Alexa at Ladies Making Comics has a delightful report up on an event at Books of Wonder with Trina Robbins and Golden Age cartoonist Lily Renée, who is the subject of a new biographical comic written by Robbins. A nice reminder that “Women in Comics” didn’t start last month, last year, or even the last decade!
Lily soon arrived and everyone soon settled in to listen to Trina’s presentation, with Lily’s occasional comments, of her remarkable life. One of the first images to really strike me was a picture of an adolescent Lily with her mother, a friend of her mother’s, and that woman’s daughter. Lily explained that her mother’s friend—also Jewish—later managed to survive the concentration camps, because she was a doctor. One key tragic fact that almost always gets left out of Holocaust narratives is that Germanic Europe before the rise of the Nazis was one of the most socially progressive areas in the world at the time, with rampant women’s liberation and a thriving queer community.
As Trina went through the slides, sometimes Lily had a lot to say, but some, as with a picture of the wreckage following Kristallnacht, she had nothing to add. Though later, after talking about her time in England and going through the Blitz, she mentioned that she became very good at drawing ruins. She also talked about working as a maternity ward nurse in Leeds during that time, and the sense of purpose it gave her to protect the babies and bring them to the bomb shelter.