Archive for February, 2009

I wanted to let anyone who is interested in know that I made a Facebook Page for my forthcoming book.

The book itself won’t available until late Summer/early Fall, but I will be sure to post publishing details, speaking engagements, reviews, and interviews both here on my blog and on Facebook.

In the meantime, here is some advance praise:

“Female heroes abound in literature, film and all walks of life, although most people don’t know that they do. Not surprising given how much they challenge the gender roles in which women and girls have historically been confined. This wonderful book shows female heroes breaking out of gender boxes left and right and illuminates new possibilities for the indomitable hero in all of us.”

Kathleen Noble, Ph.D., author of The Sound of the Silver Horn: Reclaiming the heroism in contemporary women’s lives.

“Once upon a time — only a few years ago, actually — women could turn on their TV sets and glory in the adventures of Buffy, Xena, Sydney Bristow, Dana Scully, and many more strong, ass-kicking women. Today there is not one show on the small screen that stars a female action hero. What happened? Comics are not much better. Aside from the occasional exception (for which we are grateful) like Birds of Prey, and women writers like Ivory Madison (The Huntress) and Gail Simone’s newly feminist interpretation of Wonder Woman, most comic book action heroines continue to be male-written and drawn creations whose breasts are bigger then their personalities.

Now along comes Jennifer Stuller, with her very entertaining book, Ink-Stained Amazons, to explore the whys and wherefores of pop culture super women, and perhaps jolt us all into demanding more and stronger women characters. Thank you, Jennifer. We need those role models!”

Trina Robbins, author of The Great American Superheroines (Palace Press, 2009)

From Wonder Con’s Programming Page

“The Humanization of Weisinger’s Legion of Superfluity,” “Sequential Signs: Comic Art in the Gallery,” “The Feminstas of Justice” — do these titles seem a bit high falutin’ for a comic book convention? Well, they’re the titles of a few of the presentations slated for the Comics Arts Conference, a full- fledged academic conference that takes place each year at both WonderCon and Comic-Con International: San Diego.

Founded in 1992 by Dr. Randy Duncan — of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas — and Dr. Peter Coogan — who teaches at Washington University in St. Louis — the Comics Arts Conference brings scholars and professionals together to talk about comics with the public by breaking out of the ivory tower and holding sessions during two of the nation’s most influential comic book shows. This year marks the CAC’s 17th annual conference at Comic-Con International and its third at WonderCon.

Headlining this year’s CAC presentation at WonderCon is the legendary cartoonist and San Francisco native Trina Robbins, a special guest at the convention. Robbins will be presenting “Nell Brinkley and The Brinkley Girls,” a talk on Jazz Age cartoonist and illustrator Nell Brinkley, whose glamorous, curly haired “Brinkley Girls” were a household name in the early 20th century when Brinkley was “The Queen of Comics.” Robbins’ talk is drawn from her Fantagraphics book The Brinkley Girls, published in January, and Robbins will be signing copies of after her talk.

Comics have been moving into the classroom and gaining ever-greater acceptance at educational institutions. This acceptance is reflected in two CAC presentations. The first is “Cross-Curricular Comics: Applying Comics in the K-8 Classroom” a workshop by middle-school teacher Liz Vizcarra that demonstrates the application of comics in the K-8 environment to meet California standards. A professional development certificate is available for teachers who attend this session. The second is from CAC co-chair Randy Duncan on his new comics studies textbook, The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture, to be published in April by Continuum Books. As the first textbook on comics and graphic novels aimed at undergraduates, The Power of Comics is an exciting breakthrough in the cultural legitimization of the comics medium, and the CAC offers a first look at this important work.

Besides the classroom, comics have broken into the museum, and the CAC does as well, in a pair of talks. Fine arts scholar Kim Munson explores the importance of comics to contemporary visual culture and the central role of the 2005 Masters of Comic Art exhibit in breaking comics out of the art world’s high/low debate. CAC co-chair Peter Coogan presents “Superhero Science 101,” a talk originally given in conjunction with the Marvel Comics Super-Hero Science exhibition at the St. Louis Science Center. Dr. Coogan explains the science- fictional laws that operate in superhero universes, including why Bruce Banner’s pants stretch so much and what we in the real world can learn from such “rubber science.”

Need to bone up on your superhero history? The fifties, sixties, and seventies get a thoroughgoing review in a matched set of three presentations. California State University librarian Douglas Highsmith and University of California librarian Chuck Huber examine the superhero comics “between the Flashes” from the last appearance of the Golden Age Flash in 1950 to the first of the Silver Age Flash in 1956 — yes, there were superhero comics in the early fifties! Moving on to the 1960s, independent scholar Jeff Barbanell peers through his timescope to find the first “Marvelization” of a DC series in Jim Shooter’s Legion of Super-Heroes run and his infusion of his comic book narratives with the Lee and Kirby techniques of group dynamics, hyperrealism, and cosmic context. Finally, the “ink-stained Amazon” Jennifer K. Stuller attempts to resolve the conundrum of the “feministas of justice,” the superwomen of the 1970s such as Valkyrie, Diana Prince, Ms. Marvel, and Lois Lane, who presented a superficial image of feminism but continue to serve as symbols of female empowerment in the cultural imagination.

