Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wanted: Female Comic Book Legends

The following is a stream-of-consciousness meditation on the question: are there any female comic book legends in the industry? Most of this is made-up, except for the parts that aren't. It's pretty rambling, so you could just skip it.

(An editor and his plucky assistant look for female comic legends to work on their high-class high-end comic book anthology.

Editor: We don't have enough women on this book.

Plucky: We don't have any women on this book.

Editor: I tried looking for women for this book.

Plucky: I know you did.

Editor: I mean, the door is open. The vouchers are here.

Plucky: I know, I know.

Editor: Do me a favor -- take this afternoon and make me up a list of female comic book legends.

(Several hours later)

The List:
Marie Severin
Ramona Fradon

(The Editor frowns)

Editor: This is a good start, but there just HAS to be more female comic book legends!

Plucky: Colleen Duran? Amanda Conner?

Editor: They're great artists but they haven't reached legend status yet. I'm talking LEGENDS: Gil Kane, Johnny Romita, Steve Ditko.

Plucky: Trina Robbins?

Editor: Should I call Marie or should you?


Plucky: H-hello, Ms. Severin?

Marie: Yes?

Plucky: Wow! I can't believe I'm talking to you! This is so cool! I loved your work on "Not Brand Echh!"


Editor: I need a list of legendary female comic book writers for this new project. Take the afternoon.

(several hours later)
(note: this takes place before Gail made it big)

The List:
Anne Rice
Maya Angelou
Devin Grayson

Editor: Maya Angelou?

Plucky: Well, I know she isn't a comic writer...but with us hiring more and more established authors...I just think it would be very classy. Besides, I just can't think of any more, you know, legends.

Editor: Well, I suppose there is always Ann Nocenti. But see, again, good writer -- but not a legend. Not like, say, a Roy Thomas.

Plucky: But who can really be a Roy Thomas?

Editor: I want to go home.


Editor: There aren't many female comic book legends.

Plucky: I know.

Editor: I mean, like Gil Kane and Steve Ditko and Will Eisner and Johnny Romita.

Plucky: Or Roy Thomas or Stan Lee or Denny O'Neil.

Editor: And now I'm going to put these books out and there's hardly gonna be any women & people are going to think it's sexism. But there just aren't many female comic book legends.

Plucky: I know. It really sucks balls.


Plucky: Marie, did you ever get that thing where fans would say, "your art was so good, it totally fooled me, I thought a man drew it?"


Plucky: I want to become a female comics legend one day.

Editor: I have no doubt you can do it.

Plucky: But I want to write like a man. Being known as a "chick writer," that's the kiss of death.


(the present day)

Friend: You're like a legend in the industry now!

Plucky: For a blog that many consider to be a feminist rant.

Friend: Hey, whatever gets your name out there.

Plucky: Yeah, but I don't want to be writing about broken vaginas and rape pages all my life! I want to write the Punisher, man!


(Submission to Marvel, age 13)

"My story is about this mild-mannered man who wants to be cool like the Punisher. So he puts on the Punisher's outfit and tries to fight crime, but he doesn't know what he's doing and gets horribly beaten up. He realizes in the end that he doesn't have to be like the Punisher to be cool. And that he's lucky to have gotten out with his life. This could be a one-shot or stretched out into a 6-issue limited series. Also, if the Punisher isn't available, I could turn it into Captain America.


PS: I love Wolverine"


(From hand-written response to the above from Marvel Editor)

"Your writing sample shows a lot of enthusiasm for the craft. But as you get older, you will gain more valuable life-experiences that will help shape your stories and make them richer."


(email from fan of Plucky's blog)

Dear Plucky,

I usually can't stomach this Oprah shit but you're all right.

The Dudest of all Dudes


(So I wanted to do this comic which was a take-off on "Yentl," where it's 1941 and this chick goes undercover as a guy so she can fullfil her dream of being a comic book writer. The only catch is that she ends up working on this cheesy "Phantom Girl" comic for twenty years straight.)


(the feminist response:)

No, there have been plenty of female comic book talent that deserved to be considered "legends," but they either
a) work in a genre (like manga) that is not considered "real comics"
b) never had their talent & work cultivated & promoted by the mainstream publishers the way male creators have
c) are compared to solely male artists and writers, ie "her work is good enough as a man's"
d) get dissed even when they do succeed by being called "tokens"


(So I wanted to do this comic called "Fetish Lass and Pizza Boy," that would be this total parody of cheesy "T & A" comix. This billionaire heiress gets traumatized after her parents convert to the Hare Krishnas and start dancing in airport terminals. Now she fights crime. With her pizza delivery boy. And they break up this "sheep porn" ring. By dressing up like sheep. Now, would that be the very end or the very beginning of my career? That's what I want to know.)


(back to the original scenario of the Editor and Plucky talking about the anthology)

Plucky: Well, will there ever be any female comics legends?

Editor: Well, I think it's just going to take time.

Plucky: How much time?


  1. I vaguely recall a "normal guy dresses up like the Punisher" thing from the "Suicide Run" story arc. Where Frank was thought to be dead (not like later when he actually WAS dead and recruited by Angels) and a bunch of people tried to become the New Punisher (like 6 I think. Making it 2 better than that Superman thing). I think the regular guy gets killed his first time out. Its been awhile since I read the issues...

  2. I have to say Gail Simone (i know this was pre Gail), but she has taken the DC Universe by storm, and she's only going to go higher.

    I am all for more female voices in comics, but I would appreciate it if people left my Supergirl alone, I loves it!!!!

  3. speaking of vajayjay, that is the word of the day on Newslined

    my blog :)

  4. Not comic-'book' creators [and their 'legendary' status may be argued], per se, but here were some female comic creators that I made my comic class read and study at Goddard College:

    Lynn Johnston, Cathy Guisewite
    Dale Messick, Marge, Julie Doucet, Kim Yale, Alison Bechdel, and Sarah Dyer. (I think there were a few more, but I can't remember who for the life of me - maybe Carol Lay and Lynda Barry?)

  5. No Wendy Pini love?

    I love Wendy's work, but we couldn't order any ELFQUEST trades in time for my class, but yeah, she's awesome!

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  7. Jo Duffy was writing some good comics (though she seems to have fallen off the map ...?

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