Women of comic books and comic strips

As a fan of Pam Grier’s Friday Foster I was delighted when FRIDAY FOSTER: The Sunday Strips by Jim Lawrence and Jorge Longaron showed up on my library’s Hoopla digital service. It collects the entire Sunday run from the strip’s birth in 1970 through it’s end in 1974.When we meet Friday she’s a photographer at a Harlem night club, snapping photos in hopes her subjects will pay for a copy. When it turns she’s caught legendary photographer Shane North’s fiancee out with another man, a malicious gossip sends Friday and her photo portfolio over to North in hopes of embarrassing him. Instead, he winds up hiring Friday as his “girl Friday” and sidekick and the first mainstream syndicated strip with a black female lead is under way.

Like a number of strips I remember (Mary Worth, for example), Friday Foster is almost an anthology show as Friday and Shane help out the guest stars of each story arc. The aging rocker who wants to get plastic surgery, then vanish into retirement. A cowboy torn between a job and fiancee in New York and going home to see his estranged father before he passes. Periodic love interests for either Shane or Friday made things a little more personal (there’s a story of Shane falling for a fiery feminist that … has not aged well). The most interesting arc involves Slade King, a black American athlete who’s quit and relocated to Africa where he lives as a black Tarzan.

Annoyingly, while the first year of strips so seem to be separate continuity from the dailies (common enough back then), they eventually start sharing a plotline so I didn’t really get the whole story. That’s sometimes okay but there’s one arc where Slade comes to NYC to help Shane save Friday from a lust-crazed voodoo priest (I don’t think the execution is as racist as that sounds, but I’m not the best judge). Overall they’re enjoyable enough, but not much beyond that. However for anyone who’s interested this collection has a wealth of added information on the strip, it’s development and its creators.

MEN OF MYSTERY COMICS was an anthology series reprinting public-domain superhero stories. This one, which I picked up on a sale table, was devoted to women, ranging from the A-lister Phantom Lady through variety of second stringers such as Black Venus, Torchy, Pat Patriot and a variety of Sheena-knockoff jungle princesses. I enjoyed this (isnert the usual YMMV warnings about old comics) and if nothing else enjoyed meeting Tomboy, a fourteen year old girl who socks it to the underworld with nothing but guts and gymnastic skills (The art, I believe, is Edvard Moritz)WONDER WOMAN: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson and Leila del Luca is yet another retelling of her origin but at least this time it’s not recycling Marston. Attempting to save drowning refugees, Princess Diana accidentally cuts herself off from Themyscira, eventually winding up in NYC where she has to battle human traffickers picking up poor and immigrant kids who seemingly have no defenders. The themes get heavy-handed in spots but they’re themes I agree with and the story is good, so thumbs up from me.

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

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