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The inking woman


The Inking Woman, women, cartoons, comics, Rupert Bear, new book, pre-order now250 years of women cartoon and comic artists in Britain.

Based on an exhibition of the same name held at the Cartoon Museum in 2017, a book with the title The Inking Woman, edited by Nicola Streeten and Cath Tate, is due for publication in March.

For many years, the world of cartoons and comics was seen as a male preserve. The reality is that women have been drawing and publishing cartoons for longer than most people realise.

In the early 1760s, Mary Darly illustrated, wrote and published the first book on caricature drawing published in England, A Book of Caricaturas.

In the nineteenth century, Britain’s first comic character, Ally Sloper, was developed by the actress and cartoonist Marie Duval who lived from 1847 to 1890.

Cartoons were used by the suffragettes, and, during the Great War, artists such as Flora White and Agnes Richardson produced light-hearted propaganda comic postcards.

From the 1920s, a few women cartoonists began to appear regularly in newspapers. The practice was for artists to sign with their surname, so most readers were unaware of the cartoonist’s gender.

In 1920, Mary Tourtel created Rupert Bear for the Daily Express, and nearly a hundred years later her character is still going strong.

From the 1960s, feminism inspired cartoonists to question the roles assigned to them and address subjects such as patriarchy, equal rights, sexuality and child rearing, previously unseen in cartoons.

Over the last thirty years, women have come increasingly to the fore in comics, zines and particularly graphic novels.

This wide-ranging curation of women’s comics work includes prints, caricatures, joke, editorial and strip cartoons, postcards, comics, zines, graphic novels and digital comics, covering all genres and topics. It addresses inclusion of art by women of underrepresented backgrounds.

Nicola Streeten is an anthropologist-turned-illustrator and comics scholar.

She is co-founder – with artist Sarah Lightman – of Laydeez do Comics, a graphic novel forum with a focus on the new wave of comic work based on the drama of everyday life, which has been called ‘a combination between a book club and a series of TED talks’.

The Inking Woman’s other co-author, Cath Tate, set up Cath Tate Cards in the early 1980s, initially to produce political (anti-Thatcher) and feminist postcards.

During the 1980s and 90s she published cards showing the work of many of the feminist cartoonists active at the time and conceived the idea of an exhibition and a book showing the work of women cartoonists.

In the early 1990s she collaborated with Carol Bennett producing the FANNY and Dykes Delight comics, which showed the work of women comic artists.

And in 2017 she helped to curate ‘The Inking Woman’ exhibition at the Cartoon Museum in London with Kate Charlesworth, Anita O’Brien and Corinne Pearlman.

To pre-order a copy, click here.

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