INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
The first sketches of Wonder Woman, drawn in 1941 by artist H.G. Peter for the superheroine’s creator William Moulton Marston, is up for sale for an undisclosed price.
Acquired originally from the artist’s estate, the sketches are made even more interesting because the page includes comments from both Peter and Marston about the design. Peter wrote:
There’s a lot more than gender differentiating Wonder Woman from her fellow first generation superheroes that have, against all odds, survived to the modern day. More so than even Superman and Batman, the only other heroes whose comics have been in continuous publication since their creation, Wonder Woman is a character with sharp, often difficult to reconcile (or even wrestle with) contradictions built into her.
Foremost among those contradictions is the fact that, as Tim Hanley alludes to in the subtitle of Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine, the character is universally known, to the point that she’s practically omnipresent in pop culture, but that knowledge tends to be pretty shallow.
That is, everyone knows Wonder Woman, but relatively few know much of anything about her. Her name and costume, her bullet-blocking bracelets and magic lasso, maybe her invisible jet, but that’s about it, really. Curious indeed.
Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about how New York Comic Con reached 151,000 attendees this year, what went well, what could have gone better, and what he learned for next time. The new badges and check in/check out system, introduced last year, let producers know exactly how long people stayed at the show, and that turned into a nice surprise for two attendees: “There was a couple [last year] who literally spent every minute that was possible at New York Comic Con for three and a half days. We reached out to them and did something special for them—gave them a bunch of free stuff and free tickets because they were at the show longer than anyone who wasn’t paid to be at the show.” [ICv2]
Political cartoons | Egyptian cartoonists Mohamed Anwar and Andeel discuss the difficulty of critiquing Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who doesn’t tolerate dissent; Anwar is a cartoonist for a mainstream newspaper and pulls some punches as the tradeoff for reaching a wide audience, while Andeel has moved over to the alternative press, where he can speak more freely. [The Guardian]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Anyone seeking an antidote to recent Wonder Woman-related idiocy need look no farther than Jill Lepore’s story “The Last Amazon” in the Sept. 22 issue of The New Yorker.
Graphic novels | Sales of graphic novels are up 10 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2013, according to Neilsen BookScan, which tracks sales in bookstores and other general retail channels. In terms of unit sales, that’s about 5.6 million books sold this year, as opposed to 5.1 million in 2013. The trend is echoed by Diamond Comic Distributors’ numbers for the direct market, which show graphic novels up 3.8 percent in dollars and 5.8 percent in unit sales year to date. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Alison Bechdel is having a busy week: Following the news that she has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, she announced her new book: The Secret to Superhuman Strength, a memoir of her obsession with exercise and a history of American fitness fads, to be published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [The New York Times]
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
For a character who had just debuted a couple of years earlier, the prospect of a Wonder Woman newspaper strip was a clear sign of the Amazing Amazon’s immense popularity. However, in the crowded, competitive field of newspaper comics — where the first Batman newspaper strip lasted only about three years, ironically because it was vying for space against the successful Superman strip — Wonder Woman couldn’t establish herself. Still, IDW has restored what history has all but forgotten, and this August the publisher will reprint the strip’s 19-month run.
I’ve seen a few weeks’ worth of these strips here and there over the years, and they’re a lot like the Golden Age comics. This is hardly surprising, since they were written by creator William Moulton Marston and drawn by original artist Harry G. Peter. However, the newspaper format apparently allowed Marston and Peter to open up their storytelling styles, allowing for a slightly different pace and a more long-form approach.
The original Wonder Woman comic strip will be collected for the first time in August in IDW Publishing’s 196-page hardcover Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Strip 1943-1944.
It’s part of the March 2013 partnership with DC Entertainment and the Library of American Comics that includes the Superman and Batman comic strip collections. Unlike the other two superheroes, who had lengthy tenures in newspapers (even if the Caped Crusader’s was broken up into three major runs), Wonder Woman’s was short-lived, lasting only from May 1, 1943 to Dec. 1, 1944.
My first thought when Wonder Woman with Grant [Morrison] was mentioned was ‘I don’t want her to be dressed as an American flag.’ Not because an American flag is wrong but it made no sense. She’s coming from such a rich, wonderful culture with so much iconography (Greek culture), so why does she not use that, and why would she dress up as a flag? She’s not Captain America. But at the same time, I understood that this kind of iconic color/texture is something that’s recognizable, so in that aspect it does have value. If I could reach the same design with a few differences, but make it so it’s not coming from the flag, it’s coming from a natural extension of her culture, I could live with this.
– Wonder Woman: Earth One artist Yanick Paquette, on redesigning her costume from the ground up
Wonder Woman’s costume gets a lot of attention every time someone tries to change it, but usually the discussion is about how much skin it is or isn’t covering. That’s old and tired, and I’m glad Paquette is thinking about it for a different reason. I’d argue it’s the right reason.
One of the things that seems to stump a lot of Wonder Woman writers is her mission: What the hell is she supposed to be doing in our world? Is she a warrior or an ambassador of peace? Are those mutually exclusive descriptions or can she be both at once?
I think she can be both, in the same way that in her early years she could be a bondage fetishist while also advocating freedom. People who know a lot more about bondage than I do tell me it can be an incredibly liberating experience. Likewise, some of the biggest peace advocates I know have been career soldiers. It’s a strange dichotomy, but it’s real, and I can see it working in All-Star Comics #8, the first appearance of Wonder Woman.
It would be easy, and probably utterly predictable, for me to launch into an all-out rant about the origins of the New-52 Wonder Woman. In fact, because I found Kelly Thompson’s arguments fairly persuasive, that may still happen. However, I am more inclined to agree with Ragnell that the latest round of Amazonian revelations doesn’t quite square with what we’ve already been told, not just in Wonder Woman but in Justice League too. Therefore, there’s a chance that Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are trying (with the best of intentions, naturally) to be provocative, ginning up interest in the book before the real story comes out.
Make no mistake, I understand completely Kelly’s argument that this version of Wonder Woman undercuts DC’s most venerable feminist institution. Even if the account in WW #7 is squarely contradicted, the insinuation is still pretty harmful. Either way, this is not the “old” Wonder Woman. Accordingly, this may simply be a new Wonder Woman, as different in origin as Hal Jordan was from Alan Scott; and her history may be the brutally-simple solution to the decades-old issue of “what to do with Wonder Woman.”
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Grant Morrison’s long-discussed Wonder Woman series, which he describes as “the hardest project I’ve ever done,” could arrive as soon as next year, “or thereabouts.”
The update comes in a newly transcribed Q&A session from this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, where the writer again touched upon the bondage and “loving submission” elements inherent to the early Wonder Woman stories by her creator William Moulton Marston.
“The Wonder Woman strip had this weird, libidinous kind of element, and obviously on Paradise Island, it was this amazing Second Wave, separatist, feminist idea of an entire island where women had ruled for 3,000 years and what they did for fun was chase one another!” Morrison said. “So the girls would dress up like stags and run through the forest and another girl would chase them and then they’d capture the girl, tie her up and put her on a table and pretend to eat her at a mock banquet. This is a typical Wonder Woman adventure! In 1941. But then Marston died, and that energy left the strip, it just disappeared.”
Morrison said he’s attempting to reintroduce some of those elements, “but without it being prurient or exploitative.”