She Draws Comics @ MoCCA

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On May 20, the exhibit "SHE DRAWS COMICS: 100 Years of America’s Women Cartoonists" opens at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
(MoCCA) in New York City. Developed in conjunction with the country’s foremost authority on the subject, writer and scholar Trina Robbins, the exhibit features over 50 artists and 100 artworks, making it the largest retrospective of women’s work in comic and cartoon art ever mounted.

SHE DRAWS COMICS celebrates the diversity of the artists and art being that has been and is currently being created by women in the comics medium. The show includes artists as varied as Nell Brinkley, a pioneering feminist cartoonist of the turn-of-the-century; Dale Messick, the famed creator of "Brenda Starr: Reporter," who wrote and drew Brenda from the 1940’s through the 1980’s; legendary women super hero artists of the 1960’s and 1970’s Marie Severin and Ramona Fradon; Robbins herself,the country’s first true female underground comic artist who helped push forth the work of other like-minded artists in the 1970’s; and the many women leading the Renaissance in graphic novels today, including Jessica Abel (Pantheon’s La Perdida), Sara Varon
(Sweaterweather) and Tania del Rio (Manga-Ka).

Most of the pieces from the first half of the century come from the personal collection of Robbins, the author of such books as A Century of Women Cartoonists, The Great Women Superheroes, and Nell Brinkley and the New Woman in the Early Twentieth Century.

While promoting women cartoonists has always been important to Robbins, it is particularly important this year. Part for the impetus for her approaching MoCCA to mount this show is the exhibit of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles entitled “Masters of American Comics.”
Robbins was dismayed to discover that while the Los Angeles’s museum exhibit claims to feature “fifteen of the most influential artists” in the field, none of the exhibited artists are women.

Robbins’ concern lies not in an abstract desire for “fairness,” but a need for concrete historical accuracy.  “I have to ask, ‘influential’ to whom?”
 Robbins asks.  “Certainly little girls and women, who make up 52% of the population, were not influenced by Dick Tracy, but a great many of them, including Candace Bergen, were influenced by Brenda Starr.  And so many little girls used to cut out Nell Brinkley pages, color them in and paste them into their scrapbooks that it’s hard to find uncolored Brinkley pages. My point is that these women were important and influential.”

While many people may not know it, some of their favorite characters may have been created by a woman cartoonist: Grace Drayton, whose work was published in the early 1910’s, created the Campbell Kids, who were comic strip characters before they graced the sides of Campbell’s Soup cans.
Rose O’Neill was the creator of the kewpies, beloved American characters who were cartoons before they were dolls. Tarpe Mills, despite her androgynous name, was the woman behind the action strip Miss Fury.

SHE DRAWS COMICS is on display at MoCCA through November 6, 2006.

# # #

100 Years of America’s Women Cartoonists

A celebration of female artists in comic books, strips, political cartoons, graphic novels, manga, animation, and more!

   Saturday, May 20 2006
   Reception starts at 7:00pm

   Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA), NYC
   594 Broadway • Suite 401 • Between Houston & Prince

   Trina Robbins and many of the artists included in the show will be on hand.
   A more comprehensive list will be known closer to event date.

   $15 non-members / $5 MoCCA members for the opening
   Regular MoCCA admission is suggested donation $3 / members free

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