The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists Of The Jazz Age
by Trina Robbins
In The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists Of The Jazz Age Trina Robbins takes us back almost a hundred years with a beautifully-produced collection of the work of six women cartoonists who chronicled the early years of the modern era. Well-grounded in the Art Deco style of the day, and with rare perspective and insightful eyes, these women captured the Jazz era with a flair and determination that deserves to be more widely seen.
Robbins, a legendary underground cartoonist in her own right, has spent decades exploring the overlooked contributions of women to the field of cartooning, and this book is a wonderfully curated overview of their work during one of the most exciting times of the last century.
In this full-color, oversized book Robbins sets the tone and provides brief histories of six women cartoonists of the 1920s, but the real treat is the generous sampling of their work, which has not been as readily-available as it should be. The publisher’s blurb explains:
In addition to featuring the more well-known cartoonists of the era, such as Ethel Hays, Nell Brinkley, and Virginia Huget, Eisner award-winning Trina Robbins introduces you to Eleanor Schorer, who started her career in the teens as a flowery art nouveau Nell Brinkley imitator but, by the ’20s, was drawing bold and outrageous art deco illustrations; Edith Stevens, who chronicled the fashion trends, hairstyles, and social manners of the ’20s and ’30s in the pages of The Boston Globe; and Virginia Huget, possibly the flappiest of the Flapper Queens, whose girls, with their angular elbows and knees, seemed to always exist in a euphoric state of Charleston.
The work is amazing, and Eisner Award-winning comics historian Robbins provides plenty of context with mini-biographies of the artists. Much of this work was very influential, yet history has not done a great job in remembering who created it. While there have been entire books devoted to Brinkley and Huget (some written by Robbins), They have not been as celebrated as their male contemporaries.
The 1920s was when women finally got the right to vote and it was a very liberated time. With this collection of work by pioneering women cartoonists, Robbins manages to create a time capsule that preserves the work of these amazing cartoonists and also gives us a snapshot of a decade where the world changed dramatically. Jazz was becoming mainstream. Women entered the workforce. Prohibition was in full swing, which romanticized the bending of laws. Women were coming into their own and could hope to be more than just a housewife. It was a chaotic, invigorating era that set the tone for the next century of social revolutions.
This is a gorgeous hardcover collection, measuring 13 1/2 by 10 inches, and with 168 pages, much of them in full color. The design, from the cover to the interior pages and even the endpapers looks wonderful. This will be a welcome addition to any comics history library or collection of artistic coffee-table books. It’s also available digitally, but where’s the fun in that?
The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists Of The Jazz Age captures the aura of this era and showcases the work of some incredibly talented cartoonists of the time. This is highly recommended for anyone interested in The Jazz Age, Art Deco, social history, the early days of feminism or brilliant artwork and cartoonists. You should be able to order this from any bookseller, using the ISBN number.