Monday, February 01, 2010

The History of Wonder Woman

The Golden Age of WONDER WOMAN!

Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by the psychologist who invented the lie detector, WILLIAM MOULTON MARSTON. He saw a danger of the popularity of Superman being misused to imprint young kids with the sad old untruths of 'Male=hard=strength' versus 'Female=soft=weak'. So he created an amazon activist stronger than anyone. Though she wasn't the first female heroine, she's definitely the greatest, and all progress in female heroes leads from her.

Less heralded is the amazing style and sophistication of artist H.G. PETER who did all of her art from 1941 to 1958. His art nouveau grace and serpentine lines are entirely unique, innovative, and timeless. While other neglected 40's stylists like Jack Cole, C.C. Beck, and Dick Sprang have got their due lately, Peter seems written off. Yet his bold use of clear-line graphics is as important as similar stylists acclaimed later; such as Herge, Hugo Pratt, Alex Toth, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Trina Robbins, Melinda Gebbie, P. Craig Russell, Michael Golden, Julie Doucet, Daniel Torres, Charles Burns, Mike Allred, Marjane Sartrapi, Megan Rose Gedris, or Tara McPherson. Even less heralded are his studio of female assistants: Helen Schrepens and unknown background inkers; Louise Marston and Marjorie Wilkes on lettering; and sometime co-author Joyce Murchison also deserve more scholarship and due. (Attn: Trina Robbins or Roy Thomas!)

Marston's hero touted love during the jingoism of war, encouraged women to stand up for themselves, took down every bully and fool, spoke clearly against prejudice and sexism, and broke every bond put on her. During the wartime era of Rosie the Riveter, this had massive effect on young people. in 1973, avid fan Gloria Steinem would jolt DC Comics to revitalize the amazon back to greatness, put her on the first cover of MS. magazine, and compiled a book of the greatest 40's stories that is the clear blueprint for the TV series in 1976, starring the brilliant Lynda Carter.