Pretty In Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013

Trina Robbins, Author, Kristy Valenti, With
Trina Robbins. Fantagraphics, $29.99 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-60699-669-0
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In this survey of cartoon and comic art by women, comics "herstorian" Robbins attempts to chronicle the evolution of the art form and of the role of women in it. The author, though evidently knowledgeable and passionate, has chosen a scope that reaches too wide and her coverage is often not deep enough, sometimes doing her subjects a disservice by summarizing entire careers in a single long sentence with few cartoonists given enough attention to make their stories stick. Most of the book, thankfully, is given over to beautifully reproduced illustrations taking up the majority of most pages, that "show" the history far more eloquently than Robbins tells it. A later chapter about the feminist underground comics scene of the 1970s takes a self-promotional turn (and changes to a first-person perspective) while paying disproportionate attention to Robbins's own long-running Wimmen's Comix anthology. The vast and worthy subject matter may have been better served by a more comprehensive multi-volume book series that did not try to cram 120 years of illustrations into a single book, but for all of the book's limitations, the quality and variety of the art inclusions alone may be educational enough to make it worth your time. Color and b&w illus. (Dec.)
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