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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.
I’ve found two major types of disappointment in my years of comics reading. The first, and most common, is one you’re probably all-too familiar with: the disappointment of reading a comic you fully expect to be good—because of the creators involved, the reputation of the publisher, the buzz among fans or at the shop, the positive reviews you’ve read, whatever—only to discover that it is not, after all, any good.
A rarer, and more stinging type of disappointment is when you come to a comic that you want to be good, only to discover upon reading that it is not, alas, any good.
I started thinking about this while reading Lily Renée, Escape Artist (Graphic Universe), a biography of woman who, as the subtitle reads, went From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer.
I felt a bit of the first type of disappointment, as this was written by Trina Robbins, a talented cartoonist and skilled and incisive writer of and about comic. But it was the second type of disappointment I felt most strongly while making my way through the book—which actually got to be a bit of a struggle after a while—and that type of disappointment only increased as I kept reading.