my senior year when I ended up deciding, after a long night, that paleo was not the direction I wanted to go in. I had no ideas about what else to do, really. I’d always drawn, but I didn’t have any concept of making a living at drawing. I ended up going to art school because art was the only real interest I’d had growing up outside of dinosaurs. As it happened, besides studying geology when I was in college, I got into Marvel comics. I discovered Thor in Journey into Mystery #120 and had my personal epiphany. [laughs] CBA: What made you pick up comics then? How old were you? Walter: I was a sophomore in college when I found that issue. I’d read comics when I was a kid; we had had a subscription to Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories. I was a big Carl Barks fan, without having any idea who Barks was, or what his name was, or even that one guy did that stuff. But I knew the “Good Duck Artist,” I could recognize his work when I was ten. We had all kinds of comics… just off the cuff: Little Iodine, Cheyenne, some of the Western titles, the Warner stuff, some of the TV adaptations, 77 Sunset Strip with some Russ Manning jobs, I liked Jesse Marsh’s Tarzan work (without knowing who Marsh was either), and I liked the Manning “Brothers of the Spear” back-ups in Tarzan, too. I also had a subscription to Turok, Son of Stone. CBA: A subscription? Walter: Well, hey, dinosaurs! [laughter] The two comics we had subscriptions to when I was young were Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories for a while, and Turok. Actually, my brother gave me a subscription to Thor when I was in college, and I quit getting it after the year, because I discovered they sent the comics folded in half. When I was a kid, I didn’t care about it so much, but as a young adult, I didn’t like the crease down the middle—it broke the cover color with a white line down the center of the cover where it was folded—so I gave up on the subscription idea. But I read a lot of comics as a kid: Anthology stories, Westerns, detectives, super-heroes, Strange Adventures I think… I remember reading a DC comic where praying mantises take over the world, and they raise humans as racing animals or something. [laughs] Comics was my first introduction to Burroughs—before I knew who Burroughs was. One of my friends had a copy of Princess of Mars (the first John Carter book) in an adaptation by Jesse Marsh. I was fascinated by that comic; I thought it was really alien looking! It took me a long time to find out what the heck it was about, and who Jesse Marsh was, or Burroughs for that matter. But I read a lot of comics as a kid. My parents encouraged us, because they felt it helped develop the habit of reading, period. CBA: They didn’t look down upon it? Walter: Oh, no, not at all. CBA: Did they see the content of the stories? Walter: No idea. I’m young enough to be post-EC (I was probably three or four when that stuff was coming out), so the comics that we got were fairly sedate. My parents may very well have checked the contents. I didn’t think so then but when you’re a kid, you’re not paying attention. CBA: They didn’t object. Walter: We probably bought most of ’em with our allowance, rather than having our parents buy them for us. No, it was just that they thought we should be reading, and they didn’t care what we read, my brother and I, as long as we read. I have a younger brother named Bruce, and he is now a Professor of Geology at Oberlin College in Ohio. He got into geology and stayed with it. [laughs] COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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CBA: Are you guys tight? Walter: Yes. Bruce is both my brother and one of my very best friends. I’m very proud of him. We chat every so often. CBA: Do you send him your comics work? Walter: Nah. Well, I’ve sent stuff out there once in a while but I don’t push it. On the other hand, having been a geology major, it’s kind of cool, because when he tells me what he’s doing, even though I’m way out of geology, I still retain a bit of the jargon, so I can figure out what he’s doing. Very useful. CBA: Is he your only sibling? Walter: Yes. CBA: Were you social kids? Did you play baseball? Walter: No, I was lousy at sports. I was pretty much a loner and fairly quiet, although nobody who knows me now seems to believe that. [laughter] CBA: So what happened? Walter: I don’t know… college, I guess. Apparently I got louder in college. CBA: Were you a cartoonist then? Walter: I was, actually. I did a lot of drawings. I really drew from younger than I can remember. My mom thought it was very cool. But after a while, I quit drawing, which she was sorry about. Then, when I was about four years old—these are really acquired memories because my Mom told me this stuff—I had a mild case of mononucleosis. I was wiped out and in bed for four to six weeks. Of course, as a kid, you’re bored stiff. So, my Mom—among other things—just to give me something to do, got me some paper and pencils, and I began drawing again while I was ill, and I didn’t quit after that. CBA: Was there a pile of comics next to you, and were you swiping? Walter: Oh, at that age… I don’t remember for sure, I probably didn’t have a pile of comics when I was four, I don’t have that many comics going back that far. CBA: Oh, so you were just drawing. Oct. 2000

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Walter: I was just drawing. I drew whatever interested me. (I don’t have any drawings that survived from then.) I know I wasn’t doing a lot of continuity. CBA: Was it mostly fantasy stuff? Walter: Once I got interested in dinosaurs, I drew a lot of dinosaurs, but that was third grade on. I looked at stuff, but I rarely put other peoples’ art in front of me, trying to copy what I saw— a lot of World War I bi-planes. My first effort at trying to do any kind of comic book stuff was when I was in about fifth grade, and I started off doing “The Origin of Life.” [laughter] A modest little scientific comic about how life on Earth began. I did it on that kind of yellow manila paper we all used to have in school, and I used colored pencils to color it. I tried typing the captions, because I wanted them to look neat, and I couldn’t print as well as the typewriter could. CBA: Were you like 10, 11 years old then? Walter: No more than that. I was still in elementary school, for sure. I got about a page-and-a-half done, and then I burned out. I had a book when I was a kid, about that same age, entitled From Then ’Till Now in a Golden Book format. It was a history of life on earth with a oldstyle brontosaurus on the cover. I think I was inspired by that book to do the comic book version of it. “The Origin of Life.” Looking back now, I’m amazed at my… [laughter] ambition! CBA: So, your next attempt at handmade comics, did that strike in college?

Above: Walter penciled and inked this double-page spread for an anticipated Thor storyline featuring a war between the Frost Giants and the gods, but the artist left the series before the story’s realization. This piece was featured in a Marvel Age Annual. Thor & Co. ©2000 Marvel Characters, Inc. Below: Orion detail from a Simonson trading card. Orion ©20000 DC Comics.

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edge. So, based on that meeting, I figured I’d better draw some other figures and super-heroes kicking things around. Back at school, I added some of that stuff to my portfolio, went back to New York in August, and showed my stuff to Archie. Archie looked it over, and pretty much said, “Well, this is nice. What else can you do?” Not knowing the vast gulf between Sol and Archie, their creative ways, their respective opinions, and what they were like in general, my first thought was, “Oh, my God! It’s company policy! I’m doomed! I’ll never get work!” That was my first meeting with Archie. I went down to the DC coffee room with Gerry and I was pretty depressed. I wanted to work with DC, because in ‘72, they were putting out the kind of comics I wanted to do including Jack’s Fourth World material. Marvel was putting out what I considered pretty much retread stuff. So I walked into the coffee room, and these guys, Howard and Alan and Michael and Bernie were all sitting around, and we started having a conversation. I showed them my stuff, they looked it over and seemed to like it. Michael asked if he could show it to the guy sitting behind me, Jack Adler, who was the second-in-command of production. I said “Sure,” so Jack looked it over, and he really liked it, and asked if he could show it to Carmine, who, at that time, was the publisher or editorial director at DC. Whatever. But he was the main man. I knew Carmine’s artwork, and who he was, so I said, “Hey, sure!” Jack took my book off to show it to Carmine, and I sat there talking to Bernie and the rest of them, and wondering what was going on. After about five minutes, Jack came back nearly at a run and said, “Carmine wants to see you; let’s go.” Like it was all one word! “Carminewantstoseeyouletsgo.” So, I found myself in Carmine’s office, talking about comics. I don’t remember the conversation now, except that he did ask if I was influenced by Bernie Kriegstein. At the time, I didn’t know Kriegstein’s stuff. I’m not sure I’d seen his work and I certainly hadn’t been influenced by it. CBA: You hadn’t seen “Master Race” yet? Walter: No, I don’t think so. I knew EC existed, and when I looked up Kriegstein’s work later, I could see why Carmine brought it up, because my work was very line-oriented and design-oriented and while it wasn’t much like Kriegstein’s, I understood the connection. So, we talked about comics, Carmine gave me his approval, and then he called three editors into his office—Joe Orlando, Julie Schwartz and Archie—and he made them all give me a job! [laughs] Fortunately, comics back then had back-up stories, so I got short assignments from each one of them. I got “Cyrano’s Army” from Joe, what turned out to be “UFM” from Archie (who helped us generate the job; he didn’t just hand me a script), and a Superman backup story about Krypton from Julie. I never did that third job and Julie never asked about it again, which was probably okay. I don’t think I was doing work Julie wanted to print back at the time. I did the job for Joe first, and then Archie. Gerry and I worked out the “UFM” story for SSWS. And Archie liked it enough to keep giving me a little work. I did a couple of “Battle Albums,” and a couple more back-up stories I did a little three-page Alamo story based on an actual event written by Don Krarr, a writer friend. He was doing some acting and I’ve always assumed that Don wrote comics to make a living while he pursued acting. He had a great radio voice. I kidded him that I was waiting for him to slip eventually so that his real squeaky voice would pop out someday! He wrote a nice little story about a real episode that took place at the Alamo, and I read an entire book about the Alamo prior to doing this three-page story to get some sense of the time and place. I was nuts apparently, but the art persuaded Archie I Oct. 2000

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could draw stuff besides science-fiction. I was working hard to find non-SF stories to draw. It was very clear to me early on that one of the reasons I’d gotten the “This is nice, but what else can you do?” reaction was that my samples were SF oriented. And that SF was one of the ghettos of comics. There wasn’t a lot of it around, the stuff didn’t sell all that well, and you got typed as an artist pretty quickly. They’d say, “This guy is good for SF stories, but not much else,” or “This guy’s good at Westerns but otherwise…” I saw some good artists get stuck that way. So, I tried to get work in other genres as fast as I could. CBA: I recently found a Young Love cover you did. Walter: That was a little later on, just for fun… arty decorative borders and hearts. If you’re working in one genre, it’s a nice change to do something elsewhere. But I worked hard to get other stories, and the Alamo story was the result of that. I didn’t find this out till years later but that job persuaded Archie that I could draw stuff besides SF, so when he was thinking about creating Manhunter in the back of Detective Comics (which he’d inherited from Julie), he thought of me as a possible artist. I really got the “Manhunter” gig out of this little three-page Alamo story. My secret plan had worked out just the way I was hoping it would out without my having a clue. [laughs] CBA: Were you familiar with Archie’s Warren work? Walter: Only in retrospect. I knew him from writing Iron Man when Johnny Craig drew it. CBA: So when you first met him, he was just another editor? Were you aware of his reputation? Walter: Not really. The Warren stuff I didn’t discover until Jim was cutting back on budgets, and there were some pretty wonky stories and artwork. I missed the early stuff with Archie. I knew the name and not a lot else. I hadn’t seen any Blazing Combats. I went back and bought copies later. CBA: After you’d met Archie? Walter: Yes. So, I didn’t really have a sense of who he was, but we got along very well. By the time I was doing “Manhunter,” we were really tight. Archie and his wife, Anne [T. Murphy], really helped keep me alive, because I was living by myself at the time over in Brooklyn. I can’t imagine what I was eating! I was not a cook then, I’m not a cook now. I do remember that Hamburger Helper was

Above: Detail of the Detective Comics #443 contents page by Walter Simonson, repro’d from a stat courtesy of the artist. ©2000 DC Comics.

