Friday, January 28, 2005

The Amazing Amazon, and other heroes

Over at The Real Sam Johnson Show (and if you're not reading Sam daily...well...why the heck not?), His Samness pontificated today about the lovely and lissome Lynda Carter, television's Wonder Woman in the late 1970s. I was never a huge fan of Lynda's interpretation of the character — too sweet, too wide-eyed, too glamorous for my taste — but there's no question that when you say "Wonder Woman" to most people, it's Lynda Carter's face (and other physical attributes) they envision.

My personal Wonder Woman fixation is legend to those of you who frequent this hallowed blog. (You can go ogle my Wonder Woman pin-up art collection if you doubt.) I was a Princess Diana fanatic long before Ms. Carter took to the airwaves. In my youthful comics-reading days, there were still very few really powerful female characters in the four-color crimebusting biz. Most superheroines then had rather wimpy powers — either they possessed paranormal mental abilities, like Saturn Girl in the Legion of Super-Heroes, or Marvel Girl (later Phoenix, now simply known by her real name, Jean Grey) in the X-Men, or they had the sort of superpowers that could be exercised from a distance, like the Invisible Girl's force fields or the Scarlet Witch's hex blasts. Wonder Woman was the only super-female in those days with the strength and grit to duke it out with the big boys. And that, combined with her abundantly evident beauty and less-obvious wisdom and intelligence (a hallmark of the character from her earliest appearances), made Diana one awesome woman in my book. It wasn't until Ms. Marvel's debut in the late '70s that another superheroine came along with the toughness and attitude to get her hands dirty.

It was ironic that I read Sam's article on the same day that I read this touching piece from the Detroit News about former Wonder Woman artist William Messner-Loebs. Bill was the writer-illustrator challenged with filling the monumental shoes of the immensely popular George Pérez when George left the Wonder Woman monthly in 1992. Bill, like far too many of his contemporaries in the last generation of comics creators, fell on difficult times when the Big Two publishers stopped ringing his phone four years ago. Not that Bill is any stranger to hardship. His right arm was amputated when he was a baby, to remove a cancerous tumor. His wife Nadine has a lengthy history of health-related problems. A few years back, Bill was involved in a near-fatal automobile accident. He and Nadine lost their home due to his lack of employment.

Yet Bill soldiers on, with a commendable spirit of determination. And in so doing, shames me that I ever raise my voice in complaint about anything.

In the comics, the superheroes wear colorful costumes and fight megalomaniacal villains. In real life, the true superheroes are ordinary folks like Sam Johnson, patiently awaiting a kidney transplant but still taking time to entertain his legion of fans via radio and weblog, and William Messner-Loebs, whose story I hope will fall across the desk of some editor at Marvel or DC and motivate that person to give him a book to write or draw.

All of which is, I suppose, as good an excuse as any to show off the latest addition to my "Temple of Diana." (That, and it's Friday. And Friday means "comic art" here at the old SSTOL.)

This alluring likeness of everyone's favorite Amazon comes from the still-talent-laden pencil of the legendary Nicholas Viscardi, or Nick Cardy as he signs his work. Mr. Cardy has been illustrating comics since the Golden Age, and is still actively drawing today, mostly by commission for his adoring fans. Although he's most renowned for his decade-long run on Aquaman and his work on the original Teen Titans, he draws a mighty fine Wonder Woman, in my humble assessment.

2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Sam offered these pearls of wisdom...

"His Samness"? BWAA-HA-HA! Riot!

In all seriousness, thanks for the nice comments. I really don't think I have a "legion of fans". What I hope I've done with the blog is made some good friends like you. And, if you read some of the stuff I write and milk shoots out of your nose while laughing, then I've done my job. To me, it's Loeb who's the real hero. I wish that one day, he returns to comics with a hell of a vengance.

Oh, nice to see Nick Cardy still at it. Now, if we can only get DC to release that Teen Titans Elseworlds. *sigh*


1:16 AM  
Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Wow. Those pics of the Amazing Amazon are gorgous.

And thanks for the updates on Messner-Loebs. I remember the fund-raising efforts a few years ago. Here's wishing the best to him and his family.

8:30 AM  

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