In May I flew to Israel to speak at a feminist comics symposium at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, at Ben Gurion University. Yes, comics are everywhere and so is feminism! We’ve come a long way from the belief that feminists are a bunch of hairy-legged manhaters who burn bras, and we’ve come a long way from people who believed girls don’t read comics.
Be’er Sheva is a lovely, modern small city (Everything in Israel is small: the country is the size of Kentucky.), but right outside the new city are the 9,000 year old ruins of ancient Be’er Sheva, and I wanted to see them, so a kindly professor volunteered to take me. Folks, the ruins are in the middle of the desert, and it’s HOT! I thought I was prepared with sunscreen, a hat, and water, but at a certain point, when little black spots started floating in front of my eyes, I realized I had to lie down. So I lay down on a bench in a bit of shade while my kindly guide fetched me an ice cold pepsi. Amazing how an ice cold pepsi can revive one, with that great combination of caffeine and sugar!
When I got back to my rooms, I napped for about 2 hours, and it was all worth it, to see the oldest ruins I have ever seen, not to mention the camels. Camels!
And here I am in the ruins just before I fainted.
Concurrent with the symposium was an exhibit at the Negev Museum of Art, of the Eisner-winning anthology, “Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews,” to which I happen to be a contributor. The Graphic Details show was on the top floor of the museum, and what should be on the bottom floor but an exhibit titled “Wonder Woman: Superheroines in Israeli Comics!” The art, by Israeli cartoonists, ranged from pieces that were only vaguely connected with Wonder Woman (Like the great piece on Anne Frank, though on second thought, she was a wonder woman) to some lovely literal interpretations, like this painting by my old friend Michael Netzer (whom I had not seen since 1977!), of the world famous Amazon as a combination of Gal Gadot and the biblical poet, musician and dancer, Miriam.
Wonderful Michael was my guide for the rest of my Israeli adventure, escorting me through Jerusalem, the oldest living city I have ever been in – in comparison, Rome is practically contemporary! – and to the Dead Sea, which feels like warm jello. In between: shopping at the Shouk (that’s Michael, with me at the Shouk) , the Arab bazaar, and more camels!
You’re expecting me to talk politics? Lemme tellya, it’s not so black and white. I heard a lot from both sides, each side equally fervent, until I begged not to hear anymore. I only know I loved Israel, and I long for the day when I can return and when there is no more hatred and violence.
FROM WONDER WOMAN TO NELL BRINKLEY
If it’s June, it must be Denver. Maybe because last year I was on my best behavior, Steve and I were invited back to the Denver comic con this year. It’s gotten to the point that when I go to this con, I feel like I’m visiting family. Perhaps in response to last year, when 4 guys had put on a panel called “Women in Comics,” and did not include one woman on the panel, there were tons of women-oriented panels this year, so many that they clashed with each other, and I had to cancel at least one panel so that I could be on a Wonder Woman panel that was on at the same time. (When there’s a choice, I always pick Wonder Woman!)
The convention is held a few blocks away from the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long outdoor pedestrian mall, very people-friendly, with a free streetcar that runs the length of the mall (we took it to the Denver Art museum for a great exhibit of women abstract expressionists), nice little places to eat, public sculptures and chess tables, and even pianos on some streets, free to be played (and they were!). San Francisco could learn a lot from the 16th Street Mall.
And on our last day: Edgewater, home of Nell Brinkley! The lovely Debbi Jones, who resembles Wonder Woman, and her affable husband Jimmy, drove us to the house where Nell grew up, now inhabited by Rachel and her mom, Becky, and they kindly invited us in. It’s fascinating, because the house has been added onto through the years, but there’s much of the original two-room cottage (!!!) left. By 1912, Nell was living in New York and was already an immensely popular cartoonist and illustrator, and I’m guessing she sent money home, so her father, who worked for a lumber company, could add on two more rooms. Nell’s dad was also the mayor of Edgewater, but it obviously was not a fabulously well-paying job. Here are Debbi (see her Nell Brinkley tattoo?), Rachel, me and Becky, in front of the original two room part of the house.
And then, back to San Francisco in time for the Gay Pride Parade. Last year I walked with the SPCA, where we have always shopped for used cats, but this year they were not in the parade. Was it fear, because of the recent horrific slaughter in Orlando? Hard for me to believe that the wonderful SPCA, purveyor of used cats’n’dogs, could be intimidated. I am not easily intimidated, so I walked in the parade with Muttville, senior dog rescue. We were told to wear pink, and we did! Here are some of us, looking pretty in pink. Far left, in a pink tee shirt and white pants, is my friend Pauline, who also happens to be the mom of my son-in-law. She adopted her cute though silly Pomeranian from Muttville.
How I wish I could walk my cats, but they have made it clear: no way, Jose.
IF IT’S WEDNESDAY IT MUST BE SAN DIEGO…
…and the biggest comic con in America! As in the past few years, these days the con is all over women, women, and wimmen. Comics are girl-friendly at last, and they’re being drawn by women and men. Women are sitting behind tables, selling beautiful comics, graphic novels, and art; we’re winning awards at the Eisner Award Ceremonies, and we’re on panels. Gone is the day when cons had one pathetic women’s panel, and I’m proud and happy that I was on some of those panels. Here I am with Lee Marrs, Mary Fleener, moi, Mari Naomi, Anina Bennett, and Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, at the Generations of Women panel (Omigosh, guess who’s the oldest!),
and here is the Wimmen’s Comix panel. Above, we’re discussing our ground breaking experiences with the first and longest lasting ongoing all-woman anthology, which has been reprinted by Fantagraphics as an impressive two-volume boxed set, and below: will ya lookit all them happy wimmen? Left to right, that’s yours truly again, Terre Richards, Sharon Rudahl, Barbara “Willy” Mendes, Lee Marrs, Rebecka Wright, Joan Hilty, and Mary Fleener.
Have women taken over the industry yet?
Where to find me next: After a much-needed vacation in Hawaii, look for me at the San Francisco comic-con on September 2nd – 4th, Then SPX in Bethesda, Maryland, from September 16th – 18th, and finally, a symposium on Wonder Woman at Kent State University, in Cleveland, Ohio, from September 23rd – 25th.
After which, I think I will take a nap.