Above: Walter draws writer, artist and subject for the 1980s Baxter reprint. Courtesy of W.S. and ©2000 DC Comics. 19-B


ing, “Hey! It ain’t your father’s Thor!” I wasn’t really trying to say, “Hey, step aside you old guys; I’m taking over now!” so much as I was attempting to engage the reader’s curiosity, “Wow, what’s going on here?” Although I was going to do my own thing, certainly I tried doing a Thor that was as true in spirit to Stan and Jack’s work as I could manage. However, I’m not Stan and Jack, I don’t channel their stuff, but I love the work they did on the character. I don’t want to do work that’s not true to the spirit of the original material. But in breaking the logo up, I wanted to suggest that we were taking off in new directions, and doing things that hadn’t been done before, which was the reason I had somebody else pick up Thor’s hammer. These days, hefting Thor’s hammer is old news; it’s been done a number of times since 1983. But it really hadn’t been done before that, and that’s one of the main reasons I did it. I’ve already mentioned that when I was reading Marvels toward the end of the ‘60s, they mostly didn’t feel like they were going new places. And that felt true for me for much of the ‘70s as well. Then Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, and John Byrne reinvented The X-Men anew from the old characters Jack and Werner Roth and other guys had done. They introduced new characters and new situations. That was at the end of the ’70s, and it took off. The title felt new. Same with Frank’s Daredevil afterwards. It felt like new possibilities were in the air. Which is what I really wanted to do with Thor; stories that Oct. 2000

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didn’t feel like you’d read them a thousand times. That’s all. That’s what I’m trying to do in comics generally. I don’t expect you to read every story I do, and think, “Wow, this is better than sliced bread!” But I really don’t want you to think, “Gee, this is the same stuff I’ve read a million times.” At the time, the Thor logo was the only logo Marvel had left unchanged from the ‘60s. Thor had the same logo since the beginning, so breaking that logo was symbolic in the sense of heralding in a new beginning. Alex Jay designed the new logo for me. He designed it, and I kind of art directed it (and that’s maybe giving me more credit than I deserve). But I did ask Alex to consider old Uncial lettering. I didn’t want to go to runes, because Viking runes are essentially straight lines designed for carving into stone. And Thor’s got an “o” in the middle of it. But I wanted to use an archaic typeface as the basis for a logo that would have a modern feel. I think Alex did an absolutely great job on it. CBA: It’s still being used. Walter: It’s come back… they got rid of it for a while, and now it’s back again, which cracks me up. CBA: When you were doing Thor there seemed to be elements of a franchise developing. Obviously it didn’t go very far, but you had the Balder miniseries going, Warriors Three, etc. Did you have a desire to expand it?

Above: Here’s Loki, Thor and Beta Ray Bill having at it in a print by Walter Simonson drawn for Mitch Itkowitz in 1986. Courtesy of the artist. Art ©2000 Walter Simonson. Characters ©2000 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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suspicious that such thoughts could easily become self-serving. And I don’t want to go around with the back of my hand nailed to my forehead, proclaiming my suffering for my Art. That’s probably the problem-solving nature of my RISD education speaking. Or perhaps an objective view after being brought up in a scientist’s home. I’d like to be commercial, because I want to have a job next week. I hope a lot of my work is commercial, but I don’t worry about it a lot either. If every comic I did folded after three issues, I’d probably sweat more. Of course, comics aren’t doing that well as a business right now, compared to what they were doing at one time but I haven’t yet begun to evaluate my work on the basis of, “Will this be a commercial job?” I don’t know how to describe it, really, in words. I might say that I work in comics because when I’m done, if I get it right, I find a deep satisfaction in the accomplishment. I probably can’t get any closer to what I do than that. When I’m done with the drawing, it rarely achieves what I saw in my mind before I laid the page out. There are two artists, Kirby and Bernie Wrightson, who I’ve seen draw, and they gave the impression that the drawing was already in their heads, that it was projected through their eyes onto the paper, and then they just traced it out. I don’t think it was really like that but it sure looked convincing. I can’t do that. When I start off, it’s like sculpting, I’m facing a blank sheet of paper and I know there’s a drawing in there somewhere, but I have to find it. I send a lot of lines flying out across that page, and I dig the drawing out of the paper, and eventually it emerges. Most of the time, the drawing as I realize it doesn’t quite match that Platonic ideal I had in my head before I began. But it’ll be close, and the closer I can get, the better I like it. Mostly, what I’m after is the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve done the best work I can do. I don’t have any jobs in my past that I regret doing; I don’t have any jobs where I felt I did less than my best work at the time. I’ve got some jobs I’m not lobbying to see reprinted, especially some early material, but I’m not embarrassed to see them again. I know what I put into them back then. One of the things about comic books, the problems always come around again. You solve some problem this week, if you don’t solve it quite right, a week from now, a month or a year from now, you’ll have to solve the same problem again. You get the chance to do it over, and you’ll do it better the next time. In the early days, when you’re young, your work improves by leaps and bounds very rapidly. I visualize it as a graph with an X/Y axis. The curve of your improvement goes shooting up towards the X axis—perfection—and then begins to flatten out. The closer it gets, the flatter it gets, but you’re improving incrementally toward infinity as you get older. Mostly as you get older, you don’t make those giant leaps you did in your youth, although some people do. In the beginning of my career, I saw all the drawings I did, the individual panels, as unique. Each one a singular piece of drawing. A woman riding a horse, a guy clocking Batman, the sunset on a jungle. Now that I’ve been doing this for a long time, I see all the work I’ve done as one big drawing, I don’t see it in pieces any more, even if it’s different books. I compose it in pieces, I put the fragments together, but now, in a sense, I have an enlarged vision, where I really see everything as a whole. I love the act of drawing itself, and perhaps my real ambition is to see this one long drawing continue to improve, so that by the time I’m done, the work at the end is going to be a lot better than the work at the beginning. I don’t talk about Art with a capital “A,” I don’t talk much about art with a small “a” either. Here’s one reason why. Bach died in 1750. Nowadays, Bach is top of the pops so to speak, but when he died, he was out of fashion. He had four sons who survived him, all composers, and they were popular. They were doing light, fluffy stuff that sounds pretty good, but it wasn’t the kind of work their dad was doing. So, for nearly 100 years, nobody cared about Bach, one of the greatest composers in Western music. Something like a third of his output was lost. I think it was Mendelssohn in the 1800s who rediscovered Bach’s compositions and said, “Who is this guy?”, began digging out his work, and Bach was re-discovered. But if somebody like Mendelssohn hadn’t come along, or if more of his work had been thrown away, one of the greatest composers we’ve got would remain unappreciated, probably remembered as an oldstyle, old-fashioned kind of guy. Who knew? Oct. 2000

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CBA Interview

John’s Workmanship Artist? Letterer? Art Director? Just What Does the Guy Not Do? Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson A self-described man of many hats, John Workman may not be a familiar name in fan circles, but the guy goes way back in the comics industry—well, at least to the mid-1970s when he joined the production staff at DC Comics. A memorable art director (and de facto co-editor) during the glory years of Heavy Metal, and an insightful commentator on the state of the art form, John has also been Walter Simonson’s choice as letterer on many, many Simonson comics projects. We conducted a long interview with John in his New Jersey studio on July 12, 2000, but will be only using a very small portion of that wide-ranging talk as we hope to include a definitive, more complete Workman interview in our upcoming Comic Book Artist Annual #1, due to arrive next Summer, featuring a comprehensive look at the comics of National Lampoon and Heavy Metal. But because John’s lettering so complements Walter’s work on Thor and Orion, we couldn’t resist having a talk with him. John copyedited the transcript.

Below: John Workman’s Warner Communications identification card from his stint as DC Comics’ employee in the 1980s. This is about the best shot we could get out of him! Courtesy of John Workman.

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Comic Book Artist: Where are you from? John Workman: I was born in West Virginia, and I lived there until I was six years old. My dad was a coal miner, and he loved it! [laughter] I never could quite understand that. Oh, he loved going down in the ground and digging up coal! CBA: Did he do it for a long period of time? John: Until I was six, when the mines closed. He taught me something I’ve always remembered. I remember the look on his face when he realized that this job that he really loved was over, and so I’ve always thought of life and work as a situation where you’re out in the middle of a river, standing on a rock, and you’ve got to move to another rock, because the rock you’re on is starting to sink. I’ve always tried to be able to leap to another rock, just at the right time. Another thing that my dad did that I’ll always remember is the time when he got a piece of paper and he sat down, and he drew a picture of our car. I thought, “Wow! This is kind of neat! You can take something that’s real, and filter it through your own mind, and bring it out on paper!” So I started drawing after that, and I started writing these hokey little stories. But I didn’t put the two together! I would draw, and I would write, but I didn’t do comics. It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that I realized that you could put these two things together. CBA: How would you characterize yourself? John: The best advice that I ever got was from Basil Wolverton. He told me to learn to do everything. So I guess I’m the guy who at least tried to learn to do everything. I think the most fun I’ve had working in comics was when I was art director at Heavy Metal magazine, where I did everything: Edited, wrote, drew, colored, color separated, laid-out advertisements, designed covers and interior pages, and worked with artists on both foreign and American material. I was there for seven years, from 1977 through ‘84. CBA: About lettering, is it as time-consuming as any job? Does it fill up your day? John: I’ve found that something that should take an hour will magically use up three hours. I try to be efficient about what I do. Maybe

