Archive for the ‘Wonder Woman Unbound’ Category

Joye Murchison Kelly and Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk to be Honoured with Bill Finger Award

June 14, 2018

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This is very, very cool. Two of the most important women in the early history of Wonder Woman are going to receive the Bill Finger Award at San Diego Comic-Con this summer. Joye Murchison Kelly was a ghost writer for William Moulton Marston in the early 1940s, while Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk was an assistant editor on the original Wonder Woman comics and later returned to DC for a fascinating run editing Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane. Heidi MacDonald has a full report at The Beat, and you can read more on the official Comic-Con page.

The Bill Finger Awards honour comic book creators who have not received proper credit for their work and contributions to the industry. Bill Finger was famously screwed over by Bob Kane and DC. He did most of the work creating Batman, but Kane took all the credit. The awards were created by Finger’s friend Jerry Robinson in 2005, and 28 creators have won it since. Kelly and Woolfolk are the first women to do so.

I’ve written about both of these women in my books Wonder Woman Unbound and Investigating Lois Lane, and I’m absolutely delighted that they’re sharing this award. Both women are compelling and important figures in the history of the genre, and their work has been overlooked for decades.

In Kelly’s case, it’s because she was never credited. Marston hired her as a writing assistant in 1944, and she was soon writing full issues by herself as Marston’s health began to fail. Everything was still credited to “Charles Moulton,” Marston’s penname, in the comics, and Kelly’s contributions were long forgotten until DC’s Wonder Woman Archives line gave her due credit many decades later.

Kelly wrote several classic Wonder Woman stories featuring some of her most well known villains, including Dr. Psycho, the Cheetah, Dr. Poison, and more. She also continued Marston’s themes of female strength and power extremely faithfully, including Marston’s preoccupation with bondage imagery (it was a metaphor, but it had its limits). Perhaps most notably, Kelly coined Wonder Woman’s famous catchphrase “Suffering Sappho!” It had ancient Greek roots, of course, but was also a subtle nod to what the Amazons were actually getting up to on Paradise Island.

Woolfolk was an assistant editor on Kelly’s comics back when she was just Dorothy Roubicek. She worked for All-American publisher Max Gaines and was the first female editor at DC Comics, making sure that all the books came out on time. And when critics objected to Marston’s bondage fixation, Woolfolk was tasked with coming up with ways to tone things down. Marston didn’t listen to any of them, but it speaks to Gaines’ high opinion of her that she was his go-to gal on matters concerning his bestselling comic.

(Some sources suggest that Woolfolk wrote a few early Wonder Woman stories, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. She’s not credited as a writer in any of the Archives collections, which are painstakingly thorough).

Woolfolk worked for other publishers for a while, then married writer Bill Woolfolk and took a break from publishing when she had her kids. She returned to DC in the early 1970s as a full editor and revitalized the publisher’s romance line with fresh, relevant stories. Because of her success there, she was given control over Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, and she brought the same modern, feminist sensibility to everyone’s favourite reporter. In her first issue, Lois dumped Superman and quit her job at the Daily Planet because she was sick of men telling her what to do. This feminist revolution was short-lived, though. The men in DC’s offices didn’t take kindly to having a woman around, and Woolfolk was unceremoniously ousted a few months later. You can read more about that in an excerpt from Investigating Lois Lane over at The Atlantic.

Both women are absolutely fascinating figures in comic book history, and this award is very much deserved. Kelly is 90 years old now, and will be in San Diego to accept the award. Woolfolk passed away in 2000, but her daughter will be there to accept the award on her behalf. This recognition is long overdue, but I’m so happy it’s here. Wonder Woman wouldn’t be the same without Kelly or Woolfolk, and I hope the award encourages fans and comic book historians alike to dig into their great work.

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Come See Me at C2E2 in Chicago, Artist Alley Table E7, April 6-8th!

March 19, 2018

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Last week, I told you all about my upcoming “The Many Lives of Catwoman” panel discussion with Angelica Jade Bastién, Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosberg, and Katie Schenkel at The Book Cellar in Chicago, IL, on April 5th at 7:00pm. That’s going to be all kinds of awesome. But it’s only part one of my upcoming Chicago fun! Starting the very next day, I will be at C2E2 all weekend long. Here is all the important info:

Tim Hanley @ C2E2

South Building at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

April 6-8th

Artist Alley, Table E7

I have also built a handy map so that it’s easy to find me at the show. You can click to embiggen:

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C2E2 is a great convention, and I’m so excited to be a part of it this year. I’ll be set up in Artist Alley for all three days, with all three of my books available for purchase. I’m talking Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine, my exploration of everyone’s new favourite cinematic heroine’s fascinating origins. Everybody loves Wonder Woman now, as they should. We’ve also got Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet’s Ace Reporter, and it’s a perfect time to read up on Lois what with exciting new relaunches of Action Comics and Superman just around the corner. Heck, Brian Michael Bendis is gonna be at C2E2 too! And the third in the trilogy is The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale, an overview of the many intriguing incarnations of this beloved character. Plus she’s getting married soon! Making this a good opportunity to read up on all of the romantic hijinks that led her to this point.

All three books will be available for sale, and I’ll have some fun free goodies to give away. And I’ll be glad to sign any and all of the books for free, of course, whether you’re buying them at the show or bringing your own copies from home. You can also just come by and chat superheroes for a while if you’d like. That’s always a good time.

So yeah, if you’re coming to C2E2 you should absolutely come by my table! And if you’re in the vicinity of Chicago and you aren’t coming to the show, you should probably remedy that. It’s a great convention, with a whole host of excellent guests and vendors and such. Susan Eisenberg, the iconic voice of Wonder Woman on the Justice League cartoon, is going to be there! That’s worth the price of admission alone. I hope to see you there!

Talking About Wonder Woman at the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam: A Recap!

April 17, 2017

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I am now home from my five day visit to Amsterdam, and it was such a cool trip. I’m from Halifax, which is one of the oldest cities in North America, but it doesn’t even come close to the history and legacy of Amsterdam and it was so fun to get to explore the city. While I had to keep my head on a swivel to avoid bicycles as I did so because they’re EVERYWHERE, I adapted to that pretty quick and got to see a good portion of the city.

First, though, here’s a hot tip, gang: If you ever get the chance to fly KLM, do it. We flew there and back on KLM, and it was far and away the best airline I’ve ever been on. They give you so many drinks and meals and snacks! Plus there are a pile of good movies to watch. I saw Moana, Arrival, Finding Dory, and Doctor Strange; it was great. So yeah, highly recommended.

The first day in Amsterdam was largely a blur. My mother came with me, because if you ever luck out and get a free trip to Amsterdam and your mother’s never been to Europe, you should take her. Plus she’s a swell lady! Our flight there was an overnighter but we didn’t sleep much, so we ended up crashing at the hotel when we got there, then exploring the area a bit in the afternoon, then more sleep. Or attempts at sleep, at least. Jet lag is rough, folks.

Day two was more exploration. We figured out the metro, which was super easy and convenient, and walked through some of the good shopping places in the city. I didn’t buy much, but I did an ice cream at this rad place called Banketbakkerij Van Der Linde; they only make vanilla ice cream but it’s amazing and there’s always a line up out the door, even on a cool day like Thursday was.

Day three was my presentation, so I mostly went over my notes all day. We had some near-drama when I arrived at the EYE Film Institute and the presentation wouldn’t play; we tried my laptop, then another laptop, but nothing was showing up on the big screen. Everyone behind the scenes at the Imagine Film Festival was super great, though. The technical folks worked like crazy to get everything sorted while everyone else chatted with me and joked about our predicament. I’m still not sure exactly what was wrong, but after replacing the same small box several times, it worked. We started a few minutes late, but everything worked perfectly from then on.

The presentation itself was very fun to do. I always get super nervous before I have to give a talk, but once it gets going it tends to be more pleasant, and this was no exception. The crowd was wonderful, which helps a lot. We had a good number of people in, all of whom seemed very enthusiastic to hear about Wonder Woman, her evolution, and the role of her costume therein. I started with Marston, of course, and dug into the bizarre origins of both Wonder Woman and his own background, psychological and life-wise. Then we discussed the American symbology of the costume and how it was meant to help Wonder Woman fit in and thus help America while slyly spreading Amazon values there as well. We also looked at this great panel:

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Talking about the costume led to a deep dive into her bracelets and the bondage metaphors of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics, which segued nicely into an examination of her golden lasso as a symbol of feminine power.

