Friday, October 03, 2008

Flying tigresses

Today's Comic Art Friday is being composed under the influence of Starbucks Burundi Kayanza. Most East African coffees tend toward the bright and tart, but this varietal boasts a dark, complex, almost wine-like flavor palette. Nice.

At the conclusion of last Friday's post, I promised you additional "Bombshells!" entries from artists Terry Beatty and Dan Veesenmeyer. As Jim Lange used to say on The Dating Game, "And heeeeeeere they are!"

Because my "Bombshells!" commission series focuses on superheroines from the Golden Age of comics (basically, the 1930s, '40s, and '50s), I'm constantly searching for characters from that period to feature. Neither Terry Beatty nor I had heard of the Purple Tigress before I assigned Terry this commission, but she sure makes a terrific Bombshell!

Although she's all but forgotten today, the Purple Tigress starred in her own six-issue backup strip in Jo-Jo Comics, published in the mid-1940s by Fox Feature Syndicate. Fox offered a diverse variety of comic books, including what came to be known in the industry as "headlights comics" — series showcasing skimpily clad heroines with prominent... umm... "headlights." Fox's best-known creation in this latter genre was Phantom Lady, made famous by the art of "good girl" specialist Matt Baker. The most enduring hero in the Fox stable, however, was male — the Blue Beetle, a pastiche of the Green Hornet. A modernized Blue Beetle appears in DC Comics to this day.

Wonder Woman may be as renowned as the Purple Tigress is obscure. My affection for Princess Diana of the Amazons being what it is — and Comic Art Friday fans know that Wonder Woman is my all-time favorite comic book heroine, bar none — I took great care in selecting the artist who would draw her "Bombshells!" entry. Dan Veesenmeyer's previous contributions to the series sold me on the notion that he was the perfect choice.

Wonder Woman's costume has undergone a few tweaks over the decades — hey, you can't expect a gal to wear the exact same outfit for nearly 70 years, can you? For several years in the late 1960s and early '70s, she even dispensed with the bustier and star-spangled bottoms entirely, in favor of an ever-changing wardrobe of all-white mod fashions.

I've always remained partial, though, to Diana's original togs, which Dan depicts here. The lower portion of the costume, which looks like a skirt (and is often drawn that way in contemporary renderings), was actually a set of pleated culottes. Over time, these morphed into snug-fitting bicycle shorts, before becoming the increasingly brief, often thong-like panties Wonder Woman wears today. (To their credit, the artists who've illustrated the current WW monthly series — most notably Terry Dodson and Aaron Lopresti — have taken care not to overexpose Diana's hindquarters.)

And that's your Comic Art Friday.

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