I’m slowing down, too. It seems to take longer on a lot of this stuff than it used to. Yeah, I get plenty of work, for the most part. Not like a few years ago; there were times then when I might have 200 pages lying around. Right now, I think I’ve got about 30 on hand. CBA: How many do you do a day? John: I try to do about eight, but I don’t always make that. I did five today, for instance.[laughs] Well, I’ve kind of goofed around a bit today. I’ll do probably one or two more before I hit the sack tonight. CBA: [Looking at a Wolverton original on the wall] Have you met Basil Wolverton? John: Yeah. I went to Clark College for a little while, and Basil Wolverton lived in Vancouver. I called him up, and went out to see him. He had the greatest sense of humor, and he could pull your leg like nobody could. He had me believing that he lived in a tent at the side of the highway. [laughs] I remember the first time that I saw him, it was like meeting an insurance salesman. [laughter] He wore a suit all the time! [laughter] He looked like anything but what he was. He had this wild imagination and all that… CBA: He’s a freelance artist, working at home, and he wore a suit? John: Every time! [laughter] I didn’t see him once when he wasn’t wearing a suit. I remember just seeing his wife very quickly, and then we’d sort of sit down and talk comics. He’d tell me these wonderful stories. He said of all the publishers that he’d dealt with over the years, one of the nicest was Jim Warren. He really liked Warren and got along well with him. So, I always wondered when people would tell me these outrageous stories. CBA: Did you visit Basil with any regularity over time? John: Oh, maybe four or five times when I was down there, and we wrote back and forth. Of course, the war in Vietnam was a big thing at that time, but we talked about everything but the war in Vietnam. Here’s this guy, he seems to be conservative. And, of course, he worked for the religious magazines. And I thought, “He must be a very conservative person, I’m not even going to mention Vietnam.” I was doing editorial cartoons and other things for a college paper. Of course, I was minoring in journalism, so I had to write actual articles,too. But I covered a really moving war protest at that time. These people met very peaceably, hundreds of them, and they lit candles, one candle for every person—every man, woman, nurse, soldier, whatever—from the area who had been killed in the war up to that time. A friend of mine, Gary Davis—he and I were going to college together then—took the photos, and I can’t remember if I wrote an article on that, or just kind of was there, but the next day, I went to see Basil Wolverton. When we began talking, he asked, “Were you at that protest last night?” I said, “Yeah, I covered it for the paper.” Basil said, “I should’ve gone.” Then I found out his feelings about the war. He was even against World War II! It was quite a surprise. Just a really kind, good person. I really liked him. With a strange sense of humor! We kind of lost touch… I stopped by to see him one time in 1976, and I guess he was ill at the time. But he liked comics, and he was very encouraging. He let me know that there was nothing specific that he could do to get me work as a comics artist. He couldn’t say to an editor or publisher, “Hey, use this John Workman guy!” It was all up to me. He told me one thing that was probably the most important advice that I ever got. He said, “Learn to do everything.” At that time, oh! I was so incredibly dumb. I thought I didn’t have to know anything about printing and all that. The college I was going to had the greatest printing classes, and I thought, “I don’t need those, I’m going to write and pencil and ink and all that other stuff.” COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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My lettering was horrible at that time, and I did take a class in calligraphy, which didn’t help me one bit. [laughter] I learned to letter by taking an old issue of Comic Calvacade from 1946 and going through and… “Oh, that’s the way they make a W,” and I’d do 900 “W’s” in order to get it down. I stole mercilessly from John Costanza and Ben Oda. CBA: Why were you pursuing lettering? To say, “Well, that’s another skill I can do”? John: Partially because of Wolverton’s advice, and partially because I wanted my stuff to really look like comics. I’d draw what I thought was an acceptable page, and then I’d mess it up with this lousy lettering, much too big and gawky and slanting backwards.. I remember in 1969, I bought my first page of original artwork at the Seuling convention. CBA: So you were published in Star*Reach in the mid-’70s. That was your first major exposure? John: That was how I felt, yeah. CBA: You had gone to the Seuling con in New York, cognizant of the community, with Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. Does that lead directly to a job at DC Comics? John: Kind of in a roundabout way. Bob Smith and I got here, I remember, on a Sunday in late July of 1975. We checked into this fleabag hotel out on Staten Island, and on Monday, we came in and went to Neal’s studio. It was amazing. There was Larry Hama—of course, I was aware of him—and several other people. The thing that I remember most was that Neal, when I shook his hand, said, “Oh, come on, shake hands!” and he made me sort of grip his hand and really shake it. He and Dick looked over our stuff, and they took us out to lunch, and it was… oh, I don’t know if Dick was along, but I remember Larry and Mike Friedrich. At some point, somebody came in and said Vaughn Bodé was dead, which was a real surprise. I really admired Bodé’s stuff. After lunch, Larry took us up to Marvel, where we met Archie Goodwin. Bob Smith and I just admired the heck out of Archie, and evidently he was just going over the Marvel sales figures and they were dismal. (They’d be wonderful now, but they were dismal at that time.) So Archie really couldn’t offer us anything, but we hung around and talked to him. Marie Severin came in, and she was so nice! You’ve never met a more wonderful person. She was just so kind to us, and they started kind of talking a little bit more to us, and before we knew it, they had stuff for us to do. Archie dug out some Crazy material… CBA: Did you just hang around until there was work? John: I don’t know what caused it, [laughter] they just liked us for some reason! CBA: Why did you make the jump to DC? John: After Bob and I got that little bit of artwork to do for Archie at Marvel, Larry Hama took us down to DC. He had some sort of feud going with them at the time, so he wouldn’t actually take us into DC, but he said, “You can go in there, up to that floor.” So, we did, and we saw Sol Harrison that day. Sol looked at our stuff, but he held our artwork as if it were soiled toilet paper, and he had nothing for us, so he said, “Well, go talk to Joe Orlando. Maybe he has something.” We went and talked to Joe, and I swear, Joe was asleep. What I didn’t know at the time was that Joe worked all the time. He was working, on the side, on these internationally-created comics aimed at a Black audience in South Africa. I worked with him later on those things. But Joe was so tired, he barely remembered that we were there. He kind of apologized about this later on, but he looked at our stuff, and we were so disappointed to not get anything from DC. I went to Continuity the next day, and we did a few things for Neal, including working on a Charlton Six Million Dollar Man magazine that I’d almost forgotten about. I had started to write a Plastic Man story when we were still out in Washington, and Bob had actually drawn the first page of it, and I’d lettered it, and I think he’d inked all of it. So, we figured, “Let’s show that to Gerry Conway.” So I called up and made an appointment with Gerry Conway, and we showed up at the time that we were supposed to be there, and the receptionist said, “He’s in a meeting, you’ll have to wait.” So we sat there, in the reception area, and Bob Rozakis came out. Bob had seen us that day, too, when we saw Sol and Joe. Both he and Jack Harris had looked at our stuff, and they really liked it. Bob said, “Oh, Oct. 2000

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you guys back again? Who are you here to see?” I said, “Conway.” Bob said, “Oh, he’s not doing anything, come on!” So we followed him down the hallway, and we walked right past Gerry Conway, who was in his office talking to a writer. I thought, “Wait a minute,” and I looked where Bob was taking us, and on the door it said, “Carmine Infantino.” I thought, “Carmine… Conway… huh?!?” I said, “Oh, no, no, no, no!” He said, “Oh, come on! He’s not doing anything!” We went in, and got hired because of my mumbling! Carmine looked at our stuff, and he told us that we reminded him of the days when he and Frank Giacoia would go around in the ‘40s [laughter] and show their stuff, and he hired us both that day. CBA: Can you describe Bob Smith? Is he tall? John: Mike Friedrich once called us the Mutt ‘n’ Jeff of the Northwest. [laughter] Bob is around six feet tall, kind of lean, and here I am, several inches down there from that… Bob worked for DC for over 20 years, he’s working now for Archie for the most part, inking for them. I worked for DC for two years, and it was enjoyable. It got boring in some ways. If you’ve done the art corrections and the lettering corrections on one book, you’ve pretty much done them all. But we had great times there, Steve Mitchell sat behind me, and we would talk movies all day long. We came up with this game of lines from movies, so one of us would throw out a line and the other one

Above: In keeping with this section’s “God” theme, here’s the Asgardian Lady Sif, posing in a Workman-penciled and Sinnottinked pin-up. ©2000 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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WOMEN & THE COMICS: A CELEBRATION!


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TWOMORROWS GUEST EDITORIAL: WHY A WOMEN’S ISSUE OF CBA? JOHN & PAM MORROW

Guest editor and comics legend Trina Robbins answers the question ..................................................................3

Guest Editor TRINA ROBBINS

UNABASHED PLUG DISCUSSION: WORDS OF THE STREETWISE Sergio Aragonés, Nick Cardy, Evan Dorkin, Scott Shaw!, and Walter Simonson on their Streetwise stories ..........4

Contributing Editors ROY THOMAS JOHN MORROW Proofreader JOHN MORROW Cover Art ANNE TIMMONS Cover Color CHRISTOPHER BUTCHER Production JON B. COOKE GREAT SWAMP GRAPHICS Transcribers JON B. KNUTSON BRIAN K. MORRIS Logo Designer/ Title Originator ARLEN SCHUMER Mascot WOODY by J.D. King Issue Theme Song EVERY KINDA PEOPLE Robert Palmer

MARGINALIA: GOSSAMER WHITE, FILLED WITH FRIGHT David A. Roach examines those odd early-’70s artifacts: The rise and fall of Gothic Romance comics ................7 WOMEN AND THE COMICS: A CELEBRATION TRINA ROBBINS INTERVIEW: WOMAN OF WONDER Our regular editor gets in a talk with our guest editor about her life in comics ....................................................8 CBA ROUNDTABLE: THE GREAT WOMEN CARTOONISTS’ SLUMBER PARTY OF 1999 Trina, Marie Severin and Ramona Fradon talk shop about their days in the comics biz ......................................20 MARIE SEVERIN INTERVIEW: MARY FLEENER TALKS TO SEVERIN The noted alternative artist chats with the renowned Marvel cartoonist & EC colorist........................................42 CBA COMMENTARY: WHAT DOES A WHITE DYKE WRITE LIKE? Borderlands and borders in Roberta Gregory’s Bitchy Bitch and Alison Bechdel’s Dykes To Watch Out For ........50 HILDA TERRY INTERVIEW: “YOU DON’T DIE!” Teena’s creator talks to Trina Robbins about her comic strip career and past lives ..............................................54 FROM THE VAULT: TARPE MILLS, MISS FURY AND ALBINO JO Trina on the life and work of the artist with an exclusive peek at the unpublished Miss Fury graphic novel ......60 CBA COMMENTARY: CATWOMAN VS. HOTHEAD PAISAN—HEROES IN A MAN’S WORLD? Olga Abella examines two current female comics characters and how they reflect our world ............................62 WALTER SIMONSON INTERVIEW: THE MAN OF TWO GODS Our special flip section features talks with the artist and John Workman of Thor & Orion fame ..............FLIP US!

Background image characters all ©2000 their respective copyright holders.

COMIC BOOK ARTIST™ is published bi-monthly by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. 919-833-8092. Jon B. Cooke, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892-0204 USA • 401-783-1669 • Fax: 401-783-1287. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT the editorial office. Single issues: $6.95 ($9.00 Canada, $10.00 elsewhere). Yearly subscriptions: $30 US, $42 Canada, $54 elsewhere. First Printing. All characters are © their respective owners. All material is © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter is © their respective authors. ©2000 Jon B. Cooke/TwoMorrows. PRINTED IN CANADA. Cover acknowledgement: Wonder Woman ©2000 DC Comics, GoGirl ©2000 Trina Robbins. Used with permission.

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CBA Interview

Trina, Woman of Wonder The artist/author talks about her life in comix & comics Conducted by Jon B. Cooke Transcribed by Brian K. Morris In a field where most stick to one area of expertise, Trina Robbins is all over the place… the ardent feminist artist/writer has been an underground cartoonist (since 1967), editor, commentator, advocate, mainstream comics creator, and historian, always promoting the participation of women in comics and working to increase female readership. CBA thanks Trina for being this issue’s guest editor and allowing us to interview her via phone on May 24, 2000. This transcript was copy-edited by Trina.

Above: Trina’s first stint as an editor came with It Ain’t Me Babe Comix, 1970, the first all-women comix anthology. Daringly, the cover featured copyrighted characters Olive Oyl, Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel, Little Lulu, Sheena, and Elsie the Cow on the cover. ©2000 the respective copyright holders.

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Comic Book Artist: Where are you from? Trina Robbins: Queens, New York, South Ozone Park, which is the pits. If you ever saw All in the Family in the ’70s, that’s supposed to be where they lived. So that should tell you about my neighborhood. CBA: What kind of upbringing did you have? Trina: It was a mostly working class Irish and Italian Catholic neighborhood and we were the only Jews within miles. Plus, everybody was very politically conservative and we were radicals, so I stuck out like a sore thumb. CBA: Your father was a Socialist? Trina: Definitely. He was a Yiddish writer, which is a way to be even more obscure than an underground cartoonist. CBA: For the local papers? Trina: There were no local Yiddish papers in Queens, believe me. [chuckles] But there was one, I believe, that came out either in Brooklyn or Manhattan. He wrote for that. CBA: Did you have a lot of newspapers with comic strips coming into the house? Trina: Father bought The New York Times which, of course, had no comics and he bought this newspaper that was, indeed, quite left wing and it kept changing its name. It was named P.M., The Star, and The Compass but it was always the same newspaper. It just changed its name and it carried The Spirit section. So I got to grow up with Will Eisner’s The Spirit which was great. It carried the ones comics scholars argue were the best comics put out in the ’50s. It also carried Barnaby and Pogo. CBA: So you had exposure to the Good Stuff? Trina: Yes, but I just loved comics, period. The landlady who lived downstairs would get the other newspapers that carried the comics like the Journal-American or the Daily News (papers which my father wouldn’t allow in the house). Those were right wing rags. But the

