Monday, August 24, 2020

The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age by Trina Robbins

Wow, can you say "keeper"? I love getting graphic-novels to review because they're normally quite pricey to buy, so it makes the books feel extra special-- and FLAPPER QUEENS is perhaps the nicest collection of comic books that I have received to date. It looks like something you would buy in a museum gift shop: fabric bound, with the interior covers tinted a gorgeous blue, and full-color illustrations that take up the whole page, in such good res that you can see the ink dots.

I think you would be remiss to expect humor that's about a century old to translate well, and most of the comics really don't hold up to today's standards. I would not get this to read the comics, but to enjoy the highly stylized caricatures of flapper girls, the ode to fashion and frippery, and to appreciate a very interesting snapshot of the 1920s from the female perspective. All of the artists included in this book are women, and it's refreshing to see that perspective from an age when women were still largely oppressed.

This is gorgeously produced and the illustrations are so beautiful. A good chunk of the book is about Nell Brinkley, but she has some lovely, fairytale-like illustrations, so that was hardly painful. I enjoyed some of the more satirical artists-- there was a good comic in here where one of them was making fun of the hairstyles of the day, including "the walrus" and "the pagoda" and "the acorn" lol-- but the ones that looked like Merrie Melodies cartoons and Disney princesses were great, too. I think this would be an amazing coffee table book (I'm keeping it to flip through, along with some of my other prized art books), as well as a great resource for artists and fashion designers who might wish to use it as a lookbook in order to emulate the styles of the era.

Oh, and as a caveat-- since these comics were written and published in the jazz age, a lot of them would be considered un-PC, whether it's using Lux toilet soap to land you a man, to referring to people of other cultures (portrayed here as ethnic caricatures) as "savages." YMMV.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

5 out of 5 stars

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