Friday, August 04, 2006

Good girls do

We're sending out our sincerest Comic Art Friday get-well wishes to Doug Fieger, lead singer of '70s power-pop wonders The Knack, famed for the classic radio staple "My Sharona." Fieger is recovering from surgery he underwent yesterday to remove two tumors from his brain. (There appears to be little basis for the rumor that listening to "My Sharona" actually causes brain tumors. Although, given that President Bush downloaded the song to his iPod, there might be something there.)

Remembered less enthusiastically than "My Sharona" is The Knack's 1979 follow-up hit, "Good Girls Don't," a song that became famous mostly for the extensive bowdlerization required to make its none-too-subtle lyrics suitable for radio airplay. Today on Comic Art Friday, we salute the good girls who do. (Battle evil, that is. What did you think we meant?)

Back in the day, the easiest way for female costumed crusaders to make a name for themselves was to borrow a name (and costume theme, and often superpowers) from an established male hero. Hence, we got Supergirl and Batgirl and several iterations of Spider-Woman. One of the few heroines who ultimately managed to eclipse her masculine inspiration in popularity is Ms. Marvel, who began her career as a blatant clone of Marvel Comics' Captain Marvel (not to be confused with the Captain Marvel of "Shazam!" fame, whose adventures were originally published by Fawcett and who now appears in DC Comics).

When she first appeared on the scene in 1977, Ms. Marvel wore a costume closely modeled on that of Captain Marvel, right down to the red-and-blue color scheme and sunburst insignia on the chest. She added a few feminine variations, including a flowing scarf (one of the few superheroines to wear this accessory, for reasons that should become plain at the drop of the name Isadora Duncan) and, originally, a cut-out midriff. It's this costume in which she's portrayed by artist Michael Dooney in the drawing seen here.

As the years went by, some genius in the Marvel editorial department decided that the divine Ms. M. needed a makeover. Artist Dave Cockrum, given the redesign assignment, apparently thought Ms. Marvel was the name of a beauty contest the character had won. Thus, he gave her a costume that looked like a pageant swimsuit, complete with sash. Tsunami Studios artist Robert Q. Atkins portrays our heroine in this, her most familiar uniform, below.

Kidding aside, Ms. Marvel's latter-day costume is consistent with Dave Cockrum's easily identifiable sensibility. It's reminiscent of Cockrum's original costume design for the X-Men's Storm, shown here in a pinup by "good girl" specialist Mitch Foust.

Speaking of good girls who do, I don't know whether Sharona Alperin, the girl who inspired Doug Fieger to write "My Sharona," sent flowers to Doug's hospital room, but she should. She's done all right for herself.

Probably better than Doug.


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