From there, we passed through the Silver Age pretty quickly because her costume stayed largely the same and that was the main focus of the talk. The Bronze Age and Wonder Woman’s mod revamp, however, merited close examination. We looked at the story in which Diana Prince got trendy clothes to help Steve Trevor out of a jam:

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After which Steve started to show interest in Diana for the first time ever and Wonder Woman realized she no longer needed to be super to keep his interest. This introductory issue really set the tone for this whole era, in which Diana gave up her superpowers and got very into mod fashions, all while falling for every man she met and behaving hysterically when they inevitably betrayed her. It was an attempt to make Wonder Woman a more modern, relevant character that failed rather spectacularly.

But it did lead to Gloria Steinem campaigning for Wonder Woman to return to her roots, which was followed by her appearing on the first cover of Ms. magazine and eventually the Lynda Carter television show. The latter was particularly fun to chat about, and I showed a clip of Wonder Woman talking to her sister Drusilla in both of her identities so that we could see how Carter played them differently. We also chatted briefly about her awesome Wonder Woman scuba suit, because how could we not?

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This all was followed by a quick run through the Perez era, the ridiculousness of the Deodato era, and how Wonder Woman’s costume has remained fairly constant since the television show. Any big changes rarely lasted for long, even much hyped alterations like her ill-fated pants and leather jacket in 2010. We looked at the New 52 era as well, which led to Gal Gadot and her onscreen Wonder Woman. It was a film festival, so I wanted to be sure to give her a lot of attention.

The early discussion surrounded Zack Snyder’s brown, desaturated version of the costume which had all of the classic Wonder Woman elements but none of the brightness and vibrancy one would expect from Wonder Woman. We also watched a clip of Wonder Woman showing up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the first time, i.e. pretty much the only good part of that movie. Her general mysteriousness in that film led to some speculation about the character in her new solo film, and I was glad to dig into how Patty Jenkins seems to be embracing color. We watched the latest trailer and dug into how we got a lot of the elements we would expect in a Wonder Woman origin story, including the requisite incarnations of the characters and her corresponding outfits. But we also discussed how her sword seems to have superseded her lasso as her primary weapon:

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And the way that this, intentional or not, is an assertion of masculine concepts of heroism and power over the more classic feminine power represented by her lasso.

Finally, we talked about “Rebirth,” particularly how Rucka and Scott reasserted the importance of the lasso in “Year One.” Talking about Scott led us to Wonder Woman recent, short-lived United Nations ambassadorship, and we discussed the body-shaming petition for her removal and how reducing the character to her appearance ignores what she has meant as an inspirational figure for generations of fans.

So yeah, it was a fun talk! And there were some excellent questions after, which is always fun. My favourite may have been the woman who chatted about the historical reality of the Amazons, which was very cool, but they were all great. Then I got to hang out with the film festival folks for a bit, who were delightful and kind and so enjoyable to visit with.

Day four was the Rijksmuseum; it’s HUGE and took up the entire afternoon, really. I got to see Van Goghs, and Rembrandts, and Vermeers, but my favourite painting of all was this one by Nicolaas Baur called “A Women’s Skating Race on Stadsgracht in Leeuwarden, 21 January 1809”:

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There was a skating race for a gold cap-brooch and 64 unmarried women entered, but some of them were so into the race that they threw off their cloaks and skated bare armed, causing quite a stir among spectators who considered them shockingly immodest. There was such an outcry that it was the last women’s race for several years.

So that was my trip! Huge thanks again to the Imagine Film Festival for bringing me to Amsterdam; it was such a nice city to visit, and everyone at the festival was wonderful. Thanks to everyone who came to my talk as well. It was very fun to spread the word about Wonder Woman on a whole new continent!

Take an Online Course on How to Publish a Non-Fiction Book with Me and my Agent, Dawn Frederick

January 23, 2017

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I’m trying something new this winter by co-teaching an online class with my wonderful agent, Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary, about how to develop a non-fiction book and get it published. The six-week course is called “Agent & Author: Publishing Non-Fiction” and we’re doing it via the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, but everything is online so you can take the course from anywhere. Dawn’s done several courses with them before so she’s a pro, while this is my first outing, and I’m excited to share my experiences with a crop of new writers.

