Category: Women’ s History Month

Celebrating Women’s History Month – Comic Edition: Part 3 – Colorists and Letterers

Celebrating Women’s History Month – Comic Edition: Part 3 – Colorists and Letterers

As we continue our Women’s History Month tribute to Women In Comics History, we focus on two areas of comic making that are often overlooked: Colorists and Letterers. Both of these disciplines have changed radically since the women in this list began working in comics.

The technological innovations of the last couple of decades have revolutionized comics coloring and lettering. They have also opened the doors of opportunity. Both of these careers were at one point considered part of the in house production department of comic book publishers. These women who were innovators and trailblazers made great strides in their fields and showed that they are part of the creative team deserving of recognition.

Colorists:

When these women were working in the industry the process of coloring a comic involved using dyes and creating color maps on copies of comic book pages to give printers instructions on how to apply color to the pages. Today almost all comics are colored using digital software to add tones, hues, and effects. Without those tools, these women were able to generate amazing depth to comic books for decades.


Glynis Oliver (Wein)

Glynis Oliver spent most of her career working for Marvel Comics. She colored the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, New Mutants, Thor, and Uncanny X-Men among many others.  She also worked at DC Comics and contributed to titles such as Batman, Superman, and Adventure Comics. For a time she went by her married name in the comics and was credited as Glynis Wein. She was a constituent contributor to some of the most important comics for over twenty years.


Adrienne Roy

Colorist Adrienne Roy has special meaning to me as she colored my childhood. Her work on the New Teen Titans and Infinity Inc. series was glorious. She worked primarily for DC Comics during her coloring career with long runs on the afore mentioned series as well as Batman, Detective Comics, and the Outsiders titles. There was richness and depth that Adrienne brought to the comics she colored. Her life was cut short by cancer at the young age of 57.


Christie “Max” Scheele

Christie Scheele worked as a comic book colorist for over two decades. She is most well remembered for her long run coloring Daredevil for Marvel Comics. The famous Frank Miller and Ann Nocenti Daredevil stories were painted with color by Christie Scheele. Her use of tone and hues give those stories important emotional narrative. Besides over one hundred issues on Daredevlie, Christie worked mostly for Marvel on titles like Squadron Supreme, Defenders, and The Avengers.


Lynn Varley

Award winning colorist Lynn Varley created the color pallet for some of the most critically acclaimed comic books of the last half-century. She was the colorist on The Dark Night Returns, 300, Sin City, and Electra Lives Again. The color work on each of these books is a critical factor in the texture of the story and how the reader experiences the comic.


Tatjana Wood

Tatjana Wood began working in the comics in the 1950s doing uncredited work in issues published by EC Comics. By the 1970s, she was the primary colorist on covers for DC, and that role lasted into the mid 1980s. She had long runs for DC on Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man. She brought the color to the well regarded Brian Bolland line work in Camelot 3000. She has over 1000 comic book credits to her legacy. Chances are that some of your favorite historic covers from the ’70s and ’80s were colored by this legend. Continue reading “Celebrating Women’s History Month – Comic Edition: Part 3 – Colorists and Letterers”

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Part 2 – Writers

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Part 2 – Writers

This is the second chapter in our celebration of women in comics history.  In this post we will highlight a fantastic group of writers that made lasting impacts on the industry.

This category has been one of the most difficult to fill. While some of the women listed in Part 1 of this series were cartoonists in that they both wrote and drew their stories, the list of impactful full-time writers before 1990 is short, and to be truthful, most of these women started their careers as editors.  It is disappointing to see the paucity of women writers in some of the formative years of comics creating.

I will say that the last two decades have seen a substantial rise in women writers in comics. But that rise is of course relative when you look at how bad it has been. While more women are getting work writing, recognition still has some territory to gain. There have been fifteen people in the last thirty-two years who have received Eisner Awards for Best Writer. Only two of them were women, and they were only in the last three years.

Well, let’s celebrate some amazing writing. The women listed below in alphabetical order created some amazing stories:


Toni Blum

Born Audrey Anthony Blum, Toni Blum, was one of the very few women comic writers in the golden age. She worked the Eisner-Iger Studio which produced stories for Quality Comics and National Allied Publications. She wrote scripts for golden age characters Dollman, Black Condor, The Ray, Uncle Sam, and more. She even ghost-wrote stories of The Spirit for Will Eisner. One of the remarkable aspects of Blum’s career is that she used over a dozen pseudonyms and all of them were either gender obscured or outright masculine. Even her most commonly referred to professional name is gender blind adaptation of her middle name. She was the only woman working in her office and contributed in important ways to some of the biggest comic characters of her time.


