Archive | Miss Fury

Harrowing Heroines

I’ve put a lot of Alex Toth talk into this space recently—and there’ll be more of that chatter to come, you can be sure. Many have told us they’re eager to see Genius, Isolated, and I like to think their patience will be rewarded. Meanwhile, we have two other books featuring two very different female lead characters that will repay your time and attention.

The year got off to a fine start with the release of Little Orphan Annie Volume 6. One of our staunch supporters works as the Trade Book Coordinator for Maine’s Colby College Bookstore (Sopranos fans might remember the first season episode in which Tony and his daughter Meadow visited the Colby campus). In his blog, our friend described Annie as, “a sprawling Depression-era fable about a kid with nothing but spunk, grit, determination, and a great dog. These beautiful volumes belong on the shelves of anyone who takes ‘graphic novels’ (I still call ’em comics) seriously.” Who am I to argue with an assessment like that?

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Our sixth volume features the quasi-mystical Punjab and the story of Eli Eon and the miracle substance Eonite, a story treasured by Annie fans everywhere. My sentimental favorite in this book, however, is the “Annie in Hollywood” segment featuring the return of Pee Wee the Elephant. Some complain that Harold Gray didn’t draw convincing dogs, but he sure knew how to depict an elephant! I am utterly charmed and utterly convinced every time Pee Wee steps into a scene.

Little Orphan Annie is unique in the LOAC stable: we started with the rarely-seen original strips from the 1924 debut of the series, then moved in chronological order through the early 1930s strips that were collected by other publishers in decades past. Now we once again move into largely-unreprinted territory, so those Annieologists who have been feeling déjà vu should enjoy the fresh material at the end of Volume 6, and will want to join us again later this year for the debut of The Asp in Volume 7!

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While Orphan Annie is arguable comics’ premier kid headliner, there’s no doubt the star of our coming springtime release is all grown up…

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We’re pleased to add Miss Fury to the Library of American Comics lineup—her provocative exploits were released by the Bell Syndicate and carried by newspapers nationwide for a dozen years during the 1940s and ’50s. Miss Fury‘s unique place in comics history was cemented by her creator, Tarpé Mills. There were other women cartoonists, but only Mills was interested in mixing it up with the boys in the realm of costumed adventure. Her work blended derring-do with a dash of fashion, and melodrama with a modicum of romance. Oh yes, there’s a certain kink factor as well—Miss Fury’s world comes complete with its share of whips, lingerie, bondage (of a sort), and spike heels.

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The book has turned out to be an all-woman project. It’s being assembled by the one and only Trina Robbins, who is of course a cartoonist, a comics historian, and an expert on the subject of Mills and her panther-suited star. The Sunday restoration and overall design is handled by LOAC’s own, two-time Emmy winner  Lorraine Turner. Similar to our 2009 Bringing Up Fatherrelease, Trina is selecting prime cuts from the Miss Fury archives for your reading pleasure.

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Meanwhile, over at comicsbeat.com, Heidi MacDonald gave Miss Fury a shout-out the other day, and printed four other Sundays you won’t want to miss.

As I read and compare/contrast Annie from the 1930s and Miss Fury from the 1940s, I’m reminded that, here in the 21st Century, these crackling good stories help keep us all young at heart.

 

Gutsy Broads, Unite

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I have worked as a designer for most of my life. You learn a lot about people this way. Sometimes you work with high-maintenance clients with whom you roll your eyes and try to give them the logo or billboard or brochure that is in their little minds. I am the hands that create what they are envisioning.

It has its moments, though. I enjoy meeting interesting people and I have lots of great stories to tell my children and grandchildren. As I wake up each morning, I approach my computer with a sense of adventure…which comic will I be working on today? Will it bring a smile or will it cause me to interrupt Dean and say, “Oh, my gosh, get over here, you have to see this!”?

Today is one of those days. I’m now working on the restoration of Miss Fury and am becoming more acquainted with Tarpé Mills’s style. She loves to show a lot of skin, and the babes are always in furs and hats that look fresh off the runways of Paris. Her art is drawn very traditionally—no surprises, no ah-ha moments. But her storytelling is drawing me in more and more. What a gutsy storyteller: women pulled through car windows by their hair, Nazi swastikas branded to their foreheads…young children being told if they don’t stop whimpering they’ll get their heads bashed in.

No wonder she passed herself off as a male artist…in those days people would run if they knew these stories came from a woman. I wonder now if my mom ever read these strips or ones like them. Did she pump her fist and say, “YES,” as the female villain was knocked down a few pegs, or is this just wishful thinking on my part? I hope she did. I hope that, after the dishes were done and all eight of us kids were tucked in bed, she poured herself a cup a tea and sat with a newspaper and read about women in fancy duds attending fancy parties.

As I work each day bringing life back to this strip, I think of that generation and how this was a huge part of their entertainment. I hope by bringing this strip to the audience of today, they will appreciate what it must have been like to anxiously wait every day for the paper to arrive. This is my pleasure and this is the story I tell to my children: slow down and learn from the craftsmen—and women—of yesterday. Slowly turn the pages and when you come across something that makes you stop and take notice, share it with a friend.

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This full-color collection featuring the best Miss Fury strips from the 1940s will be on sale in April, edited by and with a biographic introduction by the one-and-only Trina Robbins.

 

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