Comics historian Trina Robbins is taking a look back at World War II heroines and the female artists who created them in Babes in Arms: Women in the Comics During the Second World War, to be released later this year by Hermes Press.
Clocking in at more than 300 pages, the book collects the wartime comics of four female cartoonists: Barbara Hall, Jill Elgin, Lily Renee and Fran Hopper. Some might call them the original Carol Corps, but I like to borrow a name from one of Hall’s earliest comics, Girl Commandos.
Harvey’s Black Cat, by then Barbara Hall (from “Pretty in Ink”)
Passings | Isabelle “Barbara” Fiske Calhoun, who as Barbara Hall was an artist for Harvey Comics during World War II, died Monday at age 94. Calhoun and her first husband, Irving Fiske, left New York in 1946 and founded a commune in Vermont on land they bought with their wedding money. The commune became the Quarry Hill Creative Center and is “Vermont’s oldest alternative and artist’s retreat.” While the obituary mentions Calhoun’s comics career only in passing, Trina Robbins has more detail in Pretty in Ink: She says Calhoun drew the Black Cat, one of the first comic-book superheroines, and then was the artist for the Speed Comics feature, Girl Commandos, an all-woman team of Nazi fighters led by Pat Parker, War Nurse. “She left comics when her husband-to-be persuaded her to give up cartooning and become an oil painter, a gain for the world of fine art but a loss for comics,” Robbins writes. [Burlington Free Press]