Mary Jo Duffy

As a writer for Marvel Comics in the 1980s, Mary Jo Duffy is responsible for some well-known long runs of stories. She wrote Power Man and oversaw the transition of the title to Power-Man and Iron Fist. She had a memorable run on the Marvel Star Wars series and wrote the Fallen Angels mini-series spinoff of New Mutants. In the 1990s she wrote the first fourteen issues of the first ongoing series for DC’s Catwoman. By the mid-2000s, Duffy had retired from comics writing. She began her career as an assistant editor for Marvel and often went by Jo Duffy in credits. Her work is spread across dozens of titles in the 80s and 90s and made an impact.


Barbara Kesel

Barbara Kesel has had an interesting career arc in comics. Her first freelance writing work, a Batgirl backup story, was published when she was twenty-two. She later became a full-time staff editor at DC Comics and then transitioned back to writing. She helped create Dawn Granger as the new Dove and wrote the “last Batgirl” story as DC retired Barbara Gordon from the cowl for a long time. She has also had stories published by Archia, CrossGen, Dark Horse Comics, Image, IDW, and more. She has gone by her birth name Barbara J. Randall at times earlier in her career. Kesel is known to be a staunch defender of women’s rights in comics and featured strong and fully formed women characters in her writing. She continues to write and create interesting stories to this day. Continue reading “Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Part 2 – Writers”

Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Thanks to several decades of following Trina Robbins’ research, I’ve been a Tarpé Mills fan since… well, probably since dinosaurs started making oil.

Mills is best known as the creator/writer/artist of the costumed newspaper comic strip hero Miss Fury (1941 – 1949), which, for the record, debuted six months before Wonder Woman. But prior to that, she worked for a variety of neophyte comic book publishers, creating such features as Diana Deane / White Goddess (1936), Devil’s Dust, The Cat Man, Daredevil Barry Finn (1939), and The Purple Zombie (1940). It is this latter creation that now brings my fingers to the keyboard.

In addition to my affection for Mills’ work, I have a serious thing for stories that are insanely weird and bizarre. The Purple Zombie was so weird it makes Herbie The Fat Fury look like Mark Trail.

Here’s the short version: a pair of scientists come up with a way to create zombies, but one is an evil scientist and the other wants it to be used for the betterment of humanity. Zombies For Peace! Right on! The bad guy does not kill the good guy, although he does try. He gets killed in the process and P.Z. divines the good guy as his master. So, the good guy drafts P.Z. into joining the 1940 anti-fascist movement which, at the time, was pretty much limited to fighting Nazis and the Spanish civil war. By the way, in Spain the American antifa was called “The Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month”

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Artists and Cartoonists

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Artists and Cartoonists

We are well into March and this year is the thirty-fourth annual celebration of Women’s History Month. It is supposed to be a time to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Since one of the focuses of Pop Culture Squad is to promote inclusion and diversity, we are taking this opportunity to remember the impact that women creators and professionals have had in the comics industry.

In an industry dominated, in the past and present, by men, it is critical to acknowledge the work that was done by women who brought innovation to the industry and joy to readers for generations. We are focusing on women whose careers in comics began prior to the 1990s. Many of the women working in comics today have been inspired by these women who came before them.

In the first part of this series, we will start out with recognizing the important contributions of women artists and cartoonists and the subsequent chapters will cover professionals from other disciplines in comic creating.  Many, if not all, of the women on this list faced difficulty in finding work and getting published in comics at all. However, the industry is better for their perseverance. The fantastic women creators below are listed alphabetically:


June Brigman

Artist June Brigman began her professional comics career by co-creating Power Pack with Louise Simonson for Marvel Comics. She also penciled Supergirl for DC Comics among other titles. June took over for Ramona Fradon as the artist on Brenda Starr from 1995 until its end.  She was a prolific artist in comics books before taking on the Brenda Starr responsibilities. One of the most important aspects of June Brigman’s career is her work as an educator.  She has taught art at the Kubert School and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). There are bunches of current comic professionals who credit her with helping them develop their craft. She currently teaches at Kennesaw State University‘s School of Art and Design, and is the penciller on Ahoy Comics’ Captain Ginger.

 


Colleen Doran

Colleen Doran is a write/artist most notably recognized for her creator owned space fantasy A Distant Soil. A Distant Soil is often hailed as a significant influence for current comic storytellers. She began to get paid work at a very early age and has continued a long career that has garnered multiple awards including an Eisner Award last year for her collaboration on Snow Glass Apples with Neil Gaiman. Colleen has worked for Marvel, DC Comics, Image, Dark Horse and others. Some of her other most well know works include stints on Sandman, Shade, the Changing Man, Valor, and the graphic novel Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee.  She is a fierce defender of artist and creator rights and is actively sharing the knowledge that she has acquired as a woman in the comics industry. Continue reading “Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Artists and Cartoonists”