But like the world of comics, the CAC is more than superheroes. CAC presenters take on social issues that resonant with today’s headlines. Indian cartoonist Gokul Gopalakrishnan (aka Gokul TG), who is a fellow of the Centre for Performance Research and Cultural Studies in South Asia, investigates the cunning exploitation of the misconception of comic strips as “harmless fun” to enable cartoonists to sidestep censorship, focusing on O. V Vijayan’s Malayalam comic strip Ithiri Neramboku, Ithiri Darshanam (“Bit of Trifle, Bit of Philosophy”) during the 1975–1977 State of National Emergency in India. Diana Green of the Minneapolis College of Art & Design unearths the GLBT in EC Comics and the play of these stories in the burgeoning, shifting acceptance of gay culture that began in the 1950s. And Trevor Strunk, graduate student at New York University, takes on the topic of hybrid cultures as they are expressed in Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets output.

With the Comics Arts Conference, WonderCon offers attendees a unique chance to dig into comics’ past and present and give their brains a workout while in the midst of one the country’s great comic book conventions.

(BTW – – “The Feministas of Justice” is me! – – Thanks to Hubby for the title suggestion!)

Cinema Retro reports that Li’l Abner–the 1959 film based on Al Capp’s comic strip will be playing this Friday at 11:30 EST.

I’m intrigued because I’ve never seen it, I’m a sucker for a musical, and Trina Robbins gave a great talk on “The Feral Women of Li’l Abner” at Wonder Con last year:

Cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins (From Girls to Grrrlz) presents a slideshow talk on the feral girls—Pig Girl, Hawk Girl, and Wolf Gal—of Li’l Abner’s Dogpatch, a bloodthirsty lot with no compunction about turning Dogpatchers into dinner. Wolf Gal, the starring wild girl of Dogpatch, is strong, beautiful, independent, and—don’t laugh—a feminist. When the little girls of Dogpatch imitate Wolf Gal by taking no guff from the boys, the citizens of Dogpatch react. They want their daughters to grow up as “overworked, wore-out, respectable married drudges,” not “wild an’ happy an’f ree, like th’ wolf gal!!” Robbins connects these cartoon wild women with mythical feral children and more contemporary figures like Misha Defonseca, a Jewish orphan during World War II, who hid from the Nazis in the forests of occupied Europe for four years and eventually teamed up with a family of wolves. Recounting her experiences years later, she wrote, “the only time I ever slept deeply was when I was with wolves… Those were the most beautiful days I had ever experienced.”

And . . . it stars the gorgeous Julie Newmar as Stupefyin’ Jones.

I just found out that I’m scheduled to speak to speak at 3:00 on Saturday 2/28. If this conflicts with Trina’s Spotlight Session then I might try to switch with someone, but for now here’s the relevant info for anyone who is interested:

3:00-4:00 COMICS ARTS CONFERENCE SESSION #6: SUPERHEROES OF THE BRONZE AGE—Jennifer K. Stuller ( attempts to reconcile the conundrum of 1970s feminist superheroines like the Valkyrie, Diana Prince, Ms. Marvel, Lois Lane, and The Cat, who presented a superficial image of feminism but continue to serve as symbols of female empowerment in the cultural imagination. Jeff Barbanell (Teenagers from the Future) argues that the “Marvelization” of DC’s Bronze Age was presaged in Jim Shooter’s run on the Legion of Super-Heroes with Shooter’s attempt to infuse his comic book narrative with the Lee and Kirby techniques of group dynamics, hyperrealism and cosmic context, which added a further dimension to Lee and Kirby’s humanization of the comic book superhero. Room 200/212

And a little more detail:

Emmapeelers, Disco Divas, and The Feministas of Justice: A Look at Superwomen in the American 1970s

Taking cue from the Women’s Liberation Movement, superhero stories in the 1970s featured righteous Lady Liberators, Femizons, and Amazons who fought to free women from gender inequity and oppression. But were they really feminist?

Jennifer K. Stuller, author of the forthcoming Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology (IB Tauris), explores such contradictory, and often cliché, characters as Valkyrie, Diana Prince, Ms. Marvel, Lois Lane, and The Cat. Though they presented an image of feminism that was superficial at best, they continue to serve as symbols of female empowerment in the cultural imagination—a conundrum Ms. Stuller attempts to reconcile.