Supergirl takes flight

The nest is about to get empty at Casa de Swan. Our daughter KM — our only offspring — departs for college this weekend.

As regular readers know, KM graduated from the local community college in May. She’s about to continue her education at California State University, Chico, and we’re moving the last of her belongings — and KM herself — there tomorrow. Chico is only about a three-hour drive from here, but I’m sure that it will seem like a galaxy away. For a while, at any rate.

So, today’s Comic Art Friday is dedicated to my Supergirl — a nickname I hung on KM during her high school days, when one of her favorite articles of clothing was a pink hooded sweatshirt emblazoned with the Kryptonian crest. It also helps that her given name is, by sheer coincidence, similar to Supergirl’s, who came into the universe as Kara Zor-El.

Supergirl, pencils by comics artist Ramona Fradon

The charming drawing above comes from the pencil of Ramona Fradon, one of the first and most prominent female artists in the comic book industry. Ramona is best known in comics circles for her lengthy run drawing the Aquaman feature in Adventure Comics and World’s Finest (1951-1963). She co-created (with writer Robert Bernstein) Aquaman’s youthful sidekick Aqualad in 1960. Later, she  introduced (with writer Bob Haney) the seriocomic Metamorpho the Element Man, a hero who continues to command a cult following among fans to this day.

Ms. Fradon left comics during the mid-’60s, devoting the next several years to her family. She returned to the industry in 1972 and worked on various titles for both DC (Plastic Man, Freedom Fighters, Super Friends) and Marvel (most notably, The Claws of the Cat). In 1980, Ramona picked up a prestigious new assignment, as the artist of the daily newspaper strip Brenda Starr. She would draw the intrepid reporter’s adventures for the next 15 years.

Comics artists Ramona Fradon and Scott Shaw!, WonderCon 2006

I enjoyed the privilege of meeting Ramona Fradon at WonderCon a few years ago, and hearing her discuss her groundbreaking career in comics. She was remarkably candid both about the industry and her place in it. I was surprised to learn that she didn’t really enjoy drawing superhero violence, which explained why she gravitated toward characters whose stories focused less on fistfights (such as Aquaman), and those that veered into comedy (i.e., Metamorpho, Plastic Man).

In 2006, Ramona Fradon became only the second woman inducted (after longtime Marvel artist Marie Severin) into the Will Eisner Awards’ Comic Book Hall of Fame — an honor well deserved, and long overdue.

Comics artists Ramona Fradon and Scott Shaw!, WonderCon 2006

Ms. Fradon’s career demonstrates that, given the opportunity, talent and determination always find their reward — even against such obstacles as the sexism rampant in comics publishing during the ’50s and ’60s (and, to a sad yet significant degree, to this day).

It’s a lesson that I hope my daughter will remember as she finds her path through life. I’m going to miss my Supergirl.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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One Comment on “Supergirl takes flight”

  1. Sank Says:

    I’ll be right there with you in spirit next weekend. Except I got two more to go before the Sank home goes “clothing optional”.. Actually Mrs Sank would probably want to leave too.


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