landlady would put her papers out for recycling and I would steal the comic sections, bring them all home, read them in one lump and then put them back in her pile. So I got to read those comics too. CBA: Were comic books always around? Trina: Well, my sister was reading comics so they really were kind of always around. I used to see her read the teen comics I absolutely adore now—you know, those Timely teen comics like Patsy Walker and the others. It was through reading her Patsy Walkers that I discovered these great comics and soon was buying them myself. CBA: Do you recall encountering Wonder Woman? Trina: You know, I don’t remember where I first encountered Wonder Woman, but I sure bought the title, and I always bought Sensation Comics. I bought anything she was in but I remember being very disappointed with Sensation because there was only one Wonder Woman story and all the rest were a bunch of guys and they were very boring. So there I was, squandering my 10¢ on just a single Wonder Woman story. CBA: An important point you raised in From Girls to Grrrlzs was that the demographics of comics readership was, in the late ’40s, the majority of comics readers were female. Trina: Into the 1950s, also. Well, of course, that was because of those great teen comics and love comics which were really very popular. I didn’t buy the love comics because I was one of the smart kids; only the dumb girls read them. But the fact is that I would borrow them from the girls considered dumb and read them anyway. I read them under the desk in school. So even though I didn’t buy them, that way I could tell myself I was a smart kid and not a dumb girl. [laughter] And I’m still reading them. They were irresistible and they are still irresistible. Ask anyone who collects them today! CBA: I’ve been exposed to Kirby’s work for over 30 years but only recently have I discovered his great romance work. Trina: Oh, they’re fabulous, but no one talks about them. Well, I think I read one guy who talked about those books as though they were a really low point in Jack Kirby’s life. But, oh God, they were beautiful, with Joe Simon’s inking, of course. They were the perfect team, just wonderful. I’m probably going to get drummed out of the industry for saying this, but I don’t think that Jack Kirby’s ever been as good with another inker as he was with Joe Simon. CBA: So the mature subject matter of the romance books didn’t turn you off; you just secretly read them? Trina: Oh, yeah. Sure, I loved it. You know, it wasn’t all that mature, as you know. They would have provocative titles, you know, like “Back Street Girl.” But you know, nothing ever really happened. CBA: [laughter] Right! All the action was in the title. Did you pick up the pencil and start drawing from the word go? Trina: I was drawing as long as I could hold a crayon. I’ve always been drawing. And at about the age of nine or ten, I started drawing comics. I would just take an 8 1⁄ 2”x11” sheet of white paper, fold it in half, and then I had four pages. And I would do a four-page comic, you know. And I would start from the beginning, you know, like kids do when they don’t know how exactly, how you’re supposed to do it. You just do it panel by panel. CBA: And what kind of strips did you draw? Trina: Well, I can remember two of them. One of them was a jungle girl that I called Green Goddess because I had heard about Green Goddess Salad Dressing. And I thought, “Wow! A Green Goddess. That’s really cool!” So I had my jungle girl going into this temple and there’s this Green Goddess. I mean, the story was pretty simple. The jungle girl says, “Why, she’s green.” And the Goddess immediately COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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points a long fingernail at her followers and says, “Kill her!” You know, classic comic book stuff. The jungle girl has to fight all the bad guys. Somehow, the Green Goddess disappears in a puff of smoke and that’s the ending. [laughter] The other one was, I guess, a love comic, but I’m not sure. I think it was based on those comics that weren’t necessarily romances but were like girl’s adventures. For a while, Timely put out this great series blatantly called Girl Comics, and they weren’t so much love comics as real stories of adventures for girls. One was “I Was a Spy For the Communists.” The male leads might just as easily been the girl’s brother or her father who she saves from a train wreck. Mine was called “Liar!” because my heroine just lied her way into jobs, but then it caught up with her because she was working for this really important government position. She brought these papers home with her to work on because she didn’t want to finish them at work and they got stolen and she lied about it and, of course, she wound up in prison. That was the basic story. [laughter] CBA: So what did you do with the stories? Did you share them around the neighborhood? Trina: I must have kept them, you know. I remember the end of “Liar!,” with her standing there, clutching the bars with either hand, and staring through the bars, saying, “Don’t be like me. Always tell the truth!” CBA: [laughter] Simon & Kirby were an influence on you. Did you have encouragement at home for drawing? Trina: Oh God, yes. I had very supportive parents. My mother was a teacher and she taught me to read at the age of four, in fact. And the house was just filled with books. I was never told “Don’t be a writer; don’t be an artist. You have to get married and have kids.” I was never told that. CBA: You, obviously, had an attraction for not only girl comics, but empowered female protagonists? Trina: Oh, totally. I didn’t know when I was a kid reading comics that women weren’t empowered. It really came as a shock to me. [laughter] CBA: You didn’t realize a gender gap? Trina: Yeah, I didn’t know. Comics women could do anything. I didn’t know that in the Real World women couldn’t. CBA: When did the startling realization come through? Trina: It was in high school. CBA: So your parents obviously didn’t look down upon you reading comics. Trina: No, because I read everything. I wasn’t going to face “Oh, she’s only reading comics and not reading good books” because I read everything. I read every book in the house and used up the local public library. I never stopped reading. CBA: Were there particular authors you were interested in as a kid? Were they serial books like Nancy Drew? Trina: I definitely read Nancy Drew. I read any books with female heroines. One of them that I have never forgotten: My mother kept the books that she had as a girl. I read them too and they tended to be girls adventures. Of course, The Bobbsey Twins. But even earlier than Nancy Drew, and one of them that I have never forgotten and I’m still looking for this series—I would be just thrilled if I could even find one book in this series—the Maxie series. Maxie was the heroine and she was a high school-age girl, a young teenager. But she was a girl explorer. Her parents had been explorers and they had been lost in the jungles. I can’t remember now whether they were lost in Australia or the Congo or where, but they were lost somewhere. They disappeared in the jungle and so she was living with her parents’ best friends who were Venezuelans. She lived in Venezuela with this family, even though she was American, and they had a daughter who was Maxie’s age and was her best friend. Her name was Petra. So Maxie and Petra would have these great adventures, go everywhere, like when Maxie went to London. In one of the stories, Maxie actually goes back to the jungle where her parents disappeared and finds them. They were captured by Pygmies and the mother is being worshiped as a white goddess by the tribe. It would be considered racist today but who knew from racism? And she’s kept the father hidden because if the Pygmies knew about him, they would kill him. And she’s given birth to twins but she’s also had to Oct. 2000

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keep them hidden. So Maxie rescues them all and winds up with an infant brother and sister. [laughter] I loved those books so much. They were so great. And these were, like, even earlier because they’d been my mother’s. And they never said that a girl couldn’t do this. CBA: How many brothers and sisters do you have? Trina: Just one, a big sister. CBA: Were you two close? Trina: Oh, I adored and worshiped her and, of course, she thought I was a little pest. It’s the traditional big sister/little sister situation. But I got to read her comics. CBA: [laughter] Were you just specifically looking out for girls comics or did you read everything? Trina: Well, in Queens in those days, you could get comics at the corner candy store. There would be a rack that said, “Hey, kids! Comics!” And I would look at them all and immediately the ones that had guys in them like Superman and Batman, and all the others, just would bore me to tears. Just looking at them I would get bored. Instant boredom. So I just automatically went to the titles with female leads. CBA: Did you swap comics in the neighborhood? Trina: Oh, yes. Oh, absolutely. So many more kids read comics in those days than now. In fact, I think every single kid I knew read comics. In our local grade school, on the last day of school (which meant you’d taken all your tests and everything was really done and you just had to pick up your report card), the tradition was kids could bring in their comic books and trade comics right there in the classroom. I’ll tell you that an awful lot of the boys read Archie. You know, it wasn’t just girls reading those comics.

Above: Trina poses for cartoonist Melinda Gebbie at a 1973 Wimmen’s Comix meeting. Courtesy of Trina Robbins.

Below: It’s Trina with infant daughter Casey (and unidentified feline) in a 1970 photo. Courtesy of Trina.

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was the adventure that overall attracted you. It wasn’t merely the fact they were females. Trina: The fanboys of today, the young guys who are reading comics are not necessarily looking for the adventure, they are looking for violence. And there’s a difference between adventure and violence. They’re not interested in characters like Chance because she’s 13 years old and doesn’t wear size 44D cups. CBA: Right. Well, they ain’t supposed to be the audience, anyway, hopefully. [laughter] Trina: Yeah, but the trouble is, you see, that books like Leave It To Chance, as long as the only place they’re carried is in comic book stores, they are not reaching their audience. That’s why we have to find another method of distribution. If we’re going to do these books, we have to reach our audience and you can’t reach that audience in comic book stores. CBA: So do you see book stores as the answer? Trina: It certainly is one answer. Graphic novels sold in book stores is a definite answer. But another is, look, Archie has survived all this while and you can get Archie Digests at the checkout stand in Safeway. Now, how come they know this and the other publishers don’t know this? CBA: Maybe it has to do with the fact it’s so hard to get that coveted rack space? Trina: But other people can do it. Hard, schmard. What’s wrong with hard? The industry has redesigned itself and reconfigured itself before. We just have to do it again. Hard is not an answer. If that’s the excuse, what kind of excuse is that? “Hey, I didn’t do my homework because it was so hard.” You know, that’s not an excuse. That’s absurd. CBA: Touché. [laughter] So let’s fight for that space. What’s in the future for you, Trina? Trina: Well, I just finished and sent off to the publisher my most recent book, which is a biography of a forgotten woman illustrator/cartoonist who was a superstar at the early part of the 20th century. Her name was Nell Brinkley and she was nationally syndicated by the Hearst papers. And she made news, no matter what she did. She was really a superstar. She had popular songs written about her in 1908 and 1909. They did her characters in the Ziegfeld Follies and she’s now just been completely forgotten. CBA: What was her strip? Trina: It wasn’t a strip. She did a daily panel. It was, like, just a drawing although in the ’20s, she actually did things that had continuity and had panels. But mostly what she did was a daily panel and commentary beneath it. And her commentary itself is interesting because it really tells you about the state of things, it was very woman-oriented and her biggest fans were women. And you can really see the change in American woman in her commentary. And her art was incredible, there’s no way around it. Her art was just stupendous, absolutely gorgeous. And the women she drew were so beautiful. They were called the Brinkley Girls and they were considered to have superceded the Gibson Girls. And yet everyone still knows about the Gibson Girls but they’ve forgotten the Brinkley Girls. So I Above: Cover to Trina’s new title, GoGirl. ©2000 Trina Robbins. wrote her biography. CBA: And you have a comic book coming out? Trina: Yes, GoGirl!. Thanks for bringing it up. That’ll be out in August and it’s going to be a quarterly. It’s coming out from Image Comics and advance reaction has been so incredibly encouraging. People who have seen it just loved it. It’s drawn by Anne Timmons who basically draws the way I would draw if I could draw better. [laughter] So I found the perfect artist. The whole team is very good. They’re really into it, they’re just very enthusiastic about what they’re doing. The colorist who is only coloring the covers because it’s black-&-white interiors is Chris Butcher and he did coloring for Evil and Malice which is the same kind of coloring I want—really nice and bright. And the letterer is not just the letterer, he’s also the designer, a computer genius and that’s Sean Glumace. He’s really good. CBA: What’s the premise of the strip? Trina: GoGirl! is—surprise!—a teenage girl. Her mom was a super-heroine in the ’70s called Go-Go Girl who wore the white boots and the little white mini-dress. Then she got married and her husband felt threatened by having a wife who could fly so she stopped being a super-heroine in order to raise a baby Oct. 2000

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GoGirl Artist

Anne Timmons An E-Chat with Our Splendid Cover Artist Comic Book Artist: Anne, where are you from? Anne Timmons: Vancouver, Washington CBA: When did you get interested in comics? Anne: I got interested in comics with the Sunday comics. I loved the color!!! My favorites were Blondie, Prince Valiant, Peanuts, Apartment 3-G, Winnie Winkle, half a dozen more. When I was nine, I got my first comic book, Little Dot. I also enjoyed Archie and science-fiction comics, too. CBA: When did you start seeking a career as a professional artist? Anne: I have illustrated for a number of projects over the past years. Some were for educational software and others for advertising. One was for a children’s book. I haven’t been doing comic books for very long, although it seems to me like an eternity! I started sending samples to publishers about six years ago. My first paid gig was for a Star Trek comic that I illustrated for Malibu Comics [Deep Space Nine Special #1]. At that time, I was a little more familiar with the show than I was with superheroes. CBA: What were your aspirations in the field? Anne: I wanted to illustrate comics like Apartment 3-G or a story about a costume designer who worked in the movie industry. I figured that way I could draw all kinds fascinating people and backgrounds. I still would like to do a project like that someday, I think it would be a blast! CBA: Can you describe your professional experience? Anne: I’ve had the opportunity to work beside some really great people in the field. Last year I shared studio space with a group of artists in Portland, Oregon. We worked together on a couple of projects [CHIX] and I learned how a comic book is put together. CBA: Did you perceive any bias as a woman artist? Anne: I’m asked that a lot and I can tell you that sometimes when people ask me that, they think my answer is probably, “yes.” I like to put people at ease. I‘ve had the fortunate experience of getting a lot of support from both men and women creators. CBA: Any opinion on the continuing objectification of women in the “bad girl/good girl” comics which continue to proliferate? Anne: I think comics need to continue with more diversity. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on GoGirl. Most people really understand that it is targeted for a particular audience, young readers and both parent and child can pick it up and read it together. I would like to see the comic book industry produce more books like this. Television is certainly not all for one type of audience. Comics should not have one kind of audience either. It should have something for everybody. CBA: What was the genesis of GoGirl? Anne: Trina and I met at a San Diego Comic Book convention. She was giving a slide show on her book A Century of Women 17


CBA Roundtable

The Great Women Cartoonists’ Ramona Fradon, Marie Severin and Trina Robbins Conducted by Trina Robbins Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson Below: Trina Robbins in a photo courtesy of the artist.

