Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Holloway Marston’

“The Truth About Wonder Woman” on AMC’s Secret History of Comics, Featuring Me!

November 14, 2017

secrethist

I was on television last night, gang! With a lot of amazing people, too. AMC has a new documentary series about comic books called Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, with Kirkman’s production company making the show. Last night’s episode was “The Truth About Wonder Woman” and it focused mainly on her early years, particularly William Moulton Marston’s vision for the character and the role Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne played in inspiring and shaping her. Guests included Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins (!!), actual Wonder Woman Lynda Carter (!!!!), and also me:

tv

So yes, I’ve officially starred in a television show with Lynda Carter now. We never met, but still. I’ll take it.

The other guests were great as well. My pal Travis Langley, who I co-wrote a chapter of Wonder Woman Psychology with, was on it. So were some other historians and writers who I don’t know personally so much but whose work I respect, including Noah Berlatsky, Andy Mangels, Trina Robbins, and Jennifer K. Stuller. Also, Phil Jimenez was in the mix, doing a fantastic job talking about Wonder Woman as always; few comic book creators understand Wonder Woman as well as Phil does. There were a couple of folks I wasn’t familiar with too, plus a member of the Marston family, and actor Michelle Rodriguez for some reason? It was a cool mix, and I was really honoured to be a part of it.

I couldn’t watch much of it because seeing/hearing myself weirds me out so much, but from what I saw they did an excellent job telling the story of Wonder Woman’s creation and explaining what she stood for then and continues to stand for now. The director, Jesse James Miller, had a real love and understanding of Wonder Woman. When I met with him and filmed my interview, he was still pretty new to the project and to Wonder Woman’s history, but he’d really thrown himself into it and had completely grasped not just the meaning of the character but the importance of Elizabeth and Olive behind the scenes. He was committed to being respectful and not salacious in telling their story, and I think he did an excellent job of it here. It was a real pleasure to talk with him and see how he worked.

So yeah, I’m a TV star now, I guess. If you missed the show last night, it’s up on AMC’s website, though I think you might need a cable subscription to sign in? And it looks to be just for Americans. But if you’ve got AMC on your television you should be able to get it, and if you have a pal with AMC it’s probably going to be re-aired a bunch of times over the next few weeks so check the schedule and go visit them maybe? They did a very nice job with the show, plus you can see me wearing my favourite tie!

Advertisements

Fact and Fiction in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

October 17, 2017

Professor-Marston-and-the-Wonder-Women

My review of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women went up today at The Comics Journal, and there sure was a lot to dig into here. To begin with, I really enjoyed the film. I thought that the cast was excellent, especially Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth Marston. She was brash and delightful, and whoever picked her outfits did an amazing job, especially in the earliest scenes; everything she wore was super rad. Luke Evans and Bella Heathcote were great as well, and the chemistry between the three of them was remarkable. All together, the movie was a compelling story about the joys and travails of their unconventional, polyamorous relationship and it was well made all around.

The only trouble is, it really isn’t the story of the Marstons. In the broadest of strokes, it’s similar. Yes, William Moulton Marston had two children each with Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne lived together as one happy family, and yes, he later created Wonder Woman. The film covers all of that. However, it does so while getting the vast majority of the details wrong.

A lot of this is just how biopics roll. Hollywood and historical accuracy rarely go together, and writer/director Angela Robinson takes a lot of creative liberties with things. There are several exaggerated and manufactured conflicts throughout; Wonder Woman was never in danger of being cancelled, nor did the family ever split up. A lot of what’s covered just didn’t happen in the way that it’s depicted in the film. But again, that’s to be expected.

What’s trickier is the core of the movie, the relationship between Elizabeth, Olive, and William. They were private people and we know very little about their private life together, apart from the fact that William had two children with each woman. What we really don’t know is the exact nature of the relationship between Elizabeth and Olive; there are reasons to speculate that they were romantically and sexually involved, but their descendants have been quite adamant that they weren’t. Robinson’s take is not only that they were, but that they were the driving forces behind the triad. It’s an assumption taken to such a degree that it runs counter to what few established facts we have, and in exploring this the film often veers into outright fiction.

You can read my full discussion of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women over at The Comics Journal, where I get into considerable detail about every facet of the film’s historical accuracies and inaccuracies. It really is quite an enjoyable film, and I liked it a lot. It just purports to be the “true story” of the Marstons, and it really isn’t.

Check Out New Book, Wonder Woman Psychology, And My Essay On Marston and Wertham!

