Tag: brenda starr

Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…

Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…

“Trina wears her wampum beads, she fills her drawing book with line. Sewing lace on widow’s weeds, and filigree on leaf and vine.” from Ladies of the Canyon,” written by Joni Mitchell in tribute to Trina Robbins in 1970.

Much has been written about the passing of Trina Robbins, and I stand behind every syllable I’ve read. I will not be joining that informative chorus, but instead I will be discussing one of her final works, Dauntless Dames: High-Heeled Heroes of the Comics, published less than eight months ago.

This remarkably oversized tome, roughly the size of a tabloid newspaper, is from Fantagraphics Books’ Sunday Press imprint. Trina had a co-conspirator on this one, strip historian, connoisseur and Sunday Press honcho Peter Maresca. It is a true gem.

As the title suggests, Dauntless Dames puts the spotlight on a wide-variety of adventure comic strips that star women. Many, such as Tarpé Mills’ Miss Fury, Dale Messick’s Brenda Starr and Jackie Ormes’ Torchy Brown (later revived as Heartbeats) were produced by women — and women cartoonists were hardly a common sight before the Vietnam War. Male cartoonists who employed women heroes include Frank Godwin’s Connie, Russell Stamm’s Invisible Scarlet O’Neil, Bob Oksner’s Miss Cairo Jones, and Jack Sparling’s Claire Voyant… not to be confused with the current drag performer of the same name. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…”

Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona

Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona

I’ve heard you say many times that you’re better than no one and no one is better than you. If you really believe that you know you have nothing to win and nothing to lose, from fixtures and forces and friends your sorrow does stem that hype you and type you, making you feel that you gotta be just like them. “To Ramona,” written by Bob Dylan

Back in the post-WWII days when 10 cent comics cost a mere 10 cents, there were but a handful of ongoing superheroes, all of them were published by DC Comics, and each had a very distinctive look. Not the razor-sharp nearly photogenic linework of artists like Curt Swan and Carmine Infantino, but highly stylized and not quite real-world: Wayne Boring’s Superman, Dick Sprang’s Batman and Robin, Russ Andru’s Wonder Woman, George Papp (and, briefly, Jack Kirby’s) Green Arrow, and Ramona Fradon’s Aquaman. They maintained and advanced the standard for comics’ most enduring characters.

Of course, this was seven decades ago. Time seems to move on and, now, the last of these famous artists has left the building. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: To Ramona”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Wolfe In Creep’s Loathing

Brainiac On Banjo: The Wolfe In Creep’s Loathing

A brave man once requested me to answer questions that are key. Is it to be or not to be? And I replied, oh why ask me? — “Suicide Is Painless,” lyric written by Michael B. Altman (age, 15)

For 89 years, one of the more reliable cultural stalwarts in the global pop culture has been the adventures of private detective / gourmand / orchid-raiser / fussbudget genius Nero Wolfe. His fictional history encompasses 33 novels and 41 novellas and short stories written by mathematician and pro-labor, pro-New Deal, pro-Roosevelt, anti-fascist Rex Stout through 1975. Wolfe has been featured in a gargantuan number of movies, radio shows, television series, stage plays and postage stamps produced all over the world.

As careful readers of Brainiac On Banjo (et al) may be aware, I am among Rex Stout’s many rabid fans. What appeals most to me is the dialogue between Wolfe and his assistant / legman / tormentor Archie Goodwin — quite frankly, I have found these particular scenes (of which there are many in each novel) to be among the best and more entertaining exchanges of words in the English language. A decade after Stout’s death the Wolfe series was and has been continued by Chicago Tribune journalist Robert Goldborough, who, to date, has written 16 more Wolfe novels including an origin of the Wolfe/Goodwin “team.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Wolfe In Creep’s Loathing”

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”