Below: From left to right, here is Marie Severin and Ramona Fradon in a picture taken by Trina. Courtesy of Ms. Robbins.

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In September, 1999, Marie Severin, Ramona Fradon and your guest editor got together in New York City to spend the weekend at the house of a friend and we recorded the event. I brought along the traditional accouterments of a slumber party: blue and green nail polish and cheap hair ornaments, while the more sophisticated Ms Fradon and Severin contributed wine. Ramona and Marie did most of the talking, with me popping in occasionally as agent provocateur. The start of the tape catches us already in mid-conversation… — TR Trina Robbins: Ramona, you were saying something about…? Marie Severin: The people there in production, stuff would come back from Chemical [the printing company] and if you were around, you could swipe something. Trina: And what people swiped, it was just because they wanted the art? There was no market then, was there? Marie: They wanted it for themselves. There were always collectors in comics and they usually worked in the industry. They managed to swipe art wherever it wasn’t nailed down; in warehouses where newspaper and comic book art usually was stored. In the 1960s, the

field was filling up with talent who were intense fans… the value was becoming known to a growing number. One older pro, rumor has it, walked out of the office with art before it was printed! Ramona Fradon: Some people were smart, they knew what they had, whereas I didn’t know from anything. Trina: In the beginning, was your work ever returned to you? Ramona: The Aquaman [art was] returned for a while, then they stopped doing it. Trina: And it didn’t even occur to you to ask, right? Marie: Where would you put them? Ramona: That’s right. Exactly. They were just meaningless stuff that you kept grinding out. But then, they began to return them…. Marie: You’re talking the ’70s, right? Ramona: Yeah, the ’70s. I think the thing that upsets me more than anything else are people who come and ask you for your autograph, and then they go sell it at an auction. That really upsets me! Not that I want to sell my autograph, but I don’t like to think that every part of me is a commodity that somebody’s going to snatch off and sell! Trina: So you have discovered this is happening? Ramona: Yeah. Somebody showed me one they bought at an auction, and I saw another one auctioned off at a convention. And one time I gave my work to a woman’s brother who was at Yale, and he was going to sell some drawings for me. Well, I never saw those drawings again, or any money. Every once in a while, somebody brings one of them to show me. I suppose that’s the way people feel who are in any kind of public life, they get parts of them taken away and sold. Marie: Oh, recording artists, it’s the same thing. Ramona: Oh, yeah, that’s even worse, sure. Trina: A question: Can we refuse to do free art, for that reason? Ramona: Well, I’d do it for kids, you know, when they come up. Marie: Oh, but the kids might be the very ones who are doing this! Ramona: Yeah, probably! [laughs] Smart little buggers! Marie: Kirby one time at a convention—I’d heard this story—that a little kid came up to him, a real cute little kid, and asked, “Please, could I have a drawing?” and Kirby did a little fast sketch… anything he did was great, you know? A half-hour later, the kid comes back, and he says, “See? I colored it!” Ramona: Well, I wouldn’t mind that, I really wouldn’t! Although, as you know… Trina: On the other hand, he means well, instead of taking it and selling it. Ramona: Yeah, exactly. Trina: He cared enough to color it. Ramona: I think that’s great. Marie: He’s not the normal fan, though. It’s not like he turned the corner and said, “How much do you want for it?” [laughter] Trina: But I know someone called my attention to some little Wonder Woman sketch I had done for someone at a convention was up for auction on eBay. I don’t even remember who I did it for, and personally, it was a lousy sketch. When I draw at conCOMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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Slumber Party of 1999! Talk About Their Experiences in Comics ventions, I’m not that good. Ramona: It’s hard, because you’ve got that noise. That’s why I like to bring pre-drawn sketches. Marie: Same here. Ramona: And if they see something they’d like that’s already been sold, and I have a Xerox, I’d say, “If you’re coming back tomorrow, I’ll do it tonight at my hotel.” Marie: Take an order, yeah. Trina: Some guys can do it, and at auctions and conventions, these guys will get up and do it… in front of everyone, these incredible finished drawings! Marie: I can do it, but when I get away, I see it’s completely cockeyed. But most of the audience doesn’t care. Ramona: Oh, I sat and watched you at that convention drawing, and you draw effortlessly. It just comes tumbling… Marie: But sometimes it’s cockeyed. Ramona: Oh, it looks great. You really can do that. Marie: Well, I’ve done it in classrooms and halls a lot. Ramona: Well, you’re just good at it. She’s a performer. Marie: Oh, I’m a show-off. [laughter] Trina: So, Ramona, in the early days, nobody even asked for their work back? Ramona: As far as I know, they didn’t. Well, we were all so anonymous, we never had our name on anything, it was just total anonymity. I happen to think it made for some of the richness of comics in those days, because when you’re sitting all by yourself in a room, you’re going to think of things that you’re not going to think of if you think the whole world’s looking. You almost felt there was no audience, that’s the way I felt. Marie: I never experienced that. Ramona: Really? See, my father wanted me to be a fashion artist, out in the open in New York Times Lord & Taylor ads, that kind of thing. But when I went into comics, I had a very strong feeling of relief that this was anonymous, that nobody knew that I was doing this, they weren’t going to see my work, no adults were going to, that the public wouldn’t be aware of it. Trina: Not like you were proud of your work? Ramona: No, I was always embarrassed. I still am, I can’t stand to see my stuff in print. Marie: You always feel it wasn’t good enough? Ramona: Yeah. I never wanted anybody to look at it. Trina: Oh, Ramona, that’s not true. You’re an excellent… Ramona: I mean, one part of my brain knows that, I just hate to have… I mean, I think I’m over that now, fairly well, but I used to draw with one hand covering the drawing, [laughs] because I was so embarrassed by it. Marie: Oh, Ramona, it’s awful that you should feel that way. It should be enjoyable! Ramona: No, I don’t think I ever drew… now, when I’m drawing, I enjoy it. When people ask me to do drawings, and I draw what I want, I really enjoy it. But I don’t think I ever enjoyed it before that. It was something I was supposed to be doing, because my father wanted me to be an artist. So I did it. Went to art school, I had no idea why I was in art school, and I had no idea what I was going to do when I got out of art school. Marie: Both of us, I didn’t have that much ambition, and you… Ramona: I didn’t have any! Marie: You didn’t have any? Ramona: No, zero. Oct. 2000

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Marie: But you are proud of your work, aren’t you? Ramona: Well, I like what I’m doing now. Yeah, I look back on some of it… I keep the good stuff, you know? [laughter] Marie: Well, you have to! Ramona: I’ve gotten rid of all my other… it’s buried in the attic. Trina: Well, I was just going to say, can I have the bad stuff? [laughs] Marie: Yeah! I mean, people want it, there must be a lot to be said for it. Ramona: Well, for my own benefit, I just take out the good ones, and then I look at them and say, “Gee, I was really good, wasn’t I?” [laughs] And I don’t look at the bad ones. Marie: Yeah. Ramona: There are an awful lot of them. Marie: But you see the ambition in women is—at least, I find—is much less, usually.

Below: Very fondly recalled by many a Silver Age Fradon fan, here’s a recent pencil portrait by Ramona of the Metamorpho crew. Art ©2000 Ramona Fradon. Characters ©2000 DC Comics.

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Above: Ramona’s cover art (with Charles Paris inks) to the debut of Metamorpho in The Brave and The Bold #57, Jan. ’65. ©2000 DC Comics. Below: A commission job by Ramona featuring another fanfavorite character, Aquaman, a hero she depicted from the 1950s to early-’60s. Art ©2000 Ramona Fradon. Aquaman ©20000 DC Comics

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Ramona: Like Trina, for instance… Marie: Oh, Trina is strong, and she’s fiery, because they put her down. The door was closed at times for me. With you and I, we just happened to fall into it. Ramona: Well, we were able to do what they wanted. Marie: You could do super-heroes. And we didn’t go in and hassle the boss for, “I want to do Superman, I don’t care what you do; I have to do Superman.” Ramona: Oh, no. I used to do just the opposite. Marie: I didn’t give a darn what they gave me, as long as I was being paid. If I could do it, well, it was a challenge. I loved the challenge of it, to do it, and then I’d feel, “I’m not doing this as good as Buscema, ooooohh.” I followed him on Sub-Mariner, I followed him on “The Incredible Hulk.” Ramona: See, you were interested enough to do that. Marie: Well, I wanted to show off! How can you show off if you don’t do it? I wasn’t that crazy to have my name on it, I don’t care. But for my own… Trina: But if you wanted to show off, then you did have ambition, you did have ambition. Marie: Maybe, but not for… I couldn’t be bothered fighting and competing, I just couldn’t. Trina: Couldn’t that be because both of you as women were brought up to be nice girls, and not to fight? Because that’s how girls were brought up? Ramona: Well, I’m a Libra, so I’m just naturally accommodating. Trina: [To Marie] You’re a Leo, right? Ramona: She’s a super Leo. Marie: Leos don’t like competition.

Trina: Plus, we try to eat up the competition. [laughter] Marie: Now, you’re going to pull your psychiatry on me. Trina: I think it’s interesting that you both worked in hospitals. Ramona: It is. Yeah. And we were both doing underwater characters at the same time. Marie: I thought of that, too. Ramona: We have these parallel lives. Trina: Yeah. Do you think it’s a thing about women and water? I mean… you’re the shrink… Ramona: I just thought of that. Marie: I ain’t havin’ no babies! You guys… Trina: Doesn’t matter, though, it’s in you… the woman and water combination. Ramona: I didn’t ask for “Aquaman”; it was inflicted on me. Trina: But you did it so well. Ramona: Because it was embarrassing not to. Trina: Ah-ha! Ramona: Did you like to see your work in print? Marie: Yeah, I did. I liked to see that it came out as well as could be expected, because some of the stuff you were following, it was so good. I mean, how can you draw after Kirby, how can you draw after Buscema? Trina: But you did! You did it after Ditko, too! Marie: But it satisfied me; it was the best I could do at the time. Ramona: You know, it’s funny, because you were holding yourself up to a different type of drawing than I was. At DC, when I was in Adventure Comics, I was working against the old Superboy drawings, and Green Arrow, so that was a relatively comic style, it wasn’t hard-driving, what I consider masculine style, and it wasn’t as proficient as, let’s say, illustrative. I was doing stories for younger readers which called for a simpler more open style. Marie: Yeah, boys had completely different… Trina’s type of book, the girls were being completely ignored. Now, we did have some girl fans that really liked what Roy Thomas was writing in The Avengers, and a few other guys that really wrote… I think Marv Wolfman had some people who were crazy about his [Tomb of] Dracula, this was all in the ’70s. When the young people were coming in, and they were… the stories were more and more for the guys, and the girls, I think, stopped reading when they were all of a sudden drawing girls that… these guys knew not woman! I mean… I often thought, what do they do with themselves, these poor little boys? They draw these—well, you all know what they look like. So, the guys were coming in in the ’70s, and they completely took over and they missed—as you really brought up, Trina—50% of the population has been ignored. If they had catered to women’s comics when this thing all fell through, they would have the Barbies and whatever, girl adventures making money! A lot of the new people coming into the States, all the Hispanic and Asian people, the love stories, the girls used to love those! The immigrants would love them! They’d be learning English, and I remember they had a lot of those photography [fumetti] books, love stories, they loved that stuff! It’s not out there. Unless they do it in underground stuff now. Trina: No, they don’t… it just doesn’t exist anymore. You were there, you were working at Marvel when they were still doing at least Millie the Model, and that ended in ‘72 or something. Ramona: It’s the same as the police or the firemen. The male unions try to keep the women out. The problem now is that the distribution networks are male-oriented. Trina: Of course, they have to change the distribution. Of course, because it’s all comic book stores, and it’s all boys. But what was the feeling about Millie the Model? Marie: I wasn’t drawing it, because I don’t know that style. I think I could probably emulate it, if I had to. Trina: Stan Goldberg was drawing it. Marie: Yes, and I remember when they knocked it out, I said, “Gee, Stan, I’m sorry about your book,” and he said, “Oh, there’s always something else.” He went over to Archie Comics. Ramona: They were like schools of fish, they’d go from one thing to another. Trina: They were flexible, which a lot of people aren’t. I really liked—if we missed that part of the tape—I think that’s great about you going to Bellevue with these kids. COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

Oct. 2000


CBA Interview

Fleener Talks To Severin Mary Chats With Marie About The EC & Marvel Bullpens Mary Fleener has been drawing underground comics since 1984, and her titles include Hoodoo, Slutburger, Fleener and a collection of her autobiographical work can be found in Life of the Party (Fantagraphics). She also makes ceramics, paints, does illustration work, surfs on a boogie board, plays bass in an all-girl band and is married to a smart man! Trina sez she is the best cubist artist on the world except for a buncha dead guys.