These experiences will form the backbone of the course; we’re going to run through every step of the process of getting Wonder Woman Unbound published. It was my first book, and we’ll look closely at everything involved in going from an idea to writing a book to getting an agent to finding a publisher. The classes will break down like so:

Week 1: We’ll talk about your book ideas, and how to go from an idea to a book. I’ll share my process with Wonder Woman Unbound, and we’ll all get to know each other and what sort of books we’re looking to write.

Week 2: This one’s all about how to get an agent. We’ll discuss how to write a query letter to send to an agent, and I’ll post the query letters I wrote so you can learn what to do and what not to do. Dawn will have great insights since she’s received thousands of query letters over the years.

Week 3: We’ll dig into book proposals with this one. Selling a non-fiction book requires crafting a detailed book proposal, and we’ll run you through all of the steps and what you need to cover. Again, you’ll see various drafts of my proposals, and Dawn’s sold lots of books so she knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to proposals.

Week 4: This week digs into the relationship between author and agent, and how to navigate all of the steps of getting a book published together. We’ll also chat about edits and rewrites, and I’ll share several drafts of a chapter of Wonder Woman Unbound so you can get a sense of that process.

Week 5: It’s time for book contracts! Dawn will really shine in this one, since she deals with book contracts all the time while I mostly just sign them, and she’ll run through what you need to know, expect, and look out for when it comes to signing with a publisher.

Week 6: We’ll chat about what happens once your book sells, both in terms of working with your publisher and all of the steps therein as well as in terms of what you can do on your own to promote your book.

All together, it will be a thorough rundown of how to see your book from idea to publication, with lots of great tips and templates to help you through the process. If you’re thinking about writing a non-fiction book or have one that you’re looking to get published, this will be an ideal course for you.

The course starts on February 8, and it will involve online activities along with weekly video chats with the group. You can find out all about it by following this link. It costs $234 to take the course, but if you are in a low-income situation you can look into getting a scholarship through the Loft Literary Center that could help defray those costs somewhat. I hope to see you there, in electronic form! It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Pennsylvania Pals, Come See Me At BookFestPA on Saturday, July 16!

July 6, 2016

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America, I’m coming back to visit you soon! I’ve been invited to BookFestPA, which is part of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College and Penn State, and I’ll be there for the full day of BookFestPA on Saturday, July 16. The theme for this year’s BookFestPA is comic books, and I’ll be there to chat about the history of superheroes. I’m really looking forward to the trip; it sounds like a great festival, and everyone involved has been wonderful to work with. I think it’s going to be a blast.

I’ll be there in the main tent, with copies of Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine and Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet’s Ace Reporter for sale. I’ll also have lots of free things to give away, including bookmarks and fun Investigating Lois Lane notebooks. There will be lots of other great people in the tent, too, including comic book creators like Alitha Martinez (Batgirl) and Robert Hack (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina).

I’ll also be giving a talk in the Downsbrough Community Room at the Schlow Centre Region Library at 11am on Saturday; it’s right next to BookFestPA’s main tent. My talk is on “The History of Women in Comics,” and I’ll chat about Wonder Woman and Lois Lane, of course, as well as several other great female superheroes as I discuss the evolution of women in superhero comics over the best eight decades. The presentation is going to be jam packed with all of your favourite heroines and villainesses. I’m putting the PowerPoint together now, and it’s absolutely loaded with so many fantastic female characters. Catwoman? For sure. Supergirl? Of course. Black Widow? Yep. Ms. Marvel? We’ve got both of them. Batgirl? ALL OF THEM. Gwen Stacy? Like ten different versions. Patsy Walker? I’m going to have to force myself to stay on track so I can get to everyone else because I could talk about Patsy Walker ALL DAY. It’s going to be so much fun!

So if you’re in the ballpark of central Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 16, come say hi! You can hear me chat about awesome comic book ladies, check out books from a variety of awesome folks, and I’ll even give you free stuff. Plus there’s going to be a costume contest! You can dress up! It’s going to be a great day, and I think a good time will be had by all. Check out the BookFestPA page for more information, and I hope to see you there!

