The last couple of years have been amazing for geek girl books. We’ve had Nadia Abushnab Higgins give us a kickass primer on Feminism and Jason Porath gave us a slew of Rejected Princesses that we’d hang with any day of the week. Sam Maggs gave us The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy and Wonder Women; and we got to talk secret geek girl stuff with Hope Nicholson and contributors to The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, and Chainmail Bikini reached out and gave love to the gamer girls out there. And when we took to the streets all over the damned world to protest the patriarchy, Why We March was there to chronicle it. It’s a gorgeous and amazing bookshelf we’re building together.
Next up: Hope Nicholson is back, and she’s brought The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen with her. It’s a retrospective of female comic book characters from the 1940s to the present. It’s not your usual Big 3 run of heroines, although the big guns, like Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, and Kamala Khan are spotlighted as the heroines of their decades (with good reason, amirite?). There are veterans who’ve lasted the decades, like Miss Fury and Vampirella; then there are some you may not know about, like Torchy Brown and Friday Foster, who was so fierce, Pam Grier portrayed her in the movie version; indie and webcomic women like Skank Zero and Bitchy Butch, and fantastic supergroups like Fashion in Action (you did buy into that Kickstarter, didn’t you?).
This is so much more than a character profile of each superheroine. There are iconic characters so many of us grew up with: remember Little Lulu and Wendy the Witch? They’re in here, as they should be. This is a great jumping point for more conversations; you’re inevitably going to wonder about the gals who didn’t make the cut. Gloria and Mayda Munny from Richie Rich aren’t in here, and I wish Red Sonja had made it, for instance. (It’s worth it, though, to discover so many strong female protagonists that I didn’t previously know about.)
Hope’s done all the legwork for us. In addition to the gorgeous vintage art and bios on each character, there are publication details and ways to find these comics for your own TBR. There are a surprising wealth of these comics collected; for those that aren’t, you can find some online, or just do some detective work. Each decade talks about the emerging role of women in comics: creators and trendmakers alike.
The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen deserves its spot on our feminist bookshelves. Let’s continue this conversation, and give Hope more material for a Volume II!
The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History, by Hope Nicholson (Quirk Books, $24.95, ISBN: 9781594749483), hits stores on May 2nd.