Below: Attending the Women’s show at the Words & Pictures Museum on Sept. 21, 1996, are (from left) Mary Fleener, Marie Severin, and Trina Robbins. Cool shirt, Fleener! Photo courtesy of Marie Severin.

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Conducted by Mary Fleener Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson Marie Severin needs no introduction to anyone who read Marvel comics, and if you didn’t read Marvel, maybe a little publication called Mad might jog your memory. She is simply the most important colorist in the history of comics. She is also a respected pen & inker, and is still producing fabulous work today. I first met her in 1996, at an art show sponsored by the Words and Pictures Museum, and found we had a lot in common—mainly we were both border-line nut cases! I felt like I had known her all my life, and as someone who loves the color wheel, it was an honor to meet the woman who embellished the works of Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Bill Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, and the other EC legends. The following interview took place by phone in 1998. Mary Fleener: Last year you were at the San Diego Comic Con as an invited guest, and you were sitting over in Artists’ Alley. What did you think of the Freak Parade? Marie Severin: [laughs] It’s like what happened in the ’80s, what they were drawing in comics. They’re so desperate for attention, you’ve got to consider it like that. Mary: What kind of comics did you like? Marie: I never read a Marvel comic unless I had to work in the next issue, or design a cover. When I was little, I loved Batman… I had the first Superman in my generation, and of course our mothers threw them away. Mary: Your inheritance went down the drain, like so many others. [laughter] Marie: My brother John was older, so he was always ahead of stuff. I remember when Prince Valiant first came out. “There’s a surprise in the Journal-American paper.” (It was a Saturday edition). “There’s two of them!” And he wouldn’t give me the paper until he finished the whole comic section. I was always running around: ”Would somebody read these to me?” So, when I started school, I didn’t know how to read because I didn’t like it, and is the teacher going to read to me? No! You have to read for yourself!

Mary: This is funny, because though we have an age difference… Marie: Sort of? [laughs] Mary: It’s not that much! Marie: Look, I’m old enough to be your mother! [laughter] Mary: Well, I think you are my mother! [laughter]… but listen, I grew up reading the Sunday comics. My parents went to church every Sunday. Church for me was when the Sunday funnies came and there were 18 pages, and it took a long time to read them. That’s how I learned to draw and I absorbed the language of comics. To me, that was reading! When I went to school, I was a retard. Everybody realized, by the the fourth grade, I simply did not know how to read. I’d done a pretty good job of faking it, so my Dad had to spend a few months tutoring me. Is that what happened to you? Marie: Yeah. Well, they gave up on me because I was just a lazy head at this point. But, you know, on Sunday, I had to go to 9 A.M. mass, so I was in charge of bringing home the papers, so I talked everybody into buying all of them. I got the Daily News, the Daily Mirror, the Journal-American. And I could barely walk home! I was little, you know? And in the afternoon with them tucked under my arm, I’d bug them to read to me. Mary: My parents were always running late on Sunday, so we always attended high mass… Marie: Oh, no! Mary: …which is one hour and 45 minutes. Marie: I went to church by myself. Where else would I know where to go on a Sunday morning at that hour? Mary: Well, you were in New York. It would probably take you 15 minutes to walk there, right? Marie: It was where I went to grammar school, Our Lady of Angels. I picked up leaves. Oh God, I’d walk into class with an armful of leaves! They were beautiful. The teachers used to put them around the blackboard, and it looked so pretty the other teachers started doing it too. I liked that. Mary: Hey, you were a little kid that looked at everything. I think most artists, when they’re growing up, see a piece of rotting wood, and instead of seeing garbage, they go, “Wow! There’s a painting in there! And look! There’s a nail at a weird angle, and it looks like my sister!” Marie: Exactly! Mary: I did the same thing, I would pick up sticks or rocks, and talk about boys with terrible things in their pockets— my God, I had junk! Marie: The first time I discovered the magnifying glass—my brother got a chemistry set… and a microscope. It was primitive, but “Oh God, look what’s on my nose!” [laughs] “Look at this, a tooth came out! Look at the roots! Look at that!” Mary: Your family, when they read to you, were they actual comic books? Marie: Oh, sure! And whatever fairy tales. We always had books in the house. Mary: What kind of comic books? Marie: Superman didn’t come out until I was about 10. The early stuff was fairy tales and the newspaper reprints, like Mandrake and Prince Valiant when I was older. But in New York, there was Tarzan—I loved Tarzan—and I don’t remember half of this… oh, Krazy Kat… he was in the COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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Sunday, all that stuff. And the Katzenjammer Kids. I liked the adventure stuff a little more than the humor stuff. Mary: Were there comic book racks at the shopping places? Marie: I’ll tell you, in those days, the comic books were kind of limited in display. We didn’t have the volume of stuff. I vaguely remember they were on some sort of stand, but the selection was not like today. It was mostly Blue Book, Redbook, Photoplay and movie magazines, and more adult—I don’t mean dirty, I mean more sensible stuff. Once I got to be 10 years old, I dumped comics and went into the movie magazines. I was a movie fan. I mean, every penny I could save, I went to the movies, and I think that’s where I learned continuity. Mary: A lot of cartoonists say the same thing. Like Bill Griffith, who does Zippy the Pinhead, he goes to movies, especially in the middle of the day, at least that’s what he told me! I don’t like theaters anymore because they seem so cramped. My grandparents took me to tons of movies and it seems the comfort and the lavishness has forever disappeared. I loved the Egyptian Theatre in L.A. Marie: When I was very little, on Saturdays, they had discounts, and mother was so glad to get you the heck out of the house… [laughter]. 9¢ to go to the Stanley Theater. My mother would let me go there alone. God help everybody if it rained because everybody sent the kids out to get rid of them, and the adults came with them to get something to do. They would come down, and because, in those days, everybody was so easy-going, and the children were obedient, the matron—they always had a matron for the children’s section, I guess so we weren’t assaulted or dribble on somebody, or throw up without attendants—she’d come down, a big fat lady, and she’d say, “Everybody double up!” You had to share a seat with somebody, which meant somebody was hanging off the seat. [laughter] But you doubled up on a rainy day when the crowd was big, Oct. 2000

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because that was the only thing you could do—there was no TV. When I came home and told my mother, “You know what? The matron said to double up.” She asked, “What does that mean?” I said, “They always do that when there’s a crowd, but today she made us go up and sit in the front on the floor, and I’ve got a pain in my neck from looking up!” [laughter] Mary: Did you ever come home from a movie and try to draw certain scenes? Marie: Oh, yeah. I went to the movies constantly. Even if I didn’t know what the movie was about, I went. I think the most exciting movie was Tarzan, the early Tarzan, you know? Mary: Weissmuller was terrific! Marie: And Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland in Robin Hood. Oh! My brother said, “Guess what’s coming to the Dyker Theater?” “What?” “Robin Hood!” Of course I knew the story… we always got fairy tale books and adventure books for our birthday. My brother was drawing all sorts of things… his were so good, though, because he would draw whole battle scenes. And great detail. He’s about eight years older than I am. Mary: My brother is about seven years older than me too, so I got to go to lots of places because he was with me. You, too?

Above: Auctioned off at the 1998 Friends of Lulu sale in San Diego, here’s Mary Fleener’s portrait of Marie Severin. Courtesy of the artist. ©2000 Mary Fleener. Below is Marie’s self-portrait done for Marvelmania in the late-’60s. ©2000 Marie Severin.

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CBA Commentary

What Does A White Dyke Write Like? Borders and Borderlands in Naughty Bits and Dykes to Watch Out For by Anne Thalheimer

Far right inset: Bitchy Bitch talks culture, from At Work and Play with Bitchy Bitch. ©2000 Roberta Gregory.

Above: Bitchy Bitch from Roberta Gregory’s Bitchy’s College Daze, published by Fantagraphics. ©2000 Roberta Gregory.

Inset right: Bitchy Bitch barters in At Work and Play with Bitchy Bitch. ©2000 Roberta Gregory. 50

In his article “The Whiteness of Film Noir,” Eric Lott states that “[f]ilm noir is a cinematic mode defined by its border crossings”. Alternative feminist comix, and their creators, are also defined by their border crossings, by the simple fact that they exist despite the historically repressive environment of male-dominated comics publications. These women are crossing, not from white to black as Lott argues in film noir, but from outside of comix into the genre. Alternative feminist comix creators defy the stereotype of comix as strictly a boys’ club, but at the same time rarely achieve the relative fame of creators such as Roberta Gregory and Alison Bechdel. There has been much discussion of gendered writing, heralded by a new interest in writing opposite one’s gender; however, there does not seem to be much discussion of what it means to write white. White, in America, is never questioned because it is the dominant discourse and the position of power. The absence of racial definition for white women problematically creates an empty space that fosters the notion that some white women feel as if they need not address racism. Even if white women do address racism, social positioning makes it easy for these women to abandon issues of race, for any reason at any point, and fade back in with the dominant white culture, unlike women of color who are always defined against the vortex of whiteness. Whiteness retains its power as the dominant discourse because few people have called it into question. Race and sexual orientation differ in one fundamental way: the visual. One can look at a lesbian of color and immediately assume that she is not white, but will not be able to tell for certain her sexual orientation simply with a look. This is not to say that one can always guess race merely by looking. What I mean is that it is far “easier” to categorize someone into the binary of white/not white than it is to categorize the same person into heterosexual/not heterosexual. The white lesbian has a unique cultural space in that she is part of the dominant racial discourse but is at the same time also an outsider; as a lesbian, she will be tolerated by the dominant culture only if she does not deviate any further from social codes ascribed to women. Cultivating femininity markers gives rise to fetishized stereotypes of lesbians who “look heterosexual”—lipstick lesbians, Chasing Amy—while less “feminized” women are “butches” and