Wonder Woman Unbound Audio Book Now Available on Audible

March 30, 2016

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Reading is fun and all, but sometimes you just want to listen to a book. And if you’re the sort of person who likes listening to books, have I got news for you! My first book, Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine, is now available in audio book form on Audible! The book has been out in paper and ebook versions for almost two years, and now we’re expanding into the world of audio with this unabridged recording. Read by Colby Elliott, you’ll get the complete Wonder Woman Unbound experience with over seven hours of historical fun.

So yeah, this is the coolest! Having two print books out is all sorts of awesome, but this is my first audio book and I’m really excited about it. Everyone involved has done a great job with it, and I’m so glad that they’re presenting the book in its entirety.

The book is available for $20.99 US on Audible, unless you have an Audible account. I’m not super sure how Audible works; presumably you pay a monthly fee and can go to town with audio books or some such? I do know that if you sign up for Audible, you get a free trial month before you have to pay anything, so that sounds like a swell deal.

Anyway, now you can listen to Wonder Woman Unbound! How rad is that? Go give it a listen and let me know what you think!

The Legacy of Lois Lane Panel at Women & Children First, Chicago, IL – Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30pm

February 1, 2016

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I’m going to be in Chicago this March for C2E2 (March 18-20), where I’ll be signing my new book, Investigating Lois Lane, at the IPG booth. We’ll probably have my first book, Wonder Woman Unbound, on hand as well. But before all of that convention fun, I’m going to be part of a panel discussion on “The Legacy of Lois Lane” at the bookstore Women & Children First on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30pm. It should be an excellent time, because the other panelists are FANTASTIC. We’ve got Anne Elizabeth Moore (Ladydrawers, Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking), Lauren Burke (Ladies Night Anthology), Caitlin Rosberg (The A.V. Club), and Katie Schenkel (Panels, The Mary Sue). We’re going to be talking about Lois Lane through the ages, as well as other great comic book heroines.

Here’s the official event description:

Lois Lane has been a constant presence in the world of superheroes for more than 75 years, a fearless reporter whose adventures are perpetually overshadowed by her co-star, Superman.  This panel brings her into the spotlight, discussing the history of the genre through the lens of Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and a host of other heroines whose contributions have been all too often overlooked.  Panelists include:

Lauren Burke edits children’s books by day and produces comics by night. She has bullied three editions of the Ladies Night Anthology into existence, showcasing the work of diverse women in comics, and she is now working on a book about the mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie. Her life, in short, is one long sprint to get files to the printer.  You can find her on her Facebook page.

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine and Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet’s Ace Reporter.  He also writes the monthly column “Gendercrunching” for Bleeding Cool, a statistical look at the gender breakdown of comic book creators.  You can find him on Twitter @timhanley01.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is an internationally renowned cultural critic. Fulbright scholar, UN Press Fellow, USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow and part of the team behind The Ladydrawers.  She is also the author of Unmarketable, New Girl Law, Cambodian Grrrl, and the upcoming Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking.  You can find her on Twitter @superanne.

Caitlin Rosberg is a writing, knitting, tea drinking, baking machine with all the requisite robotic enhancements. She writes about comics at The A.V. Club and is an editor for Ladies’ Night Anthology, an annual independently produced comic anthology. Ask her about Rhodey.  You can find her on Twitter @crosberg.

Katie Schenkel is a lifelong superhero fan who writes about comics, pop culture, LGBTQ+ issues, feminism, and all the ways those topics overlap. You can find her work on Comics Alliance, Panels, The Mary Sue, Playboy, Quirk Books, IGN, her website justplainsomething.com, and her twitter @JustPlainTweets.

Women & Children First is located at 5233 N. Clark St. in Chicago, and admission is free so if you’re in the Chicago area or are coming to C2E2 and are going to be in town early, you should come on by! The panel is going to be a lot of fun, and I know I can’t wait to hang out with my fellow panelists and get their perspectives on key moments in Lois Lane’s history. They’re a smart bunch, and it will be a great discussion. You should definitely check it out!


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