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:
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 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”