“dykes” under the same code. In the 1970s, a number of female comix creators—women writing comix for women, an act that Adrienne Rich would have called “lesbian”—began to create works reacting against racism, sexism, and classism in many underground comix. Feminism became a prominent element in much of this work. One of these comix creators was Roberta Gregory; one of her many current publications is called Naughty Bits, in which the central character is a white, heterosexual middle-class woman named Bitchy Bitch. Bitchy complains about everyone, especially different races, though her coworkers are quite often Bitchy’s target as well. Gregory’s main character’s given name is Midge McCracken, but in sequences where the “author” appears—when the artist makes herself a character within the text—Midge is always referred to as “Bitchy” or “Bitchy Bitch”. Already the reading audience is potentially polarized; this, like Whiteness Studies, is a place where people are forced to confront certain issues that many would rather leave alone. However, recycled ideology, no matter the form, does not advance debate—or even begin it—the trick, as Gregory herself states, is to “poke” what makes you uncomfortable and “see what oozes out of it”. Language becomes a site of power for Gregory, in reveling in the use of “bitch.” The choice of language is something that any reader may immediately find problematic. Alison Bechdel has chosen to use “dykes” very openly in the title of her series, Dykes to Watch Out For, and Gregory uses “bitch” just as frequently. Some women have reclaimed “bitch”—as well as “dyke”—as a word of power, and still others rankle at every utterance of the word. Bitchy, at one point, wins a trip to a resort, and it is clearly revealed that this occasional-heroine is harboring some deeply ingrained racist tendencies. On the other hand, Bitchy’s racist thoughts are present on the page; she may not be verbalizing them, but Gregory makes no pretensions about Bitchy’s views. The sequence begins with Bitchy throwing away a prize notification, later realizing that a co-worker won something from the same sweepstakes, and then climbing into a dumpster to retrieve her discarded letter. The sequence is COMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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peppered with Bitchy’s inflammatory thoughts. During her time in Rosarita Shores, Bitchy constantly thinks racist and classist thoughts, such as when she haggles over prices with people selling tourist items on the street. How then does Bitchy or her creator challenge racism, rather than simply reproduce it? She thinks it—it is plainly stated above her head—but does not give these thoughts voice. Bitchy’s racist thoughts are consistent throughout the narrative—she thinks racist thoughts before she travels, she thinks disparaging comments while she is traveling, and upon her return she remains indoctrinated with racist ideology. But all of her racism appears in thought balloons, instead of in speech balloons. This “silence” holds true for most of the narrative. Bitchy’s nasty thoughts remain just that— thoughts. In this way, through Gregory’s being direct enough to put it on paper, the text of racism is both present and absent, thus reinscribing whiteness and thoughts of race as an empty cultural space. Gregory confronts racism by not dodging the issue, but also not making race the primary focus of her work. In contrast, Alison Bechdel’s series has always been made up of a multi-racial multi-ethnic cast of characters, nearly all of whom are lesbian. The group ranges from Mo, the protagonist, to Toni and Clarice, who marry and decide to have a child. Bechdel also includes characters such as an all-but-dissertation African-American graduate teaching assistant (Ginger), a Jewish bisexual (Naomi), a white woman with MS (Thea), an AfricanAmerican fat activist (Jezanna), a middle-class American white college-dropout pro-sex activist (Lois), a New-Age Chinese-American spiritualist (Sparrow), and a young Japanese-American college student (Yoshi). However, Bechdel and Gregory’s characters are in the same group of feminist comix characters even though one harbors racist tendencies, while the other’s characters are multi-ethnic and multiracial nearly to the point of parody. Part of the reason can be immediately found in the visual aspects of each work; Bechdel’s work is very detailed and realistic, calling attention to specific details such as newspaper headlines (which often connect to political issues and current events) and background details, while Gregory’s style is more surreal and comic. Bitchy’s eyes can leap directly out her eye sockets when she is surprised, and she sprouts fangs when enraged, while Bechdel’s characters never could. However, Bechdel’s characters can debate what the outcome of O.J. Simpson’s murder trial has on America and perceptions of race, but Bitchy Bitch and her co-workers are consumed by office politics and working-class life—that is, until an out lesbian (who turns out to be an old friend of Bitchy’s from Oct. 2000

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high school) comes to work in Bitchy’s office. Alison Bechdel’s characters generally do not go to the extremes that Bitchy Bitch goes to in terms of racism. Bechdel’s characters are multi-ethnic and multi-racial; interestingly, African-American women have “high status” employ: Ginger is working toward her doctoral degree, Jezanna owns and operates Madwimmin Books, and Clarice is a lawyer for an environmental protection agency. Three of the white women work for Jezanna: Mo, Lois, and Thea. Harriet, Mo’s partner, is the only primary white character in the text who is outside of this work circle: she works as an investigator for the state depart-

ment of human rights. Perhaps aware of this stratification, Bechdel recently introduced Sydney, a white lesbian professor in the women’s studies department of Ginger’s university, who is constantly spouting high theory and picking fights with the other characters Bechdel added her to the strip because, she says, “When I got a one-paragraph review in the Lambda Book Report which managed to use the phrase ‘politically correct’ three times, I knew I had to do something.” The larger questions loom like this: How can Bechdel and Gregory, two prominent feminist alternative comix creators, both be working with and against racism if one character, Gregory’s Bitchy Bitch, is visibly racist and homophobic? How is it relevant that these works in which white women both challenge and reproduce racism exist in one of the most culturally debased art forms in America? In essence, the culturally debased status of the comic book creates a borderland,

Above: A Dykes To Watch Out For schematic, from Unnatural Dykes to Watch Out For, published by Cleis Press. ©2000 Alison Bechdel.

Below: Mo talks to the boss from Split Level Dykes To Watch Out For. ©2000 Alison Bechdel.

Below: Bitchy Bitch negotiates in Bitchy’s College Daze. ©2000 Roberta Gregory.

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CBA Interview

Hilda Terry: “You Don’t Die!” The Comic Strip Artist of Teena Talks to Trina Conducted by Trina Robbins

Below: Teena’s “mom,” Hilda Terry at a 1999 book signing. Courtesy of Trina Robbins.

Hilda Terry’s comic strip, Teena, made its debut in America’s newspapers on the auspicious day of December 7, 1941. Her teenage heroine survived the War and went on being cute and funny and very well drawn until she was cancelled in 1964. Ms. Terry, then 50 years old and jobless, picked herself up, dusted herself off and started all over again as an award-winning (the National Cartoonists Society named her 1979’s Best Animation Cartoonist) pioneer computer animator. In 1998 she was a guest at the second annual Friends of Lulu Conference in Newark, New Jersey, where I interviewed her. At the conference, Ms Terry handed out a folder titled God’s DNA. In it, she describes an experience she had, in which she believes she was visited by one of her past lives: Dorcas Goode, a five-year-old girl who was imprisoned in 17th century Salem along with her mother, who was hung for witchcraft. Research proved that Dorcas and her mother were a historic reality. My personal feeling is that Hilda is an intelligent, extremely sane woman, with no reason to make up such a story. Therefore, I have to believe that Ms Terry really did have these experiences. Hilda Terry was married to cartoonist Gregory D’Allessio for 55 years. Although he had passed away at the time of the interview, she referred to him in present tense, as though he were still alive. Of course, if you believe in reincarnation, this makes perfect sense. Trina Robbins: Hilda, I’m going start this the way everybody starts every interview for every cartoon, which is asking how you got into comics. Hilda Terry: Reading them, I grew up in a small town in New England, and the Sunday comics were the big event. I had a brother a year-and-a-half younger than I was, and we were a team, because I was bigger than he was, I was stronger, I could do everything that he and his friends needed someone on the team to be able to do, and I was into

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sports with my brother. I could run faster than him, and I was going to be a sports cartoonist, but because it’s so hard to think of funny gags, I didn’t think I could do that. In sixth grade, I started drawing portraits of boys, snot coming out of their nose, and poo was running through their hair, and my father said, “That’s not nice. Draw me.” I still have that drawing, and it’s terrific. From then on, it was from life, everything from life. That, really, is the best thing anybody can do. I came to New York at 16, because I wanted to be an artist, and in my family, there were no artists… I was the only one, so I went to two art schools, and I started working in the garment district… and I still have those drawings, and they’re very good! Because I drew from life, and now I’m teaching drawing at the Art Institute, and how I learned is how I teach, and they learned in front of my eyes; it’s a knack, it’s just a magic kind of thing. So, I came to New York to be a cartoonist, and working in the garment district, and in those days, artists used to have a… they’d rent a loft in the Village, and they’d charge 10¢ every weekend for people to come from Brooklyn or the Bronx to mingle with the artists; the artists came in free, and I put potato chips and stuff out. So, one night, this friend said, “Come down Friday night, we have a friend who just sold a cartoon to Esquire, and I want you to meet him,” because he knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. I met Gregory D’Alessio that night, but he was in Brooklyn and I lived in the Bronx, and that was it. About two or three years later, I ran into him, and when we were introduced, we got into a conversation. And I told him what a terrible memory I had with names, “Do you remember my name?” “Oh, I’d never forget your name.” “What is it?” “Don’t tell me… George?” Well, when I ran into him three years later, then I remembered… Gregory D’Alessio. Eventually, we got married, and we stuck together for the rest of his life—55 years—which is kind of miraculous, too, because we were fighting every inch of the way. [laughter] Anyway, the main thing that I have to tell you is that there were six of us women cartoonists, and the only reason we made it is because we each had somebody in the business, a male, who could tell us what was going on! Not until I met my husband for the second time, I knew he sold a cartoon to Esquire, so Esquire was a new magazine then, and they may be looking for new cartoonists. So every two or three weeks, I’d think of one idea, draw a very elaborate rendering on a big piece of illustration board, and go up to Esquire, give it to the receptionist, she would take it in, bring it out, and I thought somebody looked at it at least. Well, of course, that’s not how you go about the business at all. After I started going out with Gregory, and started hanging out with him and the fellas, who talked shop all the time, they know what’s going on. The other five women also had lovers, boyfriends, or husbands who were in the business, and guided them. Otherwise women didn’t get a thing then, and this way, it’s so wonderful that you’re doing this, because I couldn’t believe there were 60 people coming! Not only was I impressed, because now you’ll have a way of knowing what’s going on, but we’re such a unique group! Nobody’s going to write for a woman, for an artist who isn’t selling, so you have to be able to write your own material before you can even get off the ground! That is not easy, I wrote copy for the guy I did strips… easy! Everything I write is easy! But gags, ideas… no. It’s hard. Trina: But you wrote gags for Teena, tell us how you started Teena. Hilda: After I was married to my husband, I was working on a chilCOMIC BOOK ARTIST 10

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dren’s book, nothing happened, so we went up to New England, did a tour of all the relatives who gave us each $10 for a wedding present, and even God… that’s such an interesting story! When I was about 21, I was ready now to find a mate… up to now, I was only dating homosexuals, because I wanted to avoid these wrestling matches you always had! [laughs] Now, I’m looking, and I gave God the order… taller than me, I wanted to look up, make him six feet, just taller than me… brown eyes, an interesting nose, legs like Nermi—that was the Swedish runner in those days, there was a feature in the paper with his legs, running—and so forth and so on… should be an artist or a writer… somebody who can teach me something. And then that week, I ran into Gregory. I didn’t think it was necessary to tell God he must be a Jewish boy! But he was Italian! He took me home to his family, his father, the Jewish neighborhood was the census, and he bought a house right across the street from the synagogue. Now, they don’t know the difference, they see this guy coming out of the synagogue, he’s coming in and out of the shabbeth’s door, just what I asked for! Because everything else was just what I asked for! So, now…. Trina: Teena, we…. Hilda: I’m ready to go back to another story, “How God gets his money.” [laughter] When I came to New York, I got a job right away, as a waitress in Schrafft’s. Three dollars a week and tips… they did a monthly bill. Until you learned, and then they raised it to $5. I went down to 14th Street with my $5, because I had a roommate, and we were each paying $3 a week, and I had $2 to spend. So I went down to 14th Street, with my $5 bill, and the first thing I buy is a big bar of candy, a nickel, so that’s for my tips, so I’m walking with my $5 bill, and a thought comes into my head, “Why am I carrying around a bar of candy?” I let it go… halfway up the block, “That was my $5 bill!” I ran back, it’s gone… I looked around, it’s gone. So now, understand, this is the middle of the Depression. Okay, I understand, somebody behind me was desperate, they needed the $5. It’s okay, I understand. Now, we go up to New England for my honeymoon, everybody is giving us $10 for a wedding present, we’re walking down the street, a lonely road, and we find a wallet in the middle of the road with $10 in it and nothing else. We took it to the police station, nobody claimed it, it was ours. That was God’s gift, with interest! Because he was letting me know, “Yes, you were right about that, that’s how I get my money!” [laughter] So, anyway… that’s how we started, and we came home with a cousin, a teenage cousin, and right away, my husband and I got into a fight on the boat because I was allowing this cousin to talk to strange boys. My husband didn’t approve… see how lucky we were we never had children. Anyway, this cousin, we went to the World’s Fair, and she reminded me of my adolescence, which I missed, because I went to work right away, and I thought of all the funny things my friends and I did before I went to work, and I started that way. Trina: Aha, so it does come back to Teena. Hilda: What nobody knows… did anybody get my thing in the package? If anybody did, I have some samples. Anyway, you’ll read about my past life, which may not have been my past life, but nevertheless, I have a past life, and not only did, as I say in my thing, she put herself in a comic strip, I realize that now, even though I didn’t know it then, but she was doing the same thing I was doing, she was reliving her last sane year, and I was living my last free year in the comic strip! When my husband and I were courting, he said, “Why don’t you want to get married?” I said, “It’s not marriage, I don’t want to have children,” because I had baby-sat for a five-year-old cousin who wanted an open-grilled cheese sandwich, on her mother’s grill. Now, I know it was a grill, but that kid got her way, I ruined the grill, I made her an open-cheese sandwich, and I realized it was not for me. [laughter] So, I said, “I just don’t want to have children.” He said, “Well, neither do I.” So, it was good. Trina: But you’ve worked with children a lot! Hilda: Yes, I’m completely fulfilled with my Campfire Girls, but I send them home for their parents to fight over. Trina: How did you sell Teena? Did you have a hard time selling it? Hilda: No, this is interesting… it was in the ’30s. Now, I’m grateful Oct. 2000