March 28, 2017

wwpsych

There’s a fascinating new book about Wonder Woman set to hit stores next week (though Amazon seems to be shipping it out already in America), and I’m very honoured to be a part of it. Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth is edited by Travis Langley and Mara Wood, and examines Wonder Woman from a psychological perspective through a series of essays, all of them with unique viewpoints and insightful thoughts on the Amazon princess. Travis is a pro at this style of book, having written or edited similar volumes on Batman, Doctor Who, Games of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and more. The psychological angle is an interesting lens through which to view these properties, and one that’s especially fitting for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman was created by a psychologist, William Moulton Marston, to be “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” and my essay in Wonder Woman Psychology compares and contrasts Marston’s optimistic approach to comic books with Dr. Fredric Wertham’s pessimistic view of the medium. Wertham famously decried the comic book industry in his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, and was especially hard on Wonder Woman, accusing her of being a lesbian (no minor allegation in the 1950s) and calling her a “morbid ideal” for young girls.

And yet, despite their very different views on Wonder Woman, the two men had a lot in common. They both believed that psychological principles could make the world a better place, and shared progressive views on many issues. They also agreed that comic books had a powerful potential to influence the youth of America. Their major divergence was their reaction to the medium; Marston sought to harness that potential for good and influence young readers while Wertham sought to protect young readers from dangerous messages that could lead them to juvenile delinquency. Both men are fascinating figures and key players in the history of Wonder Woman, and it was a lot of fun to dig into their histories and discuss them in such a close comparison.

Travis Langley co-wrote the piece with me, which was great. I’m a historian first and foremost, and psychology is not my area of expertise, so I provided all of the history and researched the psychological work of both men as best I could, and then Travis took the baton to the finish line. I was very glad to have someone with his impressive psychological knowledge on board, both to check my own work and add to the piece. It was a fun, easy partnership and I’m really pleased with how the essay turned out.

You can order Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth now, or ask for it at your local bookstore. If they don’t have it ordered already, I’m sure they can get it for you; the series is popular and well known. I heartily recommend picking it up if you’re a fan of Wonder Woman, and not just because of my own part in it! There are lots of great writers delving into interesting components of the character, and there’s even an old biographical piece by Elizabeth Holloway Marston, William’s wife and a key player in the creation of Wonder Woman, which is ridiculously cool and worth the price of admission alone for any hardcore Wonder Woman enthusiast. You’re in for a great read across the board!

RIP Pete Marston, the Son of Wonder Woman Creator William Moulton Marston

January 19, 2017

petemarston

Moulton “Pete” Marston, the son of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston and Elizabeth Holloway Marston, passed away on Tuesday. He was 88 years old. Aside from his parental connection to Wonder Woman, in recent years Pete had become well known in the fan community for his Wonder Woman Museum, comprised of a massive collection of memorabilia. Some items were old treasures from Pete’s own collection, but he was an avid collector as well and assembled a wide array of new material. Currently, there are nearly 4,000 items housed in the Wonder Woman Museum at his home in Bethel, Connecticut.

Outside of his impressive Wonder Woman collection, Pete spent most of his working years as a realtor, and he also built and renovated homes and worked in a variety of construction trades. He spent time in the merchant marine as well. Pete is survived by his wife, Olive Louise Marston, two siblings, three children, and five grandchildren.

A note from Pete’s brother Byrne in his official obituary offers an inside peek at Pete’s role in early Wonder Woman comics:

My brother Pete was always a man of enormous imagination. As a kid, he was a dreamer. When we were teenagers our dad, who was often under pressure to produce scripts for his Wonder Woman superheroine, offered $100 to anyone writing a usable scenario for a Wonder Woman episode. Though $100 was a fortune at that time, Pete was the only one of us who could dream them up.

Pete seemed to have had a good relationship with his father. On top of pitching plots for Wonder Woman, Pete also left Harvard in the mid-1940s to return home and help care for his father. William Moulton Marston had polio and cancer, and passed away in 1947. It’s lovely that Pete created such a testament to his father’s creation with his Wonder Woman Museum. The museum is also a testament to the women who raised him; Pete’s mother, Elizabeth, gave Marston the idea to create a female superhero, and the Marstons lived in a polyamorous relationship with Olive Byrne, who raised the kids (Marston had two with each woman) and also inspired key elements of Wonder Woman’s look and personality.

Regrettably, I never got the chance to interact with Pete directly, though his daughter Christie was a great help when I was researching Wonder Woman Unbound and I know that Pete had a big hand in the materials that she sent me and the recollections that she was able to share. By all accounts, he was a kind and warm man; everyone who visited the museum (a guest list that included Lynda Carter herself!) seemed to come away with an appreciation and affection not just for its myriad wonderful items but also for the man who assembled it all.

My deepest condolences to the Marston family during this sad time, and I hope that their grief is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that Pete lived a long and interesting life and that he’s remembered so fondly by Wonder Woman fans the world over. In lieu of flowers, Pete would like to have donations in his memory sent to the Bethel Police Benevolent Association (PBA), P.O. Box 169, Bethel CT 06801.


%d bloggers like this: