Lily Reneé, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer

Trina Robbins, Anne Timmons, and Mo Oh. Lerner/Graphic Universe, $7.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-7613-6010-0
Renowned comics historian Robbins pens this biography of Lily Reneé, an artist who was one of only a few women to work in the comic book industry in the 1940s. Raised in a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, Reneé escaped to England from Nazi-occupied Austria when she was 14 years old. Most of the book recounts Reneé’s time in England as she’s turned into an unpaid servant by her host family, works as a nanny and nurse’s assistant, and endures the blitz. When she is finally able to join her parents in the United States, she uses her drawing skills to find work, eventually landing in comics and drawing pulp comics featuring bold, beautiful heroines. The story is told in a less than dramatic fashion, however. More space is given to Reneé attempting to mop a kitchen floor than finding shelter during the blitz and being witness to its aftermath, for example. Characters’ expressions and body language are kept simple. Extras include a German glossary, a brief history of the time in which Reneé’s story takes place, explanations of period details, and photographs of Reneé and her family, which provide needed real-world texture. Ages 9–12. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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