Girls Just Wanna Have Comics

Before comix got all high falutin' and renamed themselves "graphic novels," there was a posse of to-be-reckoned-with women rattling around the scene, giving the Marvel superheroes a run for their money. To be sure, they've spanned the gamut--from proto-punk Nancy with the porcupine hair to the ever-conspiring Veronica with her Bettie Page 'do, so dense and deep blue-black that it looked like the India ink had leaked from pen to page.

From movie-star-cum-paper-doll "Katy Keene" to the hyper-real ennui of "Love and Rockets," Trina Robbins' "From Girls to Grrrlz" (Chronicle Books) is a savvy survey of comic book history, many for girls by girls, or--nowadays--by wimmin for wimmin.

Robbins has 30 years in the trenches as a writer / cartoonist. She penned the first all-women comic book, "It Ain't Me, Babe," and traveled through both the mainstream and underground art worlds. That up-close knowledge informs the book.

"With all the wonderful girl comics out there, one would think that women and girls of all ages have all the comics they could want. . . . This could not be further from the truth," writes Robbins. "Women make up 52% of the population, and they like to read. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they would also like to read comics, if publishers would only produce [them]."

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