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for the opportunity to say this, because everybody thinks that William Randolph Hearst is some kind of villain. He was looking for, first of all, a black cartoonist to open with, and he found it, and he hired Ethan Campbell, gave him a chance, and he couldn’t write, but he drew good. So, he had an opening for a colored cartoonist, and now he was looking for a woman. I didn’t take a boy’s name… Hilda Terry! I’m selling cartoons to King Features, maybe two or three weeks, and they called me in the office and showed me a telegram… “Get Hilda Terry!” So I heard he was looking for a woman. I have to say that it’s not just giving somebody a chance. Campbell could draw very well, people start writing for you when you’re selling, so he was okay. I could draw very well, even though I was only 18, … yeah… by 24 I was really doing very well. I’m drawing in the art classes, and I’m using the drawings to put clothes on [the models] when I was working in the garment district, $2 a dress. But I had real figures for them. Not only that, but everybody was impressed that I had real shoes, and when I started doing my comic strip, I had real dresses and real shoes [for Teena]. Trina: The clothes [in your strip] are great. Hilda: Yeah. Trina: The fashions are fabulous. Hilda: Yeah. My training. You know, you build up to such, you go in with a bag full of stuff, and it’s your stuff, and if you’ve got a good

Above: Hilda’s trademark character Teena explains genetics to Dorcas Good, in a recent strip by the artist. ©2000 Hilda Terry. Courtesy of the artist.

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From The Vault

Tarpe Mills, Miss Fury and Albino Jo Our Guest Editor Looks At The Golden Age Artist/Writer

In 1941, a beautiful young heiress inherits a panther skin from her famous explorer uncle. It’s reputed to have belonged to an African witch doctor and to carry a curse. She does what any redblooded heroine would do—puts it on—and it fits her like a second skin. As for the curse, it turns her into Miss Fury, America’s first costumed

down to the kids if they found out that the author of such virile and awesome characters was a gal.” But with Miss Fury’s growing popularity, her gender didn’t stay secret for long. The lovely creator of a dashing adventure strip was bound to

action heroine, plunging her into a film noir world of romance and danger, peopled with unforgettable characters like the ruthless German adventuress Baroness Erica Von Kampf; Brazilian Bombshell Era, a Carmen Miranda lookalike who leads a band of guerrillas; and the one-armed, one-eyed General Bruno, Rommelesque commander of a secret Nazi stronghold hidden deep in the Brazilian jungle. In its heyday during the mid-1940s, the newspaper strip Miss Fury was carried in over 100 newspapers in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South America. The twice-yearly comic book, reprinting her strips, sold over a million copies—something unheard of in today’s comic market—and the reason is evident. The story was fast paced, reading sometimes like an adventure novel, sometimes like a romance, and the art was excellent. Most intriguing of all, Miss Fury was written and drawn by a woman, Tarpe Mills, who was not merely as beautiful as her heroine—she was a dead ringer for her heroine. Mills, the first and, until recently, only woman creator of a costumed action heroine, lived her own fantasies on paper for 10 years by the simple method of putting herself into her comic. Should anyone think her exact resemblance to the main character was mere coincidence, Mills put her white Persian cat, Perri-Purr, into the strip, too. Tarpe Mills, born June Mills (“Tarpe” was her mother’s maiden name), changed her name in the late-1930s, while she was drawing boy-oriented comic book strips like The Purple Zombie and The Cat Man. In a ’40s newspaper interview, she explains, “It would have been a major let-

make news, and she did, from newspaper articles to a mention in a 1943 Time magazine article. Mills played her publicity for all it was worth. In 1945, she made headlines by donating her cat to the war effort, lending Perri-Purr to a warship as its mascot. One presumes that she got her pet back and that the fluffy little guy did not have to see actual combat. Mills’ syndicate, Bel, aimed Miss Fury at primarily male readers and stressed the strip’s pin-up qualities. “Recently,” reads one publicity packet, “a large Naval training unit picked out 20 of America’s top comic page beauties and voted to see which ‘had what it takes’ to be Number One in the book! It was a clean sweep for Miss Fury… not one dissenting vote! Now frankly, aren’t the reasons obvious?” Another ad, headed “Glamourous Beauty…,” goes on to state that in office tests, “100% of the men (and why not?); 90% of the women voted for Miss Fury! Why not make a test in your own office?” Of course, 90% female readership isn’t half bad (today it would be incredible!), and a newspaper article from those years states that a lot of the 533 letters received in one week by the New York Post from Miss Fury fans “were from girls who thought that Dan Carey, one of the heroes of the strip, was mighty brave and handsome, and if they ever met up with a type like him, well, their hearts would be faint and fluttery.” Mills’ typical pulp-style tough gal answer was, “Listen, sister, put your name on the waiting list. I got here first!” Indeed, Mills’ male characters are very much the product of a female mind, and it’s not hard to imagine that she may have been a little in love with some of them. Aside from the aforementioned Dan Carey, a hunky blond cop who harbored a secret passion for the heroine, she seems the most fascinated with Albino Jo, a Harvardeducated Brazilian albino indian. 40 years later, when she tried unsuccessfully to sell a graphic novel, Jo was her protagonist. It’s doubtful whether Mills had ever seen a real albino, since her hero (poetically nicknamed “the man with tiger eyes”) was drawn with white hair, pink eyes and dark skin. Although Mills never traveled anywhere more exotic than Florida (at the height of her strip’s popularity she

by Trina Robbins

Above: Covers to the first seven issues of Tarpe Mill’s Timely comic, Miss Fury, featuring reprints of the character’s newspaper strips. ©20000 The Estate of Tarpe Mills.

Below: Detail of one of Tarpe’s Miss Fury graphic novel pages. The book was unfortunately never completed but CBA is proud to feature—for the first time ever—a glimpse into Tarpe’s lost work. ©2000 The Estate of Tarpe Mills.

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CBA Commentary

Catwoman vs. Hothead Paisan Heroes in A Man’s World? Olga Abella Investigates Female super-heroes, then, are more easily accepted by the predominantly male readers of comic books when they disarm male resisIf a million people were asked to close their eyes and picture a tance to powerful women by playing into male sexual fantasies. hero, the majority would likely envision a man. Among the brave resSadly, female super-heroes survive mainly through sex appeal cuers of children from burning buildings, the machine-gun toting because men fail to see women as being serious participants in the warriors, and the thick-necked players of sports, do we ever imagine construction of culture. As Nadya Aisenberg recognizes in Ordinary women? When we do think of female heroes, do we imagine only Heroines, "within our male-dominated culture we experience great those characters trouble conceiving a heroine." Pearson and Pope urge that "Unless who are the replicas the heroism that women demonstrate in the world is reflected in the of male superliterature and myth of the culture, women and men are left with the heroes, such as impression that women are not heroic." Wonder Woman? In DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Can women be Heroes, Les Daniels states that Lois Lane is not only "the most conheroes, then, only if troversial character in comics," but that she "is also very likely the they act like men? best known woman (her only rival is Wonder Woman, who has the In their preface advantage of super powers)." What makes Lois Lane so popular to The Female Hero, among the readers of comic books (primarily male) is that she is the Carol Pearson and product of male imagination. Daniels explains that "Lois was created Katherine Pope by young males for an audience composed largely of young males, emphasize that "the and she reflects something of a boy's illusions and delusions about great works on the women." Lois Lane is both beautiful and a celebrated reporter, but hero… all begin she also has a caustic tongue that expresses contempt for Clark Kent. with the assumption Daniels emphasizes, "The dream Lois and the demon Lois are both that the hero is male projections." male." They further The hot pants and low-cleavage clad Amazon princess, Wonder IFargue YOUthat ENJOYED THIS PREVIEW, "this Woman, also fits into this projection of male fantasy. In his article CLICK THE LINK TO ORDER THIS prevailing bias has "It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's…" Michael Harrington describes ISSUE INthe PRINT OR DIGITAL FORMAT! given impression Wonder Woman as "a breathtaking fusion of feminism and patriothat in literature and tism and kinky sex." Harrington laments that recent portrayals of life, heroism is a Wonder Woman (which are not as heavily into bondage) have lost male phenomenon" something of the allure: "Unfortunately, in the current comic series and that "the culthe charm and laughter seem to have gone out of Wonder Woman, ture has often been and all we get now are storms and stress and battles and apocaunable to recognize lypse." Fighting battles is not perceived to be so dull by male readers female heroism". when the protagonist is male and requires only machismo to succeed. The question we Harrington adds: "Perhaps as women do get more powerful in real need to ask ourlife, the charm of a woman super-hero will eventually wane for the selves, then, is what (mostly male) readers of comic books." Unfortunately, Harrington exactly we consider implies that for female super-heroes to survive, they will need to rely a hero to be. more and more heavily on their bodies as objects that please male The genre of voyeurs. super-hero comic In Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology, Richard Reynolds books strictly #10: WALTER SIMONSON admits that "The costumed heroine may be frankly the object of sexCareer-spanning SIMONSON covering his work defines heroism in INTERVIEW, ual attraction… " Reynolds further assesses that "whilst for the from “Manhunter” to Thor to Orion, JOHN WORKMAN intertermsROBBINS of extraordithe transformation into costume can best be achieved view, TRINA interview, also super-hero Trina, MARIE SEVERIN and RAMONA FRADON talk shop about their in the comics nary action. Because the protagonist can be heroic only by conwithdays something as instantaneous as Billy Batson's ‘Shazam,' which business, MARIE SEVERIN interview, plus other great women fronting and defeating problems through physical means, the genre cover! calls forth the invincible Captain Marvel, for the super-heroine the cartoonists. New SIMONSON excludes the possibility of heroism being defined from a more femi-magazine) process (112-page $6.95 can… be viewed as the performance of an uncompleted nist approach, such as resolving conflict through discussion and com(Digital Edition) $3.95 striptease." If, as Daniels, Harrington and Reynolds suggest, female http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_56&products_id=526 promise instead of with fists and weapons. This is not surprising comic book characters reflect male adolescent desires for and fears of since, as Norma Goodrich points out in her book Heroines, the dicwomen, then female heroes are either seductive or threatening to tionary definition of a hero is "both originally and primarily a ‘Greek men, or both, as is the case of Catwoman, the recently recreated warrior,' an epic military man from that ‘heroic age' of Greece." As a (1993) well-endowed, shrink-wrapped "bad girl" of female superresult of this limitation on how a hero can act, female characters can heroes. be heroes only if they follow the same formula used for male characThe cover of the very first issue of the new Catwoman series ters. However, it seems that when a woman dons the leotards which juxtaposes these two restricting male views of women. Jim Balent's define her character as heroic, she is noticed more for the curve in Catwoman jumps off the page in a purple body-hugging suit that her breasts and hips than for her bravery or physical prowess. Her accentuates voluminously protruding breasts, perfectly rounded butsuccess as a hero seems to stem largely from her sexual appeal. tocks, and hip high black boots. In her right hand she swings a lively by Olga Abella

Above: Page from The Revenge of Hothead Paisan, showing our hero giving Supes what for. ©2000 Diane DiMassa.

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